Breaking News: NC Set to Betray Women and Children

News broke yesterday that the North Carolina General Assembly will begin a special session on Wednesday, December 21, to consider repealing HB 2, a state law that protects the privacy rights of women and children, as well as the freedom of association and property rights of business owners.

The special legislative session is part of a backroom deal between the state legislature and the Charlotte City Council. Provided that the state legislature repeals HB 2 by the end of the year, the city has agreed to repeal a controversial ordinance requiring businesses to allow individuals to use the other biological sex’s locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms.

Unfortunately, this deal isn’t worth the paper it is written on. Once the state repeals HB 2, there will be no remaining legal barriers to stop North Carolina cities from passing ordinances that threaten the privacy and safety of women and children.

Take action by calling and emailing Speaker Tim Moore (Tim.Moore@ncleg.net; (919) 733-3451) and Senate President Pro Tempore, Senator Phil Berger (Phil.Berger@ncleg.net; (919) 733-5708). Let them know you think this is a bad deal that betrays pro-family voters and abandons women and children.

Trump Taps Rep. Tom Price, Pro-Life Doctor, for HHS Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump has selected pro-life champion Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to run the Department of Health and Human Services.

Price, a physician, is a known opponent of Obamacare, signaling the incoming administration’s intention of following through with its campaign promise to “repeal and replace.”

“Some Republicans have attacked the Affordable Care Act without proposing an alternative,” reported the New York Times. “Mr. Price, by contrast, has introduced bills offering a detailed, comprehensive replacement plan in every Congress since 2009, when Democrats started work on the legislation.”

Price’s piece of legislation, the Empowering Patients First Act, would repeal and replace Obamacare and create tax credits for the purchase of individual and family health insurance policies.  If passed, it would also create new incentives for people to contribute to health savings accounts, offer grants to states to subsidize insurance for “high-risk populations,” and promote competition by allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.  His legislation also provides explicit protections for religious freedom and rights of conscience related to the practice of abortion and the dispensing of abortion-inducing drugs.

As an added bonus, Price has consistently — 100% of the time — voted to Defund Planned Parenthood.  He is an outspoken critic of abortion, calling it a “barbaric” practice.

Planned Parenthood and pro-choice advocacy group NARAL seems concerned by the selection as well:

Price has been strong on all of FPIW’s issues in Congress, stating after the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage that it was “not only a sad day for marriage, but a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balances.”

Price must be confirmed by the incoming U.S. Senate next year before taking over the Department.  And of course, if confirmed, he would no longer be a member of Congress, meaning that his legislation would have to be picked up by another member of Congress. But with conservative majorities in the House and Senate, and a clear priority for the incoming Trump Administration to repeal and replace Obamacare, we don’t expect finding legislative sponsors to be an issue.

We’ll keep you updated through the confirmation process.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Are We “Worthless Pieces of Trash”?

Colleges and universities are widely known to be hotbeds of liberal progressivism, but one public university administrator’s recent comments about supporters of traditional marriage are beyond the pale.

Andrew Bunting, George Mason University’s Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, shared his feelings about supporters of traditional marriage, calling them “worthless pieces of trash.”

The incident began last week when Bunting shared on Facebook a blog post written by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a grassroots organization that advocates for traditional marriage.

The blog post shares NOM’s desire to work with the Trump administration to protect religious liberty, nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court, overturn President Obama’s gender identity directives, and oppose efforts to redefine marriage.

Commenting on the blog post, Bunting parroted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s claim that NOM is a “hate group.”

He went on to write, “If you agree with [NOM about traditional marriage] then that is your opinion. Just know that to the rest of us, you are a worthless piece of trash.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a far-left political group known for designating as a hate group any organization that supports traditional marriage. According to SPLC, mainstream, pro-family organizations like the American Family Association, Family Research Council, and Liberty Counsel (Liberty University) are “extremist, anti-LGBT hate groups.”

Bunting’s comments reveal what Campus Reform has termed “liberal privilege” on college campuses. This “liberal privilege” on college campuses is evidenced by the way students who share conservative ideas are maligned and punished by professors and administrators, most of whom are radically progressive and many of whom are openly Marxist.

The groupthink on college campuses has gotten so bad that the conservative perspective often isn’t even shared with students. Conservative speakers are often disinvited from campus events, if they’re even invited at all. If conservatives do make it onto campus, they’re often verbally and physically abused by protesters comprised of students and faculty.

With college administrators like Bunting making incendiary comments disparaging half of the U.S. population, it’s no wonder that conservative students fear retaliation from liberal professors and administrators.

Additionally, given Bunting’s senior position in George Mason University’s admissions department, prospective students who happen to be conservative are probably left wondering whether they are welcome on campus, and if their political views will affect their admissions chances or opportunities for scholarships.

Bunting’s comments are even more troubling because GMU is a Virginia state public university. So far, it doesn’t look like he’ll be fired, despite his comments dehumanizing those who believe in traditional marriage.

Andrew Bunting’s views are representative of those held by college administrators in schools all over the country. Knowing that this is the predominant ideological perspective on most college campuses, it’s unsurprising that college students at the University of Washington and Seattle University say things like this and this.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

New Video for Pastors and Churches: Don’t Be Afraid of the IRS

We’ve heard from a number of Washingtonians who are frustrated with their church’s lack of engagement in the ongoing culture battles. Pastors commonly cite IRS rules as a reason to stay quiet on the issues, afraid that their church might lose its non-profit status if they say or do the wrong thing.

What they don’t know is that thousands of pastors have been deliberately challenging the IRS to come after them, and to this point, the IRS has refused to do so.

FPIW has just released a new video, entitled, Why Your Church Won’t Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status. We’d be grateful if you’d watch the video, and then pass it on to your pastor and church leadership.

Please feel free to call our office at (425) 608-0242 if you have any questions, or email us at info@fpiw.org.

Barronelle Stutzman Hearing, Rally Scheduled for November 15

Barronelle Stutzman, the 72-year old floral artist and grandmother being sued by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the ACLU for exercising her constitutionally protected freedom to act consistent with her faith, will be in Court on Tuesday, November 15th as the Washington Supreme Court hears oral arguments.

Stutzman served her longtime friend and customer – and his partner – for nearly 10 years, but could not participate in and design floral arrangements for his same-sex ceremony because of her love of Jesus and his teachings about marriage. Barronelle faces losing everything she owns for acting consistent with her deeply held convictions.

The arguments begin at 9:00 am, but we will begin gathering at the Carlson Theatre at Bellevue College at 7:30 am. We recommend arriving early to get in line to ensure a seat. Some of us will remain outside for a peaceful prayer gathering during oral arguments. We will provide signs and refreshments. A debrief will take place after the arguments conclude with Barronelle (location TBD). Please bring your family and friends and join us in supporting Barronelle!

The Carlson Theatre is located at, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue, WA, 98007-6406.  You can let us know that you plan to attend by RSVPing to the rally Facebook event.

Satanists Look to Move into Washington Elementary Schools

 

Do Satanists have an absolute right to teach their anti-Christian message to elementary students in public schools?

Earlier this summer, the Satanic Temple released this incredibly creepy promotional video to promote its new After School Satan Clubs. Shortly thereafter, Centennial Elementary School, a public school in Mount Vernon, Washington, decided to open its doors to the Satanic Temple, and is permitting an After School Satan Club chapter to hold meetings and events for students on school grounds this school year.

The Seattle Satanic Temple is also considering starting chapters of the club in the Tacoma and Puyallup school districts.

This is not the first time the Satanic Temple, known for their elaborate stunts of political theater, has raised the ire of traditional, God-fearing Americans. They won a court challenge allowing them to place a Satanic holiday display on Florida Capitol grounds in 2014, placed another Satanic “nativity” scene on Michigan Capitol grounds the next year, and successfully goaded a Florida School District into prohibiting the distribution of Christian materials in schools by threatening to distribute Satanic coloring books to students.

The Satanic Temple’s leadership is hoping their entry into public schools will result in the termination of Christian after school clubs by spooking school administrators into preventing all religious groups from hosting voluntary after school clubs for students.

Every school approached by the atheist organization to start an After School Satan Club also hosts a Good News Club, an interdenominational Christian after school program that many principals credit with noticeably improving behavior among students.

The Satanic Temple – which assures parents it is atheistic despite its copious use of recognizable Satanic imagery and rhetorical appeals to Satan’s rebellion against God – is claiming the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom gives it the right to start after school clubs in public schools. This is especially ironic considering that the American founders who ratified the First Amendment believed that humans beings, created in the image of God, are given religious liberty by God – the same God that the Satanic Temple denies.

Federal courts have already decided that parody religions, which lack sincerely held religious beliefs and are used to advance political agendas, are not entitled to religious protections under the First Amendment. When a “Pastafarian” member of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion (FSMism) sued the Nebraska State Penitentiary where he was a prisoner for refusing to accommodate his requests, the U.S. District Court of the District of Nebraska decided,

“The Court finds that FSMism is not a “religion” within the meaning of the relevant federal statutes and constitutional jurisprudence. It is, rather, a parody, intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education. Those are important issues, and FSMism contains a serious argument—but that does not mean that the trappings of the satire used to make that argument are entitled to protection as a ‘religion.’”

The District Court refused to give religious protections to Flying Spaghetti Monster religion, which was formed for political advocacy with the intention of promoting militant atheism and a radical reinterpretation of separation of church and state.

Similarly, the Satanic Temple is a secular advocacy group that seeks to intolerantly mock and parody traditional religions and supplant our Judeo-Christian national heritage.

The “whole purpose” of the After School Satan Clubs “seems to be driven by an animosity toward Christian clubs; hence the provocative name,” said Family Research Council’s Travis Weber.

It is evident, then, that in the words of the District Court, the Satanic Temple is “not entitled to protection as a ‘religion’” because its brand of Satanism is not a “sincerely held religious belief.”

Additionally, the framers of the Constitution would likely find it inconceivable that the First Amendment is being used to defend the inclusion of atheistic clubs, using the name of Satan, in public schools.

Joseph Story, an early Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote in his Commentaries on the Constitution,

“The real object of the [First] amendment was, not to [encourage], much less advance [Islam], or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian [denominations], and to prevent national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”

He later wrote that,

“Probably at the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it… the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship.”

In fact, the Supreme Court formally declared the United States a Christian nation, legally and historically speaking, in Holy Trinity Church v. United States (1892). And nearly five decades earlier in Vidal v. Girard’s Executor’s (1844), it stated that public schools have a responsibility to teach the Bible and the Christian religion.

These court cases and the intentions of our founders suggest that the Satanic Temple cannot justify its anti-Christian after school Satan clubs by appealing to the First Amendment.

Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty law firm, says it will provide pro-bono legal counsel to public schools that refuse the Satanic Temple’s request to start After School Satan Clubs. “School administrators do not have to tolerate groups that disrupt the school and target other legitimate clubs,” said Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel.

Schools would be wise to recognize that they are under no legal obligation to allow After School Satanic Clubs, and concerned parents should demand no less of their schools.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington.  He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

Bremerton School District to Use Taxpayer, Classroom Funds to Fight Kennedy Lawsuit

 

The Bremerton School District is lawyering up.

After filing a federal lawsuit against the District, Coach Joe Kennedy’s legal team made one thing pretty clear: Coach Joe just wants his job back.  “All we really want for him – is to be back on the sideline coaching those kids – and nothing more,” said Michael Berry, one of Kennedy’s attorneys with the First Liberty Institute.

Kennedy was fired last year after refusing to submit to the District’s demands that he stop praying before and after football games. His prayers, the District said, constituted an endorsement of religion, and were in violation of the separation of church and state. When this story broke last year, there was overwhelming support for Coach Kennedy from across the country, standing in support of continued protections under the First Amendment.

He didn’t stop praying, and the District put him on leave before ultimately firing him.

But there’s a new twist to this story: Bremerton School District must use taxpayer money to fight the discrimination lawsuit that Coach Kennedy has now brought against them in federal court.

The Kitsap Sun reported that the Bremerton School District has made the decision to pull needed legal funds from the general fund in order to beef up its legal team to fight this lawsuit in court.

Translation: the Bremerton School District is pulling funds from the classroom to keep Joe Kennedy off the field.

The District spent $6,600 in September of 2015 to cover the cost of legal work related to the Kennedy issue.  That amount increased to $10,512 in October 2015.  At present time, the District has dumped an additional $190,000 into its legal fund — all from the general fund — for legal work “in anticipation of legal costs for JK.”

As a taxpayer, how do you feel about this?  Sound off in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Police Dispatched to Stop 7-Year Old Boy from Reading Bible Verses at Public School

 

Officials at a public elementary school in Palmdale, California, dispatched a deputy sheriff after a first grader shared Bible verses with his friends at lunch.

Like many other loving mothers, Christina Zavala would send her seven-year-old son, Caleb, notes in his school lunch bag that included Bible stories. At the urging of his friends, Caleb soon began sharing the stories with them at lunch.

One of Caleb’s classmates excitedly shared one of the stories with their teacher, who then “informed Christina that [Caleb] could no longer read or share Bible verses or stories at lunch. Her note said, ‘Please tell your son that there is a separation of church and state,’” according to Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty nonprofit organization that is representing the family.

Ms. Zavala correctly informed the teacher that her son had a constitutional right to talk about his faith with his classmates during lunchtime. After Caleb’s mom continued sending the notes in his lunches, the teacher again publicly reprimanded him, causing him to leave school in tears.

Caleb was then told that he would have to wait until after school to share the Bible verses and stories with his friends, but shortly thereafter, the school again changed its policy, telling him that he could not share the notes while on school property. Caleb complied with the school’s demands.

Later in the day, a deputy sheriff, called by someone working for the school district, arrived at the Zavala family home, “demanding that [Caleb’s] note-sharing cease altogether because ‘someone might be offended,’” according to Liberty Counsel.

Yes, you read that right – the elementary school was so concerned about one of its students sharing Bible stories and Scripture with his classmates that it called the police.

“You have ignorance of the law, hostility toward Christianity, and a gross abuse of police power,” Roger Gannam, a lawyer with Liberty Counsel, said in an interview with Fox News.

Separation of Church and State

Does the First Amendment require schools to prohibit students from talking about the Bible or sharing their faith at school? Of course not.

One of the most commonly misunderstood principles of the American founding is the meaning of the phrase “separation of church and state.” Modern secularists falsely contend that separation of church and state – which appears nowhere in the Constitution – prohibits public schools from teaching Christian principles as truth in the classroom, bars legislators from appealing to religious principles in debates about public policy, disallows city council sessions and high school graduations from opening with prayer, and forbids schools and courthouses from displaying the Ten Commandments.

These assertions are incompatible with the vision and intent of those who framed our Constitution.

The First Amendment to the Constitution states, in part, that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Not only does the First Amendment preclude the establishment of a particular denomination, but it also prevents the government from interfering with a person’s free exercise of their religion – which includes the right of a first grader to share Bible stories with his classmates at school.

A report adopted by the U.S. Senate in 1853 defined “established religion”. For a religious denomination to be considered established, Congress must fund it through the national treasury, give special political rights to its members, and/or compel nonmembers to attend services and participate in its sacraments through compulsory attendance laws.

Obviously, none of the scenarios previously given rise to the standard of Congress establishing a particular religion or denomination – and the First Amendment in no way implies that a school has the authority to prohibit a first grader from talking about the Bible with his friends at lunch.

The Founders’ Vision for Public Education

Our current system of public education would be unrecognizable to the founding fathers that conceived the First Amendment. It is indisputable that they believed that public schools should teach the general principles of Christianity, including the Bible.

In a letter to his cousin John Adams, Samuel Adams wrote that the foremost purpose of education was

“Inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy, and, in subordination to these great principles, the love of their country; of instructing them in the art of self-government, without which they never can act a wise part in the government of societies, great or small; in short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system…”

Fisher Ames, one of the primary authors of the First Amendment, lamented that the proliferation of textbooks in the classroom diverted precious education time away from the Bible:

“It has been the custom of late years to put a number of little books into the hands of children… Why then, if these books for children must be retained (as they will be), should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book?”

Similarly, Benjamin Rush, a prominent founding father commonly referred to by historians as the Father of Public Schools Under the Constitution, wrote in his essay, “A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a School Book,” that the Bible “should be read in our schools in preference to all other books.”

The U.S. Supreme Court once affirmed that public schools had a responsibility to teach the Bible and the general principles of the Christian religion. Chief Justice Joseph Story, writing the unanimous opinion for the Court in Vidal v. Girard’s Executors (1844), declared,

“Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as Divine Revelation in the [school] – its general precepts expounded… and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”

The founding fathers would be aghast if they could see a public school calling law enforcement because a first grader shared Bible stories with his friends over lunch. They would likely be equally concerned that the school cited “separation of church and state” as the basis for its actions.

If only our founders could see us now.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

 

Gentleman: Let’s Not Be Afraid to Name Our Enemies

 

Yesterday, on Bastille Day, another tragic terrorist attack occurred in Nice, France.

31-year old Mohamed Bouhel drove a rented delivery truck through a crowded street, running down men, women, and children along the way.  Authorities have reported as many as 84 people have ben killed and over 200 seriously injured.  Although no particular terrorist groups are claiming responsibility for this incident, social media accounts linked to both ISIS and Al-Qaeda celebrated the horrendous act.

This attack comes just as France was wrapping up the declared state of emergency that had been in place since last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris.  French President François Hollande announced, however, that he’s extending the state of emergency for another three months.

Considering all of the tragic incidents having taken place around the world — Dallas, Baton Rouge, Nice, Orlando — the death and destruction seems overwhelming.  We mourn over this senseless loss of life and we stand with all who have lost loved ones.

But as we mourn, we must not forget to look at the reality of the given situations. Evil is a real and present part of this world, and it has been exacted by those who wish legitimate harm upon others.

We must not be afraid to name our enemies.

To look at an attack in Nice and not call it a terrorist attack is ignorant. Similarly, to not acknowledge that what happened in Orlando was an act of terror, but rather an attack motivated by homophobia, is equally as ignorant.  We know who these murderers are: they are ISIS members and sympathizers; they are jihadists carrying out the commands of the Qur’an.

The events that have transpired over the past week are heartbreaking and painful. Nice should serve as a reminder that human life is intrinsically valuable, and the loss of it at any stage — whether at conception or at 100-years old — is tragic and worthy of our mourning.

Let’s root out evil together.

Megan Gentleman is a Summer Intern at FPIW.  Follow her on Twitter at @MeganEGP.

Congressional Hearings Begin on First Amendment Defense Act

 

A congressional committee is considering legislation that would protect the fundamental rights of those who believe in traditional marriage.

The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) “would prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals, associations, or businesses, such as churches and religious colleges, by denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification because they believe marriage is a union of one man and one woman.”

Worried that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) laid the foundation to undermine religious liberty, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his dissent,

“Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage – when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing to only opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before the court.”

Passing FADA would be a great first step to reducing these concerns.

FADA is modeled after the Church Amendments, which were adopted after the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) that found a constitutional right to abortion. The Church Amendments protect the rights of those who morally object to abortion to act in accordance with their convictions.

In the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges, it is imperative that the government affirms its obligation to protect the fundamental rights of those who believe in traditional marriage. No person or religious organization should be compelled to betray their beliefs about marriage to maintain a tax-exempt status or do business with the federal government.

Sadly, this view is not shared by many progressives and LGBT activists.  Testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke claimed that “while religious belief is absolutely protected [under the First Amendment], religiously motivated actions are not.”

The professor’s position is indefensible. This statement is comparable to saying that the First Amendment only protects an individual’s right to hold opinions, but not his or her right to speak publicly about them.  That has never been the interpretation or expectation about free speech in America.

Contrary to Professor Franke’s testimony, the First Amendment does protect the “free exercise [of religion].” Free exercise includes actions that are motivated by religious convictions. The government can limit these actions only when it has a compelling interest to do so. It is absurd to conclude that the federal government has a compelling interest to ostracize and punish organizations that uphold the traditional definition of marriage.

Our founders understood the danger of allowing government to interfere in religious beliefs, and they protected against that by ratifying the First Amendment. In a letter to a Presbyterian pastor, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I consider the [federal] government of the United States as [prohibited] by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.”

Jefferson continued, “In this enlightened age and in this land of equal liberty it is our boast that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws…”

Most Americans, including those who support same-sex marriage, would hopefully agree that it would be wrong for the federal government to discriminate against religious organizations because of their beliefs about marriage.

Religious liberty is too important to be relegated to a sacrifice on the progressive altar of inclusion and political correctness.