Earlier this summer, thousands of you joined with us in calling on Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to affirm the religious freedom of military chaplains in light of an atheist campaign against an Army chaplain. I’m writing to give an update.

As you may recall, Army Senior Chaplain (Colonel) Moon Kim was attacked by an activist group for sharing a Christian book with fellow chaplains as a resource for ministering to their troops.

The book, Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper, asks readers to consider that God has a purpose and a direction in all that has happened across the globe in the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting both believers and non-believers.  Rather than giving a specific answer to why, Piper lays out a number of avenues of biblical thought on God’s purposes with the pandemic, including His response to sin in our world. Piper specifically identifies homosexuality as one of those sins.

That raised the ire of Mikey Weinstein, the atheist founder of the deceptively named Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Weinstein, with a big assist from the media, called on Secretary Esper to punish Colonel Kim severely, including making him subject to court-martial.

That’s where you came in. Thousands of you used our Action Center to reach out to Secretary Esper, asking him to support Chaplain (Colonel) Kim and to let chaplains be chaplains as they serve those who protect our nation.

The response from the Pentagon was strong – acknowledging the many voices in support of Kim and affirming the rights of chaplains.

“The Department of Defense is committed to our Constitutional values and recognizes the unique and critical role our Chaplains play in providing religious support to our Armed Forces,” said the letter signed by Jeffrey P. Angers, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army.

“Theological discussions among Chaplains are an important part of their professional development and thus are expected and not prohibited,” added Angers in his letter to Family Policy Alliance. “Chaplain Kim, like all other chaplains, remains free to engage in these discussions and to share appropriate professional development material among his Chaplain colleagues.”

This strong affirmation of these chaplain rights is encouraging. Let’s thank God for military and political leadership that upholds those rights, and let’s especially pray for the chaplains and the men and women in our Armed Forces whom they minister to.

Thanks for speaking up! It’s heard and makes a difference!

John Paulton
Mobilization Manager

FOX News reported on the recent Portland unrest in all-to-familiar recent fashion. It was protestors, city police officers, some federal officers, chanting, etc. Overall, FOX headlined it as, “Portland sees largely peaceful night of protests with more than 1,000 demonstrators as feds prepare to withdraw”, which was a welcome relief to the protests not too long ago that were accompanied by looting, violence, and property destruction. But while it seemed like good news overall, something changed.

Buried inside the article was this sentence, “Later, some agitators burned Bibles and flags outside the courthouse and set a series of fires.” In fairness, it did say that other protesters helped put out one of the fires, which was encouraging. However, it may not seem like much, but I regard Bible burning as taking the protests up a notch.

Book burning has long been the mark of revolutions. There are roughly 200 recorded occurrences of book burning events since the before the time of Christ, many of them aimed at religious texts, so this is nothing new. However, the fundamental act of burning a book is censorship – that is the real problem.

Under our Constitution, anyone can burn a book, which is actually a freedom of speech. That is a good thing. But burning a Bible fundamentally says, “I reject the basis of all western culture and the Deity upon which it is based, and I reject the Christian principles upon which this nation was founded.”

If taken to the next step, in many cases in history it has often gone hand-in-hand with saying that I reject your right to practice your faith. For example, I will find a reason to close the doors of your churches, synagogues, and mosques, so that you will experience more and more impediments to practicing your faith. That is why this is taking things up a notch.

The burning of those Bibles in Portland was simply symptomatic of the larger problem, the growing devaluation and sometimes outright animosity towards our faith in this country. We see it from some of our political leaders to “human rights” groups and the media. We know this will happen. II Timothy 3:12 states, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

So where does this leave us? It means a few things. First, we need to continue to proclaim our faith in Christ, despite those who would silence us. If the church of the first century proclaimed the gospel at risk of death, how much more should we proclaim the same when we are dealing with societal pressure.

Second, we need to fight for biblical principles, particularly in the halls of government. We need to proudly defend and advance our biblical values in public life to help reinforce the foundation upon which our nation was built.

Finally, we need to elect statesmen to all offices who will bear the cross of Christ. We need men and women who will stand for your and my foundational biblical beliefs and seek to protect and reinforce them in our nation.

If this seems like a daunting list of tasks, I am here to tell you that Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota® is standing with you to help. We proudly proclaim our Christianity, promote biblically based policy, and help elect statesmen to state and national positions who will act out their faith in the political arena.

If this is something you want to support, please consider donating to our work.We can’t stop others from burning Bibles, but together, we must not give up the fight to ensure the Gospel and the right to practice our faith remains part of our nation. Thank you.

Standing strong,

Mark Jorritsma
President and Executive Director

Over the past few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down three significant decisions involving the First Amendment freedom of religion.

In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court ruled that a discriminatory Montana rule prohibiting students from using tax-credit scholarships at religious schools violated the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitu­tion. (5-4 decision; Roberts, joined by Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh)

In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, the Court upheld the “ministerial exception,” preserving the staffing decisions and rights of religious institutions to “decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.” (7-2 decision; Alito, joined by Roberts, Thomas, Breyer, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh)

And finally, in Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, the Court determined that the Little Sisters of the Poor are exempt from the Obamacare contraceptive mandate so they can continue serving the poor and the elderly without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs. (7-2 decision; Thomas, joined by Roberts, Breyer, Alito, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh)

What do these three recent cases tell us? – that while religious freedom is winning, religious hostility is on the rise.

Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, Senior Research Fellow at our national ally, The Heritage Foundation, pointed this out recently in response to a tweet touting 15 straight religious freedom victories at the U.S. Supreme Court this decade. Dr. Anderson replied, “The fact that there were 15 flagrant religious liberty violations that rose to the Supreme Court in a decade is a sign not of a winning streak at large, but new and heightened hostility.”

We agree with Dr. Anderson, noting that multiple defeats at the nation’s highest Court have not deterred anti-religious activists and politicians from continuing to target people of faith – whether they be single mothers (Espinoza), Catholic schools (Our Lady of Guadalupe School), or even nuns (Little Sisters of the Poor). In fact, following these recent losses, the hostility from the far-left immediately continued.

The ACLU quickly condemned the Court’s decision in Espinoza while praising the anti-Catholic “Blaine Amendment” in Montana’s constitution. Meanwhile, in response to Little Sisters of the Poor, former Vice-President Joe Biden announced his intentions to reinstate President Obama’s policy which would require the Little Sisters to provide access to birth control and abortifacients for employees.

It is also worth observing that two Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court dissented in all three cases – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. So, while the First Amendment may have survived another term at the U.S. Supreme Court, the effort to defend our first freedom – the freedom of religion – is more critical than ever.

Together with our state and national allies, Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico® will continue to defend our constitutional rights so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can continue to be proclaimed and lived out in our homes, churches, schools, and places of employment. Our vision is a state and nation were religious freedom flourishes, and with your partnership and support, we will preserve that freedom for generations to come.

Financial Update: Given the unprecedented times in which we live, one of the encouraging stories has been the faithfulness of local Ministry Partners like you. Though COVID impacted our giving in the Spring, we wrapped up the month of June in a much better financial position than expected and, believe it or not, we are now on track to meet our target for the fiscal year ending September 30!

Entering the month of July, we had just $35,000 left to raise and thanks to your generosity, we have already raised $13,500 in the past three weeks. If you have not yet given this year, or if you would like to further help us reach our goal, I invite you to do so today by becoming a monthly Ministry Partner or by making a one-time gift of $100, $250, or $500.

Thank you for your prayers and support!


VinceTorres
President and Executive Director

Cancel culture have you down? Whether it’s a cancelled event due to COVID-19 or a “cancelled” public figure, 2020 has certainly been the year of the cancellation. But here’s one thing that hasn’t been cancelled: the fight to protect families and freedom across our nation. In spite of the difficulties of COVID-19, we praise God for some amazing victories for religious freedom and the family.

Today, here are 7 victories people of faith can celebrate during COVID-19:

1. The Trump Administration included non-profit and faith-based entities in COVID relief.

In the thick of the pandemic’s economic fallout, it would have been easy for leaders to forget about – or intentionally ignore – non-profit and faith-based entities in their financial relief response. Thankfully, leaders made sure to include them, with even President Trump himself tweeting out, “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!”

2. Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey led a coalition of pastors to get churches on the Governor’s reopening plan.

As states began to reopen after initial closures, many included provisions for houses of worship. But not New Jersey! Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey joined with other local leaders and pastors to persistently ask Governor Murphy to allow churches to reopen. It’s a stunning story – but the good news is that thanks to the work of citizens, the Governor ultimately allowed  churches to open on a limited basis.

3. The Supreme Court handed down three wins for religious freedom in recent decisions.

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue: The Supreme Court affirmed that families in Montana should be free to choose the education that best suits their children—including in faith-based schools, that the old Blaine Amendment used to invalidate the scholarship program is bigoted and discriminatory, and that faith-based schools can’t be disqualified from a school choice program just because they are faith-based. Thanks to our friends at Montana Family Institute for their great work in making this win possible!

Our Lady of Guadalupe v. Morrissey-Berru:  Our Lady of Guadalupe centered around a Catholic school that simply made an employment decision about one of its teachers – and got sued for it. The case asked whether the First Amendment prevents courts from interfering in situations like the one faced by the Catholic school. Ultimately, the Supreme Court took a stand on the side of freedom for religious institutions.

Little Sisters of the Poor vs. Pennsylvania: The Little Sisters of the Poor are a group of nuns who take a vow of chastity and provide care to the elderly poor. When Obamacare regulations would have forced them to pay for contraception (to which they objected on religious grounds), the nuns were faced with a choice to pay a large fine or violate their consciences. They chose the third option: go to court. After an extended series of lawsuits, the Supreme Court’s recent decision hopefully settled the nun’s case for good. And it’s good news: they don’t have to pay for contraception to which they have a religious, or moral, objection!

4. COVID ChurchAid proved a fantastic resource for pastors and churches navigating COVID’s uncharted waters.

Thanks to our friends at Florida Family Action for creating COVID Church Aid, a website filled with COVID-19 resources for church leaders, including resources on the Paycheck Protection Program. It was invaluable as pastors and churches made decisions about finances, reopening, and pastoring during a pandemic.

5. A federal judge recently ruled in favor of churches in New York

When houses of worship were targeted with capacity restrictions in New York, a federal judge disagreed – and prevented the targeting from being enforced. He noted that while New York Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor de Blasio have both supported protest gatherings, they continued to restrict religious gatherings. We’re glad the judge saw the irony!

6. Family Policy Alliance of Kansas played a key role in three major wins for religious freedom in the state.

In the words of Advocacy Director Brittany Jones, “During height of the impact of COVID-19, Family Policy Alliance of Kansas never stopped working to protect the God-given freedoms of Kansans. We worked with legislative, grassroots, and policy leaders to push back when Governor Kelly targeted churches for unfair treatment. Her actions were eventually strongly rebuked by a federal judge. We were a key part to standing alongside legislators as they worked through an all-night session to correct Governor Kelly’s overreach into schools, businesses and churches and rein in her power as we continue to deal with COVID-19. Further, we worked with legislators and grassroots leaders to defeat multiple Medicaid expansion attempts that did not include important pro-life protections.”

7. In Wyoming, the Governor changed his public health order to allow churches to fully open despite COVID.

For freedom-loving people, this is a big win: churches are fully open in Wyoming! Of course, no one’s being forced to go to church or encouraged to not take important precautions. But we are glad that the state’s governor recognizes the importance of religious freedom, and your support of Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming helped make this possible!

We were encouraged by these wins, and hope that you are, too. Most importantly, we hope that you’re encouraged to keep up the fight. Many of these wins were not easy – for instance, getting the New Jersey Governor to put churches in the reopening plan at all. And we know that we have future battles to fight: The ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and their political allies continue to push their radical abortion and transgender agendas with no regard for people of faith. We’ve seen it even in places like North Dakota, where the legislature has defeated three religious freedom-threatening bills in two legislative sessions!

But when that happens again – as we know it will — we’ll keep fighting so religious freedom never gets cancelled.

Sincerely,

Meridian Baldacci
Policy and Communications Strategist

Symbols are loud. Silent, but not unheard. For example, LGBT agenda flags celebrating sexual pride flying over a business or local town hall, communicate that Biblical beliefs are unwelcomed and unaccepted inside those doors. Post-modern sexuality has taken that battle hill in this eternal war for truth.

The confederate flag in similar fashion is a symbol of cultural southern pride to some, and a message to others of being unwelcomed and unaccepted. If the Mason-Dixon line were to have been extended directly due east, it would run near Penns Grove, NJ on the Western part of our state and Barnegat, NJ on the East. Despite racial tensions in south Jersey in the early 20th century and in Newark in the 1960’s, we now live in the most diverse state in the union. I am Jersey Proud!

Today, America is at odds not over symbols but over statues. It is a struggle over history. American Exceptionalism or American Fatalism? Who will win the war for the soul of our nation? If Garden State Equality lessons are used, middle school students may not know if they are a boy or a girl after sitting through Health class, but they know America is an evil oppressive nation after sitting through History class.  

NJ is not absent from the conflict. Woodrow Wilson’s name is being removed from Monmouth University’s marquee building, and in Trenton, Governor Murphy has now abandoned the desk of President Wilson in his office.

Let’s remember history, President Woodrow Wilson (D) is the father of progressivism – holding fast to a globalist, elitist, racist view of the world. Margret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood was his contemporary and held identical racist ideologies. She founded the largest most powerful abortion provider in the world to systematically target people of color. Will the radical left demand the dismantling of Planned Parenthood? In NJ, our legislature awards them with 20 million dollars per year! Woodrow Wilson most assuredly would be proud.

Presidents and founding fathers who built our nation on the foundation of religion and morality will forever be tainted for their possession of slaves. Should their relative experience of a global widespread historic wrong that predated their existence, sweep away their contributions to the concepts of individualism and religious liberty? If yes, does this same standard of collective condemnation apply to modern progressive Presidents who support the destruction of tens of millions of human lives in the womb through abortion?

I am proud to be an American. Some surveys rank NJ as the least patriotic state in America, but this is not the NJ I know. This independence weekend be intentional about your patriotism. Vote in the primaries by July 7, display an American flag, serve in your church, love your neighbor, pray for your leaders.

Enjoy this Independence Weekend!

Shawn Hyland
Director of Advocacy

There hasn’t been much good news from the Supreme Court lately, but today we’re happy to share a good opinion from our nation’s high Court. Today, five of the Court’s nine justices decided that parents should be free to choose the best education for their children—and that includes education in private, faith-based schools.

The Court’s decision today is a win for parents, for religious freedom, and most importantly—for children. We believe that children win when their parents can choose the best education for each child, and that no government should place limitations on a child’s future because of her zip code or her family’s income.

And, today’s decision is a beautiful story of how families and godly values advance when we—the family of believers—unleash our citizenship to see government work for the people.

Please let me share that story with you. I believe it’s an important one for every believer who cares about this country to know.

In 2015, good legislators in the state of Montana passed into law a tax-credit scholarship program designed to help low-income families, especially single mothers, send their children to the best schools for them—including private faith-based schools. The law was written by our friends at Montana Family Foundation.

Then things started to go wrong. The Montana Department of Revenue issued a rule saying that children receiving the scholarships could not use them at faith-based schools. So, three mothers who believed their children would be better off at faith-based schools filed a lawsuit. Sadly, the Montana Supreme Court issued an opinion in 2018, stating that it believed Montana’s Constitution allows the state government to discriminate against faith-based schools based on a provision historically used to prohibit government funds from going to faith-based schools (also known as a “Blaine Amendment”), and it struck down Montana’s good scholarship program.

What’s worse is that many states have “Blaine Amendments” in their Constitutions, and these Amendments were discriminatory in nature from their very beginning. They started out in the 1870’s as a way to keep Catholic influence out of the largely Protestant public schools during a time of high anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant bias in America. Obviously, the Blaine Amendments are old dinosaurs in the law based on interdenominational conflicts that need to go extinct.

As the conflict over Montana’s scholarship program reached the Supreme Court, the Montana Family Foundation, which represents family values in the state, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case defending the law on behalf of Montana’s families.

Family Policy Alliance and the state family policy councils also worked to gather state lawmakers to file another friend-of-the-court brief in the case to show the Supreme Court that good lawmakers in other states also want to advance options for education choice for families. In fact, many lawmakers who are alumni of Family Policy Foundation’s Statesmen Academy signed onto this brief!

And now today, the Supreme Court declared that families in Montana should be free to choose the education that best suits their children—including in faith-based schools, that the old Blaine Amendment used to invalidate the scholarship program is bigoted and discriminatory, and that faith-based schools can’t be disqualified from a school choice program just because they are faith-based.

President Trump, who supports school choice for children as a civil rights issue, also issued a statement today in support of the Court’s decision, saying “no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school.”


Today’s decision is a celebration of how children are the real winners when believers work to elect state lawmakers who support their values, those state lawmakers pass good laws, citizens and lawmakers join together to defend those good laws, the nation’s high Court applies our constitutional religious freedom protections correctly, and our President supports the values we hold dear.

This is a win for biblical citizenship in action, for your faithful partnership in supporting the mission of Family Policy Alliance to advance your values in both public policy and elections, and—most importantly—for children who deserve the best foundation we can give them as they seek out God’s calling on their lives.

For our children,

Autumn Leva
Vice President of Strategy

At Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming®, we focus on three primary issues – life, family, and religious freedom. Recently, all three issues have been in the news and we are providing for you below a list of handpicked articles for your review and consideration.

Based on these stories and other current events, I think you will see that the need for our work is more important than ever. And on that note, if you would like to see us continue the fight to defend life, strengthen the family, and preserve our First Amendment rights, would you consider supporting us with a generous gift today?

We need to raise an additional $6,300 By July 15, so if you recognize the importance of this work, please partner with us today by clicking here!

Thank you for your faithful support and prayers.

Blessings,

Nathan Winters
Executive Director

 

In the News: Life

Planned Parenthood Endorses Biden After Pledging to Triple Election Spending In 2020 Over 2016
“The advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood, a frequent target for Republicans, endorsed Joe Biden on Monday, calling Trump “dangerous” after pledging to spend $45 million this cycle, three times what the group spent in 2016.”

SHOCK: Documents from New Mexico facility reveal dozens of late-term, healthy babies aborted daily
“Newly obtained documents show that over a dozen elective abortions are being committed daily on babies 20 weeks and older at Southwestern Women’s Options, an abortion chain with locations in New Mexico and Texas.”

In the News: Family

Family policy group launches ‘Save Girls’ Sports’ campaign to preserve female athletics
“Family Policy Alliance announced Monday that it was launching its “Save Girls’ Sports” campaign, an effort to build support for laws that ensure that only biological females can play in girls’ high school and university athletics.”

“Who Owns Your Children?” – Summit Pushes Back Against Homeschool and Parental Rights Opponents
“Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Bartholet made headlines – and raised a lot of dissent – when an article in Harvard Magazine publicized her opposition to homeschooling. The professor, who is also faculty director of the law school’s Child Advocacy Program, argued that homeschooling was “dangerous,” giving parents “essentially authoritarian control” over their children.”

In the News: Religious Freedom

‘Seismic implications’ for religious liberty, church in SCOTUS ruling
“The ruling also will have seismic implications for religious liberty, setting off potentially years of lawsuits and court struggles, about what this means, for example, for religious organizations with religious convictions about the meaning of sex and sexuality.”

Josh Hawley calls for civil rights investigation into church restrictions over coronavirus
“Sen. Josh Hawley asked Attorney General William Barr to open a civil rights investigation into the restrictions placed on churches during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Over the last couple of weeks, the General Assembly has been discussing a “hate crimes” bill with varying language being thrown around until passage of a final version on Tuesday.

Reasonable people can come to differing opinions on such a bill. As believers, we see the heinousness of the acts associated with hate crimes, and there is an undeniable urge to do something. Yet, when we yield to government the power to judge someone’s thoughts we are handing over a weapon that can be used to one day targets beliefs – not rooted in hate – that a powerful government would seek to attack, namely Christianity.

Because I believe hate crimes legislation sets us on this dangerous trajectory and codifies into law our differences over our sameness, I was the lone testimony in opposition to this proposal in Senate committee last week. While recognizing that this is a tough issue, I’m proud that our organization took this stand, even though it ran counter to the demands of the media elite.

Others, however, opted to support the measure, and they did so for reasons that I respect. My former State Representative, Chuck Efstration, and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan had a greater hand in shaping the language of this bill than anyone, and I consider them both to be friends and allies. While we disagree on the solution, I believe they both supported this bill because they share our vision for a Georgia where all life is cherished.

Yet, as Senator Bill Heath spoke in opposition to the bill during floor debate on Tuesday, I saw a different side of this bill. As he referenced pastors that may be targeted for their beliefs, lobbyists – primarily associated with the Chamber of Commerce – that gathered around the screen to watch the proceedings openly mocked him. As this lone, brave voice standing for freedom spoke up for people of faith, the crowd that spends more money to influence policy under the Gold Dome than anyone, laughed. They scoffed. And, they declared his reference to Scripture to be ridiculous.

As some talk about turning Georgia purple, the need to moderate, or the sole focus of keeping Georgia the best place to do business, this is the crowd they want to turn our state over to. A group that mocks and ridicules faith. A group for whom our values are something to be scoffed at. There is no compromise but bending to their will at the altar of financial gain.

I want Georgia to remain #1 for business, for our people to thrive, prosperity to abound, and opportunity to be there for all. Yet, it’s imperative that our state never sacrifice our values for wealth.

In 2018, we supported Brian Kemp because of his commitment to making Georgia #1 for our values while also maintaining the conditions to keep us #1 for business – never selling out who we are yet keeping our state attractive to job producers. We’ve never regretted that decision for a minute, and we’re proud to call our Governor a close ally.

Yet, there are some that – in the face of liberal opposition – believe the prescription for Georgia is to moderate. My caution to any who would consider that approach, however, is to understand that this approach isn’t a move to the center. It’s a selling of our state to those who would openly mock all we hold dear.

My friends, I’m so grateful for bold leaders like Senator Heath – willing to stand alone, if necessary, to speak truth. I’m also grateful for Brian Kemp and Geoff Duncan and the bold leadership they’ve provided our state. But, with election season upon us, the pressure on our legislators increasing, and a counter-vision for our state that involves us selling out to those who are hostile to our values, it’s up to us to continue on this course.

As believers, we know what the world really thinks of us. Now, more than ever, we cannot afford to shrink away from the fight. We all must stand firm and take action.

To Victory,

Cole Muzio
President and Executive Director

 

 

PS. While I saw some despicable behavior from these lobbyists, I continue to see commendable behavior from our Lt. Governor and many other legislators (I often remark that some of the finest people I know serve in the Georgia General Assembly). Even though Bill Heath – known for voting no most frequently in the Senate – opposed this bill and many others, Geoff Duncan turned the gavel over to him so that he could preside over the Senate briefly as his time in office comes to a close (pictured here with Heath standing next to Senate Pro Tem Butch Miller. This act of civility between two statesmen is just one of many I have the privilege to witness at the Capitol.

There was a ceremony on Monday that celebrated the graduating students of Shiloh Christian High School. It was heartwarming and a wonderful celebration, as the graduating class received their diplomas and embarked on their new journey to life outside a school setting.

I am extremely grateful to the staff and faculty who taught them, not only the basics required by state and federal law, but also the biblical principles that went along with a Christian world-life view. But what about all those graduates from public schools this year? Did they learn about any biblical issues and teachings, and if so, how would that have happened?

There are obvious limitations to what public school teachers can teach their students about faith issues, but I believe that teachers sometimes may not realize the latitude they actually have. Based on Supreme Court rulings and other legal precedent, all teachers, public and private, have the following rights.*

  1. Free expression: So long as a teacher presents both secular and religious aspects of a subject matter in an objective manner, the teacher may bring religion into any topic.
  2. Instruction related to religion as part of the curriculum: The Supreme Court recognized that the study of the Bible or religion when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education is consistent with the First Amendment. Teachers also have the ability, with some limitations, to discuss alternatives to the theory of evolution, such as intelligent design.
  3. Discussion of religious holidays in music, art, drama, and literature: If a public-school teacher displays or presents a secular aspect along with the religious holiday, then the symbol, music, art, drama, or literature should be constitutional. Done in an objective and educational manner, teachers can speak about religious holidays. Religious Christmas carols may be sung in public schools without offending the Constitution, so long as secular songs of the holiday are also sung.
  4. Discussion of religious beliefs and sharing one’s faith with other faculty and staff: Because teachers do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door, they have the right to discuss their religious beliefs with other faculty and staff members. where the overall context makes it clear that they are not participating in their official capacities (e.g., before school, during lunch).
  5. Wearing religious clothing or jewelry at school: If the school allows teachers to wear clothing with secular words or symbols or secular jewelry, then the school probably cannot prohibit a teacher from wearing clothing with religious words or jewelry with religious connotations.
  6. Sponsoring student religious clubs: Schools may require a sponsor of religious clubs, only if the same requirements are imposed on secular clubs. A teacher or other school employee as the agent of the school may be present at a religious meeting in a “non-participatory” capacity, as long as the club is appropriately student-initiated and student-led.
  7. Participating in after-school religious clubs and activities: Teachers may participate in after-school, religious-based, unofficial school-related activities
    ————————————————————————————————
    *All federal and case law interpretation provided by Alliance Defending Freedom
    ————————————————————————————————

So, there you have it. I do not know whether some of these surprised you, but as public-school teachers, the basic theme is that you can present Christian concepts as long as you present other points of view. You can even share your faith, in certain contexts. The final point to remember is that each school district has some latitude in how to interpret these rights.

If you would like to help us continue to protect educational freedoms in our state and nationally and to continue providing this type of information, we’d appreciate your financial support. Simply go here and you can donate a tax-deductible gift to help us continue our work. Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Mark Jorritsma
President and Executive Director

Two weeks ago, 100 pastors signed our letter to ask Governor Murphy to place Houses of Worship in Phase 1 of his reopening plan. Gov. Murphy choose not to respond. Therefore, last week Family Policy Alliance of NJ partnered with pastors from across the state and attorney Demetrios Stratis to send a second legal letter – along with an attached lawsuit – giving Gov. Murphy until Wednesday, May 27, to recognize the essential nature of churches and allow them to safely operate following CDC guidelines.

Regional news covered this joint effort extensively:

I personally hand delivered the letter on behalf of 67 pastors and the upcoming lawsuit to Gov. Murphy’s office on Friday at 10 a.m. Hours later, President Trump called for the reopening of churches nationwide. We are thankful for his pronouncement in protecting the religious rights of believers. However, Gov. Murphy made clear over the weekend that his executive orders pertaining to indoor gatherings of 10 people remain in place for houses of worship. He has previously released plans to enlarge the size of indoor gatherings for libraries, museums, restaurants, and entertainment venues in the forthcoming weeks. Sadly, houses of worship continue to be excluded from that list.

We need you to take immediate action to contact Gov. Murphy’s office before the end of business on Wednesday, May 27. This is the deadline before the attorney and pastors file the lawsuit to protect religious freedom. Pastors are committed to following CDC guidelines. Other states, including the hard-hit state of Massachusetts, have demonstrated it is possible to reopen churches responsibly and safely. His administration must hear from you today!

Note: Allowing churches to meet indoors with limited capacity will not force other churches to assemble if their local leadership does not believe they can meet the CDC guidelines or prefer to continue only offering online church or drive-in church experiences. Unfortunately, Gov. Murphy’s recent allowance of drive-in parking lot worship services discriminates against churches in urban neighborhoods who do not have parking facilities.

Thank you,

Shawn Hyland
Director of Advocacy