The church in America is worried; worried about engaging in politics. Some congregants may believe that speaking about politics from the pulpit is not entirely appropriate. There is often the concern of pastors that they may lose their church’s nonprofit status, or perhaps lose some financial support. So, this week I present a challenge – a challenge to pastors and members of their congregations.

I’ve talked with lots of pastors over the years and have come to realize that many simply see there being too many “downsides” and very few “upsides” in addressing political issues from the pulpit. I get it. Pastor Gus Booth, someone personally familiar with this issue, puts it this way in his book entitled SHHHH! Be Quiet Christian: “There are so many in the church who say things like, ‘Don’t preach anything political. I want theology and a spiritual message, but if you get involved in politics, then you schism the church.’” However, I am convinced that the gospel doesn’t exempt any portion of our life being transformed by the saving work of Christ, so if we are preaching the Word and seeking to apply it to our lives, shouldn’t this be one of those areas?

The Johnson Amendment has struck fear in the hearts of pastors for over 67 years. While it doesn’t prohibit churches from providing general information about political topics, it does restrict churches from endorsing particular candidates. Do you know the number of churches that have been successfully prosecuted under this law in the past six decades? As NPR states, “According to the alliance [Alliance Defending Freedom], as reported by the Washington Post, only one of more than 2,000 Christian clergy deliberately challenging the law since 2008 has been audited, and none has been punished.” [Emphasis added]. So why the fear?

Like all nonprofits, churches operate on revenues, and most of these revenues come from donations. Generally speaking, over 90% of church revenues come from regular giving by church members. It is undeniable that giving to their church should be the first giving priority of congregants. The possibility certainly exists that the topic of politics might create a divide or upset certain members of the congregation, with the result that they might take their charitable giving elsewhere. However, I would contend that churches need to lead and educate their members on all aspects of biblical citizenship.

Over the years, my father preached some unpopular sermons and congregants sometimes became upset, stopped their giving, or left. However, I am very proud he chose to preach those difficult sermons. Preaching the Word, and how it applies to all aspects of our lives, is what the church should be about.

Let me close with this. I have a deep and abiding respect for the church as an organization and as the body of Christ. God established it and we must love the church and help it grow. However, I would challenge those in leadership to speak boldly on how Christians can and should allow their faith to flow into all parts of their lives. I also challenge church members to encourage your spiritual leaders to address important political issues. Christianity is not a partial change in our lives, but affects all facets, so let’s help each other translate that faith in a holistic and comprehensive way!

Sincerely,


Mark Jorritsma
President and Executive Director

It’s not often that we hear of government bodies agreeing on a decision. But yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a UNANIMOUS judgement in favor of children and religious freedom.

What happened? Here are the facts.

The case: Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

Catholic Social Services (CSS) is a longstanding faith-based nonprofit that serves the foster children of Philadelphia. They exist to help children in need, particularly hard-to-place children, find forever homes. They have many guidelines for the families who are receiving children in their homes – including that there be a married mom and dad in the home.

Their beliefs are essential to their identity and cannot be separated from their work. But the city of Philadelphia thought otherwise.

When the city discovered CSS’s beliefs about marriage, they forced the organization to make a decision: change your beliefs, or the city will stop contracting with you.

CSS chose a third option: seek legal help.

The organization rightly recognized that this was a violation of their constitutionally protected religious freedom, and – represented by our friends at Becket Law – they took that argument to court.

After years of litigation, Catholic Social Services ultimately got their day in court before the U.S. Supreme Court last year. And today, the Justices issued their verdict: Philadelphia violated CSS’s religious freedom.

The implications: good news for children and religious freedom

This decision is good news not only for CSS, but for the many children they serve. When CSS is allowed to participate in Philadelphia’s foster care system, it not only offers a distinctly Christian option, but also increases the sheer number of foster providers – and that matters greatly.

In the U.S., more than 400,000 children in the foster system are waiting for homes. Around 4% of children are adopted within a year of entering foster care, and 85% of children in foster care have at least two placements in their first 12 months. In fact, the foster crisis is so extreme that some states are hosting foster children in hotels and office buildings because there is nowhere else to place them.

Today’s decision is a strong affirmation that foster homes like Catholic Social Services should be able to place children in loving homes while abiding by their religious convictions. Religious freedom is a precious gift afforded to all Americans. The belief that children should be in homes with a married mother and father should not be punished — and the Court affirmed that today.

The decision also reminds us of why the federal Equality Act – which could be up for a vote anytime in the Senate – is unworkable and inadvisable. The Act would redefine “sex” to include a person’s self-declared “sexual orientation and gender identity” throughout federal civil rights law. By doing that, the Act could be used to force foster and adoption agencies into similar dilemmas to Catholic Social Services – something that that the entire Supreme Court rejected today. The Equality Act would threaten religious freedom and the wellbeing of children and must be rejected.

We applaud today’s Supreme Court decision and are thankful for the work of Becket Law representing Catholic Social Services!

Joyfully,

Meridian Baldacci
Policy and Communications Strategist

 

P.S. Want to speak out against the Equality Act? Send a message to your Senator now.

The Biden Administration is trying to push the Equality Act through the Senate. And now they have attempted to unilaterally redefine sex in Title IX – putting girl’s opportunities at risk. The City of Philadelphia attempted to punish Catholic Services for living out their beliefs, disregarding the needs of children in their community.

But today in a shocking 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court sided with Catholic adoption agency’s right to care for children consistently with their faith.

In a year when many churches and ministries have caved to the LGBTQ+ agenda, the Court reaffirmed religious ministries right to be just that – religious ministries. The Court saw little to no benefit in excluding religious ministries in helping kids.

In Kansas, we have already fought, and won, the battle to ensure that adoption agencies will be protected through the 2018 Adoption Protection Act. But Governor Kelly has consistently waged war against these protections.  She has tried to issue new guidance for foster families, tried to impose a sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) nondiscrimination law through boards she controls, and supported cities in passing ordinances that violate the First Amendment.

Our state has a child placement problem. The foster care crisis in our state has forced children to sleep in offices at points – clearly showing we need to allow more children to be placed in homes rather than excluding families, as Governor Kelly would like.

Caring for the widow and the orphan is one of the most specific commands that Scripture gives. The ability of Christian families and ministries to live out our beliefs by carrying for children that need families is paramount. We recognize as the Supreme Court did today, that these ministries that give families these opportunities are a “point of light” in our state.  But we have to utilize their services.

We are thankful that the Supreme Court gave us a legal boost in living out this calling. But we need your help to keep fighting for families and ministries.  Will you join us today in fighting for families and children?

Some things you can do:

For Kansas kids,

Brittany Jones, Esq.
Director of Advocacy

 

Last week, we got the news. The dangerous “Equality Act” – the biggest current threat to freedom and the sanctity of life – has been put on the fast track in the U.S. Senate!

That makes it all the more urgent that we move our mobilization into full throttle ASAP.

We are mobilizing in nine states with swing senators who are most likely to decide whether this scheme passes the Senate – and then goes to President Biden for his promised signature.

With Democrats now in charge of the Senate – and some Republicans having supported the same bill in the past – the situation is urgent.

Will you help us turn up the heat on the Senate with your donation?

Let me encourage you. Despite the grim situation, there is hope! Just look at what happened in the House with your help.

Yes, the so-called “Equality Act” passed the House as expected, but the real story is what happened behind the scenes. With your help, we mobilized citizens in the districts of House Republicans who had voted for it in the past. Two of the five representatives changed their position and voted against it!

On top of that, the explosion of grassroots opposition that you made possible is simply phenomenal. For example, your support helped us put together an online rally that, in just days, gathered thousands of live viewers – and brought together a Who’s Who in a diverse coalition working to stop this.

And the Promise to America’s Children – the policy and parental statement we developed in partnership with The Heritage Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom – has reached hundreds of thousands of Americans with a message pushing back on the “Equality Act.”

Will you help us ramp up even more to defeat this scheme in the Senate? Your gift of support is needed – not just for general pressure on the Senate – but specifically to reach and mobilize tens of thousands of citizens in the states of certain senators who could decide the outcome. It worked in the House. Now it’s urgently needed in the Senate!

So much is on the line, it’s hard to overstate the threat the Equality Act poses to:

Thank you for helping us build momentum against the Equality Act to this point! We couldn’t have done it without you. And now – as we head into the thick of the battle – we need you more than ever.

As God has enabled you, will you join in the action with your gift today?


Craig DeRoche
President & CEO

P.S. The news that the Equality Act is on a “fast track” in the Senate is grim. But there is truly hope! Your gift will help build the public momentum against it and mobilize citizens in the states with swing-vote senators. Thank you for your gift to make it possible!

Just a little while ago, the U.S. House voted 224-206 to pass H.R. 5, the deceptively named bill that is actually the biggest current threat to freedom and the sanctity of life.

What now?

In some ways, this is where the battle really begins.

It was always a longshot to stop the so-called “Equality Act” in Nancy Pelosi’s House, yet it was critical that you and I engage there. And together, we sent a reverberating “shot across the bow” of politicians in both parties who would cater to this dangerous agenda.

All of this gives great momentum as this battle now shifts to the U.S. Senate. After all, this is where the fate of the Equality Act will be decided, as President Biden has already declared that passing it is his #1 priority.

Will you help us ramp up even more to defeat this scheme in the Senate? Your gift of support is needed – not just for general pressure on the Senate – but specifically to reach and mobilize citizens in the states of certain senators who could decide the outcome. It worked in the House. Now it’s urgently needed in the Senate!

So much is on the line, it’s hard to overstate:

Thank you for helping us build momentum against the Equality Act to this point! We couldn’t have done it without you. And now – as we head into the thick of the battle – we need you more than ever.

As God has enabled you, will you join in the action with your gift today?


Craig DeRoche
President and CEO

 

P.S. Today’s outcome in the House was virtually certain, but the battle to stop the dangerous Equality Act could go either way in the Senate. Your gift will help build the public momentum against it and mobilize citizens in the states with swing-vote senators. Thank you for your gift to make it possible!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Pray for them more.
  2. Criticize them less.
  3. Forward them this email.

Together, let’s make NJ better!

Blessings,

Shawn Hyland
Director of Advocacy

This afternoon, Governor Kelly issued an executive order that specifically targets churches, demanding that they not meet if they are likely to bring more than ten people together. Until now, churches have been trusted to be responsible and take measures to protect their members. Churches have been voluntarily complying with these directives. Why are schools, libraries, and even restaurants exempted from this more restrictive order but churches are not? Why is Governor targeting churches? Why are we the ones who are not trusted to be socially responsible?

It is a highly disappointing that the Governor would choose to specifically target churches, especially on the holiest of week in the Christian faith. Yes, churches should be wise and should take appropriate measures to protect their members. Yet, there are multiple state governors in states with liberal administrations that have continued to trust the faith-based community to practice wisdom and love for neighbor. These governors have worked with the religious community to ensure their safety and well-being and instead Governor Kelly has refused to do so and rather issued a sweeping order.

To be clear, we are not encouraging any churches to meet during this time of crisis. However, the faith community should be trusted to self-regulate and the government should not use instances that occurred before the Governor’s first stay-at-home order was even issued to validate an attack on religious freedom. We call on members of the Legislative Coordinating Council to denounce this blatant attack on religious freedom and protect the freedoms we hold dear as Kansans.

 

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On Saturday, President Trump tweeted, “The Paycheck Protection Program is up and running! The program is open to nonprofits as well, so banks be sure to sign up our Great Religious and Veteran Organizations that need help!”

Perhaps you work at one of those “Great Religious” organizations, or you know someone who does. If you’re at a church or non-profit and wondering whether you’re eligible for the program, what’s entailed, or how the program actually works, keep reading. If you’re not, consider forwarding this to a church leader or someone who may appreciate the extra help.

First things first: What is the Paycheck Protection Program?

The Paycheck Protection Program is one of two new types of loans available to small businesses through the recently signed CARES Act (the Congressional economic relief package which you can read about here). Churches must have fewer than 500 employees to qualify as a “small business.” The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan – up to $10 million – aimed at retaining small business employees. As such, the portion of it used toward payroll (and certain other expenses) will be completely forgivable provided that at least 75 percent of the loan goes toward payroll costs. Otherwise, the loan has a fixed one percent interest rate and maturity of two years.

Is my church eligible?

Yes. A recent Congressional news release clarified: “All churches are eligible for the forgivable loans available under the Paycheck Protection Program.”

Do churches and religious non-profits have to do anything extra to qualify?

No. The government has clarified that churches will be subject to the same limitations on the loans as other entities, but not to any additional or unique burdens.  As the release stated, “No church should have to file a Form 990” and non-profits do not need a tax exemption “determination letter” from the IRS.

If I participate, will the government restrict my religious activities or speech?

A loan will not limit an organization’s First Amendment religious rights. It is true that churches receiving the funds must abide by federal nondiscrimination standards (which include race, color, religion, sex, handicap, age, and national origin), but the Small Business Administration has clarified that “these nondiscrimination requirements do not limit a faith-based entity’s autonomy with respect to membership or employment decisions connected to its religious exercise.”

For greater detail and additional answers (for example, technical information about what qualifies as a “small business”), please check out the Small Business Administration’s FAQs or full guidance.

For churches, we recommend COVID Church Aid, a website filled with COVID-19 resources for church leaders, including resources on the Paycheck Protection Program.

How does this affect ministries like Family Policy Alliance?

While churches and many non-profits are eligible to utilize the new funding, organizations and ministries like Family Policy Alliance that engage in election and legislative work are not. As a result, we are more thankful than ever for the faithful, sacrificial giving of our ministry partners.  Regardless of your ability to give financially to Family Policy Alliance at this time, we are deeply grateful for your gift of prayer for our ministry.  And please know, the Family Policy Alliance team is steadfast in praying for you.

Reflecting on this Holy Week, President Donald Trump observed, “We may be apart, but we can use this time to turn to reflection and prayer and our own personal relationship with God. I would ask that all Americans pray for the heroic doctors and nurses, for the truck drivers and grocery store workers, and for everyone fighting this battle. … Most of all, I would like to ask for your prayers for the families who have lost loved ones. Ask God to comfort them in their hour of grief, a great hour of grief for our nation, for the world. … With the faith of our families, and the spirit of our people, and the Grace of our God, we will endure, we will overcome, we will prevail. We have learned so much. We will be stronger than ever.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Sincerely,

Meridian Baldacci
Policy & Communications Strategist

Faith-based adoption agencies provide a critical service by placing children in loving homes. Motivated by their faith, they show life is truly cherished.

But, they face a grave threat that would compel many to shut their doors here in Georgia and is keeping many others from even coming to our state.

Increasingly, governments are forcing these critical agencies to violate their faith – undermining their reason for existence. And, in our state, we have not passed legislation that will protect against such gross overreach.

That’s why Sen. Marty Harbin’s SB 368 is so critical. It ensures that these adoption agencies will never be forced to violate their written statements of faith.

We strongly support this bill. It protects the First Amendment, honors birthmothers, preserves options to meet the needs of children, and empowers more loving families to welcome children into their homes.

This legislation was just introduced, but we believe it will be assigned to the Judiciary Committee when the Senate reconvenes on February 18th. Please reach out to the senators on the committee to encourage them to support this pro-family bill:

Chairman Jesse Stone (404) 463-1314

Bill Cowsert (404) 463-1366

Blake Tillery (404) 656-0089

Bill Heath (404) 656-3943

Harold Jones (404) 463-3942

John Kennedy (404) 656-0045

William Ligon (404) 463-1383

Elena Parent (404) 656-5109

Brian Strickland (404) 656-7454

Already, opponents of this legislation are spinning a false narrative that this is discriminatory. That is FALSE. This bill prevents discrimination against those who hold to sincere beliefs – discrimination that would make it impossible for these agencies to continue providing their vital services.

Stand firm and take action today to support our faith-based adoption agencies!

To Victory,

Cole Muzio
President and Executive Director

 

 

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Is it right for Christians to involve themselves in political things? Some Christians say no. They argue that believers should focus on “spiritual” things (like evangelism, prayer, Bible reading, and church) without getting “distracted” by the things of this world (which, of course, include politics).

I affirm that we should evangelize the lost, robustly pursue prayer and Bible reading, and actively involve ourselves in a local assembly of God’s people. But to say that doing these things precludes exercising our biblical responsibilities as citizens overlooks three important biblical truths.

First, God has created government as His “ministers to us for our good” (Romans 13:4). Therefore, government is something worthy of our time and efforts—it’s one of God’s gifts given to us to help promote the common good until His return!

Second, we are to “seek the welfare of the city where God has sent us” so that we may be left free to “live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity” (Jeremiah 29:7, 1 Timothy 2:2). For us to have the space to live our lives and raise our children according to God’s revealed will, government needs to respect its limited jurisdiction—it must refrain from interfering with the biblical exercise of our God-given rights.

Third, we have been given a cultural commission to transform the society around us. In the model prayer given to his disciples, Jesus instructs us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We are to work as God’s laborers until this goal is realized, “occupying until Jesus returns” and acting as “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” by promoting a godly vision for society (Luke 19:13, Matthew 5:13-16).

We can’t afford to be apathetic. If we engage in politics, we can make large leaps forward in building a public square where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished. If we withdraw from politics, another ideology will fill the vacuum. Those who show up and speak out will achieve the victory. In many ways, the sorry state of our government today is the direct result of retreat and indifference on the part of Christians.

The Family Policy Alliance® exists to unleash biblical citizenship throughout this great state and nation. This is accomplished through educating and mobilizing voters, discipling statesmen, and promoting sound policy. We know that the reformation of the “political” will only happen when Christians exercise their biblical responsibility to inform themselves and get involved in “political” things.

The Bible tells us of faithful believers who “stood firm and took action” when faced with an out-of-control government (Daniel 11:32). Will you stand with us?

Sincerely,

Nathan Winters
Director of Advocacy