Monday, September 30, 2013

Bipartisan coalition introduces “Marriage & Religious Freedom Act”

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Steve Scalise, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) introduced a landmark bipartisan bill to protect freedom of conscience on the issue of marriage.  Their bill – H.R. 3133, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act – would prohibit discrimination through the federal tax code against individuals or institutions that exercise religious conscience regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 

“Regardless of your ideology, we can all agree about the importance of religious liberty in America,” said Rep. Labrador.  “Our bill will protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  This is not a Republican or Democrat issue.  As President Obama said, ‘Americans hold a wide range of views’ on marriage and ‘maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom’ is ‘vital.’ We agree.
“Our bill will ensure tolerance for individuals and organizations that affirm traditional marriage, protecting them from adverse federal action.  I’m proud to be joined by my colleagues in introducing this bill, and will strongly advocate for its passage.”

Most religious institutions fall within the 501(c) portion of the U.S. tax code, which allows for tax exemption.  Under the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, no individual or institution which celebrates and defines marriage as between one man and one woman would be denied or lose exemption from taxation provided for under federal law.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would prohibit government discrimination against individuals and institutions that exercise religious or moral conscience regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman by ensuring that the federal government will not:

·         Deny or revoke an exemption from taxation under Sec. 501 of the IRS Tax Code
·         Disallow a deduction for Federal tax purposes of any charitable contribution made to or by a person

·         Deny or withhold any federal benefit

·         Deny or exclude a person from receiving any federal grant, contract, loan, license, certification, accreditation, employment, or other similar position or status
·         Otherwise discriminate against any individual organization

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Voice of the Voiceless claim: University LGBTQ resource centers in Virginia engage in viewpoint discrimination

Press Release reports that undercover investigation reveals medically inaccurate, discriminatory, and biased counseling
Voice of the Voiceless (VoV), an advocacy organization dedicated to defend the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families, went undercover into seven of Virginia’s fifteen state universities to document a variety of misconduct among publicly-funded employees, including medically-inaccurate advice, view point discrimination, and biased counseling for students who experience unwanted homosexual feelings. The investigation, which occurred over a 2 ½ week period in September, involved two former homosexuals posing as graduate students seeking anonymous counseling for unwanted homosexual feelings at university resource centers for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) students.

The LGBTQ Resource Centers in violation include the University of Virginia, James Madison University, George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Old Dominion University, Christopher Newport University, and the College of William and Mary. Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family, [we’ve had several attorneys form Liberty Counsel on Faith on Trial--ed] sent letters to all seven university presidents regarding their LGBTQ Resource Centers, urging them to include all viewpoints on this issue, and informing them that presenting only one viewpoint is not only wrong, but can cause harm to students.
“State-funded universities are required to provide value-neutral, medically-accurate information to all students in need of guidance. What we uncovered was a deliberate withholding of potentially life-saving information for students who may desire counseling to overcome unwanted homosexual feelings,” commented Christopher Doyle, President and Co-Founder of VoV. “A counselor at George Mason University told me that if I sought therapy to change, I would likely become psychologically-damaged, depressed, and even commit suicide.  Instead of referring me to a licensed mental health practitioner or faith-based counselor that aligned with my spiritual values. I was told to attend the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and read a book called 'The Lord is my Shepherd, and He knows I'm Gay.'"

At Old Dominion University, the LGBTQ Resource Center staff said being gay was genetic, natural, and part of your personality, and that therapy to help individuals who want to change is nothing but "brain washing" attempts to "pray away the gay" and "not valid."
Organizations such as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) have been providing informational pamphlets, free of charge, to state-funded Virginia universities for many years in an effort to advocate for students with unwanted same-sex attraction. But while gay-affirming information is readily available and prominently displayed for students to collect, ex-gay pamphlets are routinely destroyed and/or suppressed by biased resource center employees, who are required by law to provide equal access for all views on homosexuality. “At George Mason University, I nearly begged the counselor to give me an ex-gay pamphlet, which was buried in the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet. At UVA, the resource center’s director refused to show or give me an ex-gay pamphlet because he said he did not have enough of them to hand out. When I asked him where I could find scientific research on homosexuality, he referred me to the Huffington Post,” commented Doyle.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Becket Fund partners with UCLASchool of Law student clinic to defend church benefit plans

On Thursday The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty submitted a friend-of-the-court brief o a San Francisco federal district court in a case challenging certain church employee benefit plans as violating church-state separation.

The brief argues that “church plans” are a constitutionally permissible accommodation of religion. The brief was prepared by Professor Eugene Volokh and UCLA School of Law students Nathaniel Barrett, Garry Padrta, and Paulette Rodríguez López, as part of the new UCLA First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic. Professor Volokh is a nationally known First Amendment scholar who recently founded the Clinic and is also one of the founders of the prominent “Volokh Conspiracy” legal blog.

“Church plans are a common-sense way for the government to accommodate both the unique nature of religious institutions of all faiths and protect benefits for those who work in the field of religion,” said Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel at the Becket Fund and a former guest on Faith on Trial. “This trial lawyer attack on the constitutionality of church plans is rooted in the wrong-headed notion that separating church and state means government should pretend there is nothing special about religious organizations at all.” Rassbach also stated, “We are happy to partner with Professor Volokh and the law students at UCLA on this important brief and thank them for their service in the cause of religious liberty.”

The case, Rollins v. Dignity Health, claims that Dignity Health, a Catholic healthcare system, is not sufficiently Catholic to qualify for “church plan” status under federal pension benefits law. The Becket Fund’s brief does not address this largely factual question, focusing instead on the plaintiffs’ separate attack on church plans as unconstitutional.

Kansas sued over atheistic elementary school science standards

Brad Dacus
The Pacific Justice Institute has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Kansas State Board of Education's (BOE) adoption of certain science standards which would create a hostile learning environment for those of faith. The standards being challenged are the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the BOE June 11, 2013, and the corresponding Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas.

The suit claims that the standards cause the state "to promote religious beliefs that are inconsistent with the theistic religious beliefs of plaintiffs, thereby depriving them of the right to be free from government that favors one religious view over another."

Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute noted, "it's an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students—as young as five—to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong." He continued, "it's one thing to explore alternatives at an appropriate age, but to teach theory that is devoid of any alternative which aligns with the belief of people of faith is just wrong."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Is Faith on Trial going off the air? Oh no, say it ain’t so!

It is so, well, then again it ain’t. So let me explain.

The station is re-doing its line-up and formats and Faith on Trial and a few of the other local programs are going on hiatus through our fall Care-A-Thon the week of October 14 – 18.  By the way, speaking of the Care-A-Thon, I’ll be hosting a two hour segment Tuesday, October 15 from 9 to 11 a.m. so save your dollars and call in then with them.
After the Care-A-Thon, we will be back on the air LIVE starting Tuesday, October 22 at 9 a.m. The program will then re-play at 9 p.m. I don’t have all the details about weekend re-plays, but I do know the station is planning on doing a live video simulcast so stay tuned for those details. There will also be a few changes to our broadcast schedule and even a new face or two.

In the mean time, I will still be doing my Tuesday morning updates at 7:35 on the morning show with Jon Leonetti, Jeanne Wells and Dowling Hall of Famer Mark Amadeo, as well as our blog and Facebook posts.
If you have been with this program from the beginning you know we started very small, with an 8 minute segment during the morning show; that was expanded into our half-hour taped format for the weekend schedule. Now we are going LIVE with a video simulcast, so this is really an upgrade for the program and gives me some time before October 22 to get the Grecian Formula in my hair working … hey, we’re going Hollywood!

Iowa Catholic Radio: 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming life at


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Little Sisters of the Poor file fist class action lawsuit against HHS Mandate; seek protection from IRS fines for following their vows

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a lawsuit against the controversial HHS Mandate on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order of Sisters dedicated to caring for the elderly poor.  Without relief, the Little Sisters face millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot comply with the government’s mandate that they give their employees free access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. 

The Little Sisters are joined by their religious health benefits providers, Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust, and a class of other religious organizations facing similar fines, in the first class action lawsuit against the Mandate.

The Little Sisters of the Poor are an international Roman Catholic Congregation of women Religious founded in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan.  They operate homes in 31 countries, where they provide loving care for over 13,000 needy elderly persons.  Thirty of these homes are located in the United States.

“Like all of the Little Sisters, I have vowed to God and the Roman Catholic Church that I will treat all life as valuable, and I have dedicated my life to that work,” explained Sister Loraine Marie, Superior for one of the three U.S. provinces in the Congregation.  “We cannot violate our vows by participating in the government's program to provide access to abortion inducing drugs.”

Although the Little Sisters’ homes perform a religious ministry of caring for the elderly poor, they do not fall within the government’s narrow exemption for “religious employers.”  Accordingly, beginning on January 1, the Little Sisters will face IRS fines unless they violate their religion by hiring an insurer to provide their employees with contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

“The Sisters should obviously be exempted as ‘religious employers,’ but the government has refused to expand its definition,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the Little Sisters.   “These women just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates their work.  The money they collect should be used to care for the poor like it always has—and not to pay the IRS.”

The lawsuit is the first of its kind both because it is a class-action suit that will represent hundreds of Catholic non-profit ministries with similar beliefs and because it is the first on behalf of benefits providers who cannot comply with the Mandate.

The lawsuit was filed in federal District Court in Denver.  There are now 72 lawsuits challenging the mandate.

Dissent priest excommunicated by pope

A priest in Australia who advocated for women priests and gay marriage has been excommunicated by Pope Francis. Fr. Greg Reynolds was excommunicated and dismissed from the clerical state.  Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne said the pope’s action was due to Reynolds’ public celebration of Mass without faculties and for his preaching contrary to the teachings of the Church.  Those excommunicated may not receive the sacraments of the Church.

Court: Spousal privilege does not apply to civil unions

A trial court in Kentucky has ruled that the spousal privilege, where one spouse may refuse to testify about things that occur during the marriage, does not apply to couples in a civil union.  The parties involved in the case were joined in a civil union – not a marriage – in Vermont.  Vermont recognizes so-called same-sex marriage but parties joined in a civil union must take specific steps to convert that union into a “marriage.”  The case is a murder trial in which one partner is being asked to repeat statements by the other partner admitting to the killing.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Doctors charge Planned Parenthood with violating FDA protocols

ADF: Violations account for 2,207 adverse health incidents and 14 maternal deaths

Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists sent a letter Wednesday to the New Hampshire Boards of Medicine and Nursing supporting the investigation of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and its unlawful distribution of abortion-inducing drugs.

Contrary to Food and Drug Administration protocols, Planned Parenthood distributes abortion-inducing drugs to women, oftentimes without requiring an in-person visit, up until two weeks beyond the prescribed 49 days from their last menstrual cycle.

“No matter where people stand on abortion, everyone should agree that Planned Parenthood must abide by established FDA protocols for using a potentially dangerous drug,” said Senior Counsel Michael Norton. “This includes requiring a licensed professional to personally meet with women and examining them before prescribing abortion-inducing drugs which pose serious health risks, and limiting the length of time it can be used.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that it is “important to hold healthcare providers to appropriate standards of care for women in New Hampshire in connection with the provision of drugs which result in abortions.”

The letter also explains that if Planned Parenthood is administering abortion-inducing drugs “as late as either 63 gestation, this practice would also be inconsistent with approved FDA guidelines and appropriate standards of care.”

“Planned Parenthood’s main concern should be the health and safety of women, not its bottom line,” added Michael J. Tierney, one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom. “Planned Parenthood must be accountable to basic health and medical standards. FDA protocols only provide for administering these drugs up to 49 days gestation but PPNNE has been distributing the drugs up to 63 days. We hope that the Boards of Medicine and Nursing will take appropriate action to protect maternal health and safety.”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Will Become of Equal Protection for Women?

by  Adam J. MacLeod

Laws in Massachusetts and California requiring that sex-segregated facilities be open to both sexes will undermine equal protection for women.

California has followed Massachusetts into uncharted territory by requiring California schools to make sex-segregated facilities and activities available to members of both sexes. Those who advocated this move might not like all of the implications of what they have accomplished. Among the many likely casualties of these laws will be the logic of the Supreme Court's equal protection jurisprudence, which protects females from suspect classifications in law.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Department of Education (MDOE) issued regulatory guidance for Massachusetts schools concerning a recent state statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. MDOE interprets the statute to give students a right to use the bathroom, locker room, and changing facilities that correspond to the gender with which those students identify, regardless of their biological sex.

The MDOE directive notes that some students might be uncomfortable disrobing with a member of the opposite sex, but insists, "This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student." The directive also encourages school administrators to discipline students who object to sharing a bathroom with a member of the opposite sex.

At the time, Andrew Beckwith and I argued that this development is part of a trend: judges and lawmakers are eliminating sexual distinctions from Massachusetts law, and driving out of public life anyone who perceives inherent differences between male and female. But the MDOE directive presupposes that many sex-segregated activities will persist; indeed, they will persist because at least some transgendered students want them to persist. A biological boy who identifies as a girl does so in part by using the girls' bathroom.

MDOE did what the state legislature declined to do. The legislature had earlier enacted a statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of "gender identity," but pro-family forces in the Commonwealth defeated a provision in the original bill that would have given boys a right to use girls' bathrooms and vice versa. Yet MDOE proceeded as if the provision had been enacted.

In this respect, and in this respect alone, the law recently enacted in California represents an improvement over the legal change in Massachusetts--at least it was promulgated democratically. The legislature passed, and the California governor signed, a statute giving students the right to choose which gender they will be in sex-segregated activities.

It should go without saying that to give boys a legal right to disregard their Y chromosomes when selecting a place to undress is to invite abuse. It should go without saying that this law is a menace to school-age girls and their families. It should go without saying that a child who feels alienated from his or her own sex ought to be encouraged and affirmed for who he or she is, rather than given a legal right to pretend to be something he or she is not. But alas, such evident truths no longer go without saying.

However, advocates for these laws may have attained more than they intended. These laws undermine a foundational premise of the Supreme Court's equal protection jurisprudence, namely that sex is an immutable characteristic. If the bathroom laws in Massachusetts and California are grounded in truths about human nature and sexuality, then that premise is either false or irrelevant, and it is not clear on what basis the Supreme Court could continue to employ heightened scrutiny when reviewing laws that discriminate between men and women.

For four decades, the Supreme Court has reviewed laws that discriminate between men and women with extra attention. In Frontiero v. Richardson (1973) it struck down a statute that treated husbands of female military personnel less favorably than wives of male personnel for the purpose of distributing allowances and benefits. The Court declared sex to be a suspect classification. It reasoned that

since sex, like race and national origin, is an immutable characteristic determined solely by the accident of birth, the imposition of special disabilities upon the members of a particular sex because of their sex would seem to violate the basic concept of our system that legal burdens should bear some relationship to individual responsibility.

Therefore, the Court found classifications based on sex to be "inherently suspect," and resolved to review them with heightened judicial scrutiny.

When someone is discriminated against because of immutable traits that do not affect that person's suitability for the opportunity denied to him or her, the discrimination appears more likely than not to be unjust. The classic example of an immutable characteristic remains one's race, and the best example of unjust discrimination remains a law requiring or allowing racial segregation.

Of course, one's sex does make one more or less suitable for certain opportunities--e.g., being a mother--but not for others--e.g., practicing law. Where to draw the line between those sets of opportunities is sometimes a controversial question. But the immutability of sex has long been a given. It explains why the law reasonably discriminates in favor of women when it identifies the mothers of children. It also explains why a law prohibiting women from practicing law would be unjust. Under such a law, a woman would be disqualified for a reason that she cannot control and that does not render her unsuitable for the opportunity.

The immutability of sex has long been a foundation stone of the Court's equal protection jurisprudence. In the landmark case United States v. Virginia, the Court affirmed that physical differences between men and women are "enduring"; that "a community made up exclusively of one sex is different from a community composed of both"; and that inherent differences between men and women are "cause for celebration." But, the Court stated, those differences are not reasonable grounds for segregating the sexes arbitrarily.

Now education regulators in Massachusetts and lawmakers in California have declared sex or gender to be mutable. It is a characteristic to be denied, or even escaped from, if authentic self-definition requires it.

If gender is what counts, and if gender is mutable, then on what ground should references to sex and genetics not be eradicated from the law? And if that is the lesson to be learned from Massachusetts and California then why should the Equal Protection Clause be exempted from the leveling to which all other laws must yield? The Court treats sex-based classifications with higher scrutiny than classifications based on age, for example, in part because it views women as beings who are born with particular traits and genetic compositions that distinguish them from men and do not change with time.

Moreover, the remedial requirements of the Massachusetts and California laws might come into conflict with the requirements of equal protection. Consider again United States v. Virginia. In that case, the Court struck down on equal protection grounds the male-only admission policy of the Virginia Military Institute. The Court required VMI to demonstrate an "exceedingly persuasive justification" for the policy. VMI explained that its rigorous, "adversative method" of educating cadets would need to be made less rigorous to accommodate women. The Court conceded that VMI's program of education would need to be altered, but insisted that because some women would be qualified for the program, this justification was not "exceedingly persuasive."

On this logic, the remedy for unlawful sex discrimination is integration of the sexes for those activities to which men and women are equally suited and segregation of the sexes for those activities in which their differences are important. Women are born as women, and remain women throughout their lives. To treat them justly is to integrate them into the activities of men for which at least some of them can be well suited, while establishing or preserving accommodations for their natural differences.

By contrast, the gender-identity self-authorship that Massachusetts and California now must promote requires at least some segregation of the sexes for those activities to which some men and some women might be equally suited, such as athletic competition. If a member of the male sex identifies as a member of the female gender, and if the community owes to that person opportunities to express himself as a female, then he must have female-specific activities in which to participate. The mutability of gender, on this line of thinking, is a reason to keep men and women separate so that those who would change their gender identity can have opportunities to do so.

Meanwhile, the mutability of gender is also a reason to allow at least some biological boys the right to disrobe with biological girls. If a female is one who identifies as a member of the female gender, regardless of sex, then the biological boy who identifies as female really is a female, and belongs in the girls' room. Whatever burdens this arrangement imposes upon the biological girls in the girls' room are not sufficient reasons to shield them from this newly-recognized reality. And so, on this line of thinking, girls should bear the burdens of sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with some biological boys.

What became of the "the basic concept of our system that legal burdens should bear some relationship to individual responsibility," which the Frontiero Court vindicated? What special responsibilities do school-age girls have to share bathrooms and locker rooms with boys who identify themselves as girls, or of competing with boys for positions on girls' sports teams? This development seems to flip the Supreme Court's equal protection jurisprudence on its head.

Adam MacLeod is an associate professor at Faulkner University's Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

 This article originally appeared in Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, NJ, it is reprinted with permission.

This week on Faith on Trial

This week was historic, the first HHS mandate case was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court and we have one of the attorneys who filed that appeal: Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defending Freedom.  He will give us the background on the case, his client, and what this case means for religious freedoms in this country.  Our other guest this week is a Baptist pastor from San Antonio, Texas, Steve Branson.  Last week we discussed the plight of an Air Force Sergeant, Phillip Monk, who was relieved of his duties and placed under investigation for disagreeing with his lesbian commander over same-sex marriage. Then we visited with Sgt. Monk’s attorney; this week we will visit with his pastor who will fill us in on some other happenings at Lackland Air Force Base.

Our program airs at 8 a.m. Saturday; 2 & 7 Sunday and 9 p.m. Monday on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming live on  All times are Central.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Abortion practitioner failed to report statutory rape of 13-year-old girl

An Indiana abortion practitioner is coming under fire today for failing to file a timely report on the abortion he did on a 13-year-old girl who was victimized by statutory rape.

Allen County Right to Life, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, filed complaints with the Indiana Attorney General’s office and the Indiana Medical Licensing Board over the Fort Wayne abortion doctor failing to properly report an abortion on a 13-year-old as required.
The report, which was filed late, shows that a 13-year-old had an abortion performed by Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, of the Fort Wayne Women’s Health Organization abortion facility, on February 7. The Indiana Department of Health reported receiving the report on July 25, not within three days of the abortion procedure as specified by law.

According to Indiana abortion law, a physician performing an abortion on a patient less than 14 years of age must file a state-issued form within three days of the abortion with the state department of health and the department of child services. Indiana law specifies that failure to report is punishable with a Class B misdemeanor. In Indiana, sex with a person under 14 is recognized as child molesting, regardless of the male’s age.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Minneapolis Archbishop Nienstedt: abortion, contraception, gay ‘marriage’ threaten ‘the stability of our civilization’

Kristen Anderson of LifeSiteNews reports:

Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt has again angered pro-abortion and homosexual
activists with remarks he made at a Catholic conference in California last month in which he referred to pornography, homosexual acts, contraception and abortion as “evil forces” used by Satan to destroy natural family relationships and destabilize civilization.
“Today, many evil forces have set their sights on the dissolution of marriage and the debasing of family life,” Niendstedt told his Catholic audience. “Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilization.

“The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies. Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God’s work on Earth.”
Read the entire article here.

Praying for abortions under the dome in Iowa

Over the past few months, Liberty Counsel has provided many guests for Faith on Trial including Matt Staver who you can meet in this video discussing the recent “prayer for abortion” held at the Iowa State Capitol recently which was attended by two Democratic candidates for Iowa Governor.

Judge bars Jewish man from his own trial in dispute over head covering; then finds him guilty in absentia

The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a Jewish man who was barred from participating in his own trial after a judge removed him from the courtroom for insisting on wearing a head covering in keeping with his Jewish beliefs. Stephen Orr, a resident of Chesapeake, Va., was tried in absentia and found guilty, after a judge denied his request to wear a hat, or “kippah,” into the courtroom in keeping with a Jewish mandate that persons wear a head covering at all times. The judge allegedly based his denial on the fact that other Jewish litigants appear in court without a head covering.

“As Jewish Americans prepare to celebrate Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar, we would do well to remember that in many parts of this country, the right to freely practice one’s religious beliefs remains an uphill battle, and that’s true no matter what your religious beliefs, whether you’re a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, or an atheist,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “State law and the First Amendment clearly prohibit the government and its agents from impeding the free exercise of religion. For Stephen Orr, that means wearing a hat into the courtroom. For someone else, it might be the right to mention God in a graduation speech, or avoid eating particular foods. It’s not up to the government to decide whether one’s religious beliefs are credible so long as they are sincere.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

The program this week

On Faith on Trial this week: Jeff Mateer, general counsel with Liberty Institute on a new ordinance in San Antonio that is directed against Christians, and Mike Berry, also from Liberty Institute on an Air Force sergeant whose career is in jeopardy because he disagreed with his lesbian commander about same sex marriage.  Tune in this week: Saturday 8 a.m.; Sunday at 2 & 7, and Monday at 9 p.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM, 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming live on  Times are Central.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Liberty Institute considers suit against San Antonio’s new ordinance; will discuss legality and next moves on this week's Faith on Trial

Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford issued the following statement following the passage of the City of San Antonio’s controversial ordinance regarding its so-called “non-discrimination” policy. Liberty Institute warns that it is unconstitutional for any government, including the City of San Antonio, to prohibit the free exercise of religion and to make it a “thought crime” to hold traditional biblical views on sexuality.

“This is a sad day for San Antonians, for Texans, and for all Americans when the City of San Antonio has seen fit to pass this so-called “non-discrimination” policy granting special status and rights to homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender individuals at the expense of the religious liberty rights of its citizens and businesses,” said Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford. “The ordinance, plain and simple, stifles free speech and tramples religious liberty, targeting citizens and businesses that hold traditional views about sexuality. The ripple effect of this law could go far beyond San Antonio.  This is not something that just affects residents of San Antonio.  This should alarm every American who values their religious freedom.”

“We at Liberty Institute believe this and similar ordinances can be defeated in court, and we are currently evaluating legal action against the City of San Antonio.”

Liberty attorney Jeff Mateer will discuss this with us this week on Faith on Trial, on Iowa Catholic Radio: 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM. And streaming live on; Saturday at 8 a.m.; Sunday at 2 & 7, and Monday at 9 p.m.

ADF: Schools have legal right to permit Bible distribution

After the ACLU threatened Kentucky school districts with lawsuits because of Bible distributions, a legal organization says it stands ready to help the schools. Alliance Defending Freedom has sent letters to the 174 threatened school districts to inform them that the law is on their side if they cooperate with the Gideons.

Rory Gray, legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, says the ACLU knows case law exists allowing distribution of religious literature in public schools.
“If the school district enacts a neutral literature distribution policy,” says Gray, “it’s extremely unlikely that the ACLU will sue them because they know the law that’s on the books.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pastor can hand out Bibles at city's Harley-Davidson festival

The City of Greenfield, Wisconsin, agreed last week to allow a pastor to continue distributing Bibles on public streets at a Harley-Davidson Festival after receiving a letter from Alliance Defending Freedom. Police had threatened the pastor with arrest for peacefully handing out the Bibles to willing passers-by at the festival.

“No one should be threatened with arrest simply because they choose to exercise their First Amendment freedoms in a public place,” said Legal Counsel Jon Scruggs. “We commend the city for promptly agreeing to respect the constitutionally protected right of this pastor and all Americans to peacefully distribute faith-based literature.”

On Aug. 28, David Murray went to West Layton Avenue to express his religious faith and distribute Bibles during the Harley-Davidson Festival, which is free and open to the public. Security officers and Greenfield police officers ordered Murray to stop expressing his beliefs and to move to the adjacent sidewalk behind the festival vendors, an area no one accesses.
As the Alliance Defending Freedom letter explained, “Lawrence desires to convey his religious beliefs through activities protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. According to the Supreme Court, oral and written dissemination of religious viewpoints are entitled to the utmost constitutional protection.”

The letter also explained that “expression in a traditional public forum deserves the highest level of protection, and any infringement of speech activity there must overcome great scrutiny.”

Greenfield’s police chief responded in an e-mail to Alliance Defending Freedom that “personnel have been advised to allow your client’s activity within the public streets, sidewalks and right of way.”
 “The government should not harass and threaten citizens for exercising their constitutionally protected freedoms in public,” added Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, a guest on Faith on Trial. “The city of Greenfield has rightly understood this, and we will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that this pastor’s freedom to share his faith is respected. The First Amendment specifically protects every American’s freedom of speech and religious expression.”

Veteran airman in religious discrimination case against Air Force

An Air Force sergeant who filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. military claiming he was fired by his lesbian commander for refusing to make a statement of support for same-sex “marriage” may now face prosecution for taking his accusations public.

During a meeting last week, Air Force investigators read Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk his Miranda rights, alleging that Monk’s religious discrimination complaint was false. Monk, a devout Christian, believes the claims are a retaliatory act by his former commander, who relieved Monk of his duties and reassigned him after Monk could not agree with his commander’s position regarding same-sex marriage. In the military, making a false official statement is punishable by court-martial.
Sergeant Monk was relieved of his duties as first sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio in August after two separate confrontations with an openly homosexual superior officer, Major Elisa Valenzeula. 

Liberty Institute attorney Mike Berry said, “We are hopeful that the Air Force will do the right thing by clearing Sergeant Monk’s name and reputation, and supporting his and every airman’s right to express, without fear of punishment, their religious convictions.”

Friday, September 6, 2013

New Survey: More Americans Feel Persecuted for Their Faith

According to a recent survey, more American workers feel they are suffering discrimination due to their religious faith. Last week, Tanenbaum released What American Workers Really Think About Religion: Tanenbaum’s 2013 Survey of American Workers and Religion. The results revealed some startling information, including:  

  • One in three American workers have actually experienced or personally seen incidents of religious bias when they go to work.
  • Six in ten white evangelical Protestants agree that discrimination against Christians has become as big a problem as discrimination against other religious minorities
“Attacks on religious liberty are increasing at alarming and unprecedented rates, and they are occurring whenever people of faith begin to engage the culture around them, including the workplace,” said Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer.  “The hostility against people of faith, including Christians, is at an all time high in our nation.  We are faced with intense opposition from radical secularist groups, and even are own federal government, who are seeking to remove God from public life.”
On the heels of that survey, the City of San Antonio, Texas, this week passed an ordinance that targets citizens and businesses who hold traditional religious views about sexuality, and grants special protected status and rights to homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. Among other items, the ordinance would prohibit membership on any city board or city contract for anyone who has expressed disapproval of the homosexual agenda. Thus, a Catholic RCIA instructor articulating the Church’s teaching on these matters could be removed from office or have their contracts with the city terminated. 

The Liberty institute is promising a legal challenge to the new law.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

This week: A bakery closing and “crimes against humanity”

This week on Faith on Trial: We will be discussing the dangers of the militant homosexual agenda to faithful Christians.  Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, will discuss the closing of a bakery in Oregon that refused to bake a “wedding” cake for a lesbian couple.  We’ll go behind the bare details of the case to see how Sweet Cakes by Melissa was hounded out of business because its owner did not want to violate her religious beliefs. Following Bryan we will have Harry Mehet, attorney with Liberty Counsel, who is representing a pastor from Massachusetts who is being sued for “crimes against humanity” for statements the pastor made in Uganda supporting traditional marriage. Normally, a case like that would be dismissed for failure to state a recognizable claim; however, in this case the federal judge denied the pastor’s motion and set the matter for trial.

All of this, this week on Faith on Trial on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM, and 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming live on  Tune in Saturday at 8 a.m.; Sunday at 2 & 7, and Monday at 9 p.m. (Central).  

Cardinal Dolan, Bishop Pates call faithful to a day of prayer for peace

The U.S. bishops are encouraging Catholics in the country and all those concerned about ongoing violence in Syria to join with Pope Francis in a worldwide Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace.

“We are anguished by the terrible suffering of the Syrian people and again affirm the need for dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict that has wrought so much devastation,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, in a Sept. 3 statement.
“As our nation's leaders contemplate military action, it is particularly appropriate and urgent that we in the United States embrace the Holy Father's call to pray and fast on September 7 for a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria and to violent conflicts everywhere,” they continued.

Cardinal Dolan is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Pates chairs the conference’s Committee on International Justice and Peace.
The two Church leaders echoed the words of Pope Francis, who called on the whole Catholic Church to take part in a day of fasting and prayer this Saturday, Sept. 7, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace.

“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming,” the Holy Father said in his Sunday Angelus message on Sept. 1.
His call for prayer and fasting comes as nations including the United States discuss the possibility of military action following reports that chemical weapons were recently used against civilians in Syria, killing more than 1,400 people.

Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates asked “all U.S. Catholics and people of goodwill to join us in witnessing to the hope we have in our hearts for peace for the Syrian people,” uniting themselves to those praying and fasting in Rome.
In their statement, they affirmed that the use of “chemical weapons is particularly abhorrent and we urgently pray for the victims of such atrocities and for their loved ones.”

But despite the atrocity of the reported use of such weapons, the bishops reiterated their earlier warnings against the use of military force as a response, instead stressing that “the path of dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option to put an end to the conflict.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sex education for kindergarteners will teach “diverse” family structures

OneNewsNow is reporting that the Chicago Public Schools are this year mandating that kindergartners receive sex education lessons. Opponents say it's a way of exposing them to the homosexual lifestyle.

The CEO of the Chicago Public Schools is emphasizing that this curriculum will be age appropriate. But Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute says that is misleading.

“What all the talk about is that from the perspective of those on the left, there is virtually nothing that is considered inappropriate,” she points out. “But they believe that it’s appropriate to talk to kindergarteners about diverse family structures. And what that means is talking about families that are led by homosexuals.”

She says that sex education lessons for young students just beginning school are out of place.

“Five-year-olds are not sexual beings, except in the world of progressives,” she says. “They’re not thinking about sex, they’re not having sexual feelings. And so this is completely unnecessary, and parents are capable of handling this.”

She says parents of Chicago-area public school students should opt their children out of any lessons involving homosexuality or gender confusion.

More available here.

Another Catholic firm sues over HHS Mandate

Barron Industries, Inc., its Chairman Paul Barron, and its President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Barron, this morning filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate.  The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The following statement is posted on the Barron Industries website: “Barron Industries is a family-run organization with a strong Catholic Christian foundation. Our Guiding Principle is our faith in God. We appreciate that everyone is created equal. Our belief is that we are placed here to serve the Lord and one another with honesty and integrity. It is our collective goal to use our work, professional and personal lives to lead each other to eternal salvation.”

Erin Mersino, one of our former guests, and the TMLC’s lead attorney on several cases the Law Center has already filed challenging the HHS Mandate, stated: “Barron Industries supports numerous Catholic charities, holds optional mass for its employees, and houses an on-site chapel.  Paul and Bruce Barron are devoted Catholic businessmen who strive to follow the mission of the Church in their daily lives, which includes their business practices.”

Barron Industries, started in 1923 by Joseph H. Barron, Sr., is a family owned and operated casting, machining, fabrication and assembly facility located in Oxford, MI, and managed today by Paul Barron and his son Bruce Barron.  Catholic Mass is regularly celebrated in the main conference room of the plant facility.  Visitors, customers and staff are openly invited to join in the services.

Paul Barron is also a member of Legatus, the Nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business CEOs and professional leaders. Legatus calls its members to be “ambassadors for Christ” through the three key areas of a Catholic business leader’s life – Faith, Family and Business. The Thomas More Law Center is also representing the Legatus organization itself in a separate federal lawsuit.