Monday, May 22, 2017

“Last Man Standing,” pro-life students being harassed, and … a new co-host? Next

A firestorm erupted when ABC Television announced that the popular sitcom “Last Man Standing,” staring the Tim Allen, was cancelled. A lot of rumors, charges, and counter-charges floated throughout the media, social and otherwise, that the program was cancelled because its star was a conservative and supporter of President Trump, and the program reflected conservative and Christian values.

For those who have not seen the program, Tim’s character, Mike Baxter, runs a sporting goods store, The Outdoor Man, which is similar to The Bass Pro Shop. He is married and has three daughters, one was a teenage mother, the middle daughter is a less than scholarly beauty, and the youngest is a tom-boy and Mike’s favorite.  There is a lot of play back and forth between him, his wife, and two of the daughters about politics, responsibility, and faith. As
Dan Gainor
Media Research Center
dad, Mike takes a decidedly conservative view on all matters and the program has been a hit with good ratings for six years.
So why was it cancelled? Tuesday we’ll have Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture for the Media Research Center to discuss the how and whys of ABC’s decision to cancel its popular program.
Kristan Hawkins
Students for Life
In addition to Dan, we’ll have back Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life America to discuss a few new cases in which they have become involved. One concerns a Pennsylvania high school that refuses to allow students to form a pro-life club even though the students have met the requirements set down by the school. The other concerns a Fresno State University professor who continues to erase and remove pro-life messages the school permits on campus. Both have been the subject of previous blog articles that can be found here, and the second one here.
And we may have a big surprise in that we might have a new co-host for Deacon Mike. Sadly, as you recall, Gina Noll left the program due to conflicting time commitments and we had to say good-by last week. So, does Deacon Mike have a new co-host? Check in Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. to find out on Faith On Trial: 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on; FOT can also be heard on our downloadable app which you can get at the App Store. FOT is re-broadcast at 9 p.m. (all times Central) and podcasts of earlier programs can be found here.
FOT is on the air courtesy of 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 Robert Cota, Farm Bureau FinancialServices, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642.

Abortion proponents not “Protected Class” according to lawsuit against St. Louis

Thomas More Society and Archbishop Robert Carlson Defend Rights of Catholic Schools,  Religious Nonprofits and Privately-Owned Businesses

 (May 22, 2017 – St. Louis, MO) A home for pregnant women, a group of Catholic grade schools, and a for-profit holding company and its owner have come together to sue the city of St. Louis for violating their constitutional rights to freedom of religion and speech, among other federal and state laws.
The case, filed today by the Thomas More Society asserts that the recently enacted city Ordinance 70459 extends protected class status to any person who advocates or supports abortion – while discriminating against those who seek to promote life or offer pro-life alternatives to abortion.
“The city has taken the protections typically granted to prevent discrimination for ‘race, age, religion, sex or disability’ and applied them to those who have made or expect to make ‘reproductive health decisions,’” explained Sarah Pitlyk, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, “where ‘reproductive health decisions’ is so overbroad as to include any decision that is any way related to contraceptive use or abortion. The law would therefore force nonprofit organizations like Our Lady’s Inn, whose mission is to promote and facilitate abortion alternatives, to hire abortion advocates, despite their opposition to the ministry’s reason for existence.”
Pitlyk noted that the Missouri legislature continues to fund life affirming programs, including $6.46 million for the Alternatives to Abortion program, and has cut support of Planned Parenthood and other agencies that perform or refer for abortions not necessary to save the life of the mother. She stated, “The City of St. Louis, by pushing an abortion agenda, is clearly out of step with the rest of the state.”
Our Lady’s Inn, the Archdiocesan Elementary Schools of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC, and Frank Robert O’Brien are seeking judicial review of Ordinance 70459, also known as Board Bill 203 Committee Substitute, because it violates their rights under the U.S. Constitution and various Missouri statutes.
The ordinance, enacted in February, was represented as addressing discrimination in employment, housing and realty against individuals who have had, or were planning to have, abortions. Proponents and sponsors of the ordinance, however, were unable to point to the actual occurrence of any such discrimination in the City of St. Louis. Pitlyk labels it, “a remedy in search of a problem.”
The complaint lists multiple federal constitutional causes of action against the ordinance, including violations of the:
  • Free Speech clause of the First Amendment
  • Right to Expressive Association under the First Amendment
  • Religion clauses of the First Amendment
  • Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
  • Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment 
City of St. Louis Ordinance 70459 also violates the following Missouri state laws, according to the filing:

  • Two laws that prohibit mandating employer-provided insurance coverage for abortion (Mo. Rev. Stat. 191.724 and Mo. Rev. Stat. 376.805)
  • Two laws that provide for maternity homes, adoption and pregnancy assistance for low-income women (Mo. Rev. Stat. 188.325 and Mo. Rev. Stat. 135.600)
  • The Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Mo. Rev. Stat. 1.302 and Mo. Rev. Stat. 1.307) 
The language of the new law creates protections for anyone who has “made a decision related to abortion,” even when the abortion is not their own, and even includes legal protections for corporations and all business organizations. It forbids any entity, including Christian organizations and individuals whose teachings hold abortion to be a grave sin, from refusing to sell or rent property to individuals or corporate organizations that promote or provide abortions. The law’s limited religious exemptions are vague and undefined and do not cover individuals. The ordinance also purports to compel private businesses to include abortion coverage in their employee health plans, despite sincere objections by company owners—a requirement that has already been held unlawful by the Supreme Court of the United States (Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius et al.) and is also unlawful under Missouri law.
“This ordinance does not exempt individuals with sincere religious, moral or ethical objections to abortion from its requirements in any way,” stated Pitlyk, “and even for qualifying religious organizations, the exemption for employment, housing and realty is extremely limited. That is unconstitutional, and directly violates both federal and state law.” She added: “Ordinance 70459 is unlawful and unenforceable, and we fully expect the court to invalidate it.”
About the Thomas More Society: The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago and Omaha, the Thomas More 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. For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Pennsylvania high school discriminates against pro-life club

Thomas More Society defends student rights in Allentown

(May 17, 2017 - Allentown, PA) – Attorneys from the Thomas More Society have sent a demand letter to administrators at Parkland High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The letter charges that the school’s denial of a request by some students to form a pro-life student group is unconstitutional and must be reversed.  

St. Thomas More
Last fall, two students tried to start a Students for Life group at Parkland. The school’s assistant principal informed the duo that they needed an advisor and that they would also need to submit a club proposal. The girls found an advisor and submitted their proposal in March 2017.
The application was denied, verbally, by the assistant principal, who stated that the group was too “political” and “controversial.” Junior Grace Schairer, one of the club applicants, sent an email to the assistant principal on April 6, requesting to know what steps could be taken to overcome the objections to the student pro-life group. The school permits other clubs, including the Gay Straight Alliance, the Political Science Club, and the Fashion Club. She received no response.   

Elizabeth Castro, a senior at the Allentown high school, observed, “We met all of Parkland High School’s requirements for beginning a club at the school. We were denied simply because we are pro-life.” She explained, “As a club, our purpose is to create a life-affirming culture at our school, educate our peers on the issue of life, hold diaper drives to support pregnant and parenting students, and become a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. The school is not only denying our right to start a group but also denying the opportunity for others at our school to learn about the greatest human rights social injustice of our time.” 

“There is absolutely no question that the law protects the right of these students to form this club at their high school,” stated Jocelyn Floyd, Thomas More Society special counsel. She noted that the response from Parkland High School administration reflects a common misconception. “However,” she added, “this administration’s denial of a pro-life club is especially surprising, because this district’s policy expressly allows students to form clubs with ‘any lawful objective.’” 

“The high school students we work with are passionate defenders of life and, oftentimes, their schools put up unnecessary and unconstitutional obstacles when they try to start Students for Life clubs,” said Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins. “The school’s baseless claim that the club would be too ‘controversial’ and ‘political’ is a common excuse we hear – and it’s always infringing on the First Amendment rights of pro-life students, treating them as second-class citizens because they happen to want to educate their peers on the horrors of abortion and help pregnant and parenting students at their school.”

The communication to Parkland administration from the Thomas More Society states that the denial of the pro-life club violates the First Amendment, the Federal Equal Access Act, and Parkland School District’s own policies. The letter demands that Parkland’s administration immediately approve the application for the Students for Life club at Parkland High School. 

About the Thomas More Society

The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago and Omaha, the Thomas More 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. For more information, visit 

About Students for Life of America

Students for Life of America  dedicated to ending abortion by educating students about the issues of abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide; identifying pro-life student leaders; equipping student pro-lifers with the training, skills and resources to be effective and successful; and promoting student activity to other local, college and national organizations. For more information, visit

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Farewell to Gina … Thanks for all you have done; you made our show great!

Gina Noll 
Today we had to bid farewell to our co-host, Gina Noll. Gina first appeared on FOT in October of 2013 when the show went live; for the first four months of the program it was taped in interview segments and the editing staff put it together in a half-hour format. When the show was moved from its weekend taped format to Tuesday morning live, Gina joined Deacon Mike Manno and served as co-host until today. During that time we have broadcast 175 different weekly shows, not including special broadcasts including the twice yearly Car-a-thons. She has made a big difference to the structure and make-up of FOT, all to the good. But all things apparently must come to an end. Gina’s family and employment demands have been increasing and she asked to be let out of her responsibilities at Iowa Catholic Radio. We will miss her; she was a valuable part of FOT and the radio station and made both better as a result of her efforts. God bless you, Gina, and may He keep you and your family safe and happy in the coming days.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fresno State U. professor sued for erasing, censoring students’ pro-life sidewalk chalk expression

ADF represents Students for Life chapter at Fresno State in new lawsuit
FRESNO, Calif. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a pro-life student organization filed suit in federal court Thursday against a Fresno State University professor who instructed students from his class to join him in defacing and erasing the group’s sidewalk chalk messages that affirmed life.

“No university professor has the authority to roam the campus, silencing any student speech he happens to find objectionable and recruiting students to participate in this censorship,” said ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham. “Like all government officials, professors have an obligation to respect students’ free speech rights. And they should encourage all students to participate in the marketplace of ideas, rather than silencing those with whom they happen to differ. The professor’s actions here represent a flagrant violation of the First Amendment.”

In April, the Fresno State Students for Life received permission to chalk positive, life-affirming messages on the sidewalks leading to the university’s library. As its members finished chalking these messages on the morning of May 2, Gregory Thatcher, a public health professor, confronted them and falsely alleged they could not chalk messages near the library, and could only express themselves in the so-called “free speech area.” (The university eliminated this speech zone in June 2015.)

After club president Bernadette Tasy explained she had university permission to chalk messages in that spot, Thatcher announced that he would return to erase the messages shortly. He then recruited at least seven students from his 8:00 a.m. class to erase and deface the pro-life chalk messages. When Ms. Tasy reminded him that the club was acting with full permission, Thatcher walked over to one of the pro-life messages and began erasing it himself, claiming that he was exercising his free speech rights. And he erroneously proclaimed, “College campuses are not free speech areas.” The enclosed video documents Thatcher’s hostile statements and actions.

“Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, educators, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that university professors model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students, and why it should disturb everyone that this Fresno State professor, like so many other university officials across the country, is communicating to a generation that the Constitution doesn’t matter,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.

The lawsuit, Fresno State Students for Life v. Thatcher, explains that Professor Thatcher’s decision to erase Students for Life’s expression, to recruit students to help in his censorship, and to harass and intimidate the group violates their fundamental right to freedom of speech. Additionally, the complaint asks the court to block Thatcher “and any other persons acting on his behalf or at his direction from interfering, disrupting, or altering any future lawful expressive activities that [Fresno State Students for Life and its members] conduct.”

“Fresno State Students for Life received full permission to chalk pro-life messages near the library. Rather than countering with his own message, Dr. Thatcher took the illegal approach of censoring speech and inciting students to help in this,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “No students should have to endure this kind of intimidation and harassment for simply expressing their views, but especially not those who want to help the women betrayed, and the preborn children killed, by the abortion industry.”

Students for Life of America is the nation’s largest pro-life youth organization and currently serves more than 1,040 groups in colleges, high schools, and medical schools across the U.S. Attorney Michael L. Renberg of the Fresno law firm Parichan, Renberg & Crossman is serving as local counsel in the case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

Religious freedom in the military is this week’s topic on FOT

Michael Berry
First Liberty Institute
Joining us this week on FOT will be Michael Berry, Senior Counsel & Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, where he focuses on cases involving religious liberty within the armed forces. He joined First Liberty Institute in 2013 after serving for seven years as an attorney with the U.S. Marine Corps. From 2009 until 2013, Berry served as an appellate litigator, arguing numerous cases before various federal appeals courts. In 2008, Berry was selected for a high-profile combat deployment to Afghanistan with a Marine Corps infantry battalion. From 2009 – 2012, Berry served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the United States Naval Academy.

Michael will be discussing three cases in which he is involved:
Col Madrid
1. Colonel Michael Madrid, a decorated Air Force veteran who has honorably served in the military for 26 years. He is also a devout Christian. In 2014, a service member undergoing a court-martial accused Col. Madrid of making derogatory comments about homosexuality. Col. Madrid denied making such comments and submitted to a thorough Air Force investigation, where he explained that he holds traditional Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality. The investigation ultimately cleared him of the charges. Two years later, Col. Madrid was placed under a new commander, Maj. Gen. John E. McCoy, who accessed the report and, without any new evidence or new investigation, arbitrarily decided Madrid was guilty and punished him.
2. United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was convicted at a court
LCpl Sterling
martial after she refused to take down Bible verses she had posted in her workspace and for reposting the verses after her supervisor threw them in the trash. The military courts ruled against Sterling, giving her a bad conduct discharge and reducing her rank. First Liberty Institute stepped in and appealed Sterling’s case to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF)— the highest military court which ruled against Sterling, denying her constitutional right to religious freedom. First Liberty appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court on December 23, 2016.
3. Oscar Rodriguez, Jr. is a decorated Air Force veteran who has delivered a patriotic flag-folding speech over 100 times at civic and military events. In March 2016, a retiring service member asked Rodriguez to deliver the flag-folding speech at his retirement
Oscar Rodriguez
ceremony, to be held at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento. Rodriguez agreed, but when he began the speech, uniformed Airmen assaulted him, physically dragged him out of the ceremony, and kicked him off the military base because the speech included the word “God.”
You will hear these and other stories of interest to people of faith from our guest and Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll. We also expect a special announcement about FOT any day now.
FOT airs every Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM; and streaming on It can also be heard on our downloadable app that is available free from the app store. Podcasts of earlier programs can also be found here.
FOT is on the air courtesy of 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 Robert Cota, Farm Bureau FinancialServices, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kentucky appeals court upholds victory for printer, deals blow to government coercion

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A Kentucky appeals court issued a ruling Friday that affirms a Lexington printer’s freedom to decline orders that would require him to promote a message in conflict with his religious beliefs.

In 2014, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission ruled that Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals must print messages that conflict with his faith when customers ask him to do so. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys appealed the order to the Fayette Circuit Court, which reversed the commission’s ruling and affirmed Adamson’s freedom to live according to his faith. The commission then appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals in Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands On Originals.

“Americans should always have the freedom to believe, the freedom to express those beliefs, and the freedom to not express ideas that would violate their conscience,” said Campbell, who argued before the appeals court in December of last year. “Today’s decision is a victory for printers and other creative professionals who serve all people but cannot promote all messages. It is also a victory for all Americans because it reassures us all that, no matter what you believe, the law can’t force you to express a message in conflict with your deepest convictions.”

In 2012, Adamson declined to print shirts with a message promoting the Lexington Pride Festival, an event that the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization hosted. Although he declined to print the shirts because of the message that would have been on them, he nevertheless offered to refer the GLSO to another printer who would have made the shirts. Unsatisfied, the GLSO filed a complaint with the commission—despite eventually receiving the shirts for free from another printer.

The appeals court opinion written by Chief Judge Joy A. Kramer found that Adamson did not engage in unlawful discrimination. She explained that no evidence demonstrates that Hands On Originals “refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity.” In fact, Adamson regularly does business with and employs people who identify as LGBT.

The concurring opinion by Judge Debra Hembree Lambert says that Hands On Originals is protected by Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Statute, and that Adamson has the right under that law to operate his business consistently with his “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“We commend the court’s ruling, which upholds the First Amendment’s promise that everyone, including businesses and their owners, can decide for themselves the ideas and beliefs that they choose to express,” added Bryan Beauman of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, of Lexington. Beauman, one of nearly 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, is co-counsel for Adamson and Hands on Originals.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ADF offers to help Colorado colleges, universities comply with new ‘free speech on campus’ law

DENVER Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys announced that they will offer no-fee legal assistance to Colorado’s public colleges and universities to help ensure that campus policies protect students in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and a new state law that protects students’ free speech.

On April 4, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill that specifically guarantees the freedom of students to engage in all forms of speech activities: speaking, distributing written material, peaceful assembly, voter registration, and circulating petitions—among others. The ADF letter to Colorado colleges and universities offers to advise them on complying with the new statute.

“Of all places in America, public colleges and universities should be laboratories for democracy and the free expression of ideas for all speakers, not just those favored by school officials,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer. “The objective of this effort is to ensure that university and college officials are informed of their obligations to uphold free speech on campus and to assist administrators in reviewing their policies for compliance with both the Constitution and this new law.”

As the ADF letter to the schools notes, one of the protections that Senate Bill 62 offers is the abolishment of restrictive and unconstitutional so-called “speech zones” that schools have used to limit students’ ability to speak publicly on campus. The law also mirrors constitutional protections by prohibiting school officials from discriminating against campus speakers on the basis of their viewpoints. Importantly, it also ensures student speech cannot be restricted because some listeners express opposition to, or react negatively to, their expression. Such action is known as a “heckler’s veto” because it unconstitutionally allows those who oppose certain speech to censor that communication which they oppose.

“Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “That’s why it’s so important that public universities model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students, and why it should disturb everyone when many colleges fail to defend these constitutional values. We commend Colorado for taking these rights seriously and will be pleased to assist the state’s colleges and universities in revising any policies necessary to comply with this law.”

SB 62 passed the Colorado House of Representatives and Senate with very strong bipartisan support. Earlier this year, Langhofer testified before both chambers in support of the bill. Colorado joins Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, Utah, and Virginia among states that have recently enacted legislation to abolish restrictive “speech zones” on college campuses. Since many college and university administrators either ignore or misunderstand principles of free speech on campuses across the country, states have stepped up to the plate with legislation to remind their school administrators of the core constitutional protections of the First Amendment.
Barry Arrington, one of nearly 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel for the effort.

Deacon Mike's latest column in The Wanderer

Here is Deacon Mike Manno’s latest column in The Wanderer. It involves the new ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) which was discussed on the program several times. You can read more about current issues affecting people of faith every week in The Wanderer. 

Is legislative prayer on its way back to the Supreme Court?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the second time in three years the longstanding tradition of local legislative prayer could be sent back to the U.S. Supreme Court. A Pagan activist sued to stop county commissioners in Jackson County, Michigan from opening their meetings with voluntary prayer arguing it establishes religion, even though the Supreme Court already unanimously protected legislative prayer in 2014. Becket, along with leading religious liberty scholar Professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School, filed a friend-of-the-court brief today explaining that local legislative prayer does not violate the Constitution.

A Pagan activist, Peter Bormuth has sued more than six times in the past few years against various governmental bodies and nonprofits, including suing a community college because it did not give him special treatment as a “druidic bard” at poetry readings, and suing a local nonprofit nature center after he sent an email threatening staff because he thought they shouldn't use a golf cart. His latest lawsuit, Bormuth v. Jackson County, tries to force individual county commissioners to stop praying.

“Just three years ago the Supreme Court unanimously supported legislative prayer,” said Daniel Blomberg, counsel at Becket, and lead attorney in this case. “There’s nothing unconstitutional about opening a meeting in prayer. And some people would say that government needs all the help it can get.”

The case, which will be heard at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, could come into conflict with Lund v. Rowan County, another legislative prayer case currently at the Fourth Circuit. If the two courts rule differently, another Supreme Court case is very likely, even though the Court unanimously supported legislative prayer in Town of Greece v. Galloway just three years ago.

In this case, Bormuth, who represents himself, lost in federal district court, but won in a 2-1 decision at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The full Sixth Circuit then spontaneously scheduled the case for argument before the entire 14-judge court.

“Sometimes the squeaky wheel shouldn’t get the grease,” added Blomberg. “Disagreements about religion cannot be used as an excuse to banish religious activity entirely from public life. If courts would simply reconnect the First Amendment with its historical roots, there wouldn’t be so many divisive church-state lawsuits.”

The full 14-judge Sixth Circuit will hear the case on June 14 in Cincinnati.

Additional Information                                                                     
Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more).

PJI: Firefighter should not have been fired for his faith

Olympia, WA—Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is urging the Washington Supreme Court to correct an injustice after a firefighter’s religious expression led to his termination.

In 2012, Jonathan Sprague was fired from his position as a fire captain in the Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD).  His offense was failing to self-censor his religious expression, which the SVFD called insubordination and unbecoming conduct.

The conflict centered around e-mails and use of an electronic bulletin board.  The Fire Department sent out newsletters from an employee assistance program covering topics such as family conflict, suicide, compulsive gambling, and eating disorders.  The electronic bulletin board included posts by employees selling concert tickets and seeking babysitters.  But when Sprague made announcements or sent e-mails with Scripture references—some on the very same social topics introduce by the Fire Department—he was disciplined and ultimately fired.

Sprague’s termination was upheld by the Court of Appeals of Washington in a splintered decision that included three separate opinions and a strong dissent. At the request of Sprague’s attorneys, PJI filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week with the Washington Supreme Court, which has agreed to take up the case.  PJI argued that the lower tribunals should not have overlooked the obvious viewpoint discrimination in this case.

Brad Dacus, president of PJI, and yesterday’s FOT guest, commented, “Our first responders need all the encouragement they can get.  They certainly should not be fired for their religious expression.  This was a miscarriage of justice that we hope the Washington Supreme Court will rectify.”

PJI was assisted locally with this brief by Seattle attorney Conrad Reynoldson of Washington Civil & Disability Advocate.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Ban on gay therapy, Trump’s executive order, and more on next FOT

Brad Dacus
Pacific Justice Institute
Last week the U. S. Supreme Court refused to take an appeal from a Ninth Circuit ruling, filed by the Pacific Justice Institute, that upheld California’s ban on state-licensed mental health providers from sexual orientation change efforts with minors. Two years ago the Supreme Court also refused to hear an appeal over a similar law in New Jersey.

Joining us Tuesday will be Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute to outline what possible legal avenues are available considering the Supreme Court’s reluctance to hear the matter. In addition, Brad will give us his analysis of President Trump executive order on religious freedom that was signed last week.
After Brad we will be joined by Megan Malinaric, policy director for Colorado Family Action, which was part of a coalition that stopped the enactment of law similar to the California and New Jersey statutes whose appeals were not heard by the Supreme Court.
Megan Malinaric
Colorado Family Action
Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM; and streaming live on We can also be heard on our downloadable app that you can get for free from the app store. And remember, prior programs are pod-cast and can be found on the FOT page on the station’s website. The program will be rebroadcast Tuesday evening at 9 p.m.
FOT is on the air courtesy of 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 Robert Cota, Farm Bureau FinancialServices, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Deacon Tony Valdez and band at the Cinco de Mayo celebration

The man in the white is Deacon Tony Valdez leading his band at the Cinco de Mayo festival in Valley Junction (West Des Moines) Saturday night. Deacon Tony, besides leading his band, is also our board operator on FOT and for all the other locally produced programs on Iowa Catholic Radio. He is responsible for making sure all our guests are properly connected and all our pre-recorded clips are cued and are played at the appropriate time. We have a lot of “behind the scenes” personnel at the radio station without whom we couldn’t broadcast, Deacon Tony is one that we depend on every day. Deacon Tony also serves Christ the King parish in Des Moines.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

President pledges support for the Little Sisters of the Poor

President orders agencies to reconsider illegal imposition of mandate after repeated Supreme Court losses to nuns
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – After nearly five years and multiple wins at the Supreme Court, the Little Sisters of the Poor are a step closer to being free to serve. The 175-year-old religious order of women who care for the elderly poor received important presidential support in their long legal battle today. For four years, the Little Sisters have fought against a government mandate that would have forced them to provide services such as the week-after pill against their beliefs – even though the government already exempted plans covering one in three Americans, large corporations like Exxon and Pepsi, and its own insurance plans for military families. Today the President instructed government agencies and lawyers to respect religious liberty and consider how to change the mandate to comply with applicable law.
The Supreme Court heard the Little Sisters’ case last March, along with several other non-profit religious groups. Two months later, the Court unanimously ruled in favor of the Little Sisters, erasing the lower court’s ruling against them and ordering the government not to fine the nuns. 
“Nearly one year ago today the Supreme Court protected our ability to serve the elderly poor while remaining true to our faith,” said Mother Loraine, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor. “Today we are grateful for the President’s order and look forward to the agencies giving us an exemption so that we can continue caring for the elderly poor and dying as if they were Christ himself without the fear of government punishment.” 
The Sisters previously received unanimous protection from the Supreme Court and a midnight reprieve on New Year’s Eve 2013 before government fines were about to begin. In all, the government brought its mandate to the Supreme Court five times and lost five times. And those decisions were unanimous in the two cases involving the Little Sisters. 
“The President’s order makes clear that all federal agencies and lawyers must obey the law and respect religious liberty," said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel at Becket, which represents the Little Sisters and others challenging the HHS Mandate. “As the Supreme Court’s orders show, it was unnecessary and illegal to impose this mandate on the Little Sisters and other religious organizations. Our country has enough real problems without picking pointless culture wars against women who spend their lives caring for the elderly poor. America is better than that.”  
The legal battle started when the government created a new regulation requiring the Little Sisters and other non-profit religious groups to change their healthcare plan to provide services that violate their faith. The government refused to exempt the Little Sisters, even though it exempts health plans covering 1 in 3 Americans simply for reasons of cost or convenience (see the numbers here). The government also exempts large corporations like Exxon, Chevron and Pepsi, because they never changed their plans and so are grandfathered. And it exempts the massive health plan covering U.S. military families. But the government refused to give the same right to the Little Sisters.  
“The writing has been on the wall for a long time, which is why even the Obama Administration told the Supreme Court that there were other ways to achieve its goals,” said Rienzi. “President Trump deserves credit for his order, and now the agencies and government lawyers need to follow through to finally give up this futile crusade.” 
The Little Sisters have received widespread support in their case, including from a diverse coalition of religious leaders representing Jewish, Muslim, Native American, Catholic, Protestant and other faiths as well as over 200 Democratic and Republican Members of Congress. Today’s order also affects other Becket clients, including Christian Brothers Services, Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, Houston Baptist and East Texas Baptist Universities, Reaching Souls International, Truett-McConnell College, GuideStone Financial Services of the Southern Baptist Convention, Colorado Christian University, Wheaton College, Ave Maria University, and Eternal Word Television Network.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Kansas archbishop explains decision to end relationship with Girl Scouts

Statement Regarding Archdiocesan Transition from Girl Scouts to American Heritage Girls
By Archbishop Joseph F Naumann
May 1, 2017

After several consultations with the Presbyteral Council and with the recommendation of our Office for Youth Ministry, I have asked the pastors of the Archdiocese to begin the process of transitioning away from the hosting of parish Girl Scout troops and toward the chartering of American Heritage Girls troops.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Pastors were given the choice of making this transition quickly, or to, over the next several years, “graduate” the Scouts currently in the program. Regardless of whether they chose the immediate or phased transition, parishes should be in the process of forming American Heritage Girl troops, at least for their kindergarteners, this fall.
The decision to end our relationship with Girl Scouting was not an easy one. Over a period of many years, our Archdiocesan Youth Ministry staff spent hundreds of hours researching concerns regarding the policies of both the International and the National Girl Scouting organizations. In addition, they have spent hundreds of hours in dialogue with Scouts, parents, pastors, and national Girl Scouting representatives regarding our concerns with disturbing content in materials and resources developed and promulgated by the national organization. I personally have been in conversation with national and local Girl Scout leaders regarding my concerns about the new direction of national Girl Scouting reflected in the content of their program materials.  
Eventually it came down to this. Our greatest responsibility as a church is to the children and young people in our care. We have a limited time and number of opportunities to impact the formation of our young people. It is essential that all youth programs at our parishes affirm virtues and values consistent with our Catholic faith.
To follow Jesus and his Gospel will often require us to be counter-cultural. With the promotion by Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) of programs and materials reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture, they are no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel.
The national organization, for example, contributes more than a million dollars each year to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS), an organization tied to International Planned Parenthood and its advocacy for legislation that includes both contraception and abortion as preventive health care for women.
Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem are frequently held up in materials as role models for young Scouts. These as well as many other “role models” in the GSUSA’s new manuals and web content not only do not reflect our Catholic worldview but stand in stark opposition to what we believe.
While I am grateful that offensive and completely age-inappropriate material was recently removed by GSUSA from portions of their Journey series of manuals in response to concerns raised by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and others, it is disturbing such an intervention on our part was necessary. We prefer to partner with youth organizations that share our values and vision for youth ministry, not ones that we have to monitor constantly to protect our children from being misled and misinformed.
American Heritage Girls, a program based on Christian values, we believe is a much better fit for our parishes. I encourage you to read more about the American Heritage Girl program by going to its website, For more information about the history of and issues surrounding our Girl Scouting decision, go to
On a final note, I want to express my appreciation for the many extraordinary Girl Scout leaders of the archdiocese who have served so many so well. We look forward to having as many of them as are willing join us in leadership roles as we take this new step into the formation of our girls. I will always be grateful for their exceptional service.

GLSEN: What you need to know

On today’s program, which dealt with an LGBT teacher banning cross necklaces in her classroom because they are “gang symbols,” it was mentioned that the teacher was affiliated with a group known as GLSEN, which stands for Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educational Network.  To find out more about GLSEN you can check out the True Tolerance website’s backgrounder: What parents should know about GLSEN by following this link. True Tolerance is produced by Focus on the Family.

Kim also mentioned an article written by Judith Reisman, GLSEN and the Hitler Youth, which you can read here.
More information on the topic can be found on the Liberty Counsel website Litigation attorney for Liberty, Richard Mast, was our guest today.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Is a Cross necklace a “gang symbol”? One teacher says it is, next FOT -- Plus The Fire and the Mercy, The Pentecost Musical

Richard Mast
Liberty Counsel
Tomorrow we’re going to take up the issue of a math teacher who blatantly promotes the pro LGBT agenda in her classroom and has prohibited students from wearning Christian cross necklaces in her class claiming they are “gang symbols.” (See earlier story.)

Joining us will be Richard Mast, a litigation attorney with Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family. Liberty Counsel has sent a demand letter to the school asking that the teacher be corrected. Richard attended law school at Liberty University receiving his law degree in 2010.

In addition to Richard, local composer and producer Tom
Tom Quiner
Quiner will join us to discuss his new musical, The Fire and the Mercy, The Pentecost Musical.

Sitting in for Gina Noll tomorrow will be Kim Lehman, marketing and development director for Iowa Catholic Radio. Join Deacon Mike Manno and Kim for another interesting program about how law and society affects people of faith.

FOT airs at 9 a.m. (central) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 A.M.; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streams on where podcasts of earlier programs can be found. Iowa Catholic Radio also has a downloadable app you can get from the app store to listen anywhere.

Faith On Trial is on the air courtesy of 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 Robert Cota, Farm Bureau Financial Services, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Teacher bans Cross and forces LGBT agenda on students; our next topic on FOT

TAMPA, FL -- Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the Hillsborough County Public Schools regarding a teacher who has prohibited Christian jewelry, is engaging in outrageous LGBT political activism in her classroom, and punishes students who do not agree with her LGBT propaganda.

Lora Jane Riedas, a math teacher at Riverview High School, placed LGBT rainbow stickers on her students’ notebooks. Riedas’ classroom d├ęcor blatantly promotes a pro-LGBT agenda. Riedas retweeted, apparently during the school day, “favorite queer web series for kids” from “huffpostqueer” stating: “Here’s how to talk to kids about what it means to be an LGBTQ ally.” She is part of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) Leadership Institute. 
Riedas has prohibited at least three students from wearing Christian cross necklaces in her classroom, claiming they are “gang symbols.” One of the crosses, a tiny crucifix worn by
Liberty Counsel’s ninth grade client, is less than one inch long. Riedas demanded the student stop wearing her cross necklace and singled her out for several false “misbehavior” allegations after the student removed the LGBT rainbow sticker from her class notebook. Riedas’ lesbian partner, who is also a teacher at Riverview, dressed as a nun for school spirit week, complete with a “cross necklace” made of skulls. She tweeted she has “a bad habit” and the point is to be “creepy.” 
Riedas is promoting GLSEN’s “Day of Silence” coercive political activities scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, April 21, 2017. GLSEN’s guide encourages teachers to require students ages K-12 to engage in numerous forms of coercive, group political activism, disregarding the parents’ desires or the students’ religious beliefs. Students can either “go along to get along,” or risk being “outed” as disagreeing with the teacher and GLSEN’s radical LGBT viewpoint. Some of the GLSEN coercion includes allowing students “supportive” of “Day of Silence” to refrain from verbal participation in classroom instruction, while those who do not participate in “Day of Silence” must prepare to answer class questions. GLSEN encourages teachers to “print out” LGBT propaganda and “have students read and silently write about what they learned.” 
“The bullying behavior of Lora Jane Riedas is outrageous and unconstitutional,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “A teacher cannot ban students from wearing cross necklaces when other students are permitted to wear secular jewelry. Nor can teachers retaliate against students who refuse to display rainbow stickers on their books to promote an LGBT political agenda. The classroom is for learning, not promoting the LGBT agenda,” said Staver.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thomas More Law Center seeks to pierce veil of secrecy surrounding approval of mosque

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, announced that yesterday afternoon it filed a Public Records Request with Bernards Township on behalf of Township resident Cody Smith.  Mr. Smith had written a scathing letter to the Bernards Township Committee attacking “the stench” of secrecy surrounding the scheduled special meeting which had quickly been called for late Friday, April 21st.

That meeting was subsequently cancelled because of the lack of proper notice.  Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of TMLC, observed, “Based on the timing of the meeting late in the day on Friday, the meeting agenda, and discovery that resolutions approving the settlements of both the DOJ and the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (Islamic Society) lawsuits had already been filed with the Township clerk, it is probable that a decision had already been secretly made and that the scheduled meeting was a mere formality.”

TMLC represents several Bernards Township residents who were served with intrusive and harassing subpoenas by Islamic Society attorneys.  Their only involvement was to make public comments at a public Township hearing. They were non-parties to the lawsuit, had never had an official role in the Township and had no authority to deny the Islamic Society’s permit request.  Nonetheless, the subpoenas demanded the production of emails, voice mails, text messages, and social media posts concerning Muslims, Islam, or anything to do with Muslim worship.  The subpoenas clearly infringed upon their First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association.  The only purpose of the subpoenas was to punish residents who dared to oppose the Islamic Society’s request.

 Thompson continued: “The Township Committee knows that its motivations for disapproving the proposed zoning changes were completely proper and were not animated by hatred for any person or group.  Unfortunately, the tactics of intimidation waged by the Islamic Society and the deep-state Department of Justice attorneys, appointed by former Attorney General Eric Holder to carry-out his left-wing agenda, may have taken their toll.

“We filed this open records request to obtain the settlement agreements that we believe have already been tacitly agreed upon by the parties.  In doing so, we hope to shine a light on the dark tactics employed by the Islamic Society, its attorneys, and deep-state attorneys within the Department of Justice.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Neil Gorsuch’s first major Supreme Court case

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer involves the inability of a Christian day care center to access state funds to purchase scrap tires to resurface its playground. The state’s funds were distributed on a competitive basis, but because the day care was run by a church, the state denied funding. The case was argued before the U. S. Supreme Court last week. This link will take you to Deacon Mike Manno’s analysis if this important religious liberty case. It is published in this week's edition of The Wanderer. This case, and the Blaine Amendments, have been the subject of numerous conversations on Faith On Trial.