Monday, February 27, 2017

The Blaine Amendment vs. Trinity Lutheran Church: Teed up for SCOTUS

ADF Senior Counsel
Erik Stanley
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments on April 19 in arguably the most important religious freedom case this term, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley. We have been reporting on this case since it started and this week we will have as our guest Senior Counsel Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom to discuss the impact of this case and the future of the so-called “Little Blaine” amendments.

Trinity Lutheran Church Learning Center in Columbia sought to participate in the 2012 Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grant Program. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources disqualified the center solely because a church operates it. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit narrowly upheld a district court’s decision that ruled in favor of the state.
At stake could be the future of the Little Blaine Amendments which refers to a provision in 38 of the 50 state constitutions in the United States that forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation. They were designed to prohibit aid to parochial schools, especially those operated by the Catholic Church in locations with large immigrant populations.
The Blaine Amendments get their name from former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine who proposed it as an amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1875. When it failed several states adopted it for their states.   
James G. Blaine
“This is a critical case because, under the state’s logic, the government could deny churches access to fire services or water treatment, for example. That’s obviously not what the state or federal constitution was designed to prevent,” noted Erik Stanley, who has litigated the case since its inception. “The state admits that it blatantly excludes religious organizations from a safety program that has nothing to do with religion. That’s precisely the kind of hostility to religion that the U.S. Constitution prohibits.”
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Alliance Defending Freedom responds to the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision to deny conscience rights to Christian florist

Statement of ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner from media briefing, Feb. 16, 2017 regarding Washington Supreme Court decision in State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers and Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers
We are deeply disappointed with today’s court decision. It’s unbelievable to think that Barronelle Stutzman, a small business owner and creative professional who loves and respects everyone who walks through her shop’s doors, stands to lose all that she owns – her retirement, her life savings, her home – simply for declining to create custom expression for one event that violated her conscience for a long-time friend and customer. All Americans should be free to peacefully live and act consistent with their convictions and faith without threat of government punishment.
Kristen Waggoner
Our government was formed to be freedom’s greatest protector, not its greatest threat. But we are here today because the state of Washington and the ACLU have relentlessly gone after Barronelle’s freedom and everything she owns.
Barronelle created custom floral arrangements for Rob dozens of times over the course of nearly 10 years. Many of those artistic arrangements were for his partner, Curt. One time, in all those years, she declined to create a specific message that conflicted with her deeply held beliefs about marriage. And Rob and Curt had no trouble obtaining wedding flowers from two other local floral design artists. The only damages they claim are $8 in gas to go there instead.
This case is about crushing dissent. In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist. It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees.
Our nation has a long history of protecting the right to dissent, but simply because Barronelle disagrees with the state about marriage, the government and ACLU have put at risk everything she owns. This includes not only her business, but also her family’s savings, retirement funds, and home. It’s no wonder that so many people are rightly calling on President Trump to sign an executive order to protect our religious freedom. Because that freedom is clearly at risk for Barronelle and so many other Americans, and because no executive order can fix all of the threats to that freedom, we will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and reverse this grave injustice.
No one would expect a Muslim journalist to write a piece for a religious journal that attacked Mohammed; no one would expect an Orthodox Jewish artist to create a mural for a religious customer that contradicted the Torah’s teachings. Nor should Barronelle be forced to create custom expression celebrating a same-sex wedding.
We all have reason to fear a government that can ruin a 72-year-old grandmother for politely disagreeing with a friend. Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the government requires surrender, not nondiscrimination. And no one in America should be required to surrender their constitutional rights.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What we face with doctor prescribed death and euthanasia

These are a few notes about cases that have come to us from the Life Legal Defense Foundation. Life Legal has been interviewed on our program several times and its attorneys work free. Life Legal more recently was instrumental in the defense of the Planned Parenthood undercover video producer, David Daleiden, in his efforts to expose the sale of aborted baby body parts.

Here are the notes:

Last week we heard from the girlfriend of a 31-year-old man who suffered lack of oxygen after a heart attack. Just 24 hours after the incident, the hospital met with the family and pressured them to donate the young man’s organs. When the family objected, wanting to give their loved one more time to recover, the hospital told them their decision was “selfish.” Since then, the young man has become increasingly responsive. His CAT scan and EEG clearly show brain activity. When the hospital discusses his “quality of life” and terminating his care—i.e., starving and dehydrating him to death—the man becomes agitated. We are fighting to make sure he continues to receive appropriate care, including food and water.

On the same day, we received a call from the daughter of an elderly man who is in the ICU at a prestigious hospital in California. He is intubated and cannot speak for himself, but he is alert and responds to his family. Recently, the hospital informed the family that they would soon stop providing food and water and transition the elderly man to “comfort care,” which means giving him morphine until he dies. The family was appalled and prohibited the hospital from making changes to his treatment.  The hospital told them “We don’t need your permission to withdraw care.” A Life Legal attorney went to court the following day and obtained a court order requiring the hospital to maintain the man’s nutrition, hydration, and any other care he needs.

Life Legal continues to represent the family of Joe Williams,* a young man in his thirties who suffered a brain injury after he had trouble breathing while in the ER. We obtained a court order keeping Joe alive, but this has been a highly contentious case. At our last hearing, Jon Isenberg, who represented Michael Schiavo in the lawsuit to end Terri Schiavo’s life, showed up to consult with the other side. An attorney from the pro forced death group “Compassion and Choices” was also present. These lawyers do not care about Joe. They simply want to further an agenda requiring that people with certain disabilities be killed.

You can make a tax deductable contribution to help Life Legal in its efforts to promote life by clicking on this link.

Monday, February 13, 2017

PJI comment on DOJ move to protect student bathroom privacy

Washington, DC—Last Friday, President Trump’s Department of Justice announced that it would respect the nationwide injunction against the Obama Administration’s attempt to force all public schools to throw open bathroom and locker room doors to biologically opposite-sex students.

Brad Dacus
“We salute President Trump’s actions to restore the privacy and dignity of those in public schools. While communities should work to accommodate the needs of all students, including those with Gender Identity Dysphoria, Obama’s extreme mandate jeopardized the privacy rights of virtually every student in public schools.  No teenager in a locker room should ever have to worry about suddenly being visually violated by someone of the opposite biological sex while changing their clothes or showering,” said Brad Dacus, president and founder of Pacific Justice Institute and frequent guest on FOT.

The injunction was originally issued by a federal court in Texas and had been on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  The appeal had been taken by the Obama administration to defend their understanding of Title IX protections.  Last week’s move means the appeal will not go forward, and the injunction remains in place. 

How far has the culture of death taken us down the road to euthanasia and doctor prescribed death?

Alex Schadenburg
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Tuesday we will take up the issue of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide (doctor prescribed death) with Alex Schadenburg from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Alex has been in the forefront fighting for life in the face of a culture of death. We’ll bring you up-to-date on the latest activity in this field in both the United States  and Canada, as well as around the world, including a discussion of the new documentary, The Euthanasia Deception.
Sitting in with Deacon Mike Manno tomorrow will be Catholic Women Now co-host Julie Nelson while Gina Noll takes a well deserved week off. And Julie will want to remind you of the upcoming Catholic Women’s Conference Saturday, February 25 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in West Des Moines – find out more by clicking his link.
So join us Tuesday at 9 a.m. (central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.4 & 94.5 FM and streaming on The program may also be heard on the Faith On Trial page on the station’s website, and can be seen, as well as heard on the Iowa Catholic Radio channel on YouTube. If you are out of the signal range you can also download our app from the app store and follow us anywhere.
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 Robert Cota, Farm Bureau Financial Services, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Georgia pays a quarter of a million dollars to end pastor’s lawsuit

Georgia pays Dr. Eric Walsh $225,000 to settle religious discrimination lawsuit  

Atlanta, Ga. Today, First Liberty Institute announces they reached a settlement agreement between the State of Georgia and First Liberty’s client, Dr. Eric Walsh. The State of Georgia agreed to pay $225,000 to settle Dr. Walsh’s religious discrimination lawsuit.  

“I am grateful this trial has finally ended,” Dr. Eric Walsh says. “It’s been a long, difficult journey, but it’s worth it to have my name cleared and to ensure that all Georgia government employees know they have religious liberty.”  

“This is a clear and resounding victory for religious freedom,” Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute and counsel for Dr. Walsh, says. “We always knew the law was on our side, so we are pleased the State of Georgia agreed to settle this case and clear Dr. Walsh’s good name.” 

Dr. Walsh, a lay minister and former Georgia government employee, filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) after evidenced surfaced that he had been fired because of his religious beliefs. 

In May 2014, Walsh accepted a position as a District Health Director with the DPH. A week later, a DPH official asked him to submit copies of sermons he had previously preached as a lay minister with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The day after Dr. Walsh provided his sermons to the state, the DPH terminated Dr. Walsh. In April 2016, First Liberty Institute, along with Atlanta law firm Parks, Chesin & Walbert, filed a lawsuit against the DPH on behalf of Dr. Walsh, charging the DPH with religious discrimination.   

“We are grateful that the State of Georgia agreed to settle the case and acknowledge the right of their employees to express their religious beliefs,” Dys says. “No one should be fired for simply expressing his religious beliefs.” 

Read more about the case and access photos and videos at 

About First Liberty Institute: First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Nationwide rallies support Congressional move to defund Planned Parenthood

(February 8, 2017 – Chicago) As Congress moves forward with plans to reallocate funding from Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business, to comprehensive health care centers, citizens across America will speak up in support of the action. Saturday, February 11, groups will gather outside over 200 Planned Parenthood facilities in 44 states and the nation’s capital to #ProtestPP. There will also be overseas support with a demonstration at the London headquarters of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which was recently defunded by executive order. 

“The federal government has been subsidizing Planned Parenthood to the tune of more than $430 million annually,” explained Eric Scheidler, national organizer of #ProtestPP. “This, at the same time that the nation’s largest abortion provider holds $500 ticket fundraisers and charges a woman about $500 to abort her baby,” he continued. “On top of that, Planned Parenthood is trafficking baby body parts. Taxpayers are sickened to see their money spent in support of these atrocities.” 

What: #ProtestPP rallies to encourage Congress to reallocate Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to real women’s health care providers

When: Saturday, February 11, 2017

Where: across America, find local times and locations at

Who: concerned citizens 

These #ProtestPP rallies will emphasize four key points: 

The 34% of US abortions performed by Planned Parenthood underscores the fact that they are not a general health care service provider.

Fraudulent Medicaid claims, fetal tissue harvesting, and documented health code violations show Planned Parenthood’s systemic disregard for accountability to taxpayers.

Planned Parenthood exaggerates their role in women’s health care. The organization actually provides less than 2% of manual breast exams, fewer than 1% of pap tests, and 0% of mammograms, annually.

Moving Planned Parenthood’s funding to federally qualified health centers will offer women and their families a wider range of health care services and a higher standard of care. 

Citizens for a Pro-Life Society Director, Dr. Monica Migliorino Miller, stated, “The defunding of Planned Parenthood is a matter of moral principle. Not a single cent of American tax dollars should go to an organization that kills innocent human life.”  

“We are closer than we’ve ever been to defunding Big Abortion—Planned Parenthood. Now is the time for a groundswell of grassroots efforts. We call on Congress and President Trump to reallocate those funds to health centers which help women without killing babies,” commented Mark Harrington, National Director of Created Equal. 

“Planned Parenthood’s brand is at an all-time low and their leadership reflects how disconnected they are from science and basic American values. This weekend thousands of Americans will stand in peaceful opposition to send a message that abortion is not health care and as the nation’s largest abortion operation, Planned Parenthood should not get $1 of taxpayer money, much less $430 million," stated Shawn Carney, President, 40 Days for Life. 

#ProtestPP events, coordinated by Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Created Equal, and the Pro-Life Action League, along with 40 Days for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List, offer Americans a united chance to speak out against the nation’s largest abortion chain, which kills over 300,000 babies each year. At the same time, participants will encourage Congress to strip Planned Parenthood of its nearly half-billion dollar taxpayer-funded stipend and redirect those monies to comprehensive health care centers through the budget reconciliation process.

Scheidler, also serving as executive director for the Pro-Life Action League, remarked, “This is a nationwide event, but at the same time it is a local community concern. As citizens gather to encourage Congress to quit sending money to an organization that specializes in killing children, they are also declaring that they do not want Planned Parenthood to continue operating in their neighborhoods.”

“Americans want to end taxpayer funding of abortion – that includes stopping taxpayer funding for the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and ensuring any Obamacare replacement is pro-life, and does not allow tax dollars or tax credits to pay for health care plans that include abortion. Planned Parenthood is a profit-driven, abortion-centered business that has performed more than 300,000 abortions in the last three years for which data are available. They do not need or deserve taxpayer dollars, and redirecting their federal funding to rural and community health centers would be a victory for women’s health. These comprehensive clinics outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities 20 to 1 nationwide and provide far more services. The majority of Americans want taxpayer funding to go to real women’s health care, not abortion. This Saturday, that majority will let their voices be heard at #ProtestPP gatherings nationwide,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

President Donald Trump has made four specific commitments to the pro-life movement, including reallocating Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to comprehensive, whole-woman health care centers. Polling in 2018 Senate battleground states shows that voters support redirecting Planned Parenthood’s funding to community health centers.  

About the organizers:

Pro-Life Action League

The Pro-Life Action League was founded by Joe Scheidler in 1980 with the aim of saving babies from abortion through direct action, and is now headed by Joe’s son, Eric. Not content to await a political or judicial solution to abortion, the League seeks to stop the killing of unborn children right now through all available peaceful means, including public protest, sidewalk counseling, education, youth outreach, and national leadership. Visit to learn more.

 Citizens for a Pro-Life Society

Citizens for a Pro-life Society is an activist organization, founded on Catholic principles of morality and social justice, dedicated to advocacy of the sanctity of human life, especially protection of the right to life of unborn children. The goal is to work to end the culture of death and restore a culture of life, to re-establish respect for human life created in the image and likeness of God. Visit to learn more. 

Created Equal

Created Equal was inspired by Mark Harrington’s vision of human rights defenders uniting to achieve collectively far more than one person. The pro-life advocacy group implements creative new ways to challenge the industry of abortion. Visit to learn more. 

40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families. It draws attention to the evil of abortion through the use of a three-point program focusing on prayer and fasting, constant vigil, and community outreach. Visit to learn more. 

Susan B. Anthony List
SBA List is dedicated to pursuing policies and electing candidates who will reduce and ultimately end abortion. To that end, SBA List emphasizes the education, promotion, mobilization, and election of pro-life women. Susan B. Anthony List is a network of more than 465,000 pro-life Americans nationwide. Visit to learn more.

Monday, February 6, 2017

What will be the “Gorsuch Effect” on American law? Next FOT

Judge Neil Gorsuch
SCOUS Nominee
President Trump has nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, for the vacancy on the U. S. Supreme Court. If confirmed, what affect will Judge Gorsuch have on the Court especially in the areas of free speech and religious freedoms?
We’ll try to answer that question tomorrow when John G. Malcolm, a senior follow at the Heritage Foundation returns to FOT. John is also director of the Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.
Before being named director of the Meese Center in July 2013, John spearheaded the center’s rule of law programs. His research and writing as senior legal fellow focused on criminal law, immigration, national security, religious liberty and intellectual property.
The Meese Center works to educate government officials, the media and the public about
John Malcom
The Heritage Foundation
the Constitution and legal principles -- and how they affect public policy. The center was founded in 2001 and overseen until early 2013 by the conservative icon whose name it bears, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III.
Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll for a discussion of the possible “Gorsuch Effect” on law and society on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM, 88.4 & 94.5 FM and streaming on and on our own radio app that you can download from the app store – its free! Podcasts of prior programs can be found on our page on the station’s web site here.
Faith On Trial is broadcast courtesy of our underwriters and sponsors: Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; and 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.