February 15, 2017
The Christian ideal state of living includes more than just an experience of inner freedom, it involves an external effort to promote the freedom and flourishing of others. In his talk, theologian and author Dr. Art Lindsley will explain the biblical view of freedom and how it differentiates from other secular views. He will further discuss the societal implications of the biblical view of freedom on the political, economic, and religious spheres. In particular, he will explain how free market principles of private property, limited government, and the freedom to innovate are grounded in biblical freedom. Dr. Lindsley will challenge those who adhere to these biblical values to follow their external implications and work toward a flourishing society. Click here to Register for this event
February 9, 2017
In essence, the Johnson Amendment prohibits tax-exempt 501(c)3 organizations from engaging or speaking on matters related to political campaigns. In 1954, then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson wanted to weaken organizations politically opposed to him - so he conditioned all such organizations' tax-exempt status on their remaining silent in political matters. Since that time, the amendment has been used to muzzle anything remotely perceived as political speech from tax-exempt organizations, religious and nonreligious, on both sides of the aisle. This overly broad muzzling has included comments of pastors speaking from the pulpit about candidates as well as policy matters. Simply put, the Johnson Amendment has been used to censor speech - something that should never have occurred.
November 3, 2016
Our First Amendment freedom is functionally meaningless when it is reduced to the "right" to express government-approved views. Throw in a simultaneous prohibition on all expression that hasn't received the government's stamp of approval, and you have the makings of George Orwell's "1984," where even beliefs are controlled. Indeed, to forbid people from articulating beliefs and peacefully acting consistently with those beliefs is, at its core, an attempt to forbid the beliefs themselves. As the Supreme Court has held, "First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought...The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought."
November 1, 2016
If you follow news about the LGBT movement, you may have heard that there are major efforts underway to ban "conversion therapy." There are a number of serious problems with this effort-one of which is that no one who engages in the process of helping people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions refers to it as "conversion therapy." The new term is Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy-or "SAFE-T" for short. By stressing therapeutic exploration, the new term accurately conveys that the therapist is not being coercive but merely assisting individuals in a client-centered examination of their sexual attractions. Scientifically, the fluidity of sexual orientation (and, for our purposes, especially same-sex attractions) for many men and women is now beyond question. The language of SAFE-T highlights this reality and points to human experience that cannot be denied.
October 22, 2016
(Canada) Given the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy that forces doctors to provide an "effective referral" for any recognized, legal medical procedure or treatment, even in those cases where the doctor objects on moral or religious grounds, there is great fear among members of the Doctors' Guild they will be forced to refer for assisted suicide. The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience is taking the College of Physicians' and Surgeons of Ontario (CSPO) to court over its "Professional obligations and human rights" policy. The policy states, "Where physicians are unwilling to provide certain elements of care for reasons of conscience or religion, an effective referral to another health-care provider must be provided to the patient. An effective referral means a referral made in good faith, to a non-objecting, available, and accessible physician." This would apply to requests for medically assisted suicide. The demand isn’t often prompted by untreatable, crippling pain, said Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director and international chair Alex Schadenberg. “Some people are asking for voluntary euthanasia and it has nothing to do with palliative care. It has to do with their attitudes towards autonomy or radical control and their fear of suffering,” he said.
October 14, 2016
A federal court just ruled that pregnancy centers have to tell their patients where they can get publicly-funded contraception and an abortion-even if it violates their religious beliefs. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that California law AB 775, which compels Christian, pro-life pregnancy centers to advocate for abortion, doesn't impede their First Amendment right to exercise their religious beliefs. “Forcing these centers to promote abortion and recite the government’s preferred views is a clear violation of their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms,” said Matt Bowman of Alliance for Defending Freedom, which was representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, a faith-based pro-life group with 111 clinics in California.
October 1, 2016
For decades a provision of the tax code referred to as the Johnson Amendment has prevented these organizations from providing such information. Under current IRS guidance, the Johnson Amendment prevents a whole host of nonprofit organizations, religious and otherwise, from informing their followers in ways relevant to their own duty to vote. This ban is at odds with our own history.
October 1, 2016
The amendment was introduced in 1954 by Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas, as a way to stop his political opponents. The future president never intended to bar advocacy organizations from mentioning elected officials, or pastors and churches from commenting on candidates. Unfortunately, the Johnson Amendment certainly has been used in this way. Indeed, under current IRS guidance, it prevents a whole host of nonprofit organizations, religious and otherwise, from informing their followers in ways relevant to their own duty to vote. This ban is at odds with our own history. Since the birth of our nation, pastors and churches have been at the forefront of shaping public debate and our choice of public servants.
October 1, 2016
Crisis pregnancy centers in northern Illinois have filed a federal lawsuit alleging their employees' freedom of speech and religious rights will be violated if the state forces them to give patients information about abortion services. "The government shouldn't be putting messages in people's mouths," said Noel Sterett, an attorney for the centers. The centers hope to have the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act amendment, which goes into effect Jan. 1, abolished as unconstitutional. The suit also seeks to have the state permanently barred from enforcing the amendment and from penalizing those who don't comply.
September 16, 2016
Faith leaders and religious liberty advocates are weighing in on the recently released U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report that concluded terms such as "religious liberty" and "religious freedom" were code words for discrimination and even "Christian supremacy." "The phrases ‘religious liberty' and ‘religious freedom' will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance," Martin Castro, chairman of the commission, said in a statement included in the 296-page report. "Perhaps most troubling is the attempt to discredit sincere religious believers as being motivated by hate instead of faith and the implied recommendation that religious groups should change their beliefs on sexual morality to conform with liberal norms for the good of the country," said Roger Severino, , director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation who also worked with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
August 20, 2016
Dani Pinter from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation's Law Center explains obscenity law and it's implications for Internet pornography today. All speech is presumptively protected under the First Amendment. However, "obscene pornography" is not. There are large categories of speech that are unprotected, for example child pornography, blackmail, or defamation. Obscenity falls into this category of criminal speech. That is why federal law is acting within the bounds of the First Amendment in its law that prohibits the distribution of obscene adult pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops, through the mail, and by common carrier.
August 18, 2016
The Air Force has ruled an officer broke no rules by keeping his Bible on his desk after receiving a complaint last week about the presence of the holy book. The Scriptures had been removed from the workstation of Maj. Steve Lewis of the 310th Space Wing, following a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), alleging the presence of the book violated the First Amendment's establishment clause. But an investigation into the incident found "no abuse of liberties has occurred," said Lt. Col. David Fruck, chief of public affairs at the 310th Space Wing. Mr. Fruck said keeping a Bible on one's desk is "well within the provisions" of Air Force regulations regarding religious expression.
August 10, 2016
So say that some lawyers put on a Continuing Legal Education event that included a debate on same-sex marriage, or on whether there should be limits on immigration from Muslim countries, or on whether people should be allowed to use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity rather than their biological sex. In the process, unsurprisingly, the debater on one side said something that was critical of gays, Muslims or transgender people. If the rule is adopted, the debater could well be disciplined by the state bar: 1. He has engaged in "verbal . . . conduct" that "manifests bias or prejudice" toward gays, Muslims or transgender people. 2. Some people view such statements as "harmful"; those people may well include bar authorities. 3. This was done in an activity "in connection with the practice of law" - Continuing Legal Education events are certainly connected with the practice of law.
July 22, 2016
Q: How does SB 1146 threaten the future of Biola University and other religious institutions of higher education? A: SB 1146 represents an unprecedented narrowing of religious freedom in America. By removing protections for religious colleges that allow for free exercise of faith (per the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution), SB 1146, in effect, communicates that the government, not individual religious communities, determines which beliefs are acceptable and how faith can and cannot be lived out. For example, if passed, SB 1146 would likely mean that schools like Biola would no longer be able to maintain certain conduct, housing, admissions, employment and other policies according to their Christian convictions about sexuality and gender. What's at stake for religious institutions of higher education is nothing short of their ability to exist as alternative communities; communities whose alternative ways of thinking and living allow for distinct educational practice and meaningful missional impact.
June 28, 2016
In her new book, It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, Mary Eberstadt finds a dark pessimism settling over many American Christians when they contemplate the future. They perceive a foreboding shift in public attitude. Once there seemed to be a broad and liberal respect for the free exercise of religion, even in public life. But now, the very cultural forces promoting tolerance and diversity treat Christians and their institutions with broad suspicion, and demand absolute conformity with an egalitarian ethos that has only recently even announced its own existence. But what if the zeal that Eberstadt uncovers in her book is motivated by something deeper?
June 1, 2016
In a talk at the Family Research Council on Tuesday, Michael Cromartie pinned substandard religion coverage on the environment in which media members are educated. He said the majority of journalists attend elite progressive institutions where they scarcely come in to contact with those who hold religious beliefs, leading to a conspicuous blind spot when it comes to writing on related matters. "We're like an anthropological project for them: ‘We'll go study these people, because I've never met one'," he said.
March 3, 2016
A lower court ruled that Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, must pay penalties and attorneys' fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer's same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in the ceremony, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who would provide high-quality arrangements and wedding support. "Barronelle and many others like her around the country have been willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner.
February 10, 2016
On Jan. 28, in the third such effort in a federal court, a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that is representing the El Cajon clinic and others, argued in San Diego for a preliminary injunction. In the 90-minute hearing, Matt Bowman, a lawyer for the conservative group, argued that the law imposed an onerous and unconstitutional burden. "You've got to give women information about abortion even though the reason you exist is to give them alternatives to abortion," he said, arguing against the mandate.
December 12, 2015
Committed religious faith that animated the founding of many of the institutions that now reject it should be welcome, not shunned. And degree-granting schools should be places where respectful and principled disagreement is part of the very purpose of their institutional existence. Fascism should be dead everywhere, but especially on America's campuses. Why isn't it?
November 17, 2015
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has decided that the women waiting inside a Portland clinic to lose their babies to an abortionist have heard more than enough from Brian Ingalls. So, Mills has filed a lawsuit to shut him up for good - or at least move him far enough away from the Planned Parenthood clinic that his warnings about a dismal afterlife for those who take the life of an unborn child can't be heard. But attorneys for the Thomas More Law Center argue that is a violation of the man's constitutional rights and they are committed to standing alongside Ingalls in court. Richard Thompson, the Thomas More Law Center's president and chief counsel and a former prosecuting attorney, said Mills' lawsuit is nothing but "a blatant abuse of her powers to aid the pro-abortion political establishment dominating the city of Portland."
November 4, 2015
He is the kind of man who not only cares about his players because that's what coaches are supposed to do, but because he has seen tough times as a teenager in Bremerton himself. He celebrates and loves his players the way we would hope all coaches do, but far exceeds that standard. That is why I am troubled that Kennedy is banned from working with those young men because he is exactly the kind of coach I once so desperately needed and these young men need today. Going further, I am troubled that Kennedy is suspended from duty because he made the decision to pray.
State university faculty bans "racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language"
September 4, 2015
A reasonable response would be for parents and students to boycott rather than subsidize such universities, and for Congress to cut off all federal aid to public institutions like the University of Washington that violate the Constitution. Then the faculty and administrators can parade around in robes and soft hats in their multi-million-dollar auditoriums and prattle on about transphobia, species-ism, GOP-ism, and whatever else they can't tolerate, all day long--until they have to get to the unemployment offices before closing time.
September 2, 2015
Want a good grade in certain classes at Washington State University? Then you better avoid using the terms "illegal immigrant," "male" and "female" as part of your descriptive vocabulary. Universities around the country have recently release lists of banned words and phrases that professors consider "microagressions." Terms on those lists include "American," questions like, "where are you from" and the concept that hard work is how individuals get ahead in life.
August 14, 2015
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today sent a letter to 161 public colleges and universities urging the institutions to update their free speech codes in order to foster freedoms under the First Amendment. The letter comes after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a report detailing a list of public colleges and universities that received a “red light” rating--“one that has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” Recently, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing examining First Amendment protections for students on public college and university campuses.
July 2, 2015
[Justice Kennedy found] the right of everyone to the “dignity” of marriage. The uncertain implications of that right should be a concern not just for conservatives but also for civil libertarians. [T]he use of a dignity right as a vehicle presents a new, unexpected element, since it may exist in tension with the right to free speech or free exercise of religion. Obergefell would be a tragic irony if it succeeded in finally closing the door on morality and speech codes only to introduce an equally ill-defined dignity code. Both involve majoritarian values, enforced by the government, regarding what is acceptable and protectable. Substituting compulsory morality with compulsory liberalism simply shifts the burden of coercive state power from one group to another.
June 30, 2015
[The First Amendment] actually guarantees freedom of religious expression, of which teaching the faith is but one small part. Or as the First Amendment puts it, Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. To pat the religious on the head and say, “you can kind of still teach, for now” while discovering a new constitutional right in deep conflict with those teachings is disconcerting, to put it mildly. Kennedy's muddled opinion included a total of one paragraph on the most contentious religious freedom issue of our time. Even that paragraph showed, as Thomas put it, a mistaken understanding of the First Amendment.
June 23, 2015
In separate free-speech rulings Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled against an Arizona town's sign code, which was used to punish a small, local church. In the eight-year-long Arizona church sign case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Justice Clarence Thomas concluded that the town's signage code was "content based," which meant the code had to meet the highest constitutional test. Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel David Cortman, who represented Pastor Clyde Reed and Good News Community Church, said the unanimous ruling was a "victory for everyone's freedom of speech."
May 11, 2015
On today's campuses, left-leaning administrators, professors, and students are working overtime in their campaign of silencing dissent, and their unofficial tactics of ostracizing, smearing, and humiliation are highly effective. But what is even more chilling-and more far reaching-is the official power they abuse to ensure the silencing of views they don't like. They've invented a labyrinth of anti-free speech tools that include "speech codes," "free speech zones," censorship, investigations by campus "diversity and tolerance offices," and denial of due process. They craft "anti-harassment policies" and "anti-violence policies" that are speech codes in disguise. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's (FIRE) 2014 report on campus free speech, "Spotlight on Speech Codes," close to 60 percent of the four hundred-plus colleges they surveyed "seriously infringe upon the free speech rights of students."
May 9, 2015
This is about the power of the state to to close or fine Christian business owners, this is about the left trying to silence us and telling us we don't have a right to live our lives according to our sincerely held beliefs. When Secretary Clinton, when President Obama say, ‘you've got the freedom of religious expression,' to them, that just means you get to go to church and say what you want inside church. That's not religious liberty. Religious liberty is the ability to live our lives according to our faith 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
January 13, 2015
David Cortman, who represented Reed before the justices, warned afterward, "No one's speech is safe if the government is allowed to pick free-speech winners and losers based on the types of speech government officials prefer." In addition to the ERLC, among others signing onto the CLS brief were the Anglican Church in North America, Association of Christian Schools International, Christian Medical Association, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
October 21, 2014
Last week I told you that Houston’s Mayor, Annise Parker, demanded to see the sermons of a group of five pastors and threatened them with a subpoena. Why? Because the pastors had objected to a new so-called “equal rights” ordinance that would allow self-identified “transgendered” men to use women’s restrooms. That’s an issue all its own. But as bad as that is, the Houston mayor’s shocking and outrageous trampling on the religious liberty of these pastors is far, far more disturbing. In fact, for someone in government to demand that pastors turn over their sermons is almost beyond belief. I confess I almost thought I was reading something out of my own book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, where I describe how the Gestapo tried to harass and intimidate Martin Niemoller and other German pastors speaking the truth from their pulpits.
October 16, 2014
In our system of government, the ultimate "king" is the people. As citizens, we bear responsibility for electing officials, for speaking to laws that are made in our name, and for setting precedents by our actions. Shrugging this off is not the equivalent of Jesus standing silently before Pilate. It's the equivalent of Pilate washing his hands, so as not to bear accountability for our own decisions and precedents set. When the government acts, legal precedents are set. By complying with this unjust decree, Christians would be binding future people and institutions, including those who are the most powerless to stand against such things. If the government can scrutinize the preaching of Christian churches on sexual matters in Houston, the same government could do the reverse in, say, Amarillo.
October 15, 2014
More than 1,800 pastors in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico have participated so far in the Alliance Defending Freedom seventh annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday event, which began this year on Oct. 5. Of those participating, 1,517 preached sermons presenting biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates and signed a statement agreeing that the IRS should not control the content of a pastor’s sermon. “The tax-collecting IRS shouldn’t be playing speech cop and threatening a church’s tax-exempt status simply because its pastor exercises his constitutionally protected freedom of speech,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who heads the Pulpit Freedom Sunday event.
October 2, 2014
Earlier this season, the university rejected the demands of anti-religion interest groups to stop Tennessee's tradition of observing a moment of non-denominational prayer praying before kickoff. Earlier this year, an anti-religion group went after Clemson University and its football coach Dabo Swinney. Another instance was a case involving prayer in legislative bodies, which ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court. I filed a friend-of-the-court brief defending this practice, which dates back to the Founding Fathers of our nation, because it has been an enduring, living symbol of the religious freedom America stands for.
September 25, 2014
In 2010, a deeply divided Court held in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that so-called "all comers" policies are constitutional. As a result, public colleges and universities are now free to require all student clubs to allow any student to be eligible for leadership of the group. Since that ruling, InterVarsity and other conservative Christian organizations have been "derecognized" at a growing number of public universities. And some private universities have invoked the reasoning behind the High Court's decision to defend their exclusion of some religious groups from recognition.
September 15, 2014
A New Jersey law passed in 2013 that bans therapy for minors struggling with same-sex attractions was upheld today in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liberty Counsel represented two licensed mental health professionals who provide counseling to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions. "The laws banning counseling in this area are simply unconstitutional violations of free speech," said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
August 15, 2014
Thomas F. Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, blasted the Durbin bill as one that "betrays an unfortunate ignorance of U.S. policy. The commission, even at its most effective, is not the central institution mandated to 'promote international religious freedom.' That is the State Department's job. And the senior official responsible for leading that policy does not (yet) exist, a sign of the remarkable indifference of this administration to the issue of religious persecution and its antidote, religious freedom."
July 31, 2014
"The new law is unconstitutional not only because it is vague and overbroad, but also because it purports to grant law enforcement the power to issue a temporary restraining order - a power that may only be exercised by courts," attorney Michael DePrimo said, according to a report by Kathryn Jean Lopez on National Review Online. Mr. DePrimo helped represent Supreme Court petitioner Eleanor McCullen, 77, who argued that Massachusetts' old buffer zone law was so extensive that it violated her rights to freedom of speech.
July 30, 2014
For those who insist that only secular institutions can fully cultivate students' minds, I would offer a wager: Let's compare the academic growth of similar students who attend a religious school such as Wheaton with students who go to secular colleges. We could compare the growth in student performance during college in areas such as literacy, math, science, even critical analysis. Let's grade their papers blindly; I think we would be surprised by what we found. There are policies at Wheaton with which I disagree, but disagreement must not tempt us to banish difference but instead should spur us to look harder.
July 4, 2014
Blind to the irony of its own assertion, The Times opines that the court "absurdly" held that "Hobby Lobby and the other companies qualified as 'persons,'" thus protected by 1st Amendment religious exercise rights. If the 1st Amendment did not apply to companies, The Times would have no right to free speech.
June 6, 2014
Christian Parks, a student at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, was preaching in the campus courtyard last year. A school police officer told him to stop because his words "might offend someone." Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed suit this March. "We commend the Virginia Community College System for revising its speech policy to align with what a marketplace of ideas should be," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Travis Barham.
May 29, 2014
The surprise-and it is a big one-is that Justice Kennedy's majority opinion did not stick to the reasoning of the more limited 1983 case. He did not equivocate or dither. Instead, Kennedy authored a bold and almost uniformly lucid opinion that secured a wide constitutional berth for robustly "sectarian" prayers. Kennedy's opinion is the Court's best piece of Establishment Clause work in decades-and a happy omen for religious liberty in our country.
May 29, 2014
Sadly, a version of Jim Crow has been resurrected - but this time, his targets are the ancient Christian populations of the Middle East. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently issued its 15th annual report on the World's Worst Religious Freedom Abusers. The report highlights the worst violators of religious freedom and recommends steps the U.S. government can take to encourage countries to reform. This year's report details how Christians in many Middle Eastern countries have become second-class citizens.
March 20, 2014
Ryan T. Anderson talks a lot about marriage. Heritage's William E. Simon fellow has even been on CNN talking about marriage. But apparently safe enough for a CNN studio and dozens of other college campuses isn't safe enough for Stanford University, because the Stanford University Graduate Student Council (GSC) has denied funding for the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) to have Anderson and other advocates for traditional marriage come speak at Stanford, and is attempting to charge the SAS $5000 in unnecessary security costs.
January 19, 2014
Lawmakers are not ignoring the March for Life, scheduled at high noon Wednesday on the National Mall, and currently the largest pro-life demonstration on the planet, according to organizers. "In a rare feat for the nation's capital, representatives from both sides of the aisle will come together," the organizers say, pointing out that keynote speakers include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Rep. Dan Lipinski, Illinois Democrat and Republican Rep. Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey. "Support for life pervades American society, regardless of party affiliation. These representatives have all courageously defended life during their time in office, and we could not be more thankful for that," says Jeanne Monahan, president of March for Life, established four decades ago by the late Nellie Gray following the Roe Vs. Wade decision.
January 12, 2014
That last exemption, for clinic employees, tilts the scales in favor of their point of view, said Mark L. Rienzi, a lawyer for Ms. McCullen and other protesters. "The government does not have the ability to decide," he said, "that its public sidewalks are open for speakers on one side but not speakers on the other side."
January 12, 2014
Claims to free speech will clash with abortion rights Wednesday when the Supreme Court takes up a closely watched case on the constitutionality of "buffer zones" around abortion clinics. At issue: whether state laws forcing abortion protesters to stay at least 35 feet away from the doors of clinics are prudent safety measures given the passions surrounding the issue or whether they constitute an illegal infringement on the free speech rights of protesters.