And So It Begins…Where Does it End?

The war on religious liberty and in particular, the rights of conscience, intensified last Thursday.

The battleground is located in Ashland, Kentucky, where Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, freedomwas arrested and jailed for contempt. Federal Judge, David L. Bunning, wrote the order when Davis respectfully declined to obey an earlier court decision and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. While some may seek to make this case about the recent Supreme Court ruling on the definition of marriage, the larger question is much more concerning and profound. We are not talking about conservative or liberal ideology and we are not talking about the institution of marriage per se. What is at stake here is whether the federal government—or government at any level—can compel ordinary citizens to directly violate their deeply held religious beliefs and moral principles.

In her testimony, Ms. Davis tearfully indicated that she had not hesitated to stand by her faith-based views: “I didn’t have to think about it. There was no choice there.” Davis, who cited her religious beliefs and “God’s authority,” was escorted out of Judge Dunning’s courtroom and turned over to the custody of federal marshals. As demonstrators on both sides lined up outside and a small plane flew overhead with a “Stand Firm Kim” banner, Davis said, “I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word.” Bunning also told five deputy clerks who work for Davis that they had to decide whether they will comply with his order to issue marriage licenses or face the same penalty.

Mat Staver, President of Liberty Counsel and Davis’ attorney responded, “Kim Davis is being held as a criminal because she cannot violate her conscience. While she may be behind bars for now, she is a free woman. Her conscience remains unshackled.”

In a twist of political irony, sometimes government leaders operate outside the boundaries of the law, especially when it may serve their own purposes or if a piece of legislation conflicts with a particular philosophical bent on a given matter. For example, there are numerous instances where state officials—including county officers, mayors and even governors—directly violated laws that were on the books prohibiting the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses. This took place in 2004 with then San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsome; with California Governor, Jerry Brown; with Montgomery County, PA, Register of Wills, Bruce Hanes; with Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan; and with Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, to name a few. In 2013, Herring told National Public Radio, “As Attorney General, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights. The Commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs in this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied.”

Defend Americas Founding PrinciplesThe focus of attention (in this case, same sex marriage licenses) is not the primary point. The issue here is that these government leaders defended their decision as a right of conscience—claiming their actions to be a legitimate and entirely reasonable approach to legislation they disagreed with from a political/philosophical frame of reference. Yet, no officials were brought before a judge and ordered to obey the existing law or risk imprisonment. No fines were issued and there was no public outcry for honoring the rule of law above all else in these situations. Now that there is a public official (Kim Davis) who is likewise stating her right of conscience based on a different frame of reference (i.e., her religious beliefs), it is being handled via an entirely different standard…in fact, it’s a double standard and people of faith should be concerned over the implications.

Our Constitution does not discriminate based on position, power or status, but was designed by our Founders to protect and safeguard our sacred liberties with equal intent and determination. Ryan Anderson of The Daily Signal, the Heritage Foundation’s multimedia news organization, offers some good thoughts on an alternative solution, which comes out of North Carolina and officials who wrestled with some of these same concerns. See more… The common citizen is too often subjected to a different standard. It often takes a unified voice to be heard above the fray in pursuit of fairness and a more balanced remedy.

A number of leaders are thankfully weighing in on this case and supporting Ms. Davis’ position and religious liberties. There should be a reasonable balance between one’s Christian convictions and the government’s responsibility to abide by the laws. Criminalizing Christianity is not the America envisioned by our Founding Fathers. Sadly, the balance of power in our country is being undermined within the legislative branch and increasingly supplanted by both executive fiat and judicial tyranny. The government was never designed to replace God and therefore, does not have the authority or right to redefine the laws of nature or of nature’s God.

Some may argue that Davis was not forced to change or deny her beliefs. However, you cannot simply separate and disconnect people’s beliefs from how they liCourageve out their lives. Where should the line be drawn? Where do the seismic shifts in a culture that no longer respects life or God come to an end? Would it be acceptable, for example, to pass a law allowing sexual contact between an adult and a minor and then throw parents into jail for refusing to comply when they attempt to protect their children from predators? Lest you believe this is nothing more than sensationalism, you need to read about and understand the agenda of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).

We are fighting for our freedoms—silence and inactivity will leave us vulnerable and open to further attack. Christian…it is time for us to wake up and be engaged!

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What comes next?

Universities facing lawsuits unless they remove their chaplains. Christian bakers, florists freedomand photographers being fined and vilified in the press for their conservative views and practices. Soldiers court-martialed for promoting Biblical values. Restaurants owners confronted with denial of their lease because of their belief in traditional values.The religious symbols and traditions that have made our country a shining light in a dark world now disregarded and even disdained. First Amendment freedoms being challenged and eroded by militant anti-faith groups. What comes next?

Last year, the Family Research Council posted an expose titled, “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States.” It documents hundreds of additional examples of religious discrimination, including the suppression of religious expression in the public square, as well as in schools and universities, the censure of religious viewpoints regarding sexuality, and the suppression of religious expression on sexuality using nondiscrimination laws.

This raises questions for those of us who must chart a course through an increasingly hostile society.

  • Where are the anchor points in a nation that seems to be adrift and no longer concerned or committed to our Judeo-Christian heritage?
  • Should any citizen of the Unites States be forced by the government to violate his or her deeply held religious beliefs?
  • How should we respond?

These once hypothetical discussions have now turned into harsh realities for people of faith, and they are serious matters of one’s conscience. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, said, “To act against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

Lest you think the concept is only important to religious leaders, these are the words of Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and touted by progressives for his alleged views on the separation of church and state:

“No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority” (to New London Methodist, 1809).

“It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behooves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God and himself” (to Benjamin Rush, 1803).

“We are bound, you, I, and every one to make common cause, even with error itself, to maintain the common right of freedom of conscience” (to Edward Dowse, 1803).

11MY04JKThe government’s role is to protect the Constitutional rights of individuals, not infringe upon them. Should a Jewish baker be forced to make a cake with a Nazi swastika? Or an atheist to do so with an image of the crucifixion? A gay person to inscribe, “God hates homosexuality?” Or a vegan restaurant owner forced to serve meals with meat? No! No! No! A thousand times, “No!” These may seem like insignificant concerns to some; however, the road is being methodically paved at an alarming rate. Thankfully, Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the American Prayer Caucus Network are working tirelessly through their legislative leadership to ensure that citizens will not be trampled by those who seek to strip us of religious freedom.

Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of a vibrant parish community in Washington, D.C. and Johnette Benkovic, Founder and President of Women of Grace, point out in a sobering article, that religious persecution takes place in five stages. What about Christianity in America? First, as the authors suggest, there are attempts to stereotype the targeted group – check! Second, there is a justification for hatred of the particular group – check! Third, the targeted group is marginalized in society – check! Fourth, the targeted group is criminalized, including their places of worship, businesses and educational institutions – check! Finally, there is outright persecution and even death – may it never come to this, but are we ready to be fully engaged?

The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation continues to serve on the frontlines in the fight for our freedoms. Please keep us in your prayers, as well as our courageous government leaders who are standing in the gap. Your ongoing financial support also helps us have that voice in the public square. On behalf of the entire CPCF staff – thank you!

The days ahead are likely to require a shift from rhetoric to principled action. Are you prepared when it comes to your faith and conscience? May God grant us all the heart and determination of Joshua when he said, “…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

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PrayUSA – A Special Invitation from Roma Downey

We are very excited about an opportunity to advance the PrayUSA Initiative through a wonderful new partnership with Emmy-nominated actress and executive producer, Roma Downey. Downey is best known for her nine seasons on the hit CBS television show, Touched by an Angel, and more recently, for a number of faith-based projects. Along with her husband, Mark Burnett and through their organization, Lightworkers Media, Downey has produced two well received series, The Bible and A.D.: The Bible Continues, as well as the movie, Son of God. Her career has spanned nearly 27 years and she works seamlessly on both sides of the camera. Downey’s newest project, Answered Prayers, is a TLC series that highlights inspiring and real stories of individuals who have experienced the power of answered prayer.

Please take a moment to watch this short video message from Roma inviting you to join her, along with nearly a thousand government leaders and over a hundred thousand fellow citizens in the PrayUSA movement that is spreading all across America.

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The PrayUSA: Government Leaders Calling the Nation to Prayer Initiative is becoming an amazing success story, as nearly 1,000 government leaders and 115,000 citizens have already answered the call to prayer for America. If you haven’t done so already, why not add your support by signing the Prayer for America Proclamation. We are believing for a million voices who are willing to stand up for our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and to earnestly seek God’s hand of mercy and grace.

Encourage your own church to schedule a PrayUSA Sunday – to invite a local or state leader to read the Proclamation and then have the congregation sign it and commit to praying in humble petition for God to heal our nation (2 Chron. 7:14). Everything you need is right here.

Government leaders and pastors—shoulder-to-shoulder and in complete unity—makes a bold statement to directly challenge the misapplication and distortions regarding the “separation of church and state” argument—a false narrative that has hindered Christians from exercising their constitutionally protected religious freedoms within the marketplace of ideas.

While we celebrate and need advocates and supporters like Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, and from Congressmen and Congresswomen, from Senators, Governors, Mayors and other government and ministry leaders…your voice also matters and is just as critical—“For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). Every person who calls Jesus Christ, Lord…every signed Proclamation, every gift and especially, every prayer offered to God on behalf of our country, is critical if we are to win back America and stop this rapid descent into a growing amoral abyss.

If we unite…if we do this together, we may yet see a turning of the tide. With all my heart, I’m confident that God hears your prayers for your life, your family and loved ones and for our nation. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

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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 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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