Supreme Court says California rule requiring nonprofits to reveal donor names is unconstitutional

Supreme Court ruling is a victory for conservative nonprofits – Smacks Down Kamala Harris and CA AG for Violating First Amendment

KATHERINE HAMILTON 1 Jul 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on Thursday sided with the Americans For Prosperity Foundation (AFP) against Acting California Attorney General Matthew Rodriguez in favor of keeping non-profit donor records private, smacking down a measure pushed by Vice President Kamala Harris that conservatives feared could be used to target them.

“The government may regulate in the First Amendment area only with narrow specificity, and compelled disclosure regimes are no exception,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in a 6-3 decision. “When it comes to a person’s beliefs and associations, broad and sweeping state inquiries into these protected areas discourage citizens from exercising rights protected by the Constitution.”

The Court held that California’s disclosure requirement is invalid because it burdens donors’ First Amendment rights and is not narrowly tailored to an important government interest.

While Vice President Kamala Harris was still Attorney General of California, she sent a letter to AFP in 2013 asking the non-profit to send Schedule B forms to disclose its largest donors. A Schedule B is a highly confidential form that lists the names and addresses of a charity’s major donors—including those who live outside of California, according to the Cato Institute.

AFP declined to send the forms, saying doing so would dissuade people from donating and would violate the First Amendment.

Xavier Becerra took over as Attorney General for Harris, but was soon succeeded by Matthew Rodriguez when he became United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. In the case, Rodriguez alleged that the Attorney General’s Office began asking for Schedule B forms in 2010— in the same way the Internal Revenue Service does  — to fight charitable fraud and self-dealing.

They further claimed they were not asking for Schedule B forms as a way to target people or publicly out individuals for supporting causes, according to court documents.

AFP, which is a conservative organization, cited an incident in which California released 1,800 Schedule B forms to the public, despite the state’s confidentiality law.

AFP further argued the Attorney General’s Office had only used Schedule B forms five times for investigations. Instead, AFP said the AG should behave the way 47 other states do and subpoena non-profits for records during an investigation, according to court briefings.

A trial-court ruled in favor of AFP before the decision was reversed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, saying in part:

California has not considered alternatives to indiscriminate up-front disclosure. That is true in every case. And the State’s interest in amassing sensitive information for its own convenience is weak. That is true in every case. When it comes to the freedom of association, the protections of the First Amendment are triggered not only by actual restrictions on an individual’s ability to join with others to further shared goals. The risk of a chilling effect on association is enough, because First Amendment freedoms need breathing space to survive. [emphasis added]

In his opinion, Roberts emphasized the First Amendment’s role in protecting freedom of association and how the concept applies to AFP.

Protected association furthers a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends and is especially important in preserving political and cultural diversity and in shielding dissident expression from suppression by the majority,” Roberts wrote. [emphasis added]

He noted that compelled disclosure of affiliation could act as a restraint on freedom of association as effectively other forms of government action.

Roberts further said he does not doubt California has an important interest in preventing wrongdoing by charitable organizations. He concluded however, that there is a “dramatic mismatch” between the interests of the Attorney General’s Office and the disclosure process they use to investigate those crimes.

In reality, then, California’s interest is less in investigating fraud and more in ease of administration. This interest, however, cannot justify the disclosure requirement. The Attorney General may well prefer to have every charity’s information close at hand, just in case. But the prime objective of the First Amendment is not efficiency. Mere administrative convenience does not remotely reflect the seriousness of the actual burden that the demand for Schedule Bs imposes on donors’ association rights. [emphasis added]

Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Barrett joined Roberts in full, and Justice Alito and Justice Gorsuch joined in part. Alito and Justice Thomas filed concurring opinions. Justice Sotomayer wrote a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Breyer and Justice Kagan.

The case is Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, No. 19-251 in the Supreme Court of the United States.

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/07/01/supreme-court-smacks-down-kamala-harris-and-california-ag-for-violating-first-amendment/


VIDEO Virginia Parents Set Example for Standing Up to Leftist School Board Bullies – Court Rules in Virginia Teacher’s Favor, Okay to Express Religious Opposition to Transgender Policy

By Tony Perkins | June 10, 2021


A parent in Loudoun County, Va., speaks up in support of free speech. (Photo credit: YouTube/The Blue Oak Project)

A parent in Loudoun County, Va., speaks up in support of free speech. (Photo credit: YouTube/The Blue Oak Project)

One thing was for sure: they didn’t come to be quiet. The parents of Loudoun County, Va. who were packed into every available chair at Tuesday’s school board meeting were angry. For months, they’d been warring with the district over its woke curriculum in a feud so bitter that it made the national news. But it was the suspension of Tanner Cross, a P.E. teacher who spoke out about a new transgender policy, that turned the local temperature from hot to boiling.

For new superintendent Scott Ziegler, who watched the room slowly unravel, it was not what he had imagined for his first day. Ziegler had been on the job as the interim boss, but Tuesday’s fireworks were nothing like he’d experienced. One parent after another stormed to the microphone to object to either Cross’s treatment or the district’s string of radical policies. At one point, a dad slammed down a copy of the First Amendment, looked up to the dais, and bellowed, “I’m going to leave this here, and I hope you learn something.” For four hours, they took turns telling the board to stop “instilling progressive Left ideas [in] our children.” “It’s not appropriate,” one mother said, “to silence, bully, or dismiss our views as parents.”

Waving dozens of signs that read “You’re fired!” or “Stop Critical Race Theory!” they were the picture of the new conservative uprising. Right now, one dad insisted Loudoun County Public Schools “is ground zero for parents like me to protect our kids and take back our schools.” And if Tuesday night is any indication, they’ll do anything they can to make the district listen. If that means going door-to-door in 90 degree weather to recall school board members, they’ll do it. If it means filing lawsuits against the schools’ curriculum, they’ll do that too. If it means showing up at rallies for a Christian teacher who wants his students to know the truth, they’ll bring their friends.

It’s a snapshot of what’s happening in school districts all across America. Parents are awake, they’re engaged, and they’re lighting a fire under local communities to stand up and fight back. In Rapid City, South Dakota this week, local families were so frustrated by the indoctrination in their district that they organized a boots-on-the-ground campaign — a lot like the parents of Southlake, Tex. did — and managed to sweep all four open seats on the school board with conservatives. Like their counterparts in Loudoun, they refuse to take this radical takeover lying down. And when people speak out — like Tanner did — it gives others the courage to do the same.

Cross’s attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom said they talked to a lot of teachers at the school who agree with Tanner, but they’re scared to come forward. Thanks to Circuit Judge James E. Plowman Jr., they don’t have to be afraid anymore. In a reproachful ruling Tuesday, Plowman ordered Loudoun County to reinstate Cross, calling what the district did “an unnecessary and vindictive act.” It was an “unconstitutional” action, he wrote, and it has “silenced others from speaking publicly on the issue.”

The order to reinstate Tanner was cheered by the district’s biggest critics, who argued at Tuesday’s meeting that no teacher should ever be punished for advocating for the good of their students.

“What we need,” Tanner’s ADF attorney, Tyson Langhofer, argued on “Washington Watch,” is more teachers “engag[ing] in the political process.” Look, Tyson said, “the First Amendment hasn’t changed. The principles [of free speech and religious freedom] are still here — and if they’re willing to stand, we can win this battle. But we can’t win if they won’t stand. We can cancel Cancel Culture if people have the courage to stand. And I will encourage them to do what Tanner did, simply speak the truth and then the truth will set you free. You will prevail eventually.” And here’s the thing, he pointed out. “I’ve represented a lot of clients like Tanner, and none of them have ever told me that they regret taking the stand. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t pay some price. But what they gained out of it was far more valuable than anything that they lost.”

As for Tanner, he’s just excited to get back in the classroom before the summer ends. But he hopes his case gives many people in the district something to think about before next fall.

“I don’t want any teacher — or anyone who lives in this great country — to not be able to express how they feel about any policies in their workplace that might be harmful…I would encourage teachers to just express themselves freely.” Hopefully, he added, they won’t be punished. But if they are, we’ve learned one thing: the local community will have their back.

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council.

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Family Research Council.

https://cnsnews.com/commentary/tony-perkins/virginia-parents-set-example-standing-leftist-school-board-bullies


Court Rules in Virginia Teacher’s Favor, Okay to Express Religious Opposition to Transgender Policy

By Elisabeth Nieshalla | June 9, 2021


Physical education teacher Tanner Cross.  (Screenshot)

Physical education teacher Tanner Cross. (Screenshot)

(CNS News) — On Tuesday, the Circuit Court for the County of Loudoun, Va., ruled to reinstate Byron Tanner Cross to his teaching position after the Loudoun County Public Schools suspended him for voicing his concerns at a school board meeting that a transgender policy under consideration violated his beliefs and was harmful to children. 

Tanner is a physical education teacher at the Leesburg Elementary School in Loudoun County. He has been a teacher for 15 years.

“The Court finds that the Plaintiff’s speech and religious content are central to the determination made by the Defendants to suspend Plaintiff’s employment,” reads the decision, and Cross was granted a temporary injunction. 

While the case is still being litigated, Judge James E. Plowman Jr. directed the Loudoun County Public Schools to reinstate Tanner to his position and stop banning him from school property.

“I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it is against my religion,” Cross stated on May 25 during the public comments portion of the meeting. “It’s lying to a child. It’s abuse to a child. And it’s sinning against our God.” 

Two days later, he was placed on administrative leave, with LCPS claiming he caused “significant disruption” at the school “including multiple complaints and parents requesting that Mr. Cross have no interaction with their children because of his comments,” according to a LCPS representative.(Getty Images) (Getty Images)

“This case is not about how schools should treat students who struggle with gender dysphoria,” the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Cross, stated in the official complaint. “It is about whether public schools can punish a teacher for objecting, as a private citizen, to a proposed policy, in a forum designated for the purpose of considering whether to implement such policies, where the policy would force him to express ideas about human nature, unrelated to the school’s curriculum, that he believes are false.”

The hearing took place on June 4, where ADF attorney Logan Spena and Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer represented Cross. Afterwards, at a rally for Cross, Langhofer told CNS News that he believed the judge conducted a fair hearing, and he was hopeful for a ruling in their favor. 

The ADF stated in a press release announcing Cross’ victory, “With this ruling, the court sent a clear message to the school board: ‘You are not above the law.’”

The court ruling said, “Upholding constitutional rights serves the public interest. Affirming the unconstitutional action taken against [Tanner] which has silenced others from speaking publicly on this issue, serves the public interest. The public’s knowledge that [Tanner’s] speech was permissible, is encouraged, and is free from governmental oppression serves the public interest. Governmental bodies being held in check for violating a citizen’s constitutional rights, serves the public interest.”

https://cnsnews.com/article/national/elisabeth-nieshalla/court-rules-virginia-teachers-favor-okay-express-religious



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Zondervan won’t publish ‘God Bless the USA Bible,’ says marketing was ‘premature’ after backlash

By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter

The Holy Bible

Zondervan and HarperCollins will not publish or manufacture a version of the Bible that would feature various patriotic American documents for the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, contrary to concerns expressed online.

Earlier this month, Meagan Clark of Religion Unplugged wrote an article reporting that the Michigan-based international Christian media and publishing company was “in talks” to release the God Bless the USA Bible on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans in 2001.

This Bible version will reportedly include the lyrics to the 1984 song “God Bless the USA,” the U.S. States Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance and other historic American documents.

But Casey Francis Harrell, senior director of corporate communications at HarperCollins, Zondervan’s parent company, stated in an email to The Christian Post on Thursday that the publisher had no plans to release the controversial version of the Bible.

“Zondervan is not publishing, manufacturing or selling the ‘God Bless the USA Bible,’” read the statement, which noted that nothing had been finalized between the two parties.

“While we were asked for a manufacturing quote, ultimately the project was not a fit for either party, and the website and marketing of the NIV project were premature.”

As of Thursday morning, the Bible version is being promoted on a website and can be pre-ordered for $49.99. Copies are expected to be shipped in late September.

God Bless the USA Bible

The initial report about the possibility of the God Bless the USA Bible being released prompted backlash online, including a petition backed by more than 900 signatories.

“Zondervan/HarperCollins has a been a great blessing to Christian publishing for many years. But a forthcoming volume damages this fine record,” the petition reads.

“This is a toxic mix that will exacerbate the challenges to American evangelicalism, adding fuel to the Christian nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiments found in many segments of the evangelical church.”

In addition, authors who had had works published by Zondervan expressed concern over the possibility of the God Bless the USA Bible being published. They include Shane Claiborne of Red Letter Christians, progressive evangelical Pastor Doug Pagitt, activist and speaker Lisa Sharon Harper, New York Times bestselling author Jemar Tisby and Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism Soong-Chan Rah of North Park University in Chicago.  

In an opinion column published by Religion Unplugged earlier this week, the same authors expressed support for the news that Zondervan was not going to publish the Bible version.

“This is not the first time there has been an attempt to fuse American nationalism with the holy book — in fact Thomas Nelson released ‘The American Patriot’s Bible’ over a decade ago, which was a very similar project,” they wrote.

“But what is new is a growing awareness of how dangerous nationalism is when coupled with faith,” they added. “After all, the Bible does not say ‘God bless America.’ It says, ‘God so loved the world.’” 

The God Bless the USA Bible is a product of a company called Elite Source Pro. The company’s president, Hugh Kirkpatrick, had earlier confirmed to Religion Unplugged that Zondervan awarded the licensing for the Bible. 

The website reported that the idea for the Bible version was formed when Kirkpatrick and his friends heard complaints from homeschool parents that public schools aren’t requiring students to read and understand the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Additionally, Kirkpatrick claimed that famous American symbols were increasingly being seen as “weaponized tools of the Republican party.”

COOMMENT

This Bible should be published. The refusal to publish is another example of the battle between good and evil which began in the Garden of Eden. Cancel culture is just another tool of the devil. There is at least one publisher who will publish this Bible.

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

https://www.christianpost.com/news/zondervan-wont-publish-god-bless-the-usa-bible-after-backlash.html


UPDATE: Girl Banned From Wearing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Mask Is Still Pointing Classmates to Jesus

By Jesse T. Jackson -May 19, 2021

Jesus loves me

UPDATED May 19, 2021: Third grader Lydia Booth has been banned from wearing a mask that says “Jesus Love Me” at her elementary school. But the love Jesus is only shining brighter because of her stand.

“Dear Lydia, I’m praying for you!” said one of two sisters who wrote Lydia encouraging notes after learning what she is going through. The girl continued,

I’m glad that you’re a missionary. I’m so glad that God loves us and He sent His son to die for us! I know God is using us to tell others about Jesus. I know how you feel! I have a friend who doesn’t know God, but she doesn’t want to listen! I’m praying for her and I’m praying for you! I bet when she’s grown-up a little bit, I bet she’ll want to listen. I know God sees our troubles, and I know God will answer our prayers very soon! God loves you!

The other sister told Lydia, “We are praying for you” and “We love you.”

Lydia Booth, who attends Simpson Central Elementary School in Pinola, Miss., was banned from wearing her “Jesus Loves You” mask under the argument that it violates school policy. However, administrators have allowed other students to wear masks with messages on them, and Lydia’s mother, Jennifer, claims they have modified documents after the fact to justify banning Lydia from wearing her mask. Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Booth family on the grounds that the school is violating Lydia’s constitutional right to express her religious beliefs.

Some of Lydia’s peers are actually curious about Christianity because of her situation. One of her classmates now wants a “Jesus Love Me” mask as well. After hearing about the situation, an older sister of one of Lydia’s classmates decided to read the whole Bible.

Lydia says that when she was told she could not wear her mask any more, “It made me feel a little sad and confused…I love the words on that mask…I didn’t know why it was happening.” Her mother is proud of her for standing up for what she believes. Said Jennifer, “It’s powerful for my kids to see other kids being a witness for Christ and even living through some persecution for it.”


ChurchLeaders original article written on November 6, 2020, below:

On October 13, 2020, a third grader at Simpson Central Elementary School, located in Pinola, Miss., was forced to remove her mask that said “Jesus Loves Me” in large pink letters across it.

According to WLBT News, nine-year-old Lydia Booth was ordered by her principal to remove her mask and wear another one, her attorneys said.

On October 15, 2020, Simpson County School District’s Superintendent Greg Paes sent a letter out to all the parents, students, and staff that stated, “Masks cannot display political, religious, sexual or any inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment. This expectation was outlined in our restart plan and is specific to masks only.” Paes also wrote that “the principal and superintendent will be the final authority on the appropriateness of any mask worn to school.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who, according to their website, has been advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, freedom of speech, and marriage and family for more than 25 years, filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 2, 2020, on behalf of Lydia and her parents, Matthew and Jennifer Booth.

ADF attorney Michael Ross said, “Public schools have a duty to respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them.”

The lawsuit requests (line 10), “Preliminary injunctive relief is necessary because Lydia Booth desires to immediately wear her ‘Jesus Loves Me’ mask and masks with similar religious message, to school, but is self-censoring her speech because Defendants (Simpson County School District) have enforced and will continue to enforce their Religious Speech Policy against her, which will subject her to the escalating discipline outlined in those policies for repeat infractions, to and including suspension.”

The suit also claims that (line 17), “Lydia Booth is an adherent of the Christian faith and desires to share her religious views with her schoolmates.”

The filed lawsuit (line 67) gives examples of how the defendants regularly permit Lydia Booth’s schoolmates to wear masks with messages on them. The examples were provided by Booth’s parents who witnessed masks worn by students and faculty with the Jackson State University logo, New Orleans Saints logo, Black Lives Matter, and other expressive messages on them.

Principal Woodall called Lydia’s mother Jennifer (line 88) to inform her that her daughter had been required to wear a replacement mask due to Lydia’s mask reading, “Jesus Loves Me.” Woodall claimed that the student handbook prohibits religious messages on mask. When Mrs. Booth asked to be shown where that is located, Woodall referenced the “Dress Code for Students policy which prohibits ‘clothing advertising alcoholic beverages or drug culture, clothing with obscene language or gestures or clothing of any suggestive nature.’ ” Mrs. Booth told Principal Woodall that “Jesus Loves Me” doesn’t fit the criteria mentioned in the policy.

In an email to the principal and superintendent, Lydia’s mother responded shortly after the principal’s call and requested her child return to wearing her mask “TODAY” and have an apology to her from the school district. Mrs. Booth stated, “According to the Mississippi Student Religious Freedom Act that took effect July 1, 2013 you are prohibited from discriminating against students by their expression of religious perspectives.”

Assistant Superintendent Robert Sanders later replied to Lydia’s mother admitting that the student handbook does not prohibit her daughter from wearing the “Jesus Loves Me” mask, but the school’s Restart Plan (due to COVID-19) prohibits masks with “political, religious, or sexual references” on them. Mrs. Booth asked how a message on a T-shirt differs from one on a mask, referring to the handbook not prohibiting such clothing. Sanders responded by saying, “If the district allowed Lydia to wear the ‘Jesus Loves Me’ mask then the district would also have to allow a mask with the message ‘Satan Loves Me.’”

“Although that would be sad,” Lydia’s mother responded, “a student should be allowed to wear a mask with the message ‘Satan Loves Me’ if they chose to do so.”

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer asserted, “No public school student should be singled out for peacefully sharing her religious beliefs with fellow students.”

The suit says Lydia Booth is seeking injunctive reliefdeclaratory relief, and nominal damages against Simpson County School District and the Board of Education of Simpson County, Mississippi, for violating her rights and the rights of other students under the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment.

Read the entire complaint here.

When the “Epidemic Intelligence Unit” Calls

I’m sure you’ve heard that beginning tomorrow, Governor Baker has declared we can now forego wearing masks outside.  I’m looking forward to watching soccer games this weekend where I can actually see my children’s faces, and we can all give up the charade that masking our youth in sports is “trusting the science.” Baker also projected that most, if not all, COVID restrictions will be lifted by August 1st

Although demasking outdoors is better than a perpetual “New Normal” of limited gatherings and constant masking, we’re not out of the woods yet. Earlier this week, MFI received a call for help from a local church that is being investigated by the “Epidemic Intelligence Unit” (EIU).  A parishioner had tested positive for COVID and listed the church as a place he had recently visited when this unit first called him. That led to the church facing demands from the EIU to turn over the names of church attendees and the dates of their attendance.

There are two important things to note here.  First, churches are under no obligation to report anything to this unit that is assuming authority it does not have.  Even setting aside the obvious First Amendment implications of this type of intrusion on the free exercise of religion and the freedom of assembly, the Governor’s own guidelines for churches do not require such information sharing. Churches are instructed only to “assist the LBOH (local Board of Health) as reasonably requested to advise likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine.”  This means the church communicates information from the LBOH to its people, NOT that it must hand over personal information to the LBOH.  Incredibly, the EIU sent the church this memo which purports to authorize them to collect “necessary demographic information, specifically: full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and race and ethnicity.” But that memo applies only to “Healthcare Providers and Facilities.”  It does NOT apply to churches.  In addition to which, and for obvious reasons, churches should not ever submit attendee lists to the government.

Second and equally alarming, the EIU is NOT the local Board of Health.  It’s not even a government entity.  MFI is still looking into this, but so far, it appears that the EIU is part of the Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC) that is run by Partners In Health (PIH). PIH describes itself as follows:

We are a social justice organization that responds to the moral imperative to provide high-quality health care globally to those who need it most. […] We bring the benefits of modern medicine to those who have suffered from the overt and subtle injustices of the world, in the past and in the present.

Curiously, according to the PIH website, churches are literally first on their list for where to look for infection. “During a global pandemic, an infection can happen anywhere—a church, a car wash, a grocery store.”

So, just to recap, a self-identified “social justice organization” is using the state’s imprimatur (incorrectly) to demand churches turn over to them the names, contact information and attendance dates.  If your church is contacted by the Epidemic Intelligence Unit or the Contact Tracing Collaborative, please call MFI at 781-569-0400.  We’ve helped many churches over the past year resist unnecessary and unconstitutional government intrusion into our sacred spaces, and we’re here to help you as well. 



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VIDEO This Is Hate Speech? Church Rally for Biblical Marriage Includes Proud Boys and LGBTQ Protesters

By Jesse T. Jackson -April 9, 2021

Hate Speech

They said it was hate speech. But if this is hate speech, then what can Christians say? Check out what people at the rally sponsored by Rivers of Living Water United Pentecostal Church in Sandy, Oregon, on March 20, 2021, had to say. The “Prayer, Faith & Freedom Rally to Celebrate the Natural Heterosexual Family” involved LGBTQ protesters, the Portland Proud Boys, and a YouTuber who stopped by to interview all who were involved.

The day before the rally, Rivers of Living Water United Pentecostal Church’s Facebook page explained the event would also stand against abortion. They assured that they would flag wave to celebrate America’s first amendment freedoms. Their post said, “Because the natural heterosexual family is the design of God for mankind and it is under attack spiritually, politically & socially. Satan wants to destroy the natural family & the unborn. Our government is attacking the very foundation of the natural family & the lives of the unborn. Our culture is falling into absolute disregard for the natural family & the unborn. Our children are being fed gender propaganda that is completely anti-natural family. Our 1st Amendment Freedoms are under attack more and more each day.”

A report by Portland, Oregon’s Willamette Week described the scene driving down Pioneer Boulevard in the town of Sandy that Saturday. There was a church rally celebrating the natural heterosexual family on one side of the street and on the other side a party/peaceful protest called “Have a Gay Day” attended by the town’s LGBTQ community.

Rivers of Living Water United Pentecostal Church’s pastor Russell Collier, who has been a pastor for over 20 years, wore a sweatshirt that read “Living Faith in Jesus.” He held an American flag while he prayed and then spoke about biblical sexualityabortion, and freedom at the rally. Collier was accompanied by members of the Portland Proud Boys. Although the pastor didn’t invite the Proud Boys, he said he “appreciated their support for our right to freedom of speech.”

Collier shared during his speech that the church invited the LGBTQ community to an open discussion with them a month ago and no one showed up. He said no one came “because they hate the light.”

“I believe that the natural family is under attack,” Collier said. The pastor shared that he had a phone conversation with a current family member who is struggling with homosexuality and told him that his purpose isn’t being gay; “it’s your potential, but it’s not your purpose.” He said the young man’s purpose is to grow up and become a husband and father.

YouTube Journalist Interviewed Both Groups

YouTube journalist Jake Silberman showed up at the rally and asked a woman from the church’s side of the street if she thought that being gay was a choice? “It is a choice. I believe that firmly,” she responded. She told the journalist that she “had some bisexual interactions” at one time in her life. But she said, “I have repented from those sins because I know they’re wrong…If you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will go to hell.”

Sliberman asked another church rally attender: “When you see a happy gay couple, do you think that they need to find a straight partner?” The lady paused for a moment, then told the journalist, “I think they need to find Jesus.”

When interviewing one of the protesters supporting the LGBTQ community about what she saw as hate speech, the girl shared that she “was taught that Jesus loves everybody regardless of who you are.” Questioning the church rally across the street standing for heterosexual family, she said, “So when I see Christians out here saying, spouting, like hate messages, like, ‘You’re not natural if you’re gay,’ it’s really hurtful and I just hope that we can teach our youth that, you know, Jesus loves you no matter who you are.”

A young man who is involved with the Students Advocating for Equality (SAFE) interviewed by Silberman called the church’s event a rally that displays hate. The SAFE advocate and LGBTQ supporter said he is there to show “people that aren’t necessarily native to this town, that are going to be passing through, that there’s more support for equality than there is for hate.”

Portland Proud Boys Assisted the Church

Portland Proud Boy’s Vice President ‘Flip’ Todd told Silberman they showed their presence and support because the church “felt that there might be some threat as they tried to express their first amendment rights and that there might be a counter protest.” After the journalist explained that some of the Portland Proud Boys tried to intimidate him, Todd told Silberman, “We hate the media. I can’t stand the media.”

Both Sides Remained Peaceful

Witnessed from the interviews by Silberman and the rally’s video from their Facebook page, the church appears to only speak about their beliefs from the Bible and to those who gathered near their tent. Apart from the Portland Proud Boy’s spouting foul language and hand gestures, everything remained peaceful.

Pastor Collier’s speech at the rally can be watched on Facebook here.

YouTube ‘Cancels’ Christian Media Network, Deletes Over 15,000 Videos

By Jessica Lea -April 1, 2021

christian media network

YouTube has penalized Christian media network, theDove, by deleting its channel and removing all of its content, estimated at 15,600 videos. TheDove is one of several ministries around the world navigating penalties due to political and religious statements, particularly ones that pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic and the LGBTQ community. 

“We are dealing with two fairly significant law firms, one in Washington D.C. and one in California, to see if there’s any recourse we may have to retrieve our 15,000 videos,” said Perry Atkinson, theDove’s president and CEO. “We are looking into three other platforms as to whether or not we can re-establish a way to distribute our videos.”

Christian Media Network Banned from YouTube

YouTube’s decision was part of its “three-strikes system.” If users violate the social media giant’s community guidelines, YouTube issues the channel a strike. A first strike results in YouTube imposing one week of serious limitations, including not allowing the channel to upload content. If a second strike occurs within 90 days, YouTube restricts the channel from uploading content for two weeks. Each strike has 90 days to expire. After the third strike, the channel is removed completely.

Atkinson said that YouTube flagged videos from the Christian media network that pertained to COVID-19, the Equality Act, and the recent presidential election. It was after the riots at the U.S. Capitol that theDove received its first strike. The second strike was in February, and the third was on March 22. In a statement on its website, theDove said:

On March 22, 2021 the Dove was permanently banned from YouTube – our first amendment rights attacked. TheDove has over 40 years of providing hope and giving a Biblical perspective to current events. Over 15,000 interviews and segments have been posted to YouTube and the Dove has experienced millions of views. In today’s cancel culture YouTube has deleted every video. 

LoveWorld is another media network that has been penalized for statements it has promoted about COVID-19. LoveWorld USA is a network launched by televangelists Benny Hinn and Chris Oyakhilome. LoveWorld also has a branch in the United Kingdom, and U.K. Communications regulator Ofcom has fined LoveWorld UK £125,000. Ofcom levied the fine on the grounds that the network was spreading misinformation about COVID-19,  including that the pandemic is the result of a conspiracy planned by the “deep state.” 

In this video of a Global Day of Prayer event the network held on Dec. 2, 2020, Oyakhilome said the virus is a “scam” and a “scheme to deceive.” He then introduced a clip in which a woman identified as Claire Edwards, a “United Nations editor and trainer in intercultural writing,” said that COVID-19 “was a long pre-planned in documents and simulation exercises emanating from the eugenicist Bill Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation.” Edwards also said the “sinister vaccine conspiracy” was intended to “enslave humanity.” 

In a statement, Ofcom said that LoveWorld UK “risked serious harm” and “had the potential to undermine confidence in public health measures put in place to tackle COVID-19 – at a time when cases, hospital admissions and deaths were rising in the UK, and when people were looking for reliable information given advances in the vaccination programme.”

This week brings a legal victory in the U.K., however, for Samaritan’s Purse CEO and president Franklin Graham in regards to an evangelistic crusade he held in Blackpool, England, in September 2018. After British LGBTQ leaders complained about past comments Graham made about LGTBQ community, Blackpool Transit pulled bus advertisements promoting Graham’s event. Today, Judge Claire Evans ruled that pulling the bus advertisements had violated “freedom of expression.” 

“The Defendants had a wholesale disregard for the right to freedom of expression possessed by the Claimant,” said Evans. “It gave a preference to the rights and opinions of one part of the community without having any regard for the rights of the Claimant or those who shared its religious beliefs.”

Graham responded to the decision, saying, “We thank God for this ruling because it is a win for every Christian in the UK.”

Other recent legal battles involving church leaders include a pastor who wants to hold a vigil outside the U.S. Capitol on Good Friday. Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, is suing   Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Capitol Police Board, and the Sergeant of Arms for the Senate on the grounds that his First Amendment rights have been violated. 

According to court documents, Mahoney wanted to “hold a vigil for the express purpose of beseeching God’s healing from the divisiveness and anxiety lingering over our nation since the tragic events of January 6, 2021.”  The reverend says he has held many events at the Capitol’s Lower Western Terrace, but that the fences currently barricading the area have “effectively created a no- speech zone.” Mahoney’s case was heard in federal court today(April 1st) at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Jessica Lea is a writer for ChurchLeaders.com. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past two years. When Jessica isn’t writing, she enjoys West Coast Swing dancing, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Maine Church Files Petition at Supreme Court Against Governor’s ‘Draconian’ Worship Restrictions

03-24-2021 CBN News

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

A church in Bangor, Maine has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court against the governor’s restrictions on in-person worship services. 

Acting on the behalf of Calvary Chapel of Bangor, Liberty Counsel filed a petition for cert on Monday asking the high court to review the church’s federal lawsuit against Gov. Janet Mills’ unconstitutional orders against churches. 

The governor allows churches to hold secular gatherings to feed, shelter, and to provide social services and counsel to an unlimited number of people. However, religious gatherings are limited to no more than 50 people despite the size of the building. 

In their brief, Calvary Chapel argues, “If the ‘mild climate’ of California is an insufficient basis for permitting the Governor to force worshippers outside, then it is much more so the case in Maine where there is no such mild climate this time of year. In a country where religious exercise is a fundamental constitutional right, can the First Amendment really be thought to countenance the notion that religious congregants must brave freezing temperatures and driving snow to engage in that constitutional right? Surely not. The First Circuit’s decision telling Calvary Chapel to take its religious freedom outside has – quite literally – left them out in the cold in direct conflict with the decisions of this Court.”

Liberty Counsel argues that the lower courts have not taken seriously the irreparable harm caused by Mills’ unconstitutional COVID restrictions on houses of worship. When Calvary Chapel first filed its lawsuit last May, the governor’s orders permitted no religious gatherings, including parking lot services, and violations carried criminal penalties of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

After the religious rights law firm filed the suit, Mills said at some point in the future she would allow very limited worship, but only after churches applied to re-open, were approved, and displayed a badge on the building. 

Following the decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court in South Bay United Pentecostal Church and Harvest Rock Church, striking down the numeric restrictions (Ninth Circuit) and the total ban on worship (Supreme Court), Maine now has the most severe restrictions in the nation on places of worship, according to Liberty Counsel. 

Even before the Supreme Court’s ruling in South Bay and Harvest Rock Church, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Nevada’s 50-person numeric limit.

The church also has the Calvary Residential Discipleship (CRD) program, a biblical-based ministry that helps men and women who are seeking healing and restoration from drugs, alcohol, and other life-controlling issues. The year-long residential program operates two homes, one with 24 women and one with 24 men, for a total of 48 full-time residents on the church property. 

Regular attendance at church services is required by the individual to be a part of the program. So there will always be a minimum of 48 students at worship services on any given Sunday and Wednesday. When combined with Pastor Ken Graves, the staff of seven or eight, and the other pastors, the governor’s orders preclude Calvary Chapel’s CRD residents from worshipping in the church. They can meet for substance abuse counseling that does not involve Bible studies and worship, but as soon as they worship, the assembly is illegal. 

The petition also noted Gov. Mills has deemed certain commercial and non-religious businesses so-called “essential” to include liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, warehouse clubs, “big box” and “supercenter” stores that accommodate large gatherings of people. These organizations were never threatened with criminal sanctions, and people still may gather in these venues without restrictions.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled against these unconstitutional worship bans, and Governor Janet Mills has continued her draconian restrictions against churches and places of worship. The High Court now must end Governor Mills’ unconstitutional actions once and for all.” 

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2021/march/maine-church-files-petition-at-supreme-court-against-governors-draconian-worship-restrictions?

A Duck, A Plumb Bob, A Compass

Plumb_bob


By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
31 December 2013

Building a house without a plumb bob is like using a compass without a North. Many of our leaders have adopted values without a plumb bob and a compass without a North, leading from behind those rushing to dive off the cliff.

We live in a broken world. Our experiences here are a mixed bag of good and bad, joy and pain—a reality that Solomon expressed when he wrote, “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief” (Prov. 14:13). The merry heart often does grieve, for that is what this life sometimes demands.

I am pretty sure you have heard of the controversy surrounding Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. Simply put Phil Robertson expressed his personal opinion stating his personal beliefs during an interview for a magazine article and was suspended from his show for speaking what he thought. It was clear he was not acting as a spokesman for A & E, any church, or group. Agree with him or not you should agree that he has a Right to expresses his personal views, just as you and I have that Right. One of the foundations of our Constitutional Republic is the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Sadly a group called “GLAAD” felt that bullying and intimidation was going to persuade people that their view was correct and that no one could express an opposing view. Bullying by anyone at anytime is not acceptable.

It has been well said that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

I am a firm believer that even the worst of bullies can have a change of heart and cease being a bully to become a kind and gentle soul.

Bullies only succeed when good people enable the bully by not saying – “that behavior is not acceptable”. Bullies rule by fear – fear of physical, emotional, and/or financial consequences. A bully can be a family member, a “friend”, co-worker, or government employee.

Calling someone a bully does not seem to carry the same stigma as calling someone abusive. It is fairly easy to get a Court Order to keep an abusive person away from you. I don’t know of any bullies who have Court Orders restraining them. There is no difference, other than the name, in the bully’s and abusive person’s actions, intent, and methods.

The Bully/Abusive person causes the same fear, anxiety and consternation to the victim. Many victims need to move, change jobs and expend many hours and spend a lot of money trying to escape the bully/abuser while trying to repair the damage the bully/abuser caused. Often professional assistance is needed for the victim to recover and remain safe. The Bully/Abusive person does not consider the mental health issues they cause their victims while they spew their venomous rants and actions.

The new year will hit us with the reality of the many unwelcomed new regulations and taxes which have been heaped upon us. Some might call it oppressive. You can call it a government being a bully or abusive toward the people they are supposed to be serving. Where do we go to get a Court Order to stop them from abusing us? They’ll be right there if we move or change jobs.

What bully/abusers have in common is that they don’t have a plumb bob of principles and their moral compass has no North. They are like a ship without a rudder wandering aimlessly. They are like the house built on sand that gets washed away by the rain. They go whichever way feels good at the moment to satisfy themselves, yes selfish. This is certainly by no means a permanent impediment in their lives. People who want to can change and receive the peace in their hearts that so desperately seek. They are just looking in all the wrong places.

Phil Robertson was answering the questions with his plumb bob in place and a compass that points North. For far too many the plumb bob and compass were thrown out when the Courts kicked God out of schools. It does not have to remain like this. Each person makes a choice in their personal lives, even if the government does not change, as to whether they will be use a plumb bob and a compass that points North.

We were made to have a plumb bob and a compass that points North in our lives. Let’s tell all Bully/Abusers to: “Get back to where you once belonged”, to quote the Beatles.

Happy New Year.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/a-duck-a-plumb-bob-a-compass/

VIDEO Not The Time To Put A Lid On It

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

March 2, 2021

It has been on a constant loop: “If you see something, say something”. I don’t remember hearing there was any fine print or exceptions to that “rule”. We can see there clearly are.

With all the talk of what is essential; one item was left off the written list of the essential and non-essential items, and that is free speech.

In practice the drumbeat was “Thou Shall Not Contradict The Official Pronouncement”. No matter what your station in life, should you wander off the official script and have a different point of view, the hordes of Huns will be released to destroy you, your family, your employment or business and employees. Even if you should recant your ‘error’ of having a different point of view and grovel coast to coast, you will be destroyed, not welcomed back, and canceled. This does not fit any definition of free speech that I have seen.

Freedom of speech has become vital because, without freedom of speech, some people won’t be able to communicate effectively and even say a word when things are going wrong.  Freedom of speech is essential because it can change the narrative of how people feel when they express themselves in public.

Freedom of speech is not a new concept. Freedom of speech can be found between the early 5th and 6th century. It was recognized by the Roman Republic which added freedom of speech and freedom of religion also. The fact that freedom of speech was essential at that time should tell you that freedom of speech is vital and very important even in these modern times.

Freedom of speech remain essential to us and our society, although the first amendment was instituted in 1791, the ideas of human rights that lead to freedom of speech is on paper in ancient human right documents.

The Founding Fathers of our Constitutional Republic saw Freedom of Speech as so essential to maintaining our Republic that they included it within the First Amendment.

When Freedom of Speech is fully operative:

  • It enables the dispersion of excellent and accurate information.
  • It enables media to present both sides of an issue accurately, eliminating Fake News.
  • People will get the impact of new ideas.
  • Freedom of speech is essential and ensures meaningful communication
  • If you can’t communicate you don’t have the liberty to express yourself freely.

Clarity of information depends on the extent to which freedom of expression of thought and freedom of speech is open in all the changes and processes taking place in society. It helps the community to stay in harmony, protects the business, and promotes foreign exchange. Free Speech gives individuals peace in running daily activities with people.

Without Free Speech we would live in a Socialist or Communist society where dissidents are punished brutally, perhaps purged to re-education or death camps. Socialists and Communists quickly silence, canceled, opposition.

Much of today’s media in cooperation of Big Tech parrots talking points of one point of view to which “Thou Shall Not Contradict”

In support I offer the following news story with a video:

 Fox10 Top Rated News Anchor Resigns, “I don’t like the way the media is going

 March 2, 2021 by Sundance

Fox10 News Anchor Kari Lake has reflected on the trend-line for U.S. media and decided she can no longer participate in an industry that has devolved to a system of narrative engineering.  Ms. Lake speaks directly to the issue of manipulated news feed script and she is no longer willing to participate in this activity.

Kari Lake: “Journalism has changed a lot since I first stepped into a newsroom…  I don’t like the direction it is going. …I’m sure there are other journalists out there who feel the same way.”

——–

Dangerous attacks on the Free Speech are well articulated by Paul Craig Roberts in his article titled “The New Journalism Is Destroying Us” https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2021/03/02/the-new-journalism-is-destroying-us/

Why Is FREE SPEECH Important?

——–

A denial of free Speech relies on and foments fear, the same fear the schoolyard bully relies upon. This fear leads way to anxiety and a whole host of mental health issues.

Here is one expression of  Not The Time To Put A Lid On It from the Network


https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2021/03/04/not-the-time-to-put-a-lid-on-it/


Related

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https://www.christianpost.com/news/6-dr-seuss-books-canceled-how-should-christians-respond.html