Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Outrageous: Court rules that pro-life clinic must promote abortion!!!

Brad Dacus
Sacramento, CA—A federal court ruled late Monday that a law requiring pro-life pregnancy clinics to promote abortion can go into effect January 1st.

Pacific Justice Institute represents three pregnancy clinics that are challenging the law, AB775, on free speech and free exercise of religion grounds.

In a 59-page order, U.S District Judge, Kimberly Mueller agreed with PJI that the law raised "serious questions" about potential First Amendment violations and would also cause irreparable harm to the clinics.  However, Judge Mueller determined that the interests of the clinics in refusing to promote abortion were outweighed by the interests of the State to ensure women receive information about all their options.

"This ruling should alarm everyone who believes in a robust First Amendment," said Brad Dacus, Pacific Justice president and frequent FOT guest.  "The notion that the government can compel religious non-profits to promote practices antithetical to their values is chilling."

The clinics are evaluating all their legal options, including appeal.

Planned Parenthood and the Maine Attorney General combine to silence Pro-Life speech; Thomas More Law Center files federal lawsuit

The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, today, filed a federal lawsuit against the Maine Attorney General, the City of Portland, Maine and several Portland police officers to stop enforcement of a portion of the Maine Civil Rights Act (“Act”). Under the Act, it is illegal to make any noise that can be heard inside an abortion clinic after being warned by a police officer. A Portland police officer officially warned Pastor Andrew March that employees could hear his anti-abortion message inside their facility and in so doing paved the way for a State lawsuit against him under the Act.
As a result, TMLC filed a lawsuit on behalf of Pastor Andrew March to stop enforcement of the Act as a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech. Pastor March is the father of three children and the founding preacher of a church in Maine. He feels called by God to oppose the culture of death and to work to end the murder of his fellow citizens behind the walls of Planned Parenthood. When the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against his friend and fellow preacher Brian Ingalls under the Act, he took up his mantel and began to preach outside the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. Andrew March not only wants to save lives, but also wants to give women a last chance to avoid the enduring physical and psychological harms caused by abortion.
The Portland Planned Parenthood is located on a busy public thoroughfare, which, in addition to usual street sounds such as sirens, honking, and other traffic noises, hosts city parades and protests by hundreds  of yelling and chanting people. Yet, among this cacophony of sounds, Planned Parenthood claims the lone, unamplified voice of Andrew March interferes with its abortion services.
Planned Parenthood, assisted by the Maine Attorney General and the City of Portland, is using Maine’s Civil Rights Act to silence all Pro-Life speech in front of its facility by claiming to hear it within the building. TMLC’s lawsuit contends that the Act is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech and is being used to target and silence the Pro-Life viewpoint. In fact, amid the far louder traffic and city-approved parades, police officers enforcing the statute admit that it is the Pro-Life content of Andrew March’s speech that allegedly interferes with abortion counseling and procedures within the building.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, commented on the lawsuit: “Our lawsuit is based on the bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment that government, in this case the State of Maine and the City of Portland, cannot ban Pro-Life speech just because they disagree with its content or find it offensive.”
TMLC recently defeated a previous attempt by the same Planned Parenthood facility to silence Pro-Life speech. On Oct. 8, the U.S. District Court in Maine entered a consent judgment in which the City of Portland agreed that their 39-foot “buffer zone” silencing Pro-Life speech within the vicinity of Planned Parenthood was unconstitutional. In light of the City’s defeat, Planned Parenthood and the City of Portland seem to be going through a list of Maine’s laws to intimidate and silence Pro-Life speech. After charging Brian Ingalls and warning Andrew March under the Act, police officers are now threatening Andrew March with criminal charges for disorderly conduct—all this despite the fact that both preach peacefully and respectfully from the Bible.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Good news for the Christmas season: making lemonade from lemons; God gets last word

You probably remember the saga of Richard and Betty Odgaard, owners of the GÓ§rtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa. For those of you who don’t remember, the Odgaards, they owned a former church building that they had turned into an art gallery that they rented it out for weddings.

Pastor Ryan Jorgenson
A strong Mennonite family, the Odgaards refused to rent their facility for a same-sex ceremony and ultimately were put out of business when the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, supporting the same-sex couple’s false claims (they had already been married in another state, see our earlier post here) effectively put the family out of business.
But God always has the last word. The building was turned back into a church and has now generated a large congregation of largely younger people. To discuss this turn around Tuesday will be Pastor Ryan Jorgenson of the new Harvest Bible Chapel, which has risen from the legal disaster foist upon the Odgaards by the militant homosexual movement and abetted by biased members of the Civil Rights Commission. We’ll hear his story and his special Christmas wish for our listeners. See the Harvest Bible Chapel video below.
We’ll also have our monthly visit from our research associate and movie reviewer Stephanie Crowley with a review of the movie “The Letters” the story of Mother Theresa whom the church has just announced will be canonization by His Holiness Pope Francis.
Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com for a “good news” Christmas edition of Faith On Trial. Unless pre-empted by Dowling Catholic basketball, the program will re-broadcast at 9 p.m.
Faith On Trial is brought to you by our loyal sponsors and underwriters: Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; Confluence Brewing Company – off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road where there is live entertainment in the tap room every Thursday, and Rob denHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Physician loses hospital privilege over LGBT warnings

Dr. Church loses final appeal at hospital. Board of Directors upholds physician’s expulsion for telling the truth about high-risk LGBT behavior to colleagues
Dr. Paul Church
The cave-in at the major Boston Harvard-affiliated hospital is complete. The Board of Directors of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has formally notified Dr. Paul Church that they are upholding his expulsion from the hospital and that his medical privileges there are terminated.
His crime? As MassResistance has reported, Dr. Church, a urologist who is also on the Harvard Medical School faculty, voiced concerns to his colleagues about the hospital's aggressive promotion of LGBT activities. He pointed out the long list of serious medical risks -- and also moral issues -- associated with those behaviors.
The hospital never disputed the truth of Dr. Church's statements. Nor did they claim that he ever discussed this with patients or treated them differently. Instead, the hospital took extraordinary steps first to silence him and then to expel him on a ludicrous charge of making "offensive" remarks. Over months of hearings and appeals, the hospital wouldn't relent.
In September Sean Ryan, MassResistance director of communications, was our guest and told our listeners the Dr. Church story. See our earlier post.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Court allows lawsuit of unjustly fired fire chief to go forward against city of Atlanta

ATLANTA – A federal court ruled Wednesday that an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit filed on behalf of former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran will go forward against the city for unjustly firing him because of his religious beliefs. While the court agreed to dismiss some claims, the court is allowing the lawsuit to go forward on Cochran’s primary claims of retaliation, discrimination based on his viewpoint, and the violation of his constitutionally protected freedoms of religion, association, and due process (firing without following proper procedure).

At oral arguments in October before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Cochran v. City of Atlanta, ADF argued that the city’s arguments themselves confirm Cochran’s claim that the city fired him for holding and expressing religious beliefs city officials didn’t like.
“A religious or ideological test cannot be used to fire a public servant, but the city did exactly that, as the evidence and facts of this case clearly demonstrate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, who argued before the court. “We look forward to proceeding with this case because of the injustice against Chief Cochran, one of the most accomplished fire chiefs in the nation, but also because the city’s actions place every city employee in jeopardy who may hold to a belief that city officials don’t like.”
“Tolerance must apply to people of different viewpoints, not just those who agree with the beliefs the government prefers,” added ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Americans don’t surrender their constitutionally protected freedoms when they become public servants.”
After activists who don’t agree with Cochran’s Christian views on sex and marriage complained about a brief mention of the topics in a 162-page book Cochran had written on his personal time, Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran for 30 days without pay and announced that he would have to complete “sensitivity training.” Reed then fired him, even though a city investigation concluded that he did not discriminate against anyone. Public statements Reed and City Councilman Alex Wan made late last year confirm the truth about why the city fired Cochran.
“I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran’s book is not representative of my personal beliefs and is inconsistent with the administration’s work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all citizens…,” Reed said in November of last year to explain why he suspended Cochran.
That same month, Wan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I respect each individual’s right to have their own thoughts, beliefs and opinions, but when you’re a city employee and those thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door.”
Reed recounted in his 2014 State of the City Address that he “begged” Cochran to return to Atlanta in 2010 from his job as U.S. fire administrator in the Obama administration. Cochran agreed, and the city council confirmed him to serve a second time as the city’s fire chief, a job Cochran originally held from 2008 to 2009.
In 2012, Fire Chief Magazine named Cochran “Fire Chief of the Year.” In a city news release issued about the award, Reed thanked Cochran for his “pioneering efforts to improve performance and service within the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department,” applauded “Chief Cochran and all of Atlanta’s brave firefighters for the commitment to excellence shown throughout the department,” and recognized that Cochran’s “national recognition” as Fire Chief of the Year was “much-deserved.” 

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christian Legal Ethics … “too religious” for Texas Bar Association

So what is wrong with teaching lawyers Christian legal ethics? Everything, says the State Bar of Texas; the course is “too religious”, says that distinguished body, composed of representatives of one of the most maligned and perhaps ethically challenged professions in the nation.
Professor William Piatt
Last October St. Mary’s University School of Law, along with the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of San Antonio, and the Christian Legal Society of San Antonio, sponsored a continuing legal program entitled “Christian Ethical Perspectives: Faith and Law Today.” The program was given a one-time provisional accreditation by the Texas Bar. However, the Bar has now informed sponsors that it will receive future accreditation only for those portions of the program devoted to secular law and legal ethics.
That, of course, didn’t sit well with the sponsors who have appealed the non-accreditation decision. Joining Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll this week will be St. Mary’s Law Professor William Piatt who told the Cardinal Newman Society that the Bar is going out of its way “to make it impossible for Catholics to put on a continuing legal education program that says anything about faith or morality.”
Professor Piatt specializes in constitutional law and jurisprudence with a focus on Catholic perspectives. Prior to joining the St. Mary’s law faculty he served as the assistant attorney general in New Mexico and later as assistant public defender. He also created the first-in-the-nation Center for Terrorism Law.
Join Deacon Mike and Gina Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming live on IowaCatholicRadio.com. Unless pre-empted by Dowling Catholic basketball, the program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m.
Faith On Trial is sponsored by Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; Confluence Brewing Company – off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road where there is live entertainment in the tap room every Thursday, and Rob denHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thomas More Society on winning the “war on Christmas”

Thomas More Society defends private rights to freely
express religious belief in public squares

This Christmas Season, Thomas More Society continues to fight for freedom of religious

speech and the free exercise of religious faith in the public square. As legal counsel for the American Nativity Scene Committee (ANSC) and local private groups around the country, the Society defends these rights and also equips Americans to display nativity scenes in their State Capitols and in other public venues that qualify as traditional and designated public forums. This year, along with ANSC, Thomas More Society is co-sponsoring nativity displays – which have been donated by an anonymous benefactor – in the State Capitols of Illinois, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Georgia, and Texas, and at the Governor’s Mansion in Oklahoma.  Efforts continue to secure permits for such displays elsewhere around the nation.

The nativity displays represent classic free speech and free exercise of religious faith by private citizens in the public square. These displays, however, have not gone up without controversy.

“Atheist groups may mock our message, but we will not be silent as it is critical that Christians proclaim the Gospel message to their fellow citizens,” said Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society president and chief counsel. “Anti-Christian, anti-Christmas rhetoric and Satanic expositions merely serve to provide sharp emphasis by means of their stark contrast with the positive, uplifting, hopeful and joyous message of Christmas – a message that bears secular as well as religious significance, as it highlights the hope and miracle of birth and new life, the inherent dignity of each and every human being, focusing our attention on the humble and lowly infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger amidst straw and animals, honored by shepherds and kings alike, and heralded by choirs of angels.  That message of the essential equality and dignity of all human beings, no matter how rich or poor, humble or high-stationed, resonates deeply with the values that Americans cherish.”

Last Christmas, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and ACLU tried to force Franklin County in Indiana to dismantle the privately funded and privately sponsored Nativity Scene that has been displayed on its courthouse lawn (in addition to other private displays set up there from time to time throughout the year) every Christmas for over fifty years. Thomas More Society defeated FFRF and ACLU in federal court in Indianapolis, where the court rebuffed the atheist groups’ legally baseless claim that this private display was an “establishment of religion by the government.”  On the contrary, the court ruled that the Christian citizens had a right to display a Nativity Scene on their local Courthouse lawn, which qualified as a “designated public forum.”

This controversy is not a new.  Almost thirty years ago, a lawsuit had to be filed to protect the Nativity Scene (and to prevent physical destruction of the statues) on Daley Plaza in Chicago, when city and county officials tried to suppress the right of Christians to express their religious faith in that traditional public forum, where political rallies ethnic celebrations and other cultural events have been regularly staged.  A private attorney, Jennifer Neubauer, had to file suit and persuade the late Chief U.S. District Judge James B. Parsons to enter a permanent injunction, enjoining the authorities from this “discrimination” against religious expression on Daley Plaza.

“The nativity displays represent a constitutionally protected expression by private citizens in traditional or designated public forums, where the sole role of the government is that of a viewpoint-neutral gatekeeper assuring open access for all citizens to have their ‘say,’” added Brejcha. “If the First Amendment entitles you to get up on your soapbox and plead for a candidate or advocate a political point of view in a public forum, then equally you may get on the soapbox and proclaim the joyous, hopeful message of the Christ Child!” 

About the Thomas More Society: 

Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.

About the American Nativity Scene Committee:

The American Nativity Scene Committee is dedicated to the display of Nativity Scenes in every State Capitol throughout the United States during the Christmas season. The Committee ships nativity scenes (donated by a very generous anonymous benefactor) to private citizens all over the U.S. who wish to bear witness to the true meaning of Christmas by securing permits (with the Society’s legal help, if needed) to set up a nativity scene in their local public square.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What is happening to Christian refugees? Is U.S. policy not permitting Christians to seek refuge? Next on FOT

Why are persecuted Christians not able to gain refugee status in the United States? News reports indicate that since 2011 less than three percent of the 2,184 Syrian refugees allowed into the country were Christian.  And according to State Department figures, 97 percent of the refugees resettled in 2015 are Muslim.

Faith McDonnell
Where are the Christian refugees?
We’ll discuss this issue this week with Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Faith writes and speaks on the subject of the persecuted church (here's a link to some of her writings) and is the author of the 2007 book Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for NorthernUganda’s Children. She is a member of the Anglican Church of the Apostles and serves on the church’s international missions committee and as a board member for several human rights organizations.
Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll for an interesting
discussion with Faith on a subject that is important to all Christians today, as well as for our usual potpourri of news items of interest to people of faith. Faith On Trial is heard every Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streams on IowaCathoilcRadio.com. Unless pre-empted by Dowling Catholic Basketball, the program will rebroadcast at 9 p.m.

Faith On Trial is supported by our loyal underwriters Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; ConfluenceBrewing Company – off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road where there is live entertainment in the tap room every Thursday, and Rob denHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hears Life Legal Defense Foundation's defense of pro-life speech!

Seeking injunction to protect sidewalk counselors from harassment

Katie Short
This afternoon, Life Legal Defense Foundation’s lead attorney, and frequent FOT guest Katie Short, appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the Chief of Police and other officers of the City of Jackson, Mississippi to protect the First Amendment rights of pro-life speakers.

The case involves members of Pro-Life Mississippi (PLM), who have had a presence on the public sidewalk of the state’s last abortion clinic for years. During much of that time, they have been harassed, intimidated, threatened, and even arrested by law enforcement officers. In December 2013, the police arrested Harriet Ashley, who was 80 years old at the time, shackling her and taking her downtown for booking. That’s when Life Legal said enough is enough and filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking justice for those wrongfully arrested and first amendment protection for those peacefully praying on the sidewalk outside Mississippi’s last abortion clinic. 

In 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi entered a consent decree against the City of Jackson and its Chief of Police because of the Police Department’s pervasive policy of violating the pro-lifers’ free speech rights. The Court went so far as to order the City and the police department to attend training on the First Amendment and to learn how to protect the free speech rights of citizens. However, the discriminatory and unconstitutional enforcement of the law has not stopped.

Jackson law enforcement officers continue to impose arbitrary and bizarre rules on the sidewalk counselors, including a “no touch” rule that prohibits the group from resting their signs on the ground at any time, even for a moment, and a “no standing” rule that requires them to continually move about when they are near the gate of the abortion clinic. Members of the group have been arrested for violating these so-called rules, even though they are not codified in any state or local statutes. At the same time, the Jackson Police Department enforced no such regulations against pro-abortion protesters on the same sidewalk.

“The City is on a mission and, as evidenced by the 2008 consent decree, has been for many years. Their mission is to discourage First Amendment activity,” said Life Legal attorney Katie Short. “The City’s strategy has been to force pro-life speakers into a game of ‘Mother, May I?’ with the police and then drag the losers into court on frivolous charges. That game needs to end.”

The injunction would allow pro-life speakers to continue their lawful and peaceful presence on the sidewalk without the threat of unwarranted and unconstitutional police action directed against them.