The 113th Congress Has Done It Again…

Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus are continuing their efforts to promote unity across party lines;specifically in regard to the importance of protecting prayer and your religious liberty at the national level.

House Resolution 547, (H.Res. 547), is affirming the vital role that prayer has played National Day of Prayer 1
throughout America’s history, strengthening the fabric of our society, and recognizing May 1, 2014, as the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer. This bi-partisan effort has 6 original cosponsors: Forbes, McIntyre, Aderholt, A. Green, Lankford and Vargas.  

This act connects our 113th Congress with the national leaders that precede them. History affirms Congress has repeatedly asked the President to issue official prayer proclamations and encouraged citizens to pray, fast and give thanks to God for blessing our great nation.

Resolution

Affirming the vital role that prayer has played throughout the more than 200-year history of our Nation, strengthening the fabric of our society, and recognizing May 1, 2014, as the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer.   

Whereas the first act of America’s first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of four chapters of the Bible;  

Whereas in 1789, on the same day that Congress finished drafting the First Amendment, it requested President Washington to declare a National day of prayer and thanksgiving, resulting in the first Federal official Thanksgiving proclamation;  

Whereas the Nation has a long history of turning to prayer both in times of crisis and in times of thanksgiving, including over 130 national calls to prayer by the President of the United States since 1789″ … Read full text 

 God has long been America’s help and hope. Let’s join together in prayer and thanksgiving on May 1st. Find a National Day of Prayer event near you!  

Also, pray for the Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, their families and staff. Let them know how much we appreciate their efforts.

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What Would You Do?

Less than two weeks ago, U.S. District Court Judge, William Quarles, Jr., issued a preliminary injunction against sectarian (religious) prayers during government meetings in Carroll County, MD. This legal action directly affects County Commissioner, Robin Bartlett Frazier, who maintains that she should be able to exercise her freedom to “pray” in the name of Jesus.

Watch this short video of Commissioner Frazier—who risks arrest and Sep of church and stateimprisonment—expressing how the ruling is a direct infringement of her First Amendment rights as a citizen of the United States. The Commissioner confidently referred to our rich spiritual heritage and then opened strongly with a prayer by George Washington. Yet, once again, this outcome grossly misinterprets the classic argument regarding the Separation of Church and State.

Sadly, this is also not an isolated case of anti-faith entities seeking to destroy the very things we hold sacred and for which our Founding Fathers passionately fought for as this nation emerged from the tyranny of England.

The Indiana House of Representatives has been barred from following its long tradition of opening with a prayer until those giving the invocation stop referring to Jesus Christ.

In North Carolina, a federal judge issued an injunction that stops Rowan County commissioners from offering prayers at meetings if they are specific to one religion.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sued Governor Bill Ritter in 2008 for, “showing governmental preference for religion” by issuing the Day of Prayer designation. The Colorado Supreme Court is due to make a ruling any day.

In another example of the growing fight to block or remove religious freedoms, the Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on the Town of Greece vs. Galloway case that will determine the constitutionality of prayer in a government setting. This decision will have far-reaching effects in our country.

These are just a few of the monumental cases springing up around the nation where opposing forces wrongly argue that the exercise of free speech is tantamount to an almost coercive establishment of religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pray for leaders like Commissioner Frazier. Take a minute to send an email and thank her for her boldness.

Students in a circleIt is critically important that we stand strong and stand together in these times. Silence and inaction cannot be the options we choose. We must not relinquish our right to live and pray according to our conscience, especially when it is challenged by a false narrative. It is our heritage; it is our right!

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HHS Mandate Threatens Freedom

Today the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in two cases that will have a dramatic affect on religious freedom. Law-abiding business owners are being coerced by the government to choose between violating their faith or face crippling fines.

Thank you to all who came out to the Supreme Court today in support of the Green and Hahn family. Together, we are standing for the right of every American to publicly express their faith.

 

Here is the transcript from today’s argument. Let’s continue praying for a favorable outcome in these critical cases.

 

Many of the members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus are deeply concerned about this blatant attack on religious freedom.

Today, Rep. Diane Black hosted a Press Conference. Watch the video of the press conference here.

 

Yesterday, Rep. Vicky Hartzler hosted a special order hour on religious freedom on the House floor. The videos are available here.

 

Following is a Press Release from the co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Congressman J. Randy Forbes.

Forbes: HHS Mandate Threatens Freedom

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral argument in two cases challenging the HHS mandate: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) issued the following statement:

“No American should be forced to choose between following their faith and complying with a burdensome government mandate. The HHS mandate is an unconstitutional restriction of religious freedom that forces employers to choose between dropping their health care coverage or face crippling fines of up to $36,500 per employee per year, simply for following their conscience. America has a deeply held tradition of respecting the freedom of conscience, and our laws should not force individuals or businesses to violate these beliefs just to operate a business or access health insurance.

The First Amendment guarantees that we have freedom to live our lives according to our religious beliefs and moral convictions, free from government coercion. 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 should encourage and support—not penalize—citizens who seek to consistently adhere to their moral convictions.”

To date,94 cases have been filed challenging the constitutionality of the HHS mandate. Of the 47 cases filed by for-profit businesses, 33 have received injunctive relief while their cases are pending.

A decision is expected by June. 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 earlier this month.

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Do You Think It Could Happen In America?

Earlier this year, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, called America a “godless nation” and “morally bankrupt.” That statement comes from a country many deem as being officially atheistic. The Washington Times quoted Putin in a recent keynote speech saying, “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”1 The absurdity of these comments is almost surreal, especially considering America’s rich spiritual heritage.

From the planting of a cross and the prayers that were offered at Jamestown during the establishment of the first permanent English settlement in 1607, we have placed our fervent trust in God. Rev. Robert Hunt, an expedition leader and a man of unsullied character, was described by Capt. John Smith as, “honest, courageous and divine.” Every morning and every evening, Rev. Hunt celebrated their newfound religious freedom by leading the small band in prayer, affirming that the Gospel of Christ was the primary mission of the settlers.

The Library of Congress—the indisputable and national repository for our written history—records that many of our Founders were deeply religious men. For most of them, God and government, religion and morality were irrevocably bound and indivisible, woven together in a sacred plan that produced one of the greatest nations on the earth. These patriots honored Nature and Nature’s God and were also guided by “covenant theology,” a universal belief that God bound Himself in an agreement with a nation and its people.

Congress appointed chaplains for itself and the armed forces, sponsored the publication of a Bible, regarded Christian morality a necessity for those in military service, and sponsored national days of thanksgiving on a regular basis for the purpose of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer.” In times of national prosperity, Presidents, Congress and other key leaders have acknowledged our blessings as a result of God’s hand upon the United States; and in times of tragedy and crisis, these same leaders humbly acknowledged that God was our only hope.

There was no corporate outrage, no lawsuits, no widespread demand that the government was forcing a particular faith on anyone, no loss of individual religious freedoms and rights, and no public outcry or demand by citizens to remove every reference or vestige of the Creator from the national conscious.

From the national motto being engraved on all U.S. currency in 1864, to Congress legislating “under God” be added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, God has been recognized and honored as the true Author of human rights and therefore, worthy of our acknowledgement and praise. We must carry this legacy of faith to the next generation. America, we must return to God and place our trust in Him once again!

The truth is complacency has had devastating effects on our culture. It is time to wake up and work together to protect God’s rightful place. Since removing prayer and the Bible from schools in the 1960’s, there has been a significant moral decline in America. One example is highlighted in an article from the Examiner, The Effects of Removing Prayer and the Bible from the Schools in 1962:

“Criminal arrest of teens is up 150% according to the U.S. Bureau of Census; teen suicides in ages 15-19 years up 450% according to the National Center of Health Services; illegal drug activity is up 6000% according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse; child abuse cases up 2300% according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; divorce up 350% according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and SAT scores fell 10% even though the SAT questions have been revamped to be easier to answer. Violent crime has risen 350%, national morality figures have plummeted, and teen pregnancy escalated dramatically after prayer and the Bible were removed from the schools.”2

The assault on our spiritual heritage—which is now in full evidence today—comes at the hands of the few, not the many…of the vocal, not the silent majority…of the well-funded, determined and relentless servants of godlessness and the anti-faith movement. Unless we are willing to match their veracity, their passion and an “All In” mindset, we risk the further erosion of our rich heritage…permanently silenced and removed from the national conversation.

Do you think it could never happen in America? The world and its historical record is littered with tragic examples of cruel and godless regimes who have attempted to force the worship of God underground and to the hidden places. Ask the Jewish people about the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, dissidents who recall their experience in Soviet gulags during Stalin’s purge, Chinese believers trampled in the Cultural Revolution under the oppression of Mao Zedong.

The truth is that laws will not change hearts, only God can accomplish this transformation. Yet, we need a spiritual and intellectual awakening that reinvigorates the importance of the Founding Principles in American government and public policy. The crisis is real, but the solution is as simple. We must trust God again! The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation is fighting on your behalf. Join us now! Pray…give…become involved today! Every day is precious and can make a difference.

1www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/28/whos-godless-now-russia-says-its-us/?page=all

2www.cpcfoundation.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/the-effects-of-removing-prayer-and-the-bible-from-the-schools-in-1962/

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IRS Attempt to Bar Faith Based Organizations from Civic Engagement

The recent attempt by the IRS to restrict the First Amendment rights of 501(c)4 organizations was countered swiftly by Congressman J. Randy Forbes, co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, who recognized the dire consequences to faith based organizations.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen stating, “A misunderstanding of the idea of separation of church and state often leads people to falsely conclude that faith-based organizations should be barred from civic engagement, when the spirit of this separation is actually to protect religious institutions from governmental pressure to alter religious belief or practice. In order for faith-based organizations to protect their freedom from government intrusion, they must be permitted to comment and engage on policies, regulations, and legislation that will affect them.” Read full article.

Join with us in prayer for our national and state leaders who are seeking to protect freedom. Let’s do our part to stand for the truth that our Founders intended for separation of church and state, not God and government.

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Will The Supreme Court Get It Right?

Religious freedom, once considered a fundamental right in our nation, is now at the mercy of our Judicial system. Oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this month. These are only two of the numerous cases around the nation that pose a monumental threat to liberty.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes and Senator John Boozman, champions of religious freedom, describe the the purpose and importance of the Justices’ upholding the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in their recent article in the National Review.

“‘Religious freedom is no luxury, but is a basic right of a free people.’ It is ‘one of the cornerstones of our democracy’ and one of our country’s most ‘cherished traditions.’

These are the words of then-Representative Charles Schumer as he championed his bill, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), on the floor of the House in 1993.

The Supreme Court had struck a blow to religious freedom in 1993 in Employment Division v. Smith by lowering the standard of judicial review for government infringements on religious free exercise. In a rare show of robust bipartisanship, Congress responded by overwhelmingly passing RFRA. President Clinton observed on signing the law that ‘our Founders . . . knew that religion helps to give our people the character without which a democracy cannot survive.’” Read more

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Clearing Up The Controversy

As states seek to pass religious liberty legislation to reinforce the fundamental principles SeekTruththat protect freedom for all people, including for-profit companies, many of the media moguls are making outlandish statements that are simply untrue. It is time for truth to dominate the national conversation once again. It is critical we understand what is at stake, why it matters and what to stand for.

Ryan T. Anderson, a William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation, provides a cogent rebuttal to a recent headline in the New York Times that calls religious liberty legislation “a license to discriminate.” Read the full article.

Congressman Trent Franks, Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee and co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Caucus in Congress, released the following statement regarding the recent controversy surrounding Arizona’s desire to clarify their standing Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

ReligiousFreedomTo quote a letter sent to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer by a bipartisan panel of legal scholars from wide-ranging political and religious backgrounds …‘S.B. 1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons. It says that business people can assert a claim or defense under the existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act in any kind of judicial proceeding (discrimination cases are not even mentioned, although they would be included), that they have the burden of proving a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them has the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona make the final decision.’”

“S.B. 1062, which weighs in at barely two pages long, is a very simple clarification of an already existing Arizona law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The legislation reaffirms the basic principle that the fundamental rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion do not stop at the exit door of your local church, and instead extend to every area of life.Read Press Release

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