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1st Amendment Victory: SCOTUS Strikes Down Philadelphia Law Forcing Same-Sex Adoption at Catholic Org

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

HANNAH BLEAU 17 Jun 2021

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Thursday unanimously overturned a lower court ruling regarding the City of Philadelphia barring foster children from being placed with the Catholic Social Services due to its unwillingness to endorse same-sex couples.

In a 9-0 judgment, SCOTUS held that the City of Philadelphia’s refusal to contract with Catholic Social Services (CSS) for the provision of foster care services unless the agency agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. It came about after Philadelphia stopped foster children from being placed with the Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on the basis of its beliefs and practices on traditional marriage.

“Philadelphia took this extraordinary action not in response to any legal violation, nor in response to any complaint it received, but because of CSS’s religious beliefs and practices regarding marriage, which City officials read about in the local paper,” the petitioner’s brief reads, noting the Third Circuit ruled in favor of Philadelphia, considering the city’s actions “neutral.”

“The City will renew its foster care contract with CSS only if the agency agrees to certify same-sex couples. The question presented is whether the actions of Philadelphia violate the First Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, in which he ultimately determined the city’s action did so.

The city’s actions, he wrote, “burdened CSS’s religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships inconsistent with its beliefs,” noting the city’s dissent of that opinion.

“In its view, certification reflects only that foster parents satisfy the statutory criteria, not that the agency endorses their relationships. But CSS believes that certification is tantamount to endorsement. And religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection,” he wrote.

Central to Philadelphia’s defense was that the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision Employment Division v. Smith held that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment applies when the government discriminates against religion, not to laws that generally apply to everyone regardless of religion. The city points out that under its anti-discrimination law, the Fair Practices Ordinance, everyone has to treat same-sex marriages the same as traditional marriages, and says that makes it a neutral law of general application.

The Court ultimately rejected the city’s argument that CSS’s practice violated a section of “its standard foster care contract, determining that the provision is not generally applicable as required by Smith.”

Roberts, in his opinion, determined that the city offered “no compelling reason why it has a particular interest in denying an exception to CSS while making them available to others.”

“As Philadelphia acknowledges, CSS has long been a point of light in the City’s foster care system. CSS seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else,” Roberts wrote.

“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment,” he added.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, concurred in the Court’s judgment only, determining that Philadelphia issued “an ultimatum to an arm of the Catholic Church: Either engage in conduct that the Church views as contrary to the traditional Christian understanding of marriage or abandon a mission that dates back to the earliest days of the Church — providing for the care of orphaned and abandoned children.”

“There can be no doubt that Philadelphia’s ultimatum restricts CSS’s ability to do what it believes the Catholic faith requires,” he wrote.

But they also took their views a step further, determining that the case serves as the latest example of Smith acting as a plague on the Constitution, triggering mounting issues in religious liberty cases. As such, he wrote, the Court should overrule Smith “without further delay.”

“This decision might as well be written on the dissolving paper sold in magic shops. The City has been adamant about pressuring CSS to give in, and if the City wants to get around today’s decision, it can simply eliminate the never-used exemption power. If it does that, then, voilà, today’s decision will vanish — and the parties will be back where they started,” he asserted, noting the Court should “reconsider Smith without further delay,” as its interpretation of the Free Exercise clause is “hard to defend” and cannot be “squared with the ordinary meaning of the text of the Free Exercise Clause or with the prevalent understanding of the scope of the free-exercise right at the time of the First Amendment’s adoption.”

Gorsuch also wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment, joined by Thomas and Alito.

“As Justice Alito’s opinion demonstrates, Smith failed to respect this Court’s precedents, was mistaken as a matter of the Constitution’s original public meaning, and has proven unworkable in practice,” he said, noting many of their colleagues seek to “sidestep” the greater questions regarding Smith, unanimously ruling in favor of CSS but refusing to address Smith and its implications today.“Smith committed a constitutional error. Only we can fix it. Dodging the question today guarantees it will recur tomorrow. These cases will keep coming until the Court musters the fortitude to supply an answer,” he wrote. “Respectfully, it should have done so today.”

The case is Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, No. 19-123 in the Supreme Court of the United States.

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.

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.”


VIDEO Why I Disagree with John MacArthur: I Would Fight for Religious Freedom

March 5, 2021  by Shane Idleman

Pastor MacArthur has been an exceptional example of standing for religious liberty. I truly value his ministry. This article is not meant to take anything away from that but to clarify the importance of standing for religious freedom.

We recently had a Christian from the persecuted church in China speak at our church. Her story was very moving as she talked about spending six years in a Chinese prison (you can listen below or  here). I kept thinking, “I wonder if persecuted Christians would like more freedom?” No doubt many would say, “Absolutely.” Religious freedom is a gift from God.

Although we disagree on non-essentials like the gifts of the Spirit, I have benefited greatly from the ministry of John MacArthur, and I use the MacArthur Study Bible. However, there are times when we need to lovingly show the other side of the coin.

In a recent article, Pastor MacArthur was quoted as saying, “I told our congregation a few weeks ago that I could never really concern myself with religious freedom. I wouldn’t fight for religious freedom because I won’t fight for idolatry. Why would I fight for the devil to have as many false religions as possible and all of them to be available to everyone?”

I understand where he is coming from, but shouldn’t we defend our freedom to worship Jesus when given the opportunity? And isn’t that what he and other pastors like myself, Jack Hibbs, and Rob McCoy are doing by staying open during the pandemic . . . exercising and defending religious freedom?

Promoting religious freedom is not idolatry. “The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself” (C.H. Spurgeon).

Ironically, many of the men and women who died for our freedoms did not die for what America is becoming today. Many gave their lives in order that we would have religious freedom rather than capitulate to a godless society.

I wonder what Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and Knox would say if asked the same question about religious freedom? They all pushed for it during the Reformation. What about Tyndale and Huss who were burned at the stake for simply declaring the truth? What would they say about having the freedom to worship God and read His Word?


Politics won’t save America any more than a dumbbell will save someone who is drowning; however, we cannot ignore our God-given civic responsibility and the massive impact that politics has on our society. We make a huge mistake in comparing our system of government with the system that the Apostle Paul was under. God blessed America with religious freedom, at least initially.

In the realm of government, there are two primary areas of responsibility for us to consider. One is God’s eternal kingdom; the other is the world’s political system. We have a responsibility to both, and God’s eternal principles establish the foundation for both. Our political system, ordained by God, oversees the affairs of men. The primary role of government is to secure our God-given rights. One of the primary purposes of government is to protect the freedom to express our love for God.

This issue of religious freedom has never been more important in America than it is today. Mr. Potato Head is being renamed, but Cardi B can pollute the minds of the innocent. We’ll allow a transgender person to be the Assistant Secretary of Health, but say nothing about the sexual exploitation of our children. Pastors are being threatened with large fines and jail time for keeping churches open while pot shops, liquor stores, and abortion clinics get a free pass. If you ask me, and countless others, religious freedom is worth fighting for.

We don’t have to compromise our principles to be involved in politics. What good is salt left in the shaker, or a light that is hidden? “Politics” is not a bad word. In simple terms, politics refers to governing or leading a group of people. I think God’s Word has a great deal to say about that. Silence is not an option.


I’ll close with a story I often tell: “Why didn’t someone do something?” Those five words still haunt my thoughts today. Some time ago, I sat speechless as I listened to a man recount his trip to a holocaust museum with his young daughter. As they walked by photos of the death camps and gas chambers, his daughter silently contemplated the horrors that were unfolding before her eyes.

When the tour ended, they drove home without saying a word. The father wondered if she truly understood the significance of the event. Was she too young to view such depravity? Would it make a negative impact on her life? Would it leave her fearful and wounded? Would she begin to doubt God?

His questions were answered nearly two hours later when his daughter finally spoke. She looked at her father and asked, “Daddy, why didn’t someone do something?”

Will we hear those same haunting words from our children and grandchildren? Yes! If we fail to contend for what is right via religious freedom, we may see a time in our future when our children will ask, “Why didn’t someone do something?” Sadly, we may not be able to answer.

Bill could ban Christians from becoming police officers

Proposal described as launching ‘new era of McCarthyism’

March 18, 2021

A California state lawmaker wants to ban from service police officers and police officer candidates who are members of “hate groups” or have used “hate speech” in the past, even in private discussion forums.

The news curator Press California reported the bill’s broad definition of the term “hate” could apply the ban to “police officers expressing conservative religious or political views on abortion, marriage, and gender or with membership in a political party or a church that does.”

Pacific Justice Institute Senior Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds said the bill would usher in a “new era of McCarthyism” that would target Muslims, Catholics, evangelicals and even registered Republicans.

“Under the guise of addressing police gangs, the bill at the same time launches an inexplicable, unwarranted, and unprecedented attack on peaceable, conscientious officers who happen to hold conservative political and religious views,” he said.

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“Indeed, this is one of the most undisguised and appalling attempts we have ever seen, in more than 20 years of monitoring such legislation, on the freedom of association and freedom to choose minority viewpoints.”

The sponsor of AB 655 is Bay Area Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a Democrat from San Jose.

The plan would require police candidates to receive a background check for “official membership in a hate group, participation in hate group activities, or other public expressions of hate,” noted Press California, which was founded by a former and NYT Digital multimedia journalist.

Police officers could be fired as a result of a complaint from the public.

But the bill’s definition of “hate” is unclear.

“‘Hate group’ means an organization that, based upon its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities, supports, advocates for, or practices the denial of constitution constitutional rights of, the genocide of, or violence towards, any group of persons based upon race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability,” it states.

Kalra said a “public expression of hate” means “any explicit expression, either on duty or off duty and while identifying oneself as, or reasonably identifiable by others as, a peace officer, in a public forum, on social media including in a private discussion forum, in writing, or in speech, as advocating or supporting the denial of constitution constitutional rights of, the genocide of, or violence towards, any group of persons based upon race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”

McReynolds told Press California that among the unanswered questions are whether “hate groups” include churches that oppose abortion or that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. And would Muslims be banned from being officers because they attend a mosque that has ‘spoken out against homosexuality or gender equality?

The California Republican Party officially states that a two-parent family is the best for children, so “it is important to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”

“The rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been the topic of intense political debate for 200 years, and especially over the last several decades since the Supreme Court found a right to abortion in the Constitution in 1973,” Greg Burt of California Family Council noted in the report.

“Should the state now ban from public service qualified, fair-minded people who happen to hold religious or political views that conflict with controversial Supreme Court decisions on marriage and abortion? This is a blatantly unconstitutional violation of religious liberty and freedom of speech. It is also a tyrannical abuse of power from a politician seeking to ruin the lives of those he disagrees with.”

Al Mohler: If the Equality Act Passes, Say Goodbye to Religious Freedom

By Stephanie Martin -March 18, 2021

religious freedom in america

“The audacity is breathtaking, and the threat to America’s first liberty is all too real.” That’s how Dr. Al Mohler describes the controversial Equality Act in an article for Public Discourse. Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is among the many Christian leaders warning that passage of the legislation will spell disaster for religious freedom in America.

The Equality Act, or H.R. 5, which passed the U.S. House last month and now heads to the Senate, amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Joe Biden supports the legislation, calling it “essential” to protecting LGBTQ+ rights. Under the Equality Act, organizations won’t be able to use the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to challenge or defend against claims of SOGI discrimination.

Al Mohler: ‘New Moral Regime’ Will Replace Religious Freedom in America

In his column published Monday, Mohler warns that the Equality Act, because of its vast scope, will telegraph a “clear moral message” by “normalizing virtually everything comprehended within the ever-expanding categories of LGBTQ.” Beyond its messaging, the legislation “is a draconian threat,” he adds, because it forces religious organizations, institutions, and individual believers “into compliance with the new moral regime.”

To illustrate the Equality Act’s reach, Mohler quotes its lead sponsor in the House, Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline. When asked about potential threats the act would pose to religious entities, the openly gay congressman said, “The determination would have to be made as to whether or not the decisions they are making are connected to their religious teachings and to their core functions as a religious organization, or is it a pretext to discriminate?”

Those words, Mohler says, put all religious groups “on notice” that the burden of proof will shift to them. “Visible before our eyes is the threat of an anti-theological state and the end of authentic religious liberty in America,” he adds. “Don’t take my word for it—just take Congressman Cicilline at his.”

The Threat to Religious Freedom in America Is Real, Warns Al Mohler

Two landmark Supreme Court cases—Obergefell in 2015 and Bostock in 2020—have led to this legislative moment, says Mohler. When Obergefell legalized same-sex marriage, “arguments for the curtailment of religious liberty as the cost of newly declared LGBTQ rights were already widely circulated,” he writes. Bostock, which gave LGBTQ federal employees anti-discriminatory protections, resulted in even more “legal vulnerabilities for religious believers,” says Mohler, and the Equality Act would “expand the reach of the law far beyond” that decision.

“The legislation includes no acknowledgement of the right of Christian colleges and schools, for example, to hire teachers in accord with the school’s stated religious convictions,” writes Mohler, adding that “almost nothing would escape that coverage”—including individual Christians and their private businesses.

In a “Briefing” posted on his website Wednesday, Mohler writes that the Equality Act will “totally transform the United States as we know it” because it “represents a direct subversion of religious liberty.” Calling SOGI protections “newly invented artificial rights,” he warns that they’re “pushing out” religious freedom, which is listed first in the Constitution not only because it’s “first in priority” but “the basic freedom from which all other freedoms are eventually derived.”

Mohler writes, “If you eliminate religious freedom, if you redefine it, if you subvert it, you are subverting all authentic liberties, and all authentic rights.”

VIDEO LC Lands Major Victory Against ACLU -Pastors Under Fire

Feb 4, 2021

In the face of continued threats to religious liberty and attacks from the “cancel culture,” Liberty Counsel just won a major victory against the ACLU. This is a new, precedent-setting case. Read on to learn more about this major victory and what it means for religious freedom in America. – Mat

“The whole display, including the secular items, offends me because it is all part of the Christmas and the whole, you know, Christianity thing.” That was the testimony of the plaintiff who, along with the ACLU, sought to force Jackson County, Indiana, to tear down its Christmas Nativity display. She wanted the display removed because she hates Christmas – not just baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the manger, but even secular icons like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Liberty Counsel represents Jackson County, Indiana, as well as another Indiana county undergoing similar harassment over Nativity scenes in lawsuits brought by the ACLU.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Nativity scene is constitutional using a historical test and thus setting a new precedent for Nativity displays.

The Court wrote, “we conclude that the County’s Nativity scene is constitutional because it fits within a long national tradition of using the Nativity scene in broader holiday displays to celebrate the origins of Christmas—a public holiday.”

The Court expressly rejected the so-called “Lemon test,” a legal test created by the Supreme Court years ago that has caused significant confusion. The late Justice Antonin Scalia once said, “Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening the little children and school attorneys.”

For years, Liberty Counsel has advocated for a historical test, and now this is the first case to use a historical approach to Nativity scenes. Justice Scalia would be proud that we put a stake in the heart of this ghoulish monster!

The ACLU plaintiff, Rebecca Woodring, said she was offended by the display. She did not even live in the county.

Woodring stated that no matter how many secular items are in the display, and no matter their arrangement, she was offended. She wanted the whole display gone.

We are also defending another Nativity scene display against the ACLU in Fulton County, Indiana. This week’s victory for Jackson County will also end the ACLU’s attempt to remove the Nativity in Fulton County.

This issue is also symptomatic of a larger problem infecting our nation – a “cancel culture” which seeks to silence and eliminate anything with which it disagrees. Those pushing the cancel culture not only hate history, religious freedom and the Constitution, they hate Donald Trump and YOU!

Here are the facts concerning the upcoming “impeachment” farce: ONLY sitting presidents may be impeached, and ONLY the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court may preside over a Senate impeachment trial.

But Donald Trump is no longer in the White House, and the impeachment is so obviously unconstitutional that Chief Justice Roberts has REFUSED to preside over it!

But the Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) won’t stop! They continue this farce and have inserted the longest-serving Senate Democrat, Patrick Leahy, as the kangaroo court’s “judge.” Leahy cannot be impartial – especially when he plans to vote, making him both judge and jury.

Like the Nativity case and our church closure cases, the impeachment farce is little more than a punitive partisan attack seeking to silence people of faith, subvert the Constitution and cancel American greatness.

This Nativity scene win is a major blow to secularists seeking to eliminate Judeo-Christianity from America’s history and culture.

As you know, we also have two church closure cases before the Supreme Court (CA and IL) and multiple federal lawsuits defending religious liberty, in addition to all our other legal work. We expect a ruling from the High Court on the California case soon!

Finally, please be in prayer for the soul of our country and its people!

“The people who know their God will be strong and take action” Daniel 11:32. God bless you and your family!  
Mat Staver
Founder and Chairman

Trump Honors Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket, ‘We Ought to Obey God Rather Than Men’

By Staff Writer | December 29, 2020

Henry II and Thomas Becket

Henry II and Thomas BecketHenry II (left) disputing with Thomas Becket (centre), miniature from a 14th-century manuscript; in the British Library (Cotton MS. Claudius D.ii).By permission of the British Library

(CNS News) — In honor of the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket, who was murdered because he defended the Christian faith against intrusions by the state, President Trump issued a proclamation for today, Dec. 29, declaring St. Thomas a “lion of religious liberty” whose “martyrdom changed the course of history.”

St. Thomas, then Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by several knights loyal to King Henry II on Dec. 29, 1170. 

“Before the Magna Carta was drafted, before the right to free exercise of religion was enshrined as America’s first freedom in our glorious Constitution, Thomas gave his life so that, as he said, ‘the Church will attain liberty and peace,'” President Trump said in his proclamation

Artist's illustration of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket.

“When the crown attempted to encroach upon the affairs of the house of God through the Constitutions of Clarendon, Thomas refused to sign the offending document,” reads the proclamation.  “When the furious King Henry II threatened to hold him in contempt of royal authority and questioned why this ‘poor and humble’ priest would dare defy him, Archbishop Becket responded, ‘God is the supreme ruler, above Kings’ and ‘we ought to obey God rather than men.'”

In honoring St. Thomas’s obedience to God over the government, Trump said, “Thomas Becket’s death serves as a powerful and timeless reminder to every American that our freedom from religious persecution is not a mere luxury or accident of history, but rather an essential element of our liberty. It is our priceless treasure and inheritance. And it was bought with the blood of martyrs.”

The blood-stained chasuble (robe) worn by St. Thomas Becket when he was murdered on Dec. 29, 1170. (Screenshot, Daily Mail)

“No right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions,” Trump added. “As I declared in Krasiński Square in Warsaw, Poland on July 6, 2017, the people of America and the people of the world still cry out: ‘We want God.'”

The proclamation is printed below: 

Proclamation on 850th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket

Issued on: December 28, 2020

Today is the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket on December 29, 1170. Thomas Becket was a statesman, a scholar, a chancellor, a priest, an archbishop, and a lion of religious liberty.

Before the Magna Carta was drafted, before the right to free exercise of religion was enshrined as America’s first freedom in our glorious Constitution, Thomas gave his life so that, as he said, “the Church will attain liberty and peace.”

The son of a London sheriff and once described as “a low‑born clerk” by the King who had him killed, Thomas Becket rose to become the leader of the church in England. When the crown attempted to encroach upon the affairs of the house of God through the Constitutions of Clarendon, Thomas refused to sign the offending document. When the furious King Henry II threatened to hold him in contempt of royal authority and questioned why this “poor and humble” priest would dare defy him, Archbishop Becket responded “God is the supreme ruler, above Kings” and “we ought to obey God rather than men.”

Because Thomas would not assent to rendering the church subservient to the state, he was forced to forfeit all his property and flee his own country. Years later, after the intervention of the Pope, Becket was allowed to return — and continued to resist the King’s oppressive interferences into the life of the church. Finally, the King had enough of Thomas Becket’s stalwart defense of religious faith and reportedly exclaimed in consternation: “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

The King’s knights responded and rode to Canterbury Cathedral to deliver Thomas Becket an ultimatum: give in to the King’s demands or die. Thomas’s reply echoes around the world and across the ages. His last words on this earth were these: “For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.” Dressed in holy robes, Thomas was cut down where he stood inside the walls of his own church.

Thomas Becket’s martyrdom changed the course of history. It eventually brought about numerous constitutional limitations on the power of the state over the Church across the West. In England, Becket’s murder led to the Magna Carta’s declaration 45 years later that: “[T]he English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired.”

When the Archbishop refused to allow the King to interfere in the affairs of the Church, Thomas Becket stood at the intersection of church and state. That stand, after centuries of state-sponsored religious oppression and religious wars throughout Europe, eventually led to the establishment of religious liberty in the New World. It is because of great men like Thomas Becket that the first American President George Washington could proclaim more than 600 years later that, in the United States, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship” and that “it is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.”

Thomas Becket’s death serves as a powerful and timeless reminder to every American that our freedom from religious persecution is not a mere luxury or accident of history, but rather an essential element of our liberty. It is our priceless treasure and inheritance. And it was bought with the blood of martyrs.

As Americans, we were first united by our belief that “rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” and that defending liberty is more important than life itself. If we are to continue to be the land of the free, no government official, no governor, no bureaucrat, no judge, and no legislator must be allowed to decree what is orthodox in matters of religion or to require religious believers to violate their consciences. No right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions. As I declared in Krasiński Square in Warsaw, Poland on July 6, 2017, the people of America and the people of the world still cry out: “We want God.”

On this day, we celebrate and revere Thomas Becket’s courageous stand for religious liberty and we reaffirm our call to end religious persecution worldwide. In my historic address to the United Nations last year, I made clear that America stands with believers in every country who ask only for the freedom to live according to the faith that is within their own hearts. I also stated that global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life, reflecting the belief held by the United States and many other countries that every child — born and unborn — is a sacred gift from God. Earlier this year, I signed an Executive Order to prioritize religious freedom as a core dimension of United States foreign policy. We have directed every Ambassador — and the over 13,000 United States Foreign Service officers and specialists — in more than 195 countries to promote, defend, and support religious freedom as a central pillar of American diplomacy.

We pray for religious believers everywhere who suffer persecution for their faith. We especially pray for their brave and inspiring shepherds — like Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong and Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu — who are tireless witnesses to hope.

To honor Thomas Becket’s memory, the crimes against people of faith must stop, prisoners of conscience must be released, laws restricting freedom of religion and belief must be repealed, and the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the oppressed must be protected. The tyranny and murder that shocked the conscience of the Middle Ages must never be allowed to happen again. As long as America stands, we will always defend religious liberty.

A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure — because justice, goodness, and peace cannot prevail without the grace of God.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 29, 2020, as the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket. I invite the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches and customary places of meeting with appropriate ceremonies in commemoration of the life and legacy of Thomas Becket.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.



AUDIO Court’s message: Churches aren’t 2nd class citizens

Experts explain Supremes’ decision on New York’s lockdowns

Dec 44, 2020

By Mary Margaret Olohan
Daily Caller News Foundation

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling against New York’s restrictions on religious organizations sends a message that churches may not be treated as second class citizens, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Supreme Court sided with religious organizations challenging Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions the night before Thanksgiving, calling the New York Democrat’s measures “discriminatory” in its injunction for emergency relief.

Conservative justices, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, sided with religious organizations in the 5-4 ruling, while Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices. It was the first time Barrett was a deciding factor as the court’s newest justice after replacing the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg — and Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino said it showed “the critical importance of Justice Barrett’s confirmation.”

Cuomo’s restrictions limited the number of people who can attend religious services to 10 in areas where the threat of coronavirus is highest, regardless of a church or synagogue’s capacity. In areas with slightly less risk, attendance is limited to 25 people.

“The Court’s majority made clear that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause is not to be carelessly trampled upon but rather vigorously protected,” Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino told the DCNF.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represented the religious organizations in asking the Supreme Court to consider whether Cuomo’s executive order violated the Free Exercise Clause when it “disfavors worship” and “when the official who issued it made clear through unambiguous statements that the order was targeted at a religious minority’s practices and traditions.”

Becket counsel Joe Davis noted to the DCNF that the ruling was important not only in regards to coronavirus restrictions on religious freedom, but also for religious freedom more broadly.

“This is really the court laying down a marker that the First Amendment does not go away even in the circumstances of this pandemic,” Davis told the DCNF, noting that this is something that has been questioned in legal rulings since March.

“You can’t tell people they have to stay home from church but they can shop,” Davis said.

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Ryan Tucker also emphasized the disparity between restrictions on houses of worship and restrictions on other businesses, calling it not only “nonsensical” but also “unconstitutional” that “individuals can gather in places that governors deem essential but those same people can’t gather in a religious gathering as well.”

The ruling sends a message to governors and other officials that “they can’t treat the church like a second class citizen,” Tucker added.

In deciding to grant the temporary injunction relieving the religious organizations from Cuomo’s restrictions, the justices looked at how Cuomo’s restrictions might cause irreparable harm to the religious organizations, Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao told the DCNF.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn had also filed an emergency application against Cuomo in November, writing that Cuomo’s order “expressly singles out ‘houses of worship’ by that name for adverse treatment relative to secular businesses.

Kao noted that one instance of irreparable harm that the justices noted was the impact of Cuomo’s restrictions on daily Catholic masses.

“Unlike Cuomo,” she said of the justices, “they looked at the restrictions, caps, the size of the buildings.”

Synagogues and cathedrals hold upwards of 1,000 people, Kao noted, and the “arbitrary” limits on the number of those who could gather to worship were “totally unrelated to the size of the buildings.”

Kao, who is the Heritage Foundation’s director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society, emphasized that the ruling will probably influence lower courts, setting the tone for future cases on COVID restrictions and religious freedom.

“There’s a lot of reasons for optimism from the court’s opinion,” Kao added, “but it is a temporary injunction, so it’s not a final decision as to the litigants, but a very encouraging development.”

On Thursday, the Supreme Court also ruled against Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s restrictions on worship services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Justices tossed out an order from a Central District of California court that had upheld Newsom’s restrictions on houses of worship, CBS News reported Thursday. In light of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, the justices sent the dispute back to a lower court for further review.

U.N. Secretary-General: Religious Liberty Is ‘Cornerstone’ for Peaceful Societies

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference at the African Union headquarters, during the 33rd African Union (AU) Summit on February 8, 2020, in Addis Ababa. (Photo by MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP via Getty Images)

THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.  22 Aug 2020


United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Saturday that religious freedom is “a cornerstone for inclusive, prosperous and peaceful societies.”

In his Message for the second International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, the secretary-general said that while freedom of religion is “firmly trenched in international human rights law,” still, across the world, “we continue to witness deep-seated discrimination against religious minorities, attacks on people and religious sites, and hate crimes and atrocity crimes targeting populations simply because of their religion or belief.”

In 2019, the U.N. General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/73/296, designated August 22 as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, “recognizing the importance of providing victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief and members of their families with appropriate support and assistance in accordance with applicable law.”

At that time, the U.N. also said it “strongly deplored all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centres or places of worship, as well as all attacks on and in religious places, sites and shrines that are in violation of international law.”

In his statement Saturday, Guterres said that while society has shown resilience and strength in the face of COVID-19, “the pandemic has also been accompanied by a surge in stigma and racist discourse vilifying communities, spreading vile stereotypes and assigning blame.”

The United Nations has come under fire for allowing one of the worst state perpetrators of violations of religious freedom — namely China — to sit as a permanent member on its Security Council. China has used its influence in the Security Council to protect its ally Iran, another egregious human rights violator.

China was also widely criticized for its handling of the Wuhan coronavirus and its failure to warn the world opportunely of the dangers of the pandemic.

As we commemorate the victims, “we must do more to address the root causes of intolerance and discrimination by promoting inclusion and respect for diversity,” Guterres said Saturday. “We must also ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable.”

“States have the primary responsibility to protect the right to freedom of religion and belief,” Guterres said. “I have also made this a priority through initiatives such as a Call to Action for Human Rights, a Strategy on Hate Speech and a Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites.”

“This extraordinary moment calls on all of us to work together as one human family to defeat a disease and put an end to hate and discrimination,” he said.

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