“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance. It must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation. . .”
Ronald Reagan, Gubernatorial Inaugural Address, 1967
Religious Freedom Wins of 2020
As today is National Religious Freedom Day, we thought it would be a good idea to look back at some recent wins for religious freedom in the United States. National Religious Freedom Day is an annual observance that serves as a reminder of how important religious freedom is.
Last year, and even the beginning of 2021, have highlighted, without a doubt, how fragile our freedoms are. If you have been actively engaged, you know first-hand how Ronald Reagan’s words could not be truer. Every year, people across our nation must fight the progressive agenda to protect our religious freedoms.
2020 was no different – but it yielded many hard-fought victories from our Supreme Court.
Here are some of the highlights.
In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Supreme Court protected the right of private faith-based schools to receive public benefits. Espinoza struck down anti-religious Blaine Amendments that forbid tax-credits from going to private religious schools. The Court wrote religious organizations cannot be treated as second class citizens by being denied rights that apply equally to other groups. If a public benefit is widely shared, religious institutions cannot be prohibited from benefiting just because of their faith. As we continue to fight for school choice, Espinoza will ensure states cannot enact rules that discriminate against religious schools.
In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morissey-Berru, the Court protected the right of private faith-based schools to make decisions regarding teacher employment, without government interference. Our Lady held the “ministerial exception,” (a legal principle that bars employees from suing religious employers regarding most employment decisions) also applied to teaching positions in private faith-based schools. The government must stay out of employment disputes of important positions in churches and religious institutions to preserve their religious freedoms. Justice Alito wrote that the First Amendment protects the right of religious institutions “to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.”
Little Sisters of the Poor Sts. Peter & Paul Home v. Pennsylvania upheld the right of religious employers (like the nuns of Little Sisters) to object to the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act. This ruling ensures faith-based business owners aren’t forced to provide contraceptive coverage if it violates their religious beliefs. This victory was a direct result of the Department of Health, under the Trump Administration, explicitly passing rules to make sure religious employers maintained their religious freedom under the burdensome Affordable Care Act mandates.
Finally, Tanzin v. Tanvir made it clear religious discrimination by government officials would not be tolerated. If an individual can prove a government official discriminated (such as a federal agent placing a Muslim on the No-Fly list because they refuse to be an informant against their religious community) that individual can seek monetary damages from the government official that they might have to pay out of their personal bank account. This decision was only possible because of our legislatures passing religious freedom restoration acts (RFRA), which was the law the Supreme Court used to protect injured parties in this case. This Supreme Court decision should be a powerful deterrent for religious discrimination and make sure government officials think twice before they target an American because of their faith.
The battle to preserve our religious freedom for the next generation is being fought on a daily basis by organizations like Family Policy Alliance® who believe our constitutional freedoms are the bedrock of free society.
Though we have experienced great wins, we know a Biden Administration will work hard to roll-back some of these hard-fought freedoms. In addition to following our emails, please take a moment to check out Under God, One Nation. our new prayer initiative, where you can sign up to seek the Lord’s intervention on behalf of our nation, along with hundreds of others.
We can keep our freedoms from going extinct and preserving them for the next generation by first starting on our knees and imploring the One who granted our freedoms from the beginning.
Sign up today! Thank you for joining the fight!
SUPPORT LIFE WITH “CHOOSE LIFE” LICENSE PLATES. Want to support the work of the pregnancy resource centers in our state? A new specialty license plate, called the “Choose Life” plate, became available this month at Idaho DMVs.
Proceeds from the sale of the license plate will be distributed to pro-life pregnancy clinics providing compassionate care and practical assistance to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Your display of these license plates on your vehicle would spread a loving, positive pro-life message of hope and help provide pregnant women with medical, financial, and spiritual support. You can purchase your “Choose Life” specialty license plate at your local DMV or online at www.itd.idaho.gov.
PRAY WITH US. This week marked the start of the 2021 Idaho Legislative Session. Just as in the past, Family Policy Alliance of Idaho will be at the Capitol this year, making your voice heard by advocating for the values we hold dear.
Will you join us in prayer?
Heavenly Father, we pray for our country and our state, following your direction to pray for our civil leaders and all those in authority (1 Tim. 2:2).
We pray that our legislators will faithfully discharge their oaths of office, upholding our constitution and protecting the liberty you have given us. Help them to defend the sanctity of life and preserve our freedom to live, work, and raise our children according to your Word.
Extend your saving arm to those legislators who don’t yet know you. Send revival to our state and to our nation, good and gracious God. May saving knowledge of you spread throughout this land, bringing glory to your awesome name (Habakkuk 2:14).
In the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior, amen.
GREAT NEWS FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY! A prosecuting attorney has dropped charges against Gabriel Rench, a deacon at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, who was arrested and jailed last September.
Rench had attended a church “psalm sing” event when he failed to comply with social distancing and mask mandates that are part of the city public health emergency order. Family Policy Alliance of Idaho covered the incident at the time, as did national commentators like Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck.
The case against Rench was dropped this week because the emergency order included an exemption for constitutionally protected activities, including free speech, free assembly, and religious activity.
Rench and Christ Church deserve our thanks for standing up to the unconstitutional emergency order in his city and winning. The outcome of this case provides some good news for Idahoans concerned about defending our constitutional rights!
The 2021 Idaho Legislative Session starts Monday, January 11.
I’m excited to be back at the Capitol, advocating for policies that advance our vision—an Idaho where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished.
One of the most pressing priorities for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho this coming session will be to safeguard what founding father James Madison called the “sacred right” of religious freedom.
Here are four reasons Christians should be concerned about preserving religious freedom:
- Our ability to openly preach the Gospel is at stake: As historian Bill Federer astutely puts it, “Our most important job is to preach the Gospel. Our second most important job is to defend our right to preach the Gospel.”
- Religious freedom is biblical: The Bible tells us that we are accountable to God for our religious beliefs and the actions that flow from those beliefs. Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall.” The Bible makes clear that civil government should neither infringe on our duties to God (Acts 5:17-42) nor coerce someone to believe or act contrary to their conscience (Daniel 1, 3, 6).
- Our right to live and raise our families according to the dictates of our faith is in jeopardy: And not only living out our faith just at home or church, but at work and in school and in public, too.
- Love for neighbor compels us: We should work to ensure religious freedom is preserved not only for ourselves but for our neighbors as well, whatever their faith may be. The strong arm of government should not be used to compel anyone to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Will you partner with Family Policy Alliance of Idaho as we prepare to defend your inalienable, God-given rights in the upcoming legislative session? A gift of $35, $75, or $150 will enable us to keep making your voice heard through standing for biblical values in state policy.
Standing for your and your children’s religious freedom,
Director of Advocacy
Every New Year brings a sense of hope and optimism. After a 2020 that brought a seeming onslaught of challenges, rounding into 2021, in many ways, will bring a renewed sense of opportunity and possibility.
For us at Family Policy Alliance of Georgia, it means the legislative session is set to begin – bringing with it a host of opportunities to strengthen our state.
And, while many would like for you to believe that Georgia’s best days are in the rear view, we have big plans for session, for godly legislation, and our state as a whole.
As we prepare to turn the page on 2020, we want to learn from the events of this last year. Across the country, we have seen what civil liberties are at stake when leftist leaders force shut downs and bestow fear in the name of “safety.”
We have been told all year that it is not safe or responsible for us to worship in church but are perfectly fine to gather in large groups in protests and riots. In many states, the pandemic has been overtly used as a vehicle with which to assault faith and undermine our most basic rights.
Thankfully, Governor Kemp and the leadership here in Georgia have largely refused mandates and done more to preserve freedom with our COVID response than perhaps any other state.
Other states have not been so fortunate.
We at Family Policy Alliance of Georgia® know the importance of congregated, corporate worship and how vital church community is. We are granted the freedom of religion by the Constitution and hope to protect that right this upcoming session.
One of our legislative goals is to pass legislation that will limit the ability of a government to infringe on the right to worship in churches in the case of a state emergency declaration.
The situation of our state – or the politics at any given time – should not determine the importance of our faith and neither should a mayor, governor, or president. While our religious freedom has been protected in recent years, we must be prepared for the day when a government might abuse its power.
There has not been a time in my life where I have needed to be surrounded by a body of believers more than now and I know some of you are feeling that too. Liberals would love to tell us that our faith isn’t essential and churches are dangerous, but we will fight back on those lies and ensure Georgia is protected from those policies in the future.
As Cole mentioned in last week’s email, I’m brand new to the team. I am excited about my first session with FPA of Georgia and look forward to moving us in a direction where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished.
Over the course of this session, we will be working on dozens of bills to achieve that shared purpose.
Thank you for being a part of our family here at FPA of Georgia, and, as I get started, I’m grateful that you’ve chosen to welcome me to the fight!
For Our Faith,
We hear it all the time: “You can’t legislate morality!”
Such platitudes seem to make sense at first. We’re told that morality and legislation shouldn’t mix.
But consider the laws enacted by the founding generation of Americans. They didn’t think morality – and especially biblical morality – was off limits!
Take, for example, the laws passed by the Connecticut legislature within the first couple years after the War for Independence. Among other things, these laws included:
- prohibiting adultery, drunkenness, fornication, and gambling—all on biblical grounds
- instructing town leaders to supply Bibles, catechisms, and other religious books to needy families
- expecting families who adopted a Native American child to educate him or her in “the principles of the Christian religion”
- punishing sabbath breaking, fortune telling, and swearing
Laws that openly reflected Christian morality were ubiquitous in every state of the nation. Even the famous Thomas Jefferson drafted several Virginia statutes that legislated morality, including laws that provided for:
- “Punishing Disturbers of Religious Worship and Sabbath Breakers”
- “Annulling Marriages Prohibited by Levitical Law”
This must come as a shock the secular humanists who appeal to Jefferson and other founders to defend their misguided vision of a strict separation of church and state!
Should we legislate morality? Most certainly. All laws reflect one system of morality or another. Why does the law allow for this but not for that? Why does the law punish this one behavior but not this other behavior?
Murder, theft, arson, fraud, assault, rape, kidnapping, slavery, prostitution, and perjury are all illegal. Why? Because we all agree these behaviors are immoral and can’t be tolerated in any society that seeks to promote the common good and human flourishing. It would be nothing short of absurd if someone argued that we shouldn’t prohibit kidnapping because it amounted to legislating morality!
The Apostle Paul teaches us that government should “commend those who do good” while “punishing the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:3, 4). But where do we turn to learn which actions should be commended and which should be punished?
The Word of God, revealed in the Holy Bible, is the only infallible and unchanging source of morality. It is the ultimate authority. Anyone who builds a legal system or passes laws upon any foundation other than biblical principles is like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand (Matthew 7:24-27).
James Wilson, an original US Supreme Court justice and signatory to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, taught his law students this important maxim:
“Human law must rest its authority upon the authority of that law which is divine.”
For hundreds of years the American legal structure has rested on the cornerstone of biblical truth. Everyone agreed that the Bible should undergird our system of laws. That firm foundation has provided generations of Americans with justice and liberty—and it has enabled our government to stand the test of time.
Standing with you for truth,
Director of Advocacy
One of the results of the COVID-19 pandemic and the popularly discussed “climate crisis” is that more and more, people are thinking globally. This has allowed some powerful individuals and entities (who have no strong national allegiance) to manipulate situation.
If you have not yet heard about “The Great Reset,” you will! It is a global movement that was made public at the World Economic Forum (WEF) back in June when participating nations issued this joint statement:
“The world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate and be transformed. In short, we need a ‘Global Reset’ of capitalism.”
This may not sound bad on the surface, but in practice, this will result in a loss of religious freedom and make the way clear for outright “persecution” of people of faith. If you think I am overreacting, a friend recently emailed me an article from the Wall Street Journal that shocked him. The article said that Nasdaq Inc. would “require” the thousands of companies listed on its stock exchange to meet certain representation quotas, including a director who is either a racial minority or one who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Companies that do not meet the standard would be required to justify their decision to remain listed on Nasdaq. This could create a moral dilemma for Christians.
Global decrees are nothing new. Ironically, the Christmas story begins with one. The account of Christ’s birth begins with a “global” decree. In Luke’s gospel we read, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” (Luke 2:1) Back then, Caesar’s motives for this tax may have been both wealth and the consolidation of his authority and power.
There is nothing new under the sun, and the WEF may have some of the same motives: wealth and power. Former Secretary of State John Kerry was at that June meeting. He was Biden’s would-be special presidential envoy for climate control and he firmly declared that the Biden administration would support the Great Reset and that “it will happen with greater speed and with greater intensity than a lot of people might imagine.”
We really do not know how long it will be before the “Second Coming of our Lord, but we can certainly see all the signs and this “global” movement towards a One- World Government may be one of them. But take heart! Just as God’s salvation plan was not hindered by Augustus Caesar, neither will it be hindered by the “Great Reset.”
Family Policy Alliance is committed to preserving our religious freedoms here in Rhode Island, but we need your help to do it. We are grateful to have a matching grant challenge for $13,500, and through your generosity we have raised $5,100 toward that grant so far. Please consider a generous gift to help us match the remaining $8,400!
Chairman, Board of Directors – Rhode Island
People of faith were given something extra special to be thankful for late Thanksgiving Eve.
With Justice Barrett casting the deciding vote, the Supreme Court issued a decision stopping New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from enforcing strict 10-person or 25-person limitations for attending religious services.
Noting that the New York regulations single out houses of worship for harsher punishment, the Court gave an equally harsh rebuke to the state and Governor Cuomo:
“But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
In other words, the Court reminded New York that the Constitution still matters.
As you celebrate this Thanksgiving, we know that as believers, we have much to be thankful for—even during a difficult year. Please join us in adding President Trump’s nomination and the Senate’s confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to our prayers of thanksgiving this year—as well as this strong decision from the Court reminding politicians that religious freedom is not “optional” under the Constitution.
Vice President, Strategy
Should state and local governments block Christians with a biblical worldview from adopting or fostering children?
The idea might seem far-fetched to some. After all, isn’t this the United States of America? Don’t we have a constitutionally protected right to freely exercise our religion?
Consider the Blaises in Washington State. They wanted to foster and care for their one-year-old great-granddaughter, H.V., who had been removed from her parents in Idaho.
Washington bars families who affirm a biblical definition of marriage and gender from fostering children. State licensers evaluating prospective foster parents ask a series of questions about LGBTQ+ issues: What would you do if the child wanted a romantic partner of the same sex to stay the night? Would you support the child’s decision to have hormonal therapies and sex reassignment surgery to look like to opposite sex? Would you let them dress like the opposite sex and be called by a different name?
The Blaises, who are devout Seventh-Day Adventists, answered honestly. “We would provide her with loving, medically and therapeutically appropriate care that is consistent with both accepted medical principles and our beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists and Christians,” they said. “Although we could not support [transition] treatments based on our sincerely held religious convictions, we absolutely would be loving and supportive of H.V.”
This was too much for a state government agency that demands full acquiescence to the radical LGBTQ+ agenda. The case worker informed the Blaises that their application would likely be denied because they couldn’t provide a home in which LGBTQ+ kids will be “supported.”
Fortunately, a federal judge ruled in the favor of the Blaises, determining that the Washington State policy constituted a violation of religious freedom by “disproportionately excluding” people of faith from becoming foster parents.
Sadly, it’s not just the Blaises in Washington. Many states and cities have similar policies that effectively preclude faithful Christians from fostering or adopting children.
Other places, like Massachusetts, have crusaded against faith-based adoption agencies, which operate on their conviction that children should only be placed with families consisting of a married husband and wife. Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation’s oldest adoption agencies, decided it couldn’t comply and chose to close its doors.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, two faith-based agencies chose not to place children with gay couples—and lost their ability to receive foster-care referrals for violating a city nondiscrimination ordinance. Foster parents who work with one of the agencies sued the city—and their case is now before the Supreme Court.
Considering that over 400,000 children are waiting to be fostered or adopted in the United States, the notion that the government would shut down any private adoption agency or prevent any qualified family from adopting is nonsensical.
What makes it especially tragic is that practicing Catholics are three times more likely – and evangelical Christians are five times more likely – to adopt than the general population. Disqualifying Christians from the world of adoption and foster-care leaves many vulnerable children without a family to love and care for them.
The Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments in the Philadelphia case early next month. Its ruling might have profound ramifications for the future of faith-based adoption agencies. Will the Supreme Court maintain the religious freedom of families and adoption agencies? Or will state and local governments deprive churches and faith-based organizations – who started the first orphanages in cities across the country – from serving children and orphans?
You’ve probably seen the news that a handful of Christians in Moscow, Idaho, were arrested last night at a “Psalm Sing” event that occurred in front of Moscow City Hall.
Three people were arrested and others were cited for failing to obey social distancing and mask mandates that are part of Mayor Bill Lambert’s public health emergency order.
To make matters worse, the Moscow Police Department made no arrests at a Black Lives Matter/Defund the Police protest this summer, and Mayor Lambert officiated a large wedding earlier this month—all without social distancing and masking. There have been no COVID-19 deaths in Latah County, and there are currently zero hospitalizations.
Gabe Rench, a candidate for Latah County Commissioner and a deacon at Christ Church, was one of the individuals arrested at the praise and worship event. When I spoke with him briefly today, I asked him what message he would want to share with Idahoans. He said:
“What happened isn’t right. This is a good moment for church to get involved and get fighting about the things that matter. The gospel is at stake. Our liberties are at stake.”
These are perilous times. Consider the words of Abraham Lincoln:
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
It’s time for us to get involved. It’s time for us to pray. It’s time for us to repent. It’s time for us to seek God’s face. If we do, God will hear from Heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
That’s why I’m excited to share with you that a prayer march will be taking place in Boise this Saturday, September 26th. The event, which begins at Julia Davis Park and ends at the Idaho State Capitol, kicks off at 9am MT. Here’s the Facebook event page.
The Idaho prayer march will take place at the same time as two other events in Washington, DC., this Saturday.
The first is The Return, a large gathering at the National Mall for national prayer and repentance. Speakers include James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Alveda King, Tony Perkins, Michelle Bachmann, and others. Watch the livestream here on Saturday.
The second prayer event is Franklin Graham’s Washington Prayer March, which will be hosted by Mike Huckabee and Cissie Graham Lynch and will also be livestreamed here on Saturday.
Please consider joining one of these events, either in person or virtually.
God has given all of us a biblical duty to preserve for our children the same freedoms, values, and institutions we were blessed to inherit from the generations before us. Let’s be faithful to this duty, following Paul’s advice to “be watchful, and stand firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Standing with you,
Director of Advocacy
Pastors have the emotionally draining and time-consuming responsibility to shepherd their flock, disciple believers into spiritually maturity, and administrate the business affairs of their local congregation. The weight of ministry only intensified during the past six months due to the coronavirus, as disagreements over masks, financial decisions regarding paycheck protection and staffing, and the quick transition to offer a worship experience through an online platform became the top priority.
Their schedule is stretched as family needs must be addressed, secular vocational jobs must be worked, and numerous meetings must be attended. Yet, their moral voice and influence is desperately needed to reverse the negative trends of societal decline that impacts their congregation.
This is where Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey® steps in. We strive to help pastors navigate the urgent issues impacting the family structure and facilitate regular conversations between elected state legislators and clergy. I want to encourage you to forward this email to your pastor and let him know about three ways we can serve the church you attend.
- Statewide Leadership Video Calls
Every month we intentionally build relationships and moderate healthy dialogue between pastors and state legislators. Despite the anti-family policies that continue to be introduced in Trenton, there are elected officials that are allies in our cause to see NJ be a state where God is honored, religious liberty flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished. These elected officials must take public positions on issues that many churches are hesitant to teach on. They face criticisms and challenges for promoting strong family policies. Therefore, it is imperative for them to feel and experience the support of pastors across our state. Our monthly video meetings are structured for pastors to pray for these state senators and assembly members, and to encourage them to remain committed to biblical values. In the past three months, Senator Mike Testa (R), Senator Anthony Bucco (R), and Assemblyman Bob Auth (R) have connected with pastors through these calls.
- Regional Pastor Briefings
Each year we educate pastors on the most troubling issues that threaten the family structure in NJ. This September and October, pastors will learn the facts about the LGBT curriculum in schools, recreational marijuana, and our continued pro-life efforts. Locations for this year’s meetings include Toms River Rockaway, Mount Laurel, Egg Harbor Township, and Warren. Click here for more information.
- Church Ministry
I regularly teach a Biblical message during worship services, bible conferences, and special events regarding the Christian’s Role in Public Policy. Drawing from the scared truth of scripture, we equip Christians to engage the government, and no matter the results, make sure that God is glorified in the process.
Finally, I urge you to do three things to help your pastor:
- Pray for them more.
- Criticize them less.
- Forward them this email.
Together, let’s make NJ better!
Director of Advocacy