Advancing the Cause of Freedom Globally

God Bless TexasAmerica has a history of not only protecting freedom in our homeland, but advancing the cause globally. The Congressional Prayer Caucus is dedicated to standing with our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith.

Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder and Co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, recently made the statement, “The freedom to peacefully live out our faith is not just part of our heritage as Americans, but a linchpin of our humanity.”

Join with us in prayer for those who do not have the luxury of freely practicing their faith. manpraying(1)The battle for freedom is at our doorstep, yet we can never forget those who are suffering abroad.

Below are just a few of the efforts put forth by the nearly 100 Members in the Congressional Prayer Caucus to advance the cause of freedom. It is the essence of our First Amendment, it should remain a top priority for each and every one of us.
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Congressional Prayer Caucus Works To Protect Religious Liberty Globally

Capitol-OmnibusCongressman Randy Forbes recently wrote, “In the face of the atrocities being committed against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, it is perhaps more crucial than ever that we refuse to sit idly by in silence. We must stand. We must act. That’s why I cosponsored a bipartisan bill to improve U.S. efforts to protect religious freedom by better training and equipping diplomats to counter extremism, address persecution, mitigate conflict, and assist the Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom to coordinate efforts globally.” Read more

Also, Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus cosponsored H.Res. 139 to condemn violence against minorities in the Middle East, and any actions limiting the free expression and practice of faith.

VIDEO: Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Holds Hearing on Religious Liberty

Sen. Lankford held a hearing that pointed out that America’s inconsistency here in the U.S. harms our ability to promote religious freedom internationally.

As Senator Lankford observed: “When Navy chaplains are told what they can and cannot do, when individual state schools shut down the practice to be able to practice their own religion on campus, these become serious challenges to our example to the World of living out freedom of religion. When that gets diminished here, it becomes a serious issue to try to shine that beacon in other places.”

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PrayUSA – Government Leaders Calling The Nation To Prayer

We are excited about the growing list of over 550 government leaders and thousands of citizens who have already answered the call to sign the Prayer for America Proclamation and also commit to praying for our country. Many are deeply reassured and inspired to learn that their national and state leaders are fervently turning to God and urging people of faith all across the United States to join them in this public declaration.

Below is an inspiring three-minute video for your review and use. You are welcome to sign the Proclamation online at www.PrayUSA.com (If you have a problem with the link, just paste www.PrayUSA.com into your browser and hit “Enter”). By signing, you are adding your name and your voice alongside hundreds of other national, state and local government leaders and thousands of like-minded citizens who have already responded.

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After the recent and historic Religious Liberty Summit, our government leaders are spearheading a much needed effort in calling us to prayer just as our Founders, Presidents and statesmen have repeatedly done for over two centuries. America’s history records time and again how our nation recovered from calamity when leaders turned to a sovereign God and implored citizens to humble themselves and pray.

In the weeks and months ahead, pastors everywhere are hosting Call to Prayer ceremonies and bringing committed government officials into their churches to read the Proclamation and invite those attending to sign and pray. Many are sharing this video and website with family members, friends and colleagues, encouraging them to participate in either a live event or online. Everything needed to promote PrayUSA or host a signing ceremony can be found here.

Thank you if you are already promoting the PrayUSA initiative through email and other social media networks. We need everyone on board. God has given us a window of time for this clarion call to be heard—an opportunity to show America that we still boldly acknowledge, earnestly seek and sincerely desire His ongoing grace and favor in the affairs of our nation. Should you have any questions, please feel free to call 757-546-2190 x 700 or email us directly. Thank you for your ongoing support.

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56 Members of Congress Sign an Open Letter on Prayer

It is an honor to work alongside national leaders that take time out of their busy schedules to craft a letter on a topic that is near and dear to hearts of the majority of Americans. Below is an open letter on prayer signed by 56 Members of Congress. You are sure to be encouraged and inspired by their sentiments as we celebrate the 64th anniversary of the National Day of Prayer.

In conjunction with the CPCFoundation, several of these national leaders are also spearheading the PrayUSA: Government Leaders Calling the Nation to Prayer Initiative. Over 550 government leaders and thousands of citizens have already answered the call and signed the Prayer for America Proclamation. Find out more, watch a 3-minute video and sign the Proclamation online at www.PrayUSA.com.

I encourage you to pray for these courageous leaders, and our great nation.

In God We Trust,

Lea Carawan
Executive Director

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Today is the 64th National Day of Prayer. The following is a letter signed by 56 members of the House of Representatives. Dear America, Each year for the past 64 years, the president has called the American people to a day united in prayer. We call it the National Day of Prayer, and this week, we will celebrate it once again. As a nation, we have faced many daunting challenges throughout our history, and have overcome them. We are optimistic about America’s future because throughout her history, the prayers of our people have united and sustained us across impossible odds.
 
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.” Since then, there have been over 130 presidential calls to prayer, and in 1952 President Harry Truman signed a law making the National Day of Prayer an annual event. 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.
 
As our nation was on the verge of splitting in half in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of prayer, that “the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.” Despite our disagreements, we can be one voice, united in prayer as we strive to overcome the challenges that lie before us.
 
On the eve of D-Day in 1944 as General Eisenhower and his troops carried out the perilous invasion of Normandy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the nation in prayer. He prayed, “As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.”
 
Corporate prayer unifies 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.
 
Opening legislative sessions with prayer is a tradition with a rich history in America dating back to a prayer given before the First Continental Congress on September 7, 1774. In keeping with a long-embraced and protected tradition, both chambers of the United States Congress — the House and Senate — begin their legislative sessions each day with a prayer. This prayer is offered either by the House or Senate Chaplain, or by a guest chaplain that has been nominated by a Member of Congress.
 
This rich tradition was recently reinforced by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, and we encourage you to read for yourself the strong words of support that the Court had for this tradition.
 
For years, the town of Greece, N.Y., had opened its meetings in prayer. But in 2008, two local residents filed suit challenging the town’s practice as unconstitutional. Even though people of all faiths or no faith were welcome to volunteer to give a prayer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the policy was unconstitutional because the prayers being offered were predominantly Christian. In response, 85 members of the House of Representatives, 34 senators, and the Department of Justice filed friend-of-the-court briefs defending the town and our nation’s long tradition of legislative prayer.
 
In its decision, the Supreme Court reversed the Second Circuit’s opinion and concluded that what mattered was the inclusivity of the volunteer policy, and not the resulting theological variety of the prayers. Looking to the example of legislative prayer in Congress, the Court noted that Congress acknowledges our religious diversity by welcoming ministers of many creeds, not by regulating the content of the prayer. Once the government has invited public prayer, it must leave the prayer giver free to pray by his or her conscience.
This landmark decision from the Court affirmed two crucial truths. First, the Establishment Clause does not require the scrubbing of sectarian references or religious traditions from public view. The Court noted that “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.”
Second, after decades of confusing and unworkable legal tests, the Court clearly acknowledged that the crucial question pertaining to the separation of church and state is whether or not an individual has been compelled by the government to hold a particular religious belief. The Court further wrote that “offense . . . does not equate to coercion. . . . An Establishment Clause violation is not made out any time a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary religious views in a legislative forum.”
 
We have faced challenges in the past. We are facing challenges now, and we will face them in the future. Yet we believe there is hope for America — that we have a bright future — if we remember the greatness of our foundation. If we remember to pray. America has been made great through the prayers of her people, and she can remain so.
 
We hope that you will take the time to read the Court’s decision in full, and that you are encouraged by the Court’s strong affirmation of the rich tradition of legislative prayer. As members of the United States Congress, we will continue to uphold this tradition on the floor of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
 
Sincerely,
 
Your Representatives in Congress
 
Signers: Speaker John A. Boehner, Representative J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Senator James Lankford (OK), Representative Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Representative Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Representative Tim Walberg (MI-07), Representative Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02), Representative Rick Allen (GA-12), Representative David Rouzer (NC-07), Representative Mike Pompeo (KS-04), Representative Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), Representative Jeff Miller (FL-01), Representative Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Representative Rob Wittman (VA-01), Representative Robert Pittenger (NC-09), Representative John Fleming (LA-04), Representative Kristi Noem (SD-AL), Representative Kevin Cramer (ND-AL), Representative Rick Crawford (AR-01), Representative Stephen Fincher (TN-08), Representative Glenn Thompson (PA-05), Representative Steve King (IA-04), Representative Robert Latta (OH-05), Representative Ralph Abraham (LA-05), Representative Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Representative Tim Huelskamp (KS-01), Representative Walter Jones (NC-03), Representative Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01), Representative Daniel Webster (FL-01), Representative Richard Nugent (IL-11), Representative David Reichert (WA-08), Representative Bill Posey (FL-08), Representative Scott Rigell (VA-02), Representative Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Representative Peter Roskam (IL-06), Representative Steve Stivers (OH-15), Representative Joe Pitts (PA-16), Representative Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03), Representative Mark Walker (NC-06), Representative Gregg Harper (MS-03), Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03), Representative Dennis Ross (FL-15), Representative Renee Ellmers (NC-02), Representative Steve Pearce (NM-02), Representative Jody Hice (GA-10), Representative Blake Farenthold (TX-27), Representative John Carter (TX-31), Representative John Moolenaar (MI-04), Representative John Ratcliffe (TX-04), Representative Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Representative Diane Black (TN-06), Representative French Hill (AR-02), Representative Brian Babin (TX-36), Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-04), Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) — Representative J. Randy Forbes (R., Va.) chairs the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
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Monumental Case Begins Today

This morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments that will determine whether or Christian Groups Required to Allow Opposing Viewsnot individual states will retain the freedom to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, impacting legislation that a majority of citizens in a number of states have already voted on. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires all 50 states to hold marriage in the same manner. However, an unfavorable ruling by the Supreme Court not only undermines state sovereignty, but will further diminish America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and individual religious liberties, as well as the core understanding of marriage as one of our most time-honored and God-ordained institutions.

One example of the potential consequences for such a case occurred just last week, when an administrative law judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that Aaron and Melissa Klein, who operate a local bakery called Sweet Cakes, must pay $135,000 in emotional damages for violating the state’s anti-discrimination laws. As owners of the business, they respectfully requested the same-sex couple consider another establishment for their wedding cake. After a series of unsuccessful challenges in court and despite at least one current online fundraiser trying to support the Kleins, the outcome is very troubling for people of faith and those who desire to follow the dictates of their moral conscience.

This is just the latest in a series of similar cases across the nation. Should the High Court’s decision be contrary to the general and democratically determined will of the people, these types of rulings will surely increase and may eventually find a level of impact in your own organization, business, ministry, church or even your home. What if the courts then decided to forbid citizens in discussing their beliefs on sensitive or biblical issues such as homosexuality and abortion in public settings—declaring what should be considered as free speech, to be relabeled as discriminatory or hate speech? Think it can’t happen? It already has in other countries like England. Is the United States far behind?

Many national and state leaders are making every effort to protect our fundamental rights as Americans, including the passing of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) in several states.  However, we need government officials and judges to stand strong together to protect our religious freedoms.

Members of the House and Senate signed an amicus brief urging the Court to uphold the marriage laws before the Court today. Congressman J. Randy Forbes, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus commented,

ReligiousFreedom“…regardless of what the Court decides, 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.  But there is a fundamental difference between a blanket refusal to provide services to someone because of who they are (which is wrong) and respectfully declining to proactively participate in the celebration of something that contradicts your religious beliefs (which is a constitutional right).  In fact, the worlds three largest religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—all view marriage as a sacred and fundamentally religious act; so for many individuals, their inability to actively participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony is not a choice.??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.”

Please remember to pray for the Supreme Court Justices over the next several weeks as they continue to deliberate this case. Pray for favor. Pray for righteousness to prevail. Pray for their hearts and minds to be open to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Pray that in all things, God will be honored.

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An Urgent Call to Our Knees

The storm is upon us and we must be engaged and ready for action.

On April 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a federal lawsuit where the plaintiffs are suing for Ohio to validate same-sex marriages that are permitted/solemnized in other jurisdictions. This particular case concerns a same-sex couple who was married in the state of Maryland and is alleging their 14th Amendment rights of due process and equal protection are being violated for failure to recognize the union. It is being consolidated with three other cases: Tanco v. Haslam (Tennessee), DeBoer v. Snyder (Michigan), and Bourke v. Beshear (Kentucky).

At issue here is whether or not individual states, as voted on by the people, will retain the 10730815_812982765411907_5581411575886254968_nfreedom to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires all 50 states to hold marriage in the same manner. However, an unfavorable ruling by the Supreme Court not only undermines state sovereignty, but will further diminish America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, individual religious liberties and one of our most time-honored and God-ordained institutions. In a Constitutional Republic, the people should have the authority in such manners.

In examining the cornerstone documents that have guided us for over 230 years, the Founding Fathers sought to establish a form of government that would secure the fundamental principles promoting and respecting human dignity and liberty. The Declaration of Independence describes the nexus between a sovereign God and human rights. The purpose of the Constitution was to establish a federal government with certain enumerated, but limited authority, thus giving the power to “We the people.” The Bill of Rights ensures and protects the freedoms of all citizens, reserving some powers to the states and the general public, including the freedom of religious expression and free speech.

Today, these hallowed principles are being undermined and trampled upon by increasingly emboldened anti-faith activists, growing government overreach and what amounts to judicial tyranny. Numerous leaders are making every effort to protect our fundamental rights; however, it’s you, our citizens who must exercise your authority to stand against injustice, to raise your voices in the halls of power and not be silent as our freedoms are being eroded. Right now, we must come humbly before God and pray for His mercy and intervention.

Listen to the words of Thomas Jefferson, which are inscribed in stone in the Jefferson Memorial in our nation’s capital:

“Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens…are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion…No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively.”

Some seek to detract from this alarming attempt to radically change our form of government by convincing a generation that the definition of marriage is another civil rights movement. Sexual preference is being elevated to the same standard as race and gender and there are those who are demanding the same protections. Currently, individual states give the people the authority to determine what policies and legislative initiatives are best for their respective state. Now, in a matter of days, nine Supreme Court Justices will essentially begin deciding whether or not to override the will of the people across the country and effectively rescind their Constitutional right to establish their own duly passed laws on this issue.

moses_supreme_courtBy in large, the United States remains an overtly spiritual nation. The tenets of the three major religions in the United States (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam)—which represent 84% of the general population—address the subject of sexual orientation and behavior and all teach that natural marriage is a sacred and holy union between and man and a woman.This reality underscores the overwhelming relevance of faith values and beliefs in our culture. A judicial ruling on the wrong side of the issue not only infringes on religious liberties for the vast majority of Americans, it also coerces citizens to deny their convictions and compels them to affirm the government’s definition of marriage.

If the trend to fundamentally change our nation continues, faith values will be increasingly marginalized and Christians will continue to be wrongly labeled as discriminatory simply for holding to traditional views on marriage. We cannot and we must not passively sit on the sidelines and allow our right of conscience to be dictated by the state. This only denigrates the dignity of each person and the stability of our self-governing Republic. Chaplains and pastors are already required to officiate same sex marriage ceremonies and businesses are forced to provide services that compromise their beliefs or conflict with moral convictions. To do otherwise brings the risk of job removal, heavy fines, lawsuits, public outcry from a liberal media and even jail time. Our nation is surely at a crossroads. A role of government is to protect the First Amendment freedoms of the American people, not coerce or impose fines upon those that live out their faith in the public square.

The challenges facing America are real and they are significant. The time has come to shake off our lethargy and discouragement, to awaken the slumbering giant that is the church, and to refocus and remind ourselves that history – and the God we serve – is with us. America has put her trust in God since our inception and He is not hindered by anything or anyone. He is simply looking to His people to humble themselves, repent and seek Him on their knees.

There are hundreds of churches and prayer networks in communities all over the country that are gathering for a time of prayer and fasting. Organizations are circulating petitions and holding briefings. Concerned citizens are blogging and using social media outlets as a means to galvanize grassroots efforts. We cannot urge you strongly enough to pray fervently for the Supreme Court Justices and their ruling on this case. Never has so much been at stake.

To leave you with a quote from Congressman J. Randy Forbes, Founder and Co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus: “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.”

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It’s Time to Say, “Enough!”

The First Amendment to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting 2013-10-21 07.02.57an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  The phrase, “separation of church and state” never appears anywhere in the document. Yet, controversy and angst continue to swirl anytime a person of faith—especially someone from the Judeo-Christian heritage—prays within a public forum, uses the name of Jesus Christ or in many cases, even makes mention of God. The naysayers in the anti-faith movement vehemently take a cease and desist orientation, denouncing any such behavior with a trumped up fear that somehow engaging in the freedom of expression deliberately establishes a preferential religion.

Nothing could be further from the truth and it’s now time for American citizens across this country to stand up and say, “Enough!” “Enough with the false narrative!” “Enough with the distorted commentary and a misapplication of the historical record!” “Enough with your efforts to quash our constitutional rights and religious liberties!” “Enough with your liberal tolerance of almost every other group, but a discriminatory stance against all things Christian!” “Enough!”

It is astounding that a simple phrase, one that is not recorded in any of our Founding Documents, has been misconstrued and misused to convince an entire generation that God, Biblical values and prayer in the marketplace should be wholly separate from anything related to government, leadership, business or general public life. To form an effective rebuttal and counterargument, we must be informed and equipped with a more balanced perspective.

The origin of the controversy comes from a letter penned by then President, Thomas Jefferson, on January 1, 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association. Though the letter 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. In reality, Jefferson frequently attended church services in the U.S. Capitol, as did James Madison. In fact, executive branch buildings were often utilized in this manner and the Gospel was even preached in the chambers of the Supreme Court. With further irony in this regard, Jefferson closed his letter to the Danbury Baptists with a brief prayer. Any objective person would conclude that these acts and thousands just like them, do not sound like a government that was confused or in turmoil over the meaning of Jefferson’s comments.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, adds that, “The ‘wall of separation’ exists to affirm natural rights, including those of faith and religious worship…it was not referenced to imprison the free exercise of religion. Rather, Jefferson sought to prevent the domination of particular denominations after experiencing persecution under the Church of England.”

The initial distortion of Jefferson’s phrase came as result of a Supreme Court ruling in 1947 (Everson v. Board of Education), whereby Justice Hugo Black used it to support his arguments. In Zorach v. Clauson (1952), the Court later held, “The First Amendment, however, does not say that in every and all respects, there shall be a separation of Church and State…We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion.”

Sep of church and stateThe true meaning and spirit of having a separation of church and state does not automatically imply the separation of God and government. Rather, it explicitly denotes an overt interference by government is unacceptable when it comes to dictating a person’s conscience in matters of faith. Jesus told His disciples that, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Likewise, now armed with the truth, I cannot urge you strong enough to stand up wherever, whenever, however and with whomever you can, to set the record straight and respectfully challenge any and all distortions as you come across them.

If you want to understand what religious intolerance and a religious state really represents, you need look no further than a lonely stretch of beach on the shores of North Africa in Libya, where 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians were brutally beheaded by the Islamic terrorist group, ISIS, earlier this year.

When city council or school board members offer personal prayers or mention their Christian values, this is not a declaration that all those within earshot must now believe in a similar manner. When legislative sessions and ceremonies are opened with prayer or newly elected government leaders place their hands on a Bible to swear an oath of office, this is not the “establishment” of a particular religion. When military chaplains function in their duly assigned roles as spiritual leaders and draw from their own well of Christ-like compassion, this is not to the exclusion of all other religions. When high school valedictorians acknowledge their moral convictions or say, “God Bless you,” this is not turning their schools into faith-based institutions. What this is, is free speech!

Together, we can be a united voice and stand boldly and confidently in opposition to this nonsense. We say, “Enough!” How about you?

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Louisiana Community Takes a Bold Stand

Just last week, we posted a message titled, “It’s Time to Say, “Enough!” Now, we have yet another troubling example of the anti-faith voices in this Country attempting to force their value system into a local community where there was no public outcry seeking it in the first place. This particular instance involves the Louisiana ACLU office sounding off on what amounts to an often used false alarm—the broken record of tired and inaccurately applied arguments about the supposed “wall of separation” between church and state.

Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School principal, Albert Hardison, recently came under Courage is contagious_flagdirect fire because he shared a Scripture and asked parents—in a letter and on the school’s website—to pray for God to give students strength, mental fortitude, patience and wisdom as they prepared for state mandated testing. Walnut Hill is part of the Caddo Parish School District in Keithville, Louisiana, and Hardison is a longtime and deeply respected educator and administrator. The community is taking a bold stand by organizing rallies to support Hardison.

The ACLU is up in arms after saying Hardison made religious references and accused him of, “engaging in a pattern of religious proselytization.” Executive Director of the Louisiana ACLU, Marjorie Esman, said, “No school employee may tell a student what religion to practice or even to practice religion at all.” Any reasonable discussion of this case would conclude that no one’s constitutional rights were violated. Furthermore, the school, through Hardison’s actions, did not in fact, “establish” a specific religion for Walnut Hill, nor were students compelled to adhere to only one faith practice. Neither was there a “requirement” regarding religious practice in any sense of the word.

The ACLU argument is hollow and parents are rallying in strong numbers to show their avid support for Hardison and religious liberty. We must not allow the ongoing misapplication of the historical narrative when it comes to matters such as this. A principal suggesting students and their families may find prayer helpful during a time of challenge is not turning a school into faith-based institution—no more so than the President of the United States, quoting a Scripture and calling for prayer at a time of national disaster, is suggesting the nation adhere to one and only one faith. What this is called, is the exercise of free speech! Denying that opportunity is the true violation of our guaranteed constitutional rights.

Be encouraged in both prayer and take action. We need to strengthen one another a let our ReligiousFreedomcollective voices be heard within the marketplace. If the only messages filling the vacuum in the national conversation are those that seek to restrict our religious liberties, intimidate the opposition into silence through public scorn and distort our heritage with a deceptive rhetoric, then we must be prepared to accept the consequences. Certainly, these actions all require time, effort and initiative, but unless we are ready to stand united with fellow citizens who also care about religious freedom, we may find the next attack crossing the threshold of our own community, school, church, business organization or neighborhood.

Will we rally to the cause? Will we lift this before God’s throne? Will we support Principal Hardison, contact the Caddo Parish School District or local newspapers? Will we spread the word through our own social media outlets? I write today because I already know the answers to these questions—they are a resounding, “YES!”

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