VIDEO President Trump Protecting Constitutional Prayer in School

January 16, 2020 by sundance

Earlier today President Trump held an oval office event focused on protecting every student’s constitutional right to pray in school. The president is updating Federal guidance regarding protected prayer and religious expression in public schools (not updated since 2003).  The new guidance makes clear that students can read religious texts or pray during recess and other non-instructional periods, organize prayer groups, and express their religious beliefs in their assignments.  [Video and Transcript Below]

The president also answered questions from the attending press pool:

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[Transcript] – THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. A couple of things happened today that are very exciting. The USMCA passed the Senate. It’s one of the biggest trade bills ever made.

And then, yesterday, as you know, China passed, and that’s something that is extraordinary. And it’s going to have tremendous far-reaching effects, including our relationship, long term, with China, our farmers and manufacturers and bankers, and everybody. It’s jobs. It’s jobs like we’ve never seen before, and that’s going to be something very special. And USMCA today, which just passed by a very comfortable vote — a very high vote — we are very proud to have that.

So we’ve done two of the biggest trade deals. They are the two biggest trade deals in the world ever done. And we’re honored to have done them in a short period of time.

We are gathered in the Oval Office for the National Religious Freedom Day — something very important and very special, and special to me and the people that are gathered around me.

This afternoon, we’re proudly announcing historic steps to protect the First Amendment right to pray in public schools. So you have the right to pray. And that’s a very important and powerful right. There’s nothing more important than that, I would say.

We’re joined by the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos; Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen; and students and advocates from across America. And advocates they were. They’ve been calling and writing by the thousands. And you’re representing that large group of people.

In a sacred principle of our Republic that government must never stand between the people and God. Yet, in public schools around the country, authorities are stopping students and teachers from praying, sharing their faith, or following their religious beliefs. It is totally unacceptable. You see it on the football field. You see it so many times where they’re stopped from praying. And we are doing something to stop that.

Tragically, there is a growing totalitarian impulse on the far-left that seeks to punish, restrict, and even prohibit religious expression. Something that, if you go back 10 years or 15 years or 20 years, it was un-thought of that a thing like that could even happen — that anybody would even think of something like that happening.

That is why, today, my administration is issuing strong new guidance to protect religious liberty in our public schools. The right of students and teachers to freely exercise their faith will always be protected, including the right to pray.

So we call this the “Right to Pray.” Is that a good idea? Good? Right? You like that, right? (Laughter.)

Nine federal agencies are also proposing new rules to roll back discriminatory regulations. So we have rules to roll back discriminatory regulations on religious service organizations. And earlier this afternoon, my White House released a new memo to make sure federal funding is never used to violate the First Amendment — which is a very big deal.

With us today is Hannah Allen, a high school freshman from Texas. Hannah, would you tell us what happened at your school with respect to you and prayer? Hannah?

MS. ALLEN: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, darling. Right here.

MS. ALLEN: So, me and a group of students from our school wanted to pray for our former classmate’s brother who had got hurt in an accident.

After the prayer, our principal told us, “Don’t do that again.” So the next day, parents had called and complained. He told us that we could pray, but he said we had to hide in the gym or behind a curtain, or somewhere away from everyone else.

And I know that if this can happen in a small town in Texas, it can happen anywhere across America, and that’s not right. No one should feel ashamed of their faith, especially in school or anywhere.

THE PRESIDENT: Well —

MS. ALLEN: And —

THE PRESIDENT: So what ultimately happened? How was that resolved?

MS. ALLEN: So we got with First Liberty. They’ve been amazing. They supported us the whole way. And they sent the school a letter, and the school complied with the letter, and they changed the — yeah.

THE PRESIDENT: And now you’re able to do that?

MS. ALLEN: We are.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Well, now it’s going to be much easier yet. Okay? All right? Thank you, darling. That was beautiful. Thank you very much.

We’re also joined by Marilyn Rhames, a former teacher and the founder of Teachers Who Pray. Marilyn, if you could, let us know — where is —

MS. RHAMES: I’m right here.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Thank you very much. Maybe you give us a little bit about what happened?

MS. RHAMES: Yes. So, thank you. I’m Marilyn Rhames. I’m the founder and president of Teachers Who Pray. And I founded Teachers Who Pray because I, as a teacher, believe in the beauty of every child and the unlimited potential that resides within. However, the students that I was getting weren’t set up for success because they were so significantly behind grade level. And I taught in Chicago public schools for 14 years. And during that time, we were losing students every year to gun violence. And one year, it was like 30, 32 students getting killed.

And I was overwhelmed with the heaviness of the work, so I thought about quitting, and I decided not to. I was going to fight. And I was going to pray and uplift my spirit so that I can do the job that I knew God had called me to do.

So I began praying with other teachers in the building who were like-minded, and we really supported each other, built community, built more hope, built more joy in the work despite it being so difficult. And we grew. Like, right now, there’s over 150 chapters of Teachers Who Pray because teachers need that spiritual support and guidance.

And today, I believe it’s super important because there is a myth out there that what Teachers Who Pray does and other organizations do for teachers, spiritual wealth is not legal. And it absolutely is.

And I’m here to tell teachers that we need to pray for your faith. We need to pray. We need to buckle and just do what we have to do for our kids because they need us and they’re depending on us. And if we’re not strong, we can’t make them strong. So that’s why I’m here.

THE PRESIDENT: That was really beautifully said. Thank you very much. That was beautiful. Thanks, Marilyn.

So, while I’m President, which will be hopefully for five years — and, I don’t know, maybe we’ll work on, with the media, we’ll work on a major extension of that. Right? (Laughter.) But we will not let anyone push God from the public square. We will uphold religious liberty for all.

And I want to thank you all, and God bless you all for being here. It’s a great time in our country. We’re doing things that nobody thought was possible.

I’d like to ask, if I might, Secretary DeVos and Deputy Attorney General Rosen to say a few words about our actions, if you don’t mind. Please.

SECRETARY DEVOS: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, Betsy. Please.

SECRETARY DEVOS: Thank you for your leadership, your courage, and your friendship to people of faith, especially our nation’s children. Too many misinterpret a separation of church and state as an invitation for government to separate people from their faith.

In reality, our Constitution doesn’t exist to protect us from religion; it exists to protect religion from government. The First Amendment affirms our free exercise of religion, and we don’t forfeit that first freedom to anyone or in any place, especially in public schools.

After all, it’s been noted that as long as there are final exams in schools, there will be always be prayer in schools. (Laughter.)

Thanks to your leadership, Mr. President, today we remind schools of the law with respect to religious expression — something that hasn’t been done in more than 15 years. And where there are violations, we now make clear that the law requires states to establish a clear process for students like Hannah and Michael —

MR. MCLEOD: William.

SECRETARY DEVOS: William — parents and teachers like Marilyn to report them.

It also notes that the law directs states to tell us about any and all complaints as well.

This administration and you is, and always will be, committed to ensuring all believers have the freedom to learn, to pursue our passions, to use our talents, and to live in accordance with the unique purpose that God has called us each to do.

If we embrace that freedom, our faith will be a light no darkness can overcome. Thank you again, Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY DEVOS: — for your leadership.

THE PRESIDENT: Beautiful. Thank you, Betsy, very much.

Jeff?

DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROSEN: Well, thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you for your leadership on this really critical issue. There are — the fundamental freedom that you’ve been supporting for Americans to practice their faith is so important and is so appreciated by millions and millions of Americans.

And at the Department of Justice, we remain firmly committed to enforcing Americans’ constitutional rights, including this one. So that’s part of why I’m very honored and privileged to be a part of today’s announcement on the new guidance document about prayer in school.

I think sometimes people don’t appreciate that there are many, many Americans who feel called to pray during the day, and our First Amendment to our Constitution protects that. And sometimes I think there’s a confusion about this issue as to whether it’s trying to force people to pray who don’t want to, but that’s not what this is about. This is about protecting the rights of those who do to have the liberty to do that on school grounds. And that is protected —

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROSEN: — by the First Amendment.

So today’s guidance reaffirms and clarifies and spells out for Americans what that freedom is with regards to prayer and religious expression. And I really think that the courage of people of faith, such as the folks we have here today, is really a reminder of how important our constitutional liberties are and of the great action that your administration is taking to ensure that they remain legally protected.

So again, Mr. President, I thank you —

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jeff. Good job.

DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROSEN: — and the Secretary DeVos and the whole administration for the efforts to make this happen.

THE PRESIDENT: Very good job. Thank you very much, Jeff.

Paula, would you like to say something? Go ahead.

PASTOR WHITE: Yes, sir. It’s such an honor to stand here with you, President Trump, and with this amazing team. And the policy and everyone who had made this — this is a huge thing. So we said it is a constitutional right, a First Amendment right. And, President, you continue to be such a fighter for people’s freedoms, for their liberties. As you often say, “We worship God, not government.”

Perceived and perception has often been — people have been bullied, harassed, stopped from practicing their faith. You have so many people that have walked out here, very brave, with horrific stories of being persecuted because they simply wanted to pray. And prayers, we know, makes a huge difference. So thank you for standing for all —

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Paula.

PASTOR WHITE: — religious liberties.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Thank you very much.

Would anybody like to say anything? Go ahead.

MR. MCLEOD: Can I tell my story?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go ahead. (Laughter.) Go ahead.

MR. MCLEOD: So it all started when I walked in the classroom. I was — it was Ash Wednesday and I had my ashes on my forehead, and all the kids in the classroom was like, “Is that dirt on your forehead?” Because they don’t know, because they aren’t Catholic and they were all Mormon.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh.

MR. MCLEOD: So — because I was like — they’re — that was like — I was like the only Catholic in that school. So then the teacher came up and was like, “It’s unacceptable. Wipe it off.” And I told her four times, and she didn’t listen and she made me wipe it off in front of all the kids.

THE PRESIDENT: Wow.

MR. MCLEOD: That’s my story. So, thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s not going to be happening anymore. Okay?

MR. MCLEOD: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: All right?

MR. MCLEOD: I just don’t want anyone to feel like that.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s a beautiful — it’s a beautiful story. Well told, because it sets such a good plate out there for people. I mean, you hear a story like that, it’s such a shocking — Jeff, that’s a shocking story, right? You were the only Catholic in the school?

MR. MCLEOD: (Nods head.) Well, I think there’s one more.

THE PRESIDENT: But they didn’t have any idea. It was just — and the teacher did not treat you properly, right?

MR. MCLEOD: (Nods head.)

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. We’re changing that. Okay? Great job. That was beautiful.

Come here. Give me that hand.

Anybody over here? Anybody? Sure.

MR. WINDEBANK: Mr. President, thank you so much for the opportunity to be in the Oval Office. So much history has taken place here. It’s surreal. Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Good.

MR. WINDEBANK: My name is Chase Windebank. I started a small group of students praying in high school during a free period. And by my senior year, it had grown to a community of 90 students. It was so encouraging. But later in senior year, the administration wound up banning us from praying during school hours — not even during lunch.

And so I remember thinking I didn’t want to file a lawsuit at all, but after many meetings unsuccessful with the administration, I wound up realizing it was the only way to secure future students’ rights to pray. And so thank you, sir, that now I get to have the opportunity to tell students to live out their faith in big and small ways —

THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. That’s right.

MR. WINDEBANK: — in the future. And you guys are making sure that the Founding Fathers are living on in our nation. So thank you, sir, very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Beautiful. Thank you very much. That’s very nice.

MR. WINDEBANK: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes?

MS. HIJAZ: I pray five times day. Oh, my name is Malak Hijaz. I pray five times a day and I have to pray at lunch. And I would bring the hijab to cover my hair and kids would make fun of me, harass me, and attack me. And I would tell the principal, and the principal actually blamed everything on me. At the end, me and my mom complained so many times, and I didn’t have a good education at the end. So, yeah, everything was blamed on me.

THE PRESIDENT: And we’re going to take care of that, right?

MS. HIJAZ: Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, darling.

MS. HIJAZ: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Beautiful. Thank you very much.

MS. HOBLIN: Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, we’ll I want to thank everybody for being here.

Did I hear somebody else? Yes, please. Go ahead.

MS. HOBLIN: Hi, my name is Ariana Hoblin. I’m a high school student in South Florida. And in my middle school, I was the only Jewish person and I was very open with my religion. I would announce when I would have Shabbat plans, which is a day of prayer and rest.

And when we started our Holocaust unit, it ended with everybody being nice to me because I spoke out about it. And I wanted to inform people and I wanted to help people learn. And the students started to write swastikas on my belongings, on my arms. I was pushed and shoved in the hallway.

They even went so far as to take my face and put it on Anne Frank’s body. And it was sent around to three different schools. And I was terrified to say I was Jewish. And that should never be in anyone’s mind. Anyone in school should be able to say, “I am what whatever religion I am. And I practice this and I believe this.”

And it’s been three or four years since middle school. I’m a junior in high school and I have continuously fought for anyone to have the right to exercise their constitutional rights in school.

And I just want to thank you so much for everything you’ve done, and for Israel and for everything that you’ve truly done for all of us.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. So beautiful. Thank you. It’s working out better now? Or is it sort of similar?

MS. HOBLIN: Yes, my high school is extremely supportive of me. I go to Wellington High School.

THE PRESIDENT: Good.

MS. HOBLIN: And they’ve helped me be a leader in the Jewish community now.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, this is going to help too.

MS. HOBLIN: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, please.

MR. KENNEDY: Coach Kennedy.

THE PRESIDENT: Coach.

MR. KENNEDY: We talked a few times. I coach up in Bremerton High School —

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

MR. KENNEDY: — in Bremerton, Washington. And I was fired for praying after football games.

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

MR. KENNEDY: And it’s just so nice to have First Liberty representing me and having a President that has the guts to stand up for us. So, I appreciate you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Coach.

MR. KENNEDY: Oorah. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Good coach, too. He’s a good coach.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you.

MS. CHANEY: Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much.

Yes?

MS. CHANEY: My name is Emily Chaney. I’m a sophomore at East Ridge High School. And I started a prayer locker at my school, and it really helped a lot of people who had different prayer requests. Just —

THE PRESIDENT: Where do you come from with that beautiful accent? (Laughter.) I love the accent. Where do you come from?

MS. CHANEY: Pikeville, Kentucky.

THE PRESIDENT: Kentucky. Oh, we love Kentucky. (Laughter.) We love Kentucky.

MS. CHANEY: I started a prayer locker at my school and it helped a lot of kids who have many different prayer requests just to let them know that someone was there for them and cared for them. And Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to our board of education that the prayer lockers needed to be taken down.

And whenever my teacher told me my school was notified that I had to take my prayer locker down, I was heartbroke, because I had like 10 prayer requests a day. And that was — I just feel like it really helped move in our community, in our schools. And I just — I’m just so thankful for you and all you’ve done for our country.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

MS. CHANEY: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Say hello to everybody in Kentucky for me, okay? (Laughter.) And beyond. And beyond Kentucky.

MS. CHANEY: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay? We’re all set?

DR. RICHBURG: Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, please.

DR. RICHBURG: I come from a heritage and from a faith persuasion that every day of my life, from childhood to now, was grounded in faith. And it is my belief that, had we not had that freedom to exercise that faith, we would not be where we are today.

And so, for that reason, we look at this moment as epic, and an opportunity to return to where we have one time been — the opportunity to freely express ourselves and to share with others, who might feel the same way, how far we’ve been brought and how far we must come through faith.

THE PRESIDENT: Beautiful. So nicely stated. Thank you very much.

You were going to say something?

MR. BUEHRER: Yes, Mr. President, I wanted to thank you. Eric Buehrer, with Gateways to Better Education. And these guidelines haven’t been updated and reissued since 2003.

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

MR. BUEHRER: And when we saw that and contacted the Department of Education, we were so gratified of the response from Secretary DeVos and others on your staff that said, “Yes, we need to address this and update these.” Other administrations should have done it every two years, and it hadn’t been done.

So thank you so much for stepping up and really supporting religious freedom in schools.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we covered a lot of territory in here, as you know, because, you’re right, it’s been many years since they were updated.

MR. BUEHRER: It has.

THE PRESIDENT: So I think it’s very important.

Well, thank you all very much. Go ahead.

Q Yeah, Mr. President, tell me a little bit about what many folks, especially folks of faith, view as a cultural war out there. Prayer, a lot of things going on in society — what are your views on this cultural war that we hear so much about?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is a cultural war, and you have two sides. And you have a side that believes so strongly in prayer, and they’re being restricted, and it’s getting worse and worse. And I think we’ve made a big impact. And we’re loosening up a lot, and I want to loosen it up totally.

But you do have — you have things happening today that 10 or 15 years ago would have been unthinkable, what’s happening. Taking the word “God” down, taking the word “Christmas” out. You know, I think we’ve turned that one around very good. I think we’ve turned both of them around very good. But we’re not going to let it happen. We’re never going to let that happen. And we’re fighting it hard. You know better than anybody, we’re fighting it very hard. And we’re opening it up, and we’re opening up again.

So stories like you hear — but so many other stories — hopefully, in the future, you’re not going to be hearing too much about that. Okay? Thank you. Good question.

Q Mr. President, what is your response to Lev Parnas, who says that your efforts in Ukraine were all about 2020 — that you just wanted Joe Biden out? What’s your response to that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t know him. I don’t know Parnas, other than I guess I had pictures taken, which I do with thousands of people, including people today that I didn’t meet. But — just met them. I don’t know him at all. Don’t know what he’s about. Don’t know where he comes from. Know nothing about him.

I can only tell you: This thing is a big hoax. It’s a big hoax. We call it — this is the current hoax. We’ve gone through the Russian witch hunt. We’ve gone through a lot of them — from probably before I came down the escalator, but certainly since I came down the escalator. You take a look at what’s happened.

Q But he says that —

THE PRESIDENT: And, in the meantime, our country —

Q He says that you know what you were —

THE PRESIDENT: It doesn’t matter what he says. He’s trying to probably make a deal for himself.

Q But he says that you knew what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine, that you knew what he was doing —

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t even know who this man is, other than I guess he attended fundraisers, so I take a picture with him. I’m in a room; I take pictures with people. I take thousands and thousands of pictures with people all the time — thousands — during the course of the year. And, oftentimes, I’ll be taking a picture with somebody. I’ll say, “I wonder what newspaper that one is going to appear in.”

No, I don’t know him. Perhaps he’s a fine man; perhaps he’s not. I know nothing about him. But I can tell you this —

Q He described a situation that was more than just taking pictures, Mr. President. He says that —

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know him. I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken with him.

Q — he was with Giuliani when you were on the phone with Giuliani. And he said that there was a —

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken to him. I meet thousands of people —

Q — that there was a pressure campaign on the President of Ukraine.

THE PRESIDENT: I meet thousands and thousands of people, as President. I take thousands of pictures. And I do — and I do it openly and I do it gladly. And then, if I have a picture where I’m standing with somebody at a fundraiser — like, I believe I saw a picture with this — this man. But I don’t know him. I had never had a conversation that I remember with him.

Certainly —

Q So when he said Mulvaney knew about this —

THE PRESIDENT: Let me just tell you: You just have to take a look at the polls.

Q — that Bolton knew about this —

THE PRESIDENT: Quiet. You just have to take a look at the pictures. You just have to take a look at the polls. You see I don’t need anybody’s help. We’re doing phenomenally well. The economy is the best it’s ever been in — we have never had an economy like this in history. We just made the two best trade deals in the history of our country. We are doing well.

I don’t need the help of a man I never met before, other than perhaps taking a picture at a fundraiser or something, if that’s where it was taken.

Q He makes it sound like this was just about taking out Joe Biden.

THE PRESIDENT: So — go ahead.

Q Are you still going to Davos? And if you are, what’s the message you want to send being —

THE PRESIDENT: I will probably be going to Davos. I’ve been invited. We have tremendous world leaders, and we also have the great business leaders. And we want those business leaders all to come to the United States. Some of the businesses left the United States because they were disgusted with what happened. And now they’re all coming back.

We are booming. Our country is the hottest country anywhere in the world. There’s nothing even close. Every world leader sees me and they say, “What have you done? This is the most incredible thing that we’ve ever seen.”

I understand the stock market, today, broke 29,000. When I came in, it was a fraction of that. It was a number that, frankly, would have gone and it would have been cut in half had the other person or the other party won. The number would have been cut in half.

We are doing so well. And I want to get more. We have tremendous room for growth in our country, in terms of the economy. We have tremendous, powerful room for growth.

So I’m going to be going to Davos. I’ll be meeting the biggest business leaders in the world; getting them to come here. I’ll also be meeting with foreign leaders. Okay?

Q Mr. President, you’ve been talking about prayer and faith today. What’s your message to the millions of Catholics in the United States? Why should they vote for you in the upcoming election — Catholics?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have a great relationship with Catholics. I’ve done so much for Catholics. You take look at the abortion issue. You take a look at many of these — you have Mexico City; you take a look at so many of the different issues. My relationship with Catholics and the Catholic Church has been very, very good, as you know very well.

Jeff, go ahead.

Q Mr. President, Rudy Giuliani wrote a letter to Zelensky requesting a private meeting, and he said it was in his capacity as private counsel to President Donald J. Trump — this was before the inauguration. Did you authorize him to write that letter? And what was your understanding of what the meeting was supposed to be about?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t know anything about the letter. But certainly Rudy is one of the great crime fighters in the history of our country. He’s certainly probably the best over the last 50 years. He was also the greatest mayor in the history of the city of New York. I think Rudy was truly an outstanding mayor.

As an example, his endorsement of Bloomberg — he got Bloomberg elected. He wouldn’t have even been mayor. But Rudy was the greatest crime fighter. And Rudy is somebody that, frankly, having him on my side was a great honor for me, and it has been a great honor for me.

Rudy Giuliani — Rudy Giuliani did a phenomenal job over a long period of time in fighting crime. And frankly, he’s a very legitimate guy, a very straight shooter. I didn’t know about his specific letter, but if he wrote a letter, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Rudy was always in — it was very important to Rudy that I be a great President, and that’s okay with me. It was very important to a lot of people, because our country was going to hell and now our country is on a path that we haven’t seen in decades and decades. We’ve never done better.

Go ahead.

Q What was —

THE PRESIDENT: No, no. Not you. Go ahead.

Q The trial is starting next week. What’s your view on how long it should take and what witnesses you —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it should go very quickly. It’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. Everybody knows that. It’s a —

Q And witnesses? What about those?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s a complete hoax — the whole thing with Ukraine. So you have a perfect phone call. This is a call fortunate- — it was actually two phone calls. You people don’t report that. There were two calls. They were both perfect calls. In fact, probably among the nicest calls I’ve ever met — made to foreign leaders.

Now, so you have these perfect calls, and everybody says it now. Before they knew they were so good — because, fortunately, they were transcribed — you had other people saying terrible things about the calls. You had a fake whistleblower that wrote a report that bore no relationship to what was said. Everything was false.

You have now the Ukrainian President and the Foreign Minister of Ukraine saying there was nothing done wrong. In fact, they said there was absolutely no pressure whatsoever. Everything was perfect. And they impeach. It’s totally partisan. We had 195 to nothing, Republican votes. I guess we got a Democrat actually came over to the Republican side. We had 195 to nothing.

This is a hoax. It’s a sham. I did the biggest deal ever done in the history of our country yesterday in terms of trade — and probably other things too, if you think about it: the deal with China. And that was the second story to a total hoax.

Today we just had passed the USMCA. It’s going to take the place of NAFTA, which was a terrible deal. And the USMCA will probably be second to this witch-hunt hoax, which hopefully everyone knows is not going anywhere. There was nothing done wrong. This was a perfect phone call. Think of it: The President of the United States, who’s led the greatest growth — the greatest — the greatest economic revival of any country anywhere in the world is the United States, as big as it is. We’re doing better than any other country, by far.

Our unemployment numbers are the best they’ve been in over 50 years. African American, Asian American, Hispanic American unemployment, the best in the history of our country. And I’ve got to go through a hoax, a phony hoax, put out by the Democrats so they can try and win an election that hopefully they’re not going to win.

It was put out for purposes of winning an election. Our country is doing great. Our country has never done better. So they figure the only thing they can do — they failed on the Mueller report; that was a bomb. After two and a half years, they failed. Now they said, “What can we do?” And they pick up a phone call that was perfect. But they didn’t know it was perfect. They only found out later. They made up a phone call.

What they did — look, what they did — you have a corrupt person — he’s a corrupt politician named Adam Schiff, and he made up a phone call. He went out — you’ll hear about this as you grow older. (Laughter.) He went out and he said things that — “He said quid pro quo eight times.” It was no times. He said, “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.” That’s a mob statement. I never said that.

Fortunately, I released the transcript of the call. The transcript was perfectly accurate. And now everybody agrees because it went through a lot and they said, “Well, could you add one word here?” Our lieutenant colonel said, “Well, I think they should add…” — they added the word. Everything — everyone agrees the transcript is perfecto, done by total professionals, right?

But I released that after they had done these fraudulent acts. And you get impeached on this.

We have the greatest economy in the history of our country. We have the highest job numbers. Today, it was just announced, we have more people working in the United States than ever before in the history of our country — almost 160 million people. We’re doing an incredible job.

And for absolutely no reason —

Q Mr. President, during that call, you said Marie Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things.”

THE PRESIDENT: — and for absolutely no reason, I got impeached.

Q Can you address that?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s a disgrace and it’s a hoax. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

[End Transcript]

President Trump Delivers Remarks on Constitutional Prayer in School (W/ Presser) – Video and Transcript…

Cops threaten woman for filming traffic problems at U.S. mosque

‘Another example of the encroachment on our liberties when Islam is involved’

Nov 24, 2019

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

Some big new operation opens in a closed high school in a residential neighborhood and there are traffic problems, conflicts over the use of a public park and late-night events disturbing the peace.

No response from the city to citizen complaints.

So one resident starts videoing various violations, including traffic offenses.

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And the result? Police threaten her with a charge of harassment.

It’s because the suspected violators — individuals connected to the Islamic Al Farooq Mosque and youth center in Bloomington, Minnesota — said they didn’t like being recorded.

The American Freedom Law Center has filed a lawsuit against Bloomington, Minnesota, on behalf of resident Sally Ness.

It alleges that the city, two officers and the Hennepin County attorney have violated her rights under the First and 14th Amendments by “threatening to enforce local and state laws against her for filming public information exposing various zoning and other violations committed by a local mosque and its associated school.”

Robert Muise, who co-founded AFLC, said the First Amendment “fully protects our client’s right to gather information through photographing and videotaping. And this is particularly the case here because she is filming public matters related to a public controversy.”

“As the courts have explained,” he said, “the right to freedom of speech includes not only the actual expression of one’s views, thoughts, opinions, and other information concerning matters of public interest, but also non-expressive conduct that intrinsically facilitates one’s ability to exercise free speech rights, including efforts to gather evidence and information by photographing and videotaping. Here, the city and county seek to make a crime out of what under the Constitution cannot be a crime. Their threats of prosecution are aimed directly at activity protected by the First Amendment.”

Ness has been capturing on video “zoning and other violations” by the mosque for several years.

Just months ago, police officers warned she could be charged with a crime.

According to police reports, “Ness was advised that she could be charged with harassment if the parents and principal felt intimidated by her actions.”

City officials followed up by adopting an ordinance that “no person shall intentionally take a photograph or otherwise record a child without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.”

AFLC said that because Ness “seeks to expose, among other violations, DAF’s and the Success Academy’s noncompliant and overuse of a local city park – a park in her neighborhood that she would often attempt to use with her grandchildren – her information gathering efforts include, quite necessarily, photographing and videotaping the use of the public park by children associated with DAF and the Success Academy.”

“Additionally, Ness has taken pictures of students being dropped off to Success Academy and weekend school to document the noncompliant number of students attending the schools and the unsafe and noncompliant drop off conditions. There is no doubt that this newly minted and unusual city ordinance was directed at her,” the legal team said.

David Yerushalmi, senior counsel for AFLC, said: “If you publicly criticize Islam, it is called ‘hate speech.’ If you exercise your First Amendment right to collect evidence of a mosque violating zoning and other laws via photographing and videotaping and expose this evidence to the public, you can be prosecuted for ‘harassment.’ This case is another example of the encroachment on our liberties when Islam is involved.”

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the Minnesota harassment statute and the city’s new anti-filming ordinance are unconstitutional.

“Defendants have deprived Plaintiff Ness of her right to freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment as applied to the states and their political subdivisions under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” states the complaint.

The defendants have “injured Plaintiff Ness in a way likely to chill a person of ordinary firmness from further participation in her free speech activity.”

The lawyers argued to the court, “Filming in a public forum information for public dissemination regarding the DAF/Success Academy controversy is fully protected by the First Amendment.”

They said the way the law is written and being applied, “empowers DAF and Success Academy patrons (hecklers) to veto the exercise of Plaintiff Ness’s First Amendment rights by claiming that they feel threatened by the exercise of those rights.”

 

Original here

City sued for demanding photographer violate faith

Yet another fight over ‘nondiscrimination’ ordinances that promotes the LGBT minority

Nov 23, 2019

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Oh wait, you HAVE heard this one.

Because it’s happening all over.

The newest situation where a local “nondiscrimination” demand is creating issues because of its claim to be able to force Christians to violate their faith in order to do business comes from Louisville, Kentucky.

Such situation already have erupted in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, California and dozens of other locations. Bakers, photographers, florists, video makers and calligraphers have been targeted, so far.

The situation, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is working on behalf of photographer Chelsey Nelson and her Chelsey Nelson Photography, is that “Louisville law … forces her to use her artistic talents to promote same-sex wedding ceremonies if she photographs and blogs about weddings between one man and one woman.”

“The Louisville law also forbids [her] from publicly explaining to clients and potential clients through her studio’s own website or social media sites the religious reasons why she only celebrates wedding ceremonies between one man and one woman. Louisville considers such ‘communications’ as indicating that services will be denied or that someone’s patronage would be ‘objectionable, unwelcome, unacceptable, or undesirable’ because of sexual orientation,” ADF reported.

It was the U.S. Supreme Court that created the dispute, when it fabricated several years ago the idea of same-sex marriage. That opinion, according to the chief justice, was unrelated to the Constitution.

The opinion purported to assure Americans that those who believe in traditional marriage, a foundation of society for millennia, still would be protected. But Justice Samuel Alita, at the time, wasn’t convinced.

“I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools,” he warned.

That’s what’s happening, according to the new case.

Explained Kate Anderson, senior counsel for the ADF, “Artists shouldn’t be censored, fined, or forced out of business simply for disagreeing with the government’s preferred views,. The government must allow artists the freedom to make personal decisions about what art they can and can’t create.

“No matter one’s views on marriage, we all lose when bureaucrats can force citizens to participate in religious ceremonies they oppose or to speak messages they disagree with. On countless other topics, photographers and other artists can freely choose the stories they tell. Chelsey simply asks for the same freedom.”

Officials for Louisville declined to respond to a WND request for comment.

The ADF said its action is a “pre-enforcement challenge,” which lets citizens raise objections to city threats to their rights.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit and the Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of artists and filmmakers who brought similar pre-enforcement challenges against laws like Louisville’s. ADF attorneys are asking the court to halt enforcement of the law against Nelson and her business while her lawsuit proceeds,” the ADF said.

“Every American, including photographers and writers, should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment by the government,” added ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “Chelsey serves all people. But Louisville is trying to compel Chelsey’s speech, force her participation in ceremonies she objects to, and eliminate her editorial control over her photographs and blog. It’s unlawful to coerce an artist to create messages against her will and intimidate her into silence just because the city disagrees with her beliefs.”

The case is pending in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

It explains the city law violates the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses.

ADF said, “The complaint indicates that an online directory lists 91 photographers in Louisville and 314 photographers in Kentucky who will photograph same-sex weddings—many of whom express support for same-sex marriage by posting statements promoting same-sex marriage on their websites and by displaying photographs of same-sex weddings on their websites, blogs, and social media sites.”

There have been at least 15 cases – based on the 2015 Obergefell decision by the U.S. Supreme that established a right to same-sex marriage – in which Christians have been prosecuted for running their wedding-related businesses according to the principles of their faith.

That’s even though that original opinion claimed to assure: “Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here.”

 

Original here

VIDEO Hear the Prophesy Made Before He Ever Entered the Race. Will Trump Be a Two-Term President?

The Untold Story of Prophecy and the 2020 Election: A Praying But Not Religious President, Dark Veil Over America, SCOTUS, Impeachment — and More

By   November 6, 2019 

As we approach the 2020 election, and with impeachment news daily in the headlines, there are Christian leaders who prophesy that Donald Trump will indeed win. It is an untold story of prophecies and spiritual signs that is off the radar screen of the secular media, which would never cover it except to ridicule. Yet many Christians believe God still actively guides us not only through the Bible, but through the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts.

Most Americans are aware that our nation is deeply divided, and the campaign season for the 2020 election is bringing that to light as never before. Most pundits would say it’s between conservatives and liberals or maybe against progressive leftists and constitutional conservatives on the right. But all see it in academic or secular terms.

Should We Believe Modern-Day Prophets?

Many Christians believe in the existence of modern-day prophets — people with a spiritual gift enabling them to tell others what God is saying. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when various prophets have said God has raised up Donald Trump, many believe it’s true. Could God be speaking to us today, and does He still have plans and purposes for America?

Because I know many of these prophets and have reported on them and what they say from the Lord, I have tried to document them in various ways, including the books I’ve written. I understand the reasons that some might be skeptical or totally disagree. For one, some prophecies are obscure or mostly symbolic.

Add to this that the prophets sometimes seem to be wrong, and that prophecies given in earlier times just weren’t documented unless written down at the time.

The number of prophecies about Donald Trump, many of which have gone viral, is one of the reasons Trump received so much support from the Christian community, especially charismatics and Pentecostals.

I believe we can overcome these concerns, in part because of modern electronics and the fact so many church services where prophetic words are given are now recorded and available online. This gives us a chance to evaluate them after the fact and to try to understand what’s happening from a spiritual perspective. I believe there is a spiritual significance for the tumultuous times in which we live, because there were several prophecies spanning several years. And, they came true!

The number of prophecies about Donald Trump, many of which have gone viral, is one of the reasons Trump received so much support from the Christian community, especially charismatics and Pentecostals. Not only is Trump a champion of religious freedom who is keeping his promises, but there is also a sense that somehow, some way, God is behind this unlikely builder from Queens.

“A President That Will Pray”

One of the most talked about prophecies on YouTube, viewed by more than 1.2 million people (yet virtually ignored by the media) is by the late Kim Clement. In 2007, he prophesied in a service in Redding, California, that “Trump shall be a Trumpet,” and even more startling: “God says, I will put at your helm for two terms a president that will pray.”

Other than the mention of the Trumpet, there is no specific mention of Donald Trump. Only in hindsight have people latched on to this video as a prophecy about Trump and passed it around.

I first met Kim Clement in the late 1990s so I knew his story. He moved to America from South Africa where he had been trained to be a classical pianist and later played in a rock band. When he nearly overdosed on heroin, that crisis caused him to become a Christian in 1974. Gradually as he grew in his faith and ministry, he developed a reputation as a seer, a prophet. In charismatic worship services he would often accompany himself on the keyboards and sing or preach his prophecies. (Unless you were raised a Pentecostal, this form or worship may seem odd.) A sort of mystic, Clement would often shake his head of long dark hair as he spoke or sang.

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This resulted in a very heavy “atmosphere” in the service — almost mystical — and most people in the room seemed to believe that God really was speaking through Clement.

In Redding in 2007, Clement also prophesied: “There will be a praying president, not a religious one. For I will fool the people, says the Lord. I will fool the people. Yes, I will. God says. The One that is chosen shall go in and they shall say, ‘He has hot blood.’ For the Spirit of God says, yes, he may have hot blood, but he will bring the walls of protection on this country in a greater way and the economy of this country shall change rapidly, says the Lord of hosts.”

Only in hindsight can we notice what he said about Trump having “hot blood” or that he would build walls of protection or help the economy boom. But most interestingly of all is that he said, “Listen to the Word of the Lord, God says, I will put at your helm for two terms a president that will pray, but he will not be a praying president when he starts.”

A Man After God’s Own Heart

Seven years later, on February 22, 2014, more than a year before Trump announced he would run for president, Clement prophesied that God had allowed a veil to be put on this nation “for in darkness, faith grows.” He went on to say he found a man after his own heart like King David who would be singled out for the presidency of the United States. Clement continued: “I have searched for a man … who would stand in the Oval Office and pray for the restoration of the fortunes of Zion (Israel).”

“Watch how I will change everything, for there shall be those who are in justice, and there are those who are in a strong position (I am just hearing this now) in the highest court in the land. The highest court in the land. The Supreme Court. Two shall step down. For the embarrassment of what shall take place. But I wish to place in the highest court in the land, righteousness. And they shall attempt to put others in to reach their endeavors.” But God says, ‘Hear me tonight. Hear me today. I have this whole thing planned out, according to My will.’”

For many conservative Christians who feel their nation is deteriorating before their eyes, such words bring hope. Even if they don’t know whether to believe, they want to.

In the same meeting, Clement shared a recent vision he had where he saw a group of people and a man emerged from among them that he sensed God had singled out for the presidency of the United States: “And the Spirit of God said, ‘This man will throttle the enemies of Israel. This man will throttle the enemies of the West. And there are highly embarrassing moments that are about to occur for many, many politicians in this nation. There will be a shaking amongst, there will be a shaking amongst the Democrats in the upcoming elections, but unsettling for the Republicans.’”

“They will shout, ‘Impeach, impeach!’ but this will not happen.”

Then he asks rhetorically, “Why is God doing this? For God said, “I am dissatisfied with what emerges from both parties.”

“And then there is a nation He showed me, He took me, itching for a new kind of war with America. They will shout, “Impeach, impeach,” they say. But nay. This nation shall come very suddenly, but it shall not come in the time of President Obama. It shall come when this new one arises. My David, that I have set aside for this nation … They will shout, ‘Impeach, impeach!’ but this will not happen.

“God says, ‘Once you recognize the man that I have raised up, pray. For the enemy will do everything in its power to put a witch in the White House.’ For Jezebel has chased away the prophets and even Elijah. Now I have said, ‘Go back.’ For this shall be dismantled so that there will be no more corruption in the White House,” says the Spirit.

For those who are wondering, Kim suffered a stroke in 2015 and passed away in November 2016, the same month Trump was elected. So there is no way someone could have recorded him saying these things after they played out during Trump’s presidency and post-dated it to look like he said them in advance. Both prophetic words were given before Trump had even announced he was running for office.

Clement said more, and not all of it has come to pass. But to me it’s interesting that between these two prophecies he touched on most of the significant issues at stake during Trump’s presidency, and he uttered specific words about Trump that have come true.

 

Stephen E. Strang is an award-winning journalist, founder and CEO of Charisma Media and author of the best-seller “God and Donald Trump.” This content was excerpted from his new book, “God, Trump, and the 2020 Election,” out Jan. 14.

Original here


Same week Congress approved First Amendment, it requested Day of Prayer

Nation’s first National Day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God

The First Amendment was passed in the First Session of Congress, which was meeting in New York City.

The first Ten Amendments, called the Bill of Rights, were intended to be “handcuffs” or limitations on the power of the new Federal Government.

The Bill of Rights was signed by two individuals in the U.S. Congress: Vice-President John Adams, as President of the Senate, and Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, as the First Speaker of the House, who was also an ordained Lutheran minster.

The PREAMBLE to the Bill of Rights reveals the intent of the States to prevent the Federal Government from an “abuse of its powers,” insisting “restrictive clauses” should be placed on it:

“The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to PREVENT misconstruction or ABUSE OF ITS POWERS, that further declaratory and RESTRICTIVE CLAUSES should be added … as amendments to the Constitution of the United States.”

The First Amendment began:

“CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Websters 1828 Dictionary defined “respecting” as: “regarding,” “concerning,” or “relating to.”

In other words, when the subject of “an establishment of religion” came before the Federal Government, their response was to be “hands off,” as religion was under each individual State’s jurisdiction.

In his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833, Justice Joseph Story stated:

“In some of the States, Episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in other, Presbyterians; in others, Congregationalists; in others, Quakers …

It was impossible that there should not arise … jealousy … if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment.

The only security was in the abolishing the power … But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion …

Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the State governments.”

In the First Amendment, the states also limited the Federal Congress from:

“… 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.”

Congress was the only branch of government that made laws, so it was the focus of the restrictions.

If the founders could have seen into the future that the Supreme Court would make laws from the bench, or that Presidents would make laws through executive orders and regulations, they might have worded the First Amendment:

“CONGRESS, the SUPREME COURT and the PRESIDENT shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF.”

The Bill of Rights were passed by Congress on September 25, 1789, and sent to the States for ratification.

The same week Congress approved the First Amendment, they requested President George Washington declare the United States’ First National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God.

Obviously, they did not think the First Amendment that they just passed should outlaw prayer or God!

President Washington declared on OCTOBER 3, 1789:

“Whereas it is the DUTY of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of ALMIGHTY GOD, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and

Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me

‘to recommend to the People of the United States A DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of ALMIGHTY GOD, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to ESTABLISH A FORM OF GOVERNMENT for their safety and happiness;’

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that GREAT AND GLORIOUS BEING, who is the BENEFICENT AUTHOR of all the good that was, that is, or that will be;

That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks,

for His kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation;

for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of HIS PROVIDENCE, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war;

for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed,

for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to ESTABLISH CONSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT for our safety and happiness, and PARTICULARLY THE NATIONAL ONE NOW LATELY INSTITUTED,

for the CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;

and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to THE GREAT LORD AND RULER OF NATIONS, and beseech Him

to pardon our national and other transgressions,

to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually;

to render OUR NATIONAL GOVERNMENT a blessing to all the People, by constantly being A GOVERNMENT OF WISE, JUST AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed;

to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord;

TO PROMOTE THE KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE OF TRUE RELIGION AND VIRTUE, and the increase of science among them and us;

and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd of October, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine. -George Washington.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger stated in the case of Marsh v. Chambers (675 F. 2d 228, 233; 8th Cir. 1982; review allowed, 463 U.S. 783; 1982):

“The men who wrote the First Amendment religion clause did not view paid legislative chaplains and opening prayers as a violation of that amendment …

The practice of opening sessions with prayer has continued without interruption ever since that early session of Congress …

It can hardly be thought that in the SAME WEEK the members of the first Congress VOTED to appoint and pay a CHAPLAIN for each House and also VOTED to approve the draft of the FIRST AMENDMENT … (that) they intended to forbid what they had just declared ACCEPTABLE.”

In the Supreme Court case of Town of Greece, NY, v. Galloway et al, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the decision, May 5, 2014:

“Respondents maintain that prayer must be nonsectarian … and they fault the town for permitting guest chaplains to deliver prayers that ‘use overtly Christian terms’ or ‘invoke specifics of Christian theology’ …

An insistence on nonsectarian or ecumenical prayer as a single, fixed standard is not consistent with the tradition of legislative prayer …

The Congress that drafted the First Amendment would have been accustomed to invocations containing explicitly religious themes of the sort respondents find objectionable.

One of the Senate’s first chaplains, the Rev. William White, gave prayers in a series that included the Lord’s Prayer, the Collect for Ash Wednesday, prayers for peace and grace, a general thanksgiving, St. Chrysostom’s Prayer, and a prayer seeking ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c …’”

Justice Kennedy continued in Greece v. Galloway:

“The decidedly Christian nature of these prayers must not be dismissed as the relic of a time when our Nation was less pluralistic than it is today.

Congress continues to permit its appointed and visiting chaplains to express themselves in a religious idiom …

To hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures … and the courts … to act as … censors of religious speech …

Government may not mandate a civic religion that stifles any but the most generic reference to the sacred any more than it may prescribe a religious orthodoxy …”

Kennedy added:

“Respondents argue, in effect, that legislative prayer may be addressed only to a generic God.

The law and the Court could not draw this line for each specific prayer or seek to require ministers to set aside their nuanced and deeply personal beliefs for vague and artificial ones.

There is doubt, in any event, that consensus might be reached as to what qualifies as generic or nonsectarian …”

Kennedy continued:

“While these prayers vary in their degree of religiosity, they often seek peace for the Nation, wisdom for its lawmakers, and justice for its people, values that count as universal and that are embodied not only in religious traditions, but in our founding documents and laws …

The first prayer delivered to the Continental Congress by the Rev. Jacob Duché on Sept. 7, 1774, provides an example:

‘Be Thou present O God of Wisdom and direct the counsel of this Honorable Assembly;

enable them to settle all things on the best and surest foundations;

that the scene of blood may be speedily closed;

that Order, Harmony, and Peace be effectually restored, and the Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety, prevail and flourish among the people.

Preserve the health of their bodies, and the vigor of their minds, shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal Blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting Glory in the world to come.

All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Saviour, Amen …’”

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy concluded the Greece v. Galloway decision, May 5, 2014::

“From the earliest days of the Nation, these invocations have been addressed to assemblies comprising many different creeds …

Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs, can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith.”

 

Original here

Kentucky Supreme Court Rules for Christian T-Shirt Company

Kentucky Supreme Court Rules for Christian T-Shirt Company

The Kentucky Supreme Court made a significant First Amendment ruling October 31, dismissing a seven-year-old case against a t-shirt company whose Christian owner declined to do business with a homosexual group.

In its decision the high court ruled that the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO), a Lexington-area homosexual activist group, did not have legal standing to sue the t-shirt company Hands on Originals, or owner Blaine Adamson, for declining to provide shirts with a pro-homosexual message that conflicted with Adamson’s Christian convictions.

The case dates back to 2012, when GLSO chose Hands on Originals to print gay-themed t-shirts for a local Lexington homosexual gay “pride” event. When Adamson declined, citing his Christian beliefs, referring GLSO to other companies who would provide the service, the group filed a discrimination suit with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission.

Two years later the commission ruled that Adamson had violated the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance, and as punishment required him to go through “diversity” training.

Adamson and his legal representatives, the First Amendment advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), challenged the decision and were victorious in a Kentucky court in 2017. The Lexington Human Rights Commission in turn appealed the case to the state supreme court, which ruled in Adamson’s favor, finding that GLSO “lacked statutory standing” to make a discrimination claim against Adamson and his business.

Key to the case ruling was the court’s finding that while Adamson had inquired about the nature of the event for which GLSO had requested him to print t-shirts, he did not inquire into the sexual orientation of the organization’s representatives, meaning that there was no intent to discriminate against an individual.

Writing for the court, Justice Laurance VanMete noted “the record is clear that no individual claimed Hands On had discriminated. Because GLSO itself was the only plaintiff to file a claim … and it did not purport to name any individual on whose behalf it was bringing the claim, GLSO lacked the requisite statutory standing.”

In a concurring opinion, Justice David Buckingham wrote that the Lexington human rights commission attempted to compel Adamson and Hand on Originals “to engage in expression with which it disagreed.” Observed Buckingham in his opinion: “Hands On was in good faith objecting to the message it was being asked to disseminate,” adding that when speech is compelled, “individuals are coerced into betraying their convictions. Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning.”

In August, while the Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, Adamson explained his personal position to reporters, telling them that “I will work with any person, no matter who they are, and no matter what their belief systems are. But when I’m presented with a message that conflicts with my faith, that’s just something I cannot print.”

Following the Supreme Court decision, ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell said the ruling “makes clear that this case never should have happened. For more than seven years, government officials used this case to turn Blaine’s life upside down, even though we told them from the beginning that the lawsuit didn’t comply with the city’s own legal requirements.”

Campbell added that “the First Amendment protects Blaine’s right to continue serving all people while declining to print messages that violate his faith. Justice David Buckingham recognized this in his concurring opinion, and no member of the court disagreed with that.”

Photo of Kentucky Supreme Court: wanderluster/iStock/Getty Images Plus

https://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/faith-and-morals/item/33924-kentucky-supreme-court-rules-for-christian-t-shirt-company

Hiding Behind The Supreme Court Won’t Stop Beto O’Rourke’s Crusade To Punish Orthodox Religion

In addition to showing the left’s trajectory on religious freedom, O’Rourke’s comments also reveal why conservatives are faring so poorly on the LGBT front of the culture war.

Hiding Behind The Supreme Court Won’t Stop Beto O’Rourke’s Crusade To Punish Orthodox Religion

Oct 17, 2019

In 2003, the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made a rather prophetic statement in his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), a Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-sodomy laws across the country. After excoriating the majority for simply waving away the long-held notion that sodomy was a form of sexual immorality that the state had a legitimate interest in prohibiting, Scalia wrote:

One of the benefits of leaving regulation of this matter to the people rather than to the courts is that the people, unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion. The people may feel that their disapprobation of homosexual conduct is strong enough to disallow homosexual marriage, but not strong enough to criminalize private homosexual acts — and may legislate accordingly. The Court today pretends that it possesses a similar freedom of action, so that that we need not fear judicial imposition of homosexual marriage. … Do not believe it.

In other words, Scalia was declaring, “It’s not within the nature of courts to remain neutral on moral issues. By declaring that the government can’t prohibit homosexual acts today, the court is guaranteeing that the government will be celebrating homosexual acts tomorrow.”

A mere 12 years later, the Supreme Court, via Obergefell v. Hodges, declared every state prohibition against same-sex marriage unconstitutional, with Justice Anthony Kennedy justifying the majority’s opinion by lauding the beauty of homosexual relationships. While Scalia’s words did indeed prove prophetic, they were not perfectly so.

Legalizing gay marriage may have been taking the court’s logic to the next logical step, but it wasn’t the logical conclusion of declaring that the state can’t punish those who engage in homosexuality. Rather, the logical conclusion of the court’s judgment in Lawrence is saying the state must punish those still clinging to the former orthodoxy.

O’Rourke Shows Left’s Trajectory on LGBT Issues

This is something presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke demonstrated in a recent CNN forum on LGBT issues. When Don Lemon asked him if churches and religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage should lose their tax-exempt status, O’Rourke replied with a firm “Yes.”

Then O’Rourke explained his position by stating, “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. So as president, we’re going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

While one might dismiss O’Rourke as an outlier, it’s worth noting that his response met cheers from the audience and tepid disavowals from a few of his fellow would-be Democrat nominees who couldn’t sufficiently explain why they disagreed, indicating the former congressman’s position is more mainstream among leftists than we might think, even if many on the left recognize it’s not wise to state that view publicly.

Quite simply, O’Rourke’s plan to tax religious groups opposed to same-sex marriage is not merely the hard-left pandering of an unserious candidate trying desperately to bring his poll numbers above negative-400 percent. It’s the logical conclusion of the illiberal philosophy embraced in Lawrence.

Yesterday the state said homosexuality is neutral. Today the state says homosexuality is good. Tomorrow the state will say opposing homosexuality is bad and must therefore be punished. While O’Rourke’s position may be too hot for the eventual nominee to embrace right now, don’t be surprised if it becomes the official platform of the Democratic National Committee the moment it becomes clear they can win the presidency while giving churches, synagogues, and mosques the sin tax treatment.

In addition to showing the left’s trajectory on religious freedom, O’Rourke’s comments also reveal why conservatives are faring so poorly on the LGBT front of the culture war.

While most Americans would probably describe their general approach to human sexuality as “live and let live,” most Americans also intuitively understand that the “live and let live” doctrine gets complicated when people’s sexual practices and identities follow them into public places. When that messiness arises, both conservatives and progressives have the chance to convince people that their respective solutions will get things tidied up. Why, then, are conservatives losing so many of these battles for the hearts and minds of the general public?

The Folly of ‘Live and Let Live’

To answer that question, consider transgenderism. “Live and let live” flies out the window the moment a man identifying as a woman shows up in the ladies’ bathroom and makes the women in the room uncomfortable. Likewise, how do you solve the problem when public schools demand that teachers use students’ preferred pronouns and some teachers object?

Progressives promise to clean up this mess by carrying their beliefs to their logical conclusion. Transgenderism, they argue, is a perfectly valid identity the state should celebrate and defend. And because it harms people to have their identity rejected, the state must therefore compel others to acknowledge it — thus, force institutions to have transgender bathroom policies. Force taxpayers to subsidize transgender surgery. Fire teachers for refusing to use students’ preferred pronouns. Follow Canada’s example and remove children from their parents if they refuse to embrace their kid’s trans identity.

Conservatives, however, have shown little willingness to follow their own principles likewise to their logical actions. By and large, we assert that transgenderism is, at best, a phase and, at worst, a form of mental illness, so it should follow that the way to clean up the mess is to use the state’s power to hinder those who would do physical and psychological harm to those struggling with a false sense of identity. Yet we are largely unwilling to urge the state to do this.

We aren’t willing to say that mothers who shove their supposedly gender-nonconforming children in front of TV cameras should have their children removed from their homes. We aren’t using the power we have in red states to pass laws promising revoked medical licenses and perhaps even jail time for doctors who prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to minors and chop off perfectly functional sex organs. When trans students show up at schools and demand that teachers use their preferred pronouns, we aren’t willing to say, “The solution to this problem is to forbid males from coming to school dressed as females and vice versa while they get the help they need.”

In all of this, we refuse to clean up the “live and let live” mess by carrying our beliefs to their logical conclusion, which frequently convinces the undecided public that they should probably side with the people who will. That’s why Sen. Elizabeth Warren didn’t consider it political suicide to cheer the bravery of a 9-year-old girl living as a boy. That’s why we’re losing.

Conservatives Need More Than a Supreme Court Ruling

It is, of course, important for conservatives to keep defending those dragged into court for refusing to accept the new LGBT orthodoxy. And God bless those florists, bakers, and educators who have refused to acquiesce to the state’s demands, but not everyone has the mettle or the ability to wait five years for a favorable Supreme Court ruling.

For their sake, it would behoove conservatives to remember that you don’t win culture wars by refusing to fight until you get to the courthouse steps. Likewise, it’s also worth remembering that those who lose culture wars will eventually lose the constitutional protections in which they’ve sought sanctuary.

Sure, O’Rourke’s vindictive tax policy would likely be ruled unconstitutional by today’s Supreme Court. But the more comfortable our culture becomes with the idea of destroying dissenting churches via the power of taxation, the less confident we should be that future justices will maintain today’s understanding of the First Amendment. After all, if the Supreme Court, high on elitist zeitgeist, can stick its hands into the void and invent a constitutional right to abortion or to marry anyone, it can also invent a constitutional right to a clean conscience, which can only be preserved by silencing those repentance-preaching pastors and priests.

Quite simply, conservatives need to win converts to prevent progressives from devouring us. And that won’t happen if we refuse to carry our beliefs to their logical conclusions. So at the risk of rekindling the Ahmari-French debate, when conservatives express discomfort with the concept of obscenity laws, see drag queen story hour as a “blessing of liberty,” and won’t scream in defense of gender-confused children who are being abused by the people who are supposed to protect them, we aren’t clinging to our first principles. Rather, we’re forgetting the very first principle — namely that earthly governments are instituted by God to punish the wicked and reward the good in order to give us a peaceful and quiet life.

Because of this, we shouldn’t hesitate to use the state’s power to defend ourselves and our children from the kind of metastasizing libertinism that rots every brick of the public square it touches. If we don’t, as the journey from Lawrence v. Texas to Beto v. Traditional Christians, Jews, and Muslims shows, those who have gotten comfortable using the state to impose their perverse morality on us won’t tire of doing so any time soon.

Hans Fiene is a Lutheran pastor in Illinois and the creator of Lutheran Satire, a series of comical videos intended to teach the Lutheran faith. Follow him on Twitter, @HansFiene.
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https://thefederalist.com/2019/10/16/hiding-behind-the-supreme-court-wont-stop-beto-orourkes-crusade-to-punish-orthodox-religion/