Salt and Light

In following the lead of Green County, Missouri sheriff, Jim Arnott, Doug Rader, the sheriff for neighboring Stone County, announced via social media that all patrol vehicles will display, “In God We Trust,” on their back bumpers. To his surprise, the recent decision has sparked a national debate, even though he is well within lawful and Constitutional parameters. As expected, anti-faith individuals and groups are crying out in a predictable response that this move violates the, “separation of church and state”—an increasingly tired assertion that belies the reality of our legislatively approved National Motto and the singular phrase found on all U.S. currency. The good news is that there have been over two million views, 50,000 supportive likes and 16,000 shares on the original Facebook post describing the action.

We want to help send Sheriff Rader the message that he does not stand alone, and furthermore, there are thousands of likeminded individuals who are right there with him! The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation is building a growing, nationwide network that includes hundreds of legislators and thousands of citizens in order to mobilize tangible support in situations just like this one. Would you join with us and visit their Facebook page today? Post a “Like” along with a word of encouragement. Or consider contacting the Stone County Sheriff’s Department directly and let them know you appreciate Sheriff Rader’s bold commitment to religious liberty and principled faith.

Imagine if tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, rallied together to make a statement while the eyes of the country are focused on a small Midwestern county. There is great power and a strong message that comes in unity of purpose—We will not yield our sacred rights! We will not compromise our moral and religious values! We will not be afraid or ashamed as people of faith! I urge you to stand up with Sheriff Rader!

In an interview, Rader stated, “In God We Trust” became our National Motto in 1956. There has been no better time than now to proudly display our national motto and I’m very humbled at the amount of support behind it.” These four words—In God We Trust—are also inscribed on the walls of the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., in letters of gold behind the Speaker’s rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives, in the offices of Members of Congress, and many other prominent places. From the writings of our Founders to the speeches of our Presidents, God is woven into the beautiful tapestry of our heritage. Whether during peace or in wartime, in prosperity or economic depression, in moments of national crisis or celebration, America has always trusted in God.

Three-and-a-half years ago, in November, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (396-9) to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States. The landslide vote sends a message that “In God We Trust” is not only written in the halls of our federal buildings and on our national currency, but it represents a foundational cornerstone upon which our nation was built.  H. Con. Resolution 13 encourages the overt display of our National Motto in in every public school classroom and government building.

The “separation of church and state” controversy comes from a letter penned by then President, Thomas Jefferson, on January 1, 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association. Though it is frequently used by opponents to justify their attempts to advance legislative restrictions, Jefferson’s own actions challenge this long held assumption. The letter was a means to alleviate a concern that the federal government might infringe upon their religious rights. The true meaning and spirit of having a separation of church and state does not automatically imply the separation of God and government.

As Christians, we are called to be salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13-16). Every effort to advocate for our religious freedom—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant—needs to be pursued, and not just by a few, but by the many who believe these principles are worth fighting for. They are worth a short email or letter of support and encouragement. They are worth our verbal affirmation and a willingness to be a voice in the midst of strong opposition. They are worth the time on our knees in petition before God. Thank you for, “letting your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

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Never Give Up. Never Give In.

Over the past several years, we have sounded a warning about the anti-faith voices within our country that are attempting to degrade and reframe the core meaning of Freedom of Religion.

It is steadily and intentionally being deconstructed as one of our most time honored, TheFirstAmendmentsacred and constitutionally protected rights; and it is being further redefined and limited as the, “freedom to worship in private places only.” This insidious and forced compartmentalization of our faith values and religious liberty is slowly, but most assuredly, eroding our Judeo-Christian heritage and redefining the First Amendment. We do not have to leave our faith at the door of the public square. In fact, we must not!

What many once considered a far-fetched notion is now resurfacing again, and with widening support in a culture that is undergoing seismic shifts. Incredulously, Wisconsin State Senator, Tammy Baldwin, recently said she thinks that the First Amendment should be given an entirely new framework altogether. Watch video:

“Certainly the first amendment says that in institutions of faith, there is absolute power to observe deeply held religious beliefs. I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.”

Her sentiments should raise serious concerns for every person who values the freedom of conscience, belief and religious expression. Just a few short decades ago, most citizens never envisioned an America where the 10 Commandments would be removed from Capitol grounds, where businesses are forced to accept mandatory healthcare provisions that violate the sanctity of life, where activist outcries are made over a simple crèche in a public park at Christmastime, where valedictorians have their speeches scrubbed of all religious terminology, where pastors are being threatened with arrest for holding Bible studies in homes or their sermons subpoenaed and screened by government officials, where military chaplains are being court-martialed for praying in the name of Jesus or posting a Bible verse…and sadly, this list could go on.

These are not the things that could happen…they are the things that have happened and are continuing to take place almost on a weekly basis.

Even in the face of extreme challenges, there is good news. The clarion call for a righteous response is rising up as a bold standard of truth. Members of Congress and other government leaders at state and local levels are advocating for our rights. Yet, we too must add our voices to impact those who represent us and those within our own spheres of influence. Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, recently stated in an article, “The First Amendment is a promise that we are free to live holistically, according to the dictates of our conscience.”

Likewise, in a letter to Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Senator James Lankford, Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, affirmed the constitutional right of all Americans to exercise the freedom of religion, and clarified the difference between the two concepts. He wrote, “The freedom of religion is much more than just the freedom of worship. Worship confines you to a location. Freedom of religion is the right to exercise your religious beliefs – it is the ability for Americans to live out their faith or to choose to have no faith at all.”

No handing out Bibles at schoolAre you ready to take a stand against these injustices? As Americans and people of faith, we must never take religious liberty for granted by allowing our First Freedom—guaranteed by the First Amendment—to be redefined, restricted and relegated exclusively and solely to our hearts, homes or houses of worship. When the Pharisees tried to silence His disciples, Jesus said the very stones would then cry out (Luke 19:40). Can we accept anything less?

We want to encourage you to stay engaged in the national conversation and help champion God’s rightful place in American culture, as well as advocating for our most cherished freedoms. Whenever you have opportunity, remind your friends and family:

  1. Freedom of Religion should be the right of Americans to live out their faith unencumbered or choose to have no faith; and to be able to do so without the fear of government coercion or frivolous lawsuits.
  2. There is a growing effort to redefine Freedom of Religion and restrict its expression exclusively within one’s heart, home or house of worship. This is an alarming trend that is negatively impacting our culture.

Your faithful prayers and ongoing financial support provide the critical means to not only face these challenges, but to take an intentional and determined stance in pressing forward.

You are the difference makers. Only together can we do this!

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Stand With This Courageous Governor

Less than two weeks ago on June 30th, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in a controversial 7-2 decision that a monument of the Ten Commandments must be removed from the capitol grounds because according to the court decision, it violated the state constitution which prohibits the use of public property, “for the benefit, or support of any system of religion.” The case was originally filed by the American Civil Liberties Union who represented three plaintiffs. In a bold move to stand strong for her state’s heritage and religious liberties, Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, refused to remove the monument until an appeals process has run its course.

Not only did Governor Fallin instruct Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to file a Ten Commandments-We The Peoplepetition for a rehearing of the case, but legislators are also now considering a constitutional amendment that would make allowance for the monument, something state law permits as a ballot initiative and could take place prior to the November, 2016 elections. According to Fallin, the appeal puts an automatic stay on the court decision—advocating a belief that the final say so should rest with the people. She said, “Oklahoma is a state where we respect the rule of law and we will not ignore the state courts or their decisions. However, we are also a state with three co-equal branches of government.” This is a Governor who truly understands how our government works!

The statue in question was privately funded by Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze, from Broken Arrow, who had donated $10,000 for its installation in 2012. A spokesperson for the Governor commented, “The purpose of the monument has always been historical. It’s not a religious monument and not an endorsement of Judaism or Christianity.”

From the planting of a cross in the sands of Cape Henry when the first permanent English settlement was established in 1607—over 400 years—the Ten Commandments have always been an integral part of America’s heritage and rich history. They could be found posted in numerous locations, including courthouses, capitol grounds and public schools. Sadly, in 1980 (Stone v. Graham), the Supreme Court ruled that students could not be permitted—even voluntarily—to see a display of the Ten Commandments on school grounds. In his strong dissent, Chief Justice, William Rehnquist, affirmed, “It is equally undeniable…that the Ten Commandments have had a significant impact on the development of secular legal codes of the Western World.”

While this case may have set a precedent leading to the removal of the Ten Commandments in public locations across the nation, not every battle has been lost. The U.S. Supreme Court—the same Court where evidence of the Ten Commandments is displayed—ruled in 2005 (Van Orden v. Perry) that a monument with the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas state capitol in Austin was constitutional and could remain as it represented historical and not purely religious value.

Ten CommandmentsTime and again, anti-faith groups over interpret the “separation of church and state” arguments in their quest to restrict religious freedom in this country. The truth is that every one of the fifty State Constitutions acknowledges God in their preambles. Professors Donald Lutz  and Charles Hyneman, in their work, The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth-Century American Political Thought (1984), reviewed nearly 15,000 newspaper articles, pamphlets, books, monographs, etc., written from 1760-1805 by the 55 men who wrote the Constitution. Their research showed that the Bible was reflected in 34% of all quotations used by our Founding Fathers. Perhaps we should examine what some of our Founders and government leaders have actually said in the public record:

  • It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters.” – George Washington in his farewell speech to Congress on September 19, 1796
  • Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God…What a Utopia, what a Paradise would this region be.” – John Adams in a diary entry, February 22, 1756
  • The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” – John Quincy Adams (Chairman of the American Bible Society) on July 4, 1821
  • We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves
    according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments
    We’ve staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart.” – James Madison (primary author of  the U.S. Constitution)
  • The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.” – resolution passed in 1782
  •  I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law…There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations.” Joseph Story (U.S. Supreme Court Justice from 1811-1845)
  • The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.” – Harry S Truman on February 15, 1950, at an Attorney General’s Conference.
  • The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on  the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be  practically universal in our country.” – Calvin Coolidge in 1925
  • Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower on February 20, 1955 in a speech to the American Legion

There is a grievous misunderstanding about our rights that is creating a false sense of security in many Americans. Our Constitution, written to be interpreted according to the intent of those who drafted it, is now considered to be a “living and breathing” document—one that can change based merely on the opinions, belief systems, cultural dictates and/or worldview of those who wield government authority. This trend is leading America down a very dangerous path.

States like Oklahoma are following suit, so we are heartened by the courageous and principled stand Governor Fallin and Attorney General Pruitt have taken after this recent ruling. Please pray for them and consider showing your support on Facebook, by calling, sending an email or a written note. Our leaders need encouragement, especially when they stand for religious liberty, and to know we are behind them.

The battlegrounds are not just threats posed by foreign enemies in distant lands, but also TheFirstAmendmenthere within our own borders—for the fundamental freedoms and building blocks of our Constitution: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of the Press. There has been a steady and concerted effort to undermine our Constitution for decades. These efforts target the next generation by eroding America’s rich spiritual heritage, blurring the lines between the Branches of Government and using the judicial branch to set precedents that effectively overrule the will of the people.

I leave you with this sobering quote from Ronald Reagan:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Beyond all things, we must first be in prayer for this nation. Secondly, resolve to do at least one thing today that will make a difference—why not contact Governor Fallin in a show of support.

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Hope in the Midst of Alarming Attacks

Almost every week now, stories of government intrusion are hitting media outlets. Citizens are expected to violate their faith values and their moral consciences—a refusal to do so often resulting in state or federal prosecution with additional threats of substantial fines, arrest warrants and possible incarceration over the exercise of First Amendment freedoms. Frivolous civil lawsuits in the name of “hate speech,” “discrimination” and “violating the separation of church and state,” have been cropping up across the nation for years.

In January of 2013, Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of a Christian bakery called freedomSweet Cakes in Gresham, Oregon, respectfully declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of their religious beliefs. One of the two women, Laurel Bowman, who initially made the request, then filed an anti-discrimination lawsuit with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) against the bakery. Due to public backlash, the Kleins closed their business later that year. Sadly, they recently lost the case and were subsequently fined over $130,000 by the court. However, the nightmare did not end there. Last Thursday, the BOLI Commissioner, Brad Avakian, announced he is planning to further strip the Kleins of their First Amendment Rights by seeking to silence them. The order reads in part:

To cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published…any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations…will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation.”

This could just as easily be a story about you or me…my business, livelihood and well-being or yours.

The battle lines are being drawn with fervor and a determined effort. The agendas of numerous anti-faith groups are becoming more apparent and religious liberties are increasingly coming under attack. At some level, the stakes have never been higher and many Christians are rightly alarmed, but now is not the time to shrink back, look back, turn back or hold back! Now is the time to wake up to the seismic shifts taking place in our culture, to stand up with a voice that can be heard, to raise up a renewed call for our freedoms and to look up to the One who hears our prayers in heaven.

021915_CPCF_PrayUSA-LOGOonly_6x6_rgb72dpi-clear_oF1webLOIn the wake of such deeply concerning news like that of the Kleins, I remain hopeful and confident because I can also report that hundreds of government leaders in multiple locations and at multiple levels around the nation are working tirelessly on your behalf and attempting to reverse these trends. They are asking for unceasing prayer among people of faith and thousands of citizens are boldly answering by signing a Call to Prayer for America Proclamation.

This past weekend, several government leaders participated in a PrayUSA Sunday event in local churches. Congressman Tim Walberg (MI) read the Call to Prayer at Emanuel Baptist Church of Toledo and saw 243 new signatures added to the nearly 10,000 Americans who have already signed the Proclamation. Michigan Senator, Mike Shirkey, addressed Bethel Gilead Community Church during their Independence Day Service and another 175 individuals committed to turn to God in prayer.

Elsewhere in Michigan, Pastor Dave Pierce from First Baptist Church of Cold Water shared the pulpit with former Representative Ken Kurtz at a PrayUSA Sunday event. Together, they discussed the challenges facing people of faith, as well as the movement of national and state leaders that are calling Americans to unceasing prayer. Salem Baptist Church in Georgia added 500 names to the Proclamation. The great reports are continuing to come in. Has your church scheduled a PrayUSA Sunday yet?

Since our nation’s inception, National Days of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance have been called hundreds of times by our government leaders to encourage Americans to return to God and to ask Him to heal our land. It is an enduring and long-tested act of humility that has been embedded into the fabric of American history. Each time, God has graciously answered and met our needs.

This is an opportunity to stand unashamed for our beliefs, to promote prayer, to preserve our Judeo-Christian heritage and protect religious liberty.  We are asking you to join with hundreds of national and state government leaders who are calling the nation to prayer and the thousands who are responding.

This will require a renewed commitment, an organized movement, and the collective sacrifice of thousands who care about what’s happening to our country.

We’ve made it easy for you to schedule a PrayUSA Sunday at your church. Visit PrayUSA.com for a turnkey downloadable kit with everything you need to get started.  Don’t forget to send us your stories! Let’s resolve to encourage one another, turn the tide and make a difference.

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Will we live by the Bible or the bayonet?

Remember the day when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance invoked a sense of hope and inspiration; when a moment of silence to thank Almighty God was welcomed and encouraged; when God and Country were so intertwined that there was no question as to the Originator of liberty; a day when freedom was a privilege, and responsibility, to steward well for the next generation? We believe that together, we can make those memories a reality again.

Over the last few decades, the anti-faith elements have continued the fight against our Christian Groups Required to Allow Opposing ViewsJudeo-Christian heritage and have made tremendous progress on many fronts; even helping prepare the way for the recent victory at the Supreme Court. Their efforts are creating an even greater wedge between America and her Judeo-Christian founding, subsequently transferring the Authority from a good and unchanging God, to the unpredictable, strong arm of man.

American philanthropist, Robert Charles Winthrop, a Congressman from Massachusetts and one-time Speaker of the United States House of Representatives uttered poignant words in a speech to the Massachusetts Bible Society:

“All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet. It may do for other countries and other governments to talk about the State supporting religion. Here, under our own free institutions, it is Religion which must support the State.”

Winthrop’s words, highlighted above, cut right to the heart of the matter. By rejecting God as the Author of human rights and refusing to self-govern ourselves according to the Principles that founded this Republic, Americans become subject to the wavering opinions and oppressive force of rulers.  Seem implausible? Take a moment to watch the video about a florist that was sued by the Attorney General of the state of Washington. Government should never punish individuals for adhering to their deeply held convictions.

Will we stand together to protect freedom now? Will we return to the values-based and spiritual roots of our Founders? Or will we sink further into the post-modern quagmire of moral relevance, subject to the whims of a secular culture? The bayonet (brute governmental and/or military force) often rules those nations that choose to reject the precepts of a holy God. With a lack of internal control, external regulation becomes more prominent and freedoms begin to disappear one-by-one. You and I have the responsibility, and the honor, of stopping this trend in its tracks. Let’s resolve that the United States will correct her course into the 21st Century and beyond.

The PrayUSA Initiative—including a Proclamation for a Call to Prayer —is serving as a rally point for this very purpose. The Proclamation is being read in churches and signed as a public declaration. Today, nearly 700 government leaders, over 8,000 citizens and dozens of leading Christian organizations have answered the call.

Together let’s break the back of the lie and misapplication of Separation of Church and State! Government leaders and pastors are standing side by side calling the church to pray and take a strong stand for truth.

Your church can paAllinAmericarticipate—the process is easy. If you are willing to become engaged and help promote this Initiative, a three-minute video and downloadable resource kits are available at www.PrayUSA.com. Everything you need is right there, including: instructions, bulletins, flyers, posters, a PowerPoint presentation, sample emails, social media tips and much more! Ultimately…it will be the Bible or the bayonet. Let us choose wisely!

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Are you ready for what’s coming?

A fundamental, significant and disturbing shift in the cultural landscape of this country is taking place before our very eyes. The questions before us are, “Do we see what’s happening?” Do we understand the consequences—both spiritually and morally—if the nation continues down this destructive path? Are we finally ready to do something about it?”

In a landmark 5-4 decision earlier today (Obergefell v. Hodges), the Supreme Court of the Christian Groups Required to Allow Opposing ViewsUnited States redefined marriage for every American and held that the Due Process and Establishment Clauses of the 14th Amendment require a state to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples. Essentially, all 50 states have now been mandated in this way, regardless of religious beliefs and in doing so, the Court struck down duly passed laws and referendums across numerous states. While many are not entirely surprised by this troubling outcome, a God-ordained institution held in sacred honor since creation has been diminished and relegated to the whim of man. This is dangerous ground—fallen and sinful mankind is attempting to dictate its own standards to a Holy God.

Kelly Shackelford, President of Liberty Institute, also indicated this ruling will impact legislation that citizens in a number of states have already voted on. Additionally, it clearly undermines state sovereignty (contrary to the U.S. Constitution and the intent of our Founders) and further diminishes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, as well as individual religious liberties.

Although a disappointing and sobering setback for millions of Americans who believe in a Constitutional Republic, our First Amendment Rights and the rule of law, we cannot and we will not stop advocating for the principles and values that have sustained this great nation for nearly 240 years.

What does this mean for people of faith? We have a majority of Supreme Court Justices who no longer value the freedom of religion—especially in matters of moral conscience—or our Constitution. In the oral arguments for Obergefell v. Hodges and three other cases concerning whether states would remain free to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman, the Justices asked the Solicitor General whether or not creating a constitutional right to same-sex marriage will affect the tax-exempt status of religious groups. The Solicitor General answered in the affirmative and admitted that it could indeed become an issue.

No handing out Bibles at schoolPerhaps an even greater danger than losing tax-exempt status, the Department of Education will likely change its guidelines in the coming days, influencing countless young people. Thousands of faith-based entities could be negatively impacted, including adoption agencies, foster parents, homeless shelters, ministry organizations, counselors, Christian run businesses and many more. Pastors, judges and others may be given fines or jail time if they choose not to violate their consciences or moral standards and refuse to marry a same sex couple.

Consider broadcasters and Christian media outlets that could be refused an operational license by the Federal Communications Commission. Anyone who stands for biblical truth could face dire consequences.

It is an alarming day when five unelected judges, who should not have the power to change the precepts of God or shred the core principles of the Constitution, take it upon themselves to threaten our freedoms in such a manner. Never before in our nation’s history have we demanded that Americans violate their faith, nor have we prevented them from living or doing business according to their deeply held religious beliefs. We have always been a safe harbor and a lighthouse of freedom for those who experienced persecution elsewhere.

In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia blasted the Court’s overt, “threat to American democracy,” and said, “This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.”

Justice Clarence Thomas added, “The Court’s decision today is at odds not only with the Constitution, but with the principles upon which our Nation was built…The majority’s inversion of the original meaning of liberty will likely cause collateral damage to other aspects of our constitutional order that protect liberty.”

Even Chief Justice John Roberts warned listeners on the danger that comes with this kind of judicial activism, “This Court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us…The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment.” He further notes, “Marriage did not come about as a result of a political movement, discovery, disease, war, religious doctrine, or any other moving force of word history—and certainly not as a result of a prehistoric decision to exclude gays and lesbians. It arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: ensuring that children are conceived by a mother and father committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.”

This decision does not change the reality that religious freedom is our First Freedom. We cannot leave our faith at the door of the public square. We must redouble our efforts to promote prayer, preserve our Judeo-Christian heritage and fight for religious freedom. These are among the very reasons our Founding Fathers sacrificed their livelihoods to establish this Constitutional Republic.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes, Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus commented,
“…the government should not coerce individuals who believe marriage is an inherently religious act into participating in affirming a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs. I believe every individual deserves to be treated with dignity and respect…We are a free society rooted in these fundamental freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, and freedom to peaceably assemble and associate with likeminded individuals. These freedoms ring hollow if Americans are not free to live by their beliefs, and instead are told they must check their convictions at the doors of their homes or places of worship. A nation that allows differing opinions and beliefs to flourish is a nation that is truly tolerant and diverse.”

If the message of today’s Supreme Court decision says anything to us as people of faith, it is that we must recognize the need to awaken from our spiritual slumber and unite—millions of us—and not yield without engaging in the battle for our country’s future, for the freedoms we have been given in our Constitution, for the right to hold fast to our religious and moral beliefs, and for the powerful voice we have together in the public marketplace. It must begin with individual and collective acts of repentance and humble petition before our Creator.

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Supreme Court Opinion Weakens Religious Freedom

Earlier today, the Court issued a 5-4 opinion holding that the Due Process and Establishment Clauses of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution require all 50 states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

It is not the Supreme Court’s job to nullify public policy that has been democratically enacted in numerous states – just as the government should never coerce people to choose between their faith and their livelihood. Every American should be free adhere to their deeply held beliefs about marriage without fear of being punished by the government.

Below are some of the quotes that were extracted from the opinion. You can read the full opinion here.

I’ll follow up with more insights on where we go from here in the days ahead. This is a setback for religious freedom, however our beliefs and commitment to promoting prayer, preserving our Judeo-Christian heritage and protecting religious freedom remain undeterred.

Overview of Obergefell v. Hodges

  • Justice Kennedy authored the decision, which was 5-4
  • Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito each authored a dissent

Highlights from the Majority Opinion

The Supreme Court held that the Due Process and Establishment Clauses of the 14th Amendment require a state to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, stating, “Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.”

The Court provided 4 reasons for determining that same-sex couples have a right to be issued marriage licenses under the Due Process Clause:

  1. “The right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy… it would be contradictory to recognize a right of privacy with respect to other matters of family life and not with respect to the decision to enter the relationship that is the foundation of the family in our society.”
  2. “The right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals… it offers the hope of companionship.”
  3. “It safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation and education…marriage affords the permanency and stability important to children’s best interests… With¬out the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the signifi¬cant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”
  4. “Marriage is a keystone of our social order.”  Same-sex couples cannot be “denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage.”
    The opinion gave a cursory nod to religious freedom concerns:
    “Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions . . . .

Traditional marriage “has long been held—and continues to be held—in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.”
“[I]t must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate. The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.

Cautionary Quotes from the Dissenting Opinions on Religious Freedom

Chief Justice Roberts:
“Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice.  The majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations.  The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their religious views of marriage.  The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion.  Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

“Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”

“It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protect a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s “better informed understanding” as bigoted.”

Justice Thomas:
“The majority’s inversion of the original meaning of liberty will likely cause collateral damage to other aspects of our constitutional order that protect liberty.”

“Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect. . . . The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability.”

“[The majority] makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph.  And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition.  Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for “religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.”  Religious liberty is about the freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlates to the civil restraints places upon religious practice.”

Justice Alito:
“[The decision] will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.  In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women.  The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”

“I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

“By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas.  Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play.  But if that sentiment prevails, the National will experience bitter and lasting wounds.

Cautionary Quotes from the Dissenting Opinions on Judicial Overreach

Chief Justice Roberts:
“[T]his Court is not a legislature.  Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. . . . The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgement.”

“It can be tempting for judges to confuse our own preferences with the requirements of the law.  But as this Court has been reminded throughout our history, the Constitution “is made for people of fundamentally differing views.””

“Marriage did not come about as a result of a political movement, discover, disease, war, religious doctrine, or any other moving force of word history—and certainly not as a result of a prehistoric decision to exclude gays and lesbians.  It arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: ensuring that children are conceived by a mother and father committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.”

“As the majority notes, some aspect of marriage have changed over time. . . . [These changes] did not, however, work any transformation in the core structure of marriage as the union between a man and a woman.”

“The Court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum.  It comes at the expense of the people.  And they know it.”

Justice Scalia:
“[T]he public debate over same-sex marriage must be allowed to continue.  But the Court ends this debate, in an opinion lacking even in a thin veneer of law.”

“This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.”

“With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgement” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.”

Justice Thomas:
“The Court’s decision today is at odds not only with the Constitution, but with the principles upon which our Nation was built.”

“The founding-era idea of civil liberty as natural liberty constrained by human law necessarily involved only those freedoms that existed outside of government.”

Justice Alito:
“For millennia, marriage was inextricably linked to the one thing that only an opposite-sex couple can do: procreate. . . .  If this traditional understating of the purpose of marriage does not ring true to all our ears today, that is probably because the tie between marriage and procreation has frayed.  Today, for instance, more than 40% of all children in this country are born to unmarried women.  This development is undoubtedly both a cause and a result of changes in our society’s understanding of marriage.”

“Most Americans—understandably—will cheer or lament today’s decision because of their views on the issue of same-sex marriage.  But all Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends.”

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