VA Hospital Required To Cover Christian Symbols

Although we’ve had some tremendous victories for religious freedom recently, we must stay the course.

Below is an important note from Congressman J. Randy Forbes, co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, representing over 100 members of congress who are the front-line defenders of religious freedom. In 2008, the VA hospital enacted a policy mandating that all houses of worship reflect no faith tradition. In response, several members wrote a strong letter to the VA urging the VA not to scrub its chapels of religious symbols.
 

This is another example of the concerted effort to erase America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and attack religious liberty. This trend toward secularism must be reversed. Pray for the members of congress who signed this letter and are making sure God’s rightful place is secure in America. 

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Last month, a Veterans Affairs hospital in Michigan was ordered to conceal all Christian symbols inside of its chapel due to a VA policy handbook published in 2008, which states, “When VA Chaplains are not providing or facilitating a religious service for a particular faith group, the chapel must be maintained as religiously neutral, reflecting no particular faith tradition.” 

 In response, I joined 22 of my colleagues in sending a letter to the VA inquiring about the policy implementation in 2008 and urging the VA not to scrub its chapels of all religious symbols.   We are a nation founded on the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  

Over time, this important concept has been distorted, and its misapplication has led the public to believe that the Constitution’s intent was to confine religion to the four walls of the church.  But the Constitution does not require the elimination of religious symbols from the public square – rather, it protects the free exercise of religion for every American. 

Yours in service,

Randy 

PS – The 101 members of the bipartisan Congressional Prayer Caucus, that I founded, are in the thick of the fight for religious liberty every day. Learn more about our most recent efforts, here

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Supreme Court Decision Landmark Victory For Religious Freedom

Today was a great victory for owners of family-owned businesses. Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Green and Hahn families; business owners that risked it all for freedom of conscience and religious liberty.
Hobby Lobby Win
Religious freedom does not end when Americans go into business to provide for themselves, their families and employees. No American should have to choose between their faith and their livelihood.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes, founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, released the statement below. Thank you for praying and for standing for religious freedom, the cornerstone of a free society.

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Forbes: Supreme Court Decision Landmark Victory for Religious Freedom

Washington, D.C. – Today, in the cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the freedom of family business owners to live and work according to their convictions. In response to the Court’s decision, Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), issued the following statement:

“ReligBeckett_ReligiousFreedomForAllious freedom is the cornerstone of a free society, and every American—regardless of whether we are religious—should be concerned when the government attempts to restrain free exercise. We live in a country whose laws respect freedom and diversity, and today the Supreme Court affirmed the Constitution’s strong protections for all Americans to live and work by their convictions. Freedom of conscience can include nothing less than the way a person lives all aspects of his or her life. As a nation, our laws must encourage and support, not penalize, citizens who seek to adhere to their moral convictions.”

In an opinion authored by Justice Alito, the Court held that the Affordable Care Act’s HHS mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill passed by Congress in 1993 with overwhelming bipartisan support. In today’s opinion, the Court stated, “The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate . . . against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.”

Congressman Forbes and Senator Blunt led 88 Members of Congress in an amicus curiae brief, supporting Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. Congressman Forbes and Senator Boozman also coauthored an op ed on the mandate in March.

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Have You Heard?

A number of city councils and county commissioners nationwide are adding prayer toPastor refuses to exclude Jesus from prayer their public meetings following this month’s Supreme Court ruling inTown of Greece v. GallowayThe historic practice of prayer at government meetings is constitutional!

Congressman J. Randy Forbes, Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, expresses praise for his peers who are committed to prayer:

“I wanted to share with you a recent article published on Christian News Network, reporting that city councils and county commissioners across the country are re-introducing or considering adding prayer into their meeting agendas, in response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, upholding the historic practice of opening legislative bodies with prayer. 

As the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, I am encouraged to hear that towns and cities across the country are exercising their constitutional rights and bringing prayer back into the halls of local government. Prayer plays an important role in American life, and is woven throughout the very fabric of our nation’s history. I remain dedicated to guarding the right of individuals in America to exercise their constitutionally protected faith freedoms. 

Yours in service, 

Randy 

PS – The 100 members of the bipartisan Congressional Prayer Caucus are in the thick of the fight for religious liberty every day. Learn more about our most recent efforts, here.”

CourageShare with your friends that public prayer is a historic practice that is protected for everyone, including government leaders. Alliance Defending Freedom provides the necessary evidence here.  Have you considered starting your meetings with prayer?

Thank you for helping us get this news out. Like you, we want to remain a nation that trusts in God!

 

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The Separation of Church and State: A False Narrative

The simple phrase, “separation of church and state,” is often quoted by the anti-faith SeekTruthmovement, used in legislative and legal challenges and frequently distorted in terms of its original intent. Though not found anywhere in our Founding Documents, these five words have been misconstrued and misused in a determined effort by secular and atheistic naysayers to convince an entire generation that God, biblical values and prayer should be completely excluded from anything related to government, leadership, business or matters related to life in the public square. 

President Thomas Jefferson first coined the phrase in a letter written to the Danbury Baptists. However, contrary to the opinions of rogue demagogues, Jefferson was not seeking to limit the public expression of faith, but was in fact, deeply committed to religious freedom. Library of Congress records reveal the following,

“…on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817), the state became the church. Within a year of his inauguration [after writing the letter to the Danbury Baptists], Jefferson began attending church services in the House of Representatives. Madison followed Jefferson’s example….Throughout his administration, Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings. The Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers.” Read more

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., adds that Jefferson’s letter must be read from the context of his declaration in the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom: “Almighty God hath created the mind free….” The “wall of separation” exists to affirm natural rights, including those of faith and religious worship. The infamous “wall” was not referenced to imprison the free exercise of religion. Rather, Jefferson sought to prevent the supremacy of any one particular denomination after experiencing persecution under the Church of England.  Read more

While Jefferson, who was raised as an Anglican, is sometimes viewed as a deist and not TruthWinsOutnecessarily a strong advocate for Christian theism, his support for religious freedom cannot be discarded or minimized. Here are his own words, “God who gave us life, gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God.”1

In a letter he penned in 1799, Jefferson also stated, “We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving everyone to profess freely and openly [emphasis mine] those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”2

In other commentary, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a strategic association of attorneys, national ministry leaders and religious liberty experts, maintains:

While the First Amendment clearly forbids the creation of a national denomination, it says nothing about the so-called ‘separation of church and state’… The true purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the federal government from establishing a national church, like the Church of England, or require that sectarian policy be forced on an individual state or on the federal government. While the amendment does recognize a ‘differentiation between church and the government, it does not mean that they could not cooperate with each other.’” Read full resource

Sadly, in many ways, the very government that was established to protect and advocate for our religious freedoms, now too frequently allows the same spirit of intolerance, coercion and legislative bullying tactics that the Church of England was once known for. Can we believe it will require anything less than committed men and women of passion and determination to rise up together and once again make our voices heard within the halls of power? We the people—especially when armed with the truth supported by history’s validation—will always triumph if we stand together.

Over the decades, many of our Presidents and leaders have believed that religion and morality were indispensable supports to a healthy and God-honoring Constitutional Republic. We agree. Therefore, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation remains resolute in its commitment to restore, revitalize and champion America’s founding spirit and the principles related to faith and Judeo-Christian values in order to secure America’s future and freedom for all. Will you join us? We must each glean from our own wisdom and experiences and work together to reeducate Americans when it comes to these core concepts. For God and for Country!

The true meaning and spirit on the separation of church and state does not mean a total divorce and disconnection between God and government. Rather, it explicitly limits and deters active interference by the government in dictating a person’s conscience in matters of faith and practice. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support – we could not do this without you.

1http://www.christianity.about.com/od/independenceday/a/foundingfathers.htm

2http://www.au.org/files/pdf_documents/with-sovereign-reverence.pdf

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Historic Victory For Prayer And Religious Freedom

Yesterday, the Supreme Court sent a resounding message to citizens and government leaders across the nation that they do not have to check their faith at the door. The 5-4 decision in favor of the Town of Greece determined that opening government meetings in prayer is appropriate, even if they routinely stress Christianity.This ruling will reverberate in small communities across the country. Town councils have been threatened with lawsuits by anti-God groups, causing them to stop long standing traditions of opening their meetings in prayer. Some have already begun reinstating prayer as a result of this monumental decision.

Congressman Forbes, along with Congressman Steve Scalise, led eighty-five Members of Congress in an amicus curiae brief in support of the town’s legislator’s freedom to open meetings in prayer. To read the House Member’s amicus brief in Town of Greece v. Galloway, and to see a list of the Members who signed it, click here.This emphasizes the important work of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation and its members, as we work together to ensure citizens are equipped and educated to stand up for their right to pray and express their faith in the public square.

The law is clear and the Supreme Court has confirmed that prayer and faith are the lifeblood of American freedom.This historic and important victory is attributed to months of prayer and action by committed Americans like you. Read Congressman Forbes’ statement below on this heartening decision. Congressman J. Randy Forbes issued the following statement: 

 The Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway is a victory for the practice of legislative prayer.  The Court not only reinforced in detail the deep historical significance of legislative prayer in our Nation, but also affirmed how a practice of legislative prayer that is open to all religious creeds acknowledges and celebrates our diversity.  One need not agree with every theological implication of a proffered prayer to unite behind the symbolic importance of a ceremonial prayer.  Today’s decision affirms our tradition of prayer for generations to come.” 

 In an opinion authored by Justice Kennedy, the Court highlighted our Nation’s long tradition of legislative prayer, stating, “That the First Congress provided for the appointment of chaplains only days after approving language for the First Amendment demonstrates that the Framers considered legislative prayer a benign acknowledgment of religion’s role in society. . . . As a practice that has long endured, legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, inaugural prayer, or the recitation of “God save the United States and this honorable Court” at the opening of this Court’s sessions.”  

The Court’s decision also addresses the way in which prayer unites us as a people: “These ceremonial prayers strive for the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance and devotion. Even those who disagree as to religious doctrine may find common ground in the desire to show respect for the divine in all aspects of their lives and being. Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs, can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith.”  

Congressman Forbes, along with Congressman Steve Scalise, led eighty-five Members of Congress in an amicus curiae brief in support of the town’s legislative prayer practice. Congressman Forbes is the Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, a bipartisan group of 100 Members of Congress who are committed to defending America’s heritage of religious freedom.

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Congressmen United Through Prayer

On the National Day of Prayer, members of Congress joined hundreds of thousands of citizens in prayer for America.

 Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus continue to stand boldly for our Judeo-Christian heritage and your right to express faith in God in the public square.

Below are personal and insightful messages from your government leaders that you won’t want to miss.

 Interesting Image

 Please take a few minutes to watch this video 
and then share it with others!   

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United through Prayer 

April 30, 2014, National Review

By J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) and Mike McIntyre (NC-07)

 It is easy to tire of the divisive nature of politics. The ability of civil disagreements to drive a wedge between people of good will is nothing new; it is an age-old challenge, and one that our nation’s founders struggled with as well. The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer, which we will celebrate on Thursday, May 1, is “One Voice, United in Prayer.” As we honor the National Day of Prayer, it is important to remember that throughout our nation’s history, in times of sorrow and of joy, prayer has united and strengthened America as a people.

 After the American Revolution, our nation’s leaders were deeply divided over the way in which this new experiment in democracy should be governed. A first attempt at forming a civil structure under the Articles of Confederation was failing and a convention was called to address the problem.

 Though they all had fought for the shared ideal of freedom in the Revolution, the delegates at the Constitutional Convention agreed very little about what structure of government would best preserve their hard-won freedom. Disagreements and bickering threatened to undermine the new nation almost as soon as it had begun. Amidst the controversy, Benjamin Franklin urged that the delegates appoint religious leaders to open each session with prayer. Franklin noted in his appeal that, during the war with Britain, they had prayed daily for protection, and yet in a time of peace they had forgotten the need to seek such protection and wisdom.

 Prayer is not a tonic that will make all leaders see eye to eye, but it is an act of faith that has unified us as a nation since our inception. Corporate prayer can unify us despite our disagreements by reminding us that, while we may disagree about what paths or policies will best continue to support and secure our freedoms, we must recognize where we have shared motivations to preserve that freedom. Despite our disagreements, we can be one voice, united in prayer as we strive to overcome the challenges that lie before us.

 Over the course of American history, presidential calls to prayer have alone numbered over 130 proclamations. The first presidential call to prayer was issued by George Washington on October 3, 1789. He wrote, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

 In 1952, under President Harry Truman, Congress made an annual National Day of Prayer a permanent fixture. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed an amendment to the law, designating the first Thursday in May of each year as the official National Day of Prayer. This year marks the 63rd annual observance of the National Day of Prayer. Politics continues to be divisive — there is nothing new under the sun — but prayer has helped in the past to overcome these obstacles, and prayer will help us to overcome again.

 We need to recognize the uniting power of prayer. That is why, as co-chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, we introduced a bipartisan resolution, H.Res. 547, supporting the National Day of Prayer and urging all Americans to come together to pray and to reaffirm the importance prayer has had in our nation’s history. By recalling historic national calls to prayer from Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Clinton, and George W. Bush, this resolution serves as a reminder of the many ways that prayer has united and strengthened the American people.

 We will continue to disagree over courses of action, but we can bridge those disagreements and overcome these certain challenges by uniting in prayer. 

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Here’s All The Proof You Need…

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand,

the spines of others are stiffened.”  – Billy Graham

You won’t hear about it in the news, but government leaders nationwide are taking bold stands to preserve America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and protect religious liberty.

Pennsylvania Prayer Caucus co-chairman, Rep. Rick Saccone, is such a statesman, patriot and defender of the faith. He has championed several successful initiatives to promote prayer and popularize our Founding Principles in his state.

Watch his inspiring video tour of the Pennsylvania state capitol; highlighting the numerous religious pictures and Scriptural references inscribed in the walls and on the grounds.

The effort to remove all vestige of our heritage is increasing, but Rep. Saccone reinforces the timeless principles of faith and morality that established our free Republic. Together we can again popularize America’s founding spirit in the public square.

Pray for Rep. Saccone and the members of the American Prayer Caucus Network.These brave leaders need our support.

 Interesting Image

 Please take a few minutes to watch the video and then share it with others!

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