For years, Coach Kennedy would pray quietly on the 50-yard line following his games. Then, one day, the school fired him simply for praying by himself.
TODAY his case has finally made it to the US Supreme Court, where our friends at First Liberty Institute defended his God-given right to pray.
This case isn’t just about Coach Kennedy, though. It’s about the right of Americans across the country – especially teachers and coaches – to be able to simply pray.
Meet Coach Kennedy!
We talked to him just last week and now you can hear straight from Coach Kennedy and one of his lawyers at First Liberty.
Learn how Coach got started praying after games (hint: he was inspired by a movie), how he got fired, what he’s learned in this process and why he’s standing up for the right to pray across the country.
Plus, learn what this case could mean for you and what you can do to help protect religious freedom.
“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!
President Trump’s Department of Labor has proposed a new federal rule that would protect an important aspect of religious freedom. But the rule is not yet finalized and needs public support to be implemented.
Under the rule, faith-based organizations that contract with the federal government to provide services would be able to “make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government.”
While it may seem common-sense to allow religious organizations to act – and to hire – based on their faith, that has become a controversial notion in recent years. Left-leaning groups, particularly of the LGBT variety, falsely charge that allowing such practices by faith-based organizations that contract with the federal government promotes bigotry and discrimination.
That radical viewpoint is already well represented in public comments on the rule. Public comments are a critical part of the federal regulatory process, as every proposed rule must have a 30-day window for the public to express support, opposition, concerns or suggestions.
Thus, it’s very important that those who value religious freedom make their voice heard in support of this proposed rule before September 16. Click here to make your comment.
What do I say in my comment?
While simply indicating your support of the proposed rule is just fine, you may wish to add additional comments. Consider the following to draw from or adapt:
Many faith-based organizations provide valuable services to assist the homeless, the hungry, victims of sexual abuse, and more. These faith-based services are valuable to the government because they are effective and because, by contracting out rather than expanding the government bureaucracy, they save taxpayer dollars. Forcing religious organizations to hire people who disagree with the tenets of their faith would undermine the service and, in many cases, force the faith-based organization to withdraw from providing such services. This proposed rule protects the ability of religious organizations to continue providing their valuable aid to people in need.
Thank you for making your voice heard in support of religious freedom!
The Family Policy Alliance Team
The left, with Pelosi at the helm in the House, wants to use the blueprint that helped our nation desegregate schools to manipulate schoolchildren to carry water for the LGBT political agenda—whether their parents like it or not.
What will be the practical implications for parents if Pelosi and her campaign funders succeed? For starters, major changes in your child’s curriculum.
H.R. 5, the bill that would give the LGBT sexual agenda the same status as the Civil Rights Movement, heads to its first hearing in the House Education committee today. Family Policy Alliance’s Vice President of Strategy, Autumn Leva, was able to share with the Daily Signal what impact H.R. 5 will have on American schools and families.
Check out the Daily Signal full article HERE.
We also urgently need your help asking the House of Representatives to oppose H.R. 5!
Through our Action Center, you can instantly send a message to urge your member of Congress to vote NO on H.R. 5. It only takes 1 minute.
By Autumn Leva – Vice President of Strategy
The top LGBT activist groups in the country have a well-coordinated plan.
Their “golden calf” is to add the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” to every state’s and our federal so-called nondiscrimination laws so that anyone who identifies themselves with those classifications gets special protections under the law—just like we intentionally have for the classifications of race, national origin, religion, and others.
To be clear, it’s a big deal to add a new group’s classification to nondiscrimination laws—and it should be.
There are times when special protections for a group are necessary and right. Our country’s history of systemic and deeply-rooted slavery, racism, exclusion, and even violence toward the Black community is a clear example of one of these times. The federal Civil Rights (nondiscrimination) laws protecting individuals from discrimination simply because they belong to a particular racial group provided critical—and even life-saving—protections for Black Americans. Prior to the Civil Rights laws, it was legal for not just a private business owner, but even a government office, to deny a person employment simply because of the color of his skin.
The point is that we reserve creating “special protected groups” in the law for the most serious and compelling reasons like systemic racism.
This is why the LGBT lobby has found it difficult to convince lawmakers to add their preferred groups of “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the states’ nondiscrimination laws—because the LGBT advocacy groups haven’t been able to show state-sponsored systemic and deeply-rooted discrimination against their preferred groups.
State lawmakers are right to reject adding the LGBT lobby’s special groups because the “sexual orientation group” is based upon behavior, which makes it very hard to define. And the “gender identity group” is based upon a person identifying on a spectrum of boy to girl, or seemingly infinite other possibilities anywhere between (or not identifying on the spectrum at all)—again, making that group hard to define and therefore hard to determine how to protect in the law.
But the LGBT national groups are undeterred. They’ve instead shifted their focus from state Capitols to targeting vulnerable towns and cities across America—passing “sexual orientation and gender identity” special classifications at the city level. This means that in some states, the college towns and most liberal cities list sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, but the rest of the state does not. This causes confusion in the law and creates problems for well-meaning citizens—especially business owners—in those targeted cities.
But here’s the encouraging news…some states are successfully pushing back, protecting their individual cities and maintaining consistency in their state’s protected classes. Arkansas is one state that has successfully pushed back, with the help of our state ally, Arkansas Family Council!
Several years ago, Arkansas Family Council helped state legislators successfully pass a law that makes clear that an individual city cannot add any new “protected class” that is not a protected class listed in the statewide statutes. Despite this good law, Fayetteville, Arkansas attempted to add “sexual orientation and gender identity” as protected classes in 2015. After years of legal battles, at the end of January the Arkansas Supreme Court finally ruled that Fayetteville cannot enforce their “sexual orientation and gender identity” ordinance because it violates Arkansas state law regarding protected classes. Congratulations, Arkansas!
So far, only a few states (Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee) prevent their cities from adding “sexual orientation and gender identity” as new protected legal classes. We need more states to follow their lead!
So what can you do?
- Be a light in your city!
Know what’s going on in your city, and let your local state family policy council know immediately if your city is considering adding new protected classes. We’ll need your help to rally others who will join together to help city leaders understand why adding new protected classes is a bad idea.
- Contact your state lawmaker!
Ask your state lawmakers to pass a bill like Arkansas’ that prevents cities in your state from adding new protected classes! Find your state lawmakers HERE.
Standing for Truth with you,
Vice President of Strategy
“…but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” –Daniel 11:32 (ESV)
Thank you for your continued prayers, financial support, and words of encouragement over the past few weeks as we released our endorsements for the upcoming November election. We have some wonderful candidates running for office up and down the ballot, and with your help, we will send them to Santa Fe this January to do the work we need and expect them to do.
In the meantime, there have been several stories in the news recently related to our core issues at Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico. As you know, one of our goals is to help keep you informed of current events related to religious freedom, the family, and life so we can anticipate the challenges and opportunities before us. So, in case you missed it…
Religious Freedom – California Assemblyman Evan Low Withdraws Anti-Religious Freedom Legislation
In a major victory for religious freedom in California, Assemblyman Evan Low withdrew legislation which would have made it illegal under California’s consumer protection law to offer “any practices that seek to…change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” The legislation, which was misleadingly advertised as a mere “conversion therapy ban,” was originally written to cover any financial transaction, which could have led to a ban on Christian books, retreats, conferences, and/or any paid Christian counseling that helps those with unwanted same-sex attraction. Thankfully, after meeting with pastors, professional counselors, and former LGBTQ persons, Assemblyman Low opted to withdraw the legislation and continue the dialogue. We thank Assemblyman Low for this collegial act and we congratulate Jonathan Keller and the California Family Council for their great work on this matter.
Family – “Drag Queen Story Hour” for Children Invades Public Libraries Across the Country
What began in libraries in New York City and Los Angeles has now spread to at least 40 states. With backing from the American Library Association, “Drag Queen Story Hour” events feature men outfitted in makeup and outfits, using their “drag” name, reading stories to children at public libraries. Despite what organizers claim, there is nothing innocent or “family-friendly” about the events. The story-times have a very specific agenda. According to event organizers, the mission of the program is to “capture the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood” and give children “glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role models.” Organizers recommend that drag queens read books to children that promote LGBTQ ideology and even provide a list of resources written for children as young as preschoolers. Recommended readings include Teddy’s Favorite Toy, My Princess Boy, and Worm Loves Worm.
Life – Santa Fe City Council Approves Resolution in Support of Assisted Suicide
This week, the Santa Fe City Council adopted a resolution urging the State Legislature to legalize assisted suicide in New Mexico. Santa Fe joins the City of Albuquerque as the second jurisdiction in our state to pass this resolution and efforts are underway in other cities to follow suit. Ahead of the vote, several of you responded to our Action Alert and contacted the Mayor and City Councilors, and we thank you for making your voice heard. Recently, the Albuquerque Journal and The Santa Fe New Mexican published an op-ed I submitted regarding assisted suicide and our concerns with the message we are sending to our children and vulnerable citizens. As I stated in the op-ed, when it comes to providing care for those facing serious illness and/or the end of life, I believe we can and should do better than simply abandoning them to death and hopelessness. Instead, we should work together to find solutions that bring real compassion and care to those when they need it most.
As we come to the end of our fiscal year this month, I want to thank those of you who have generously given to support our efforts. If you would like to help us end strong and continue strong into 2019, please consider setting up a $25 monthly recurring gift today. If everyone reading this supported us with $25/month, we would exceed our fundraising goal for 2019 and I would not have to solicit donations again until 2020! So, if you believe in what we do and are passionate about our vision for New Mexico—a state where religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and live is cherished—please give today.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
President and Executive Director
No doubt you heard about the travesty of justice that happened to Jack Phillips, a fellow Coloradan and small business owner who is pictured above. The state of Colorado punished him for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, and of course his case is pending right now in the U.S. Supreme Court.
But where did that case even come from? It was an enforcement action by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, an unelected body that badly needs reforming.
Radical, agenda-driven leftists have used the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to penalize Christian business owners. Even Justice Kennedy, author of the decision to legalize gay marriage nationally, pointed out that the Commission has gone too far in their religious bigotry.
The Colorado Senate, in a bi-partisan and unanimous vote, approved changes to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that provided greater accountability, fairness, and equality for all Coloradans. But the Speaker of the House, Denver Democrat Crisanta Duran, is doing all she can to protect the unjust and unfair status quo.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission should serve all Coloradans, and not be a tool to drive a particular leftist agenda that harms people of faith.
Please contact your State Senator and Representative and ask them to support the senate amendments to safeguard your freedoms. It only takes a few moments on our Action Center.
The last day of the Legislature is Wednesday, so please take action right away, and then pass this along to others. Thank you for making your voice heard!
The Family Policy Alliance Team
By Eric Teetsel, President of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas
Months before the 2018 legislative session, a coalition of groups came together and agreed on the need to pass legislation to protect faith-based adoption agencies in Kansas.
Followers of Christ believe that God has adopted us as sons and daughters. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called Children of God; and so we are,” (1 John 3:1). When a person adopts a child into their family they reflect the love God shows us. Adoption is a way we fulfill our mission to “bring justice to the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17) and to “look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).
For these reasons, adoption has been practiced by Christians since the time of Jesus. The early Church preached against rampant infanticide, prohibited members from practicing it, and adopted babies who had been left to die by exposure by their parents.
Christians continue to lead the adoption movement today. Bethany Christian Services is the largest faith-based agency, with 120 offices spread across 36 states providing domestic and international adoption, foster care, pregnancy counseling, and post-adoption support. Catholic Charities helps over 30,000 individuals every year with foster care, adoption placement, and other services. Perhaps the single most important contribution of these groups is their excellence at placing special needs or hard-to-place older children. About 45 percent of adoptions by Catholic Charities and 32 percent by Bethany Christian Services involve finding a forever family for these hard-to-place kids.
Tragically, battles over sexual politics are infringing on the ability of faith-based agencies like these to help kids. Activist groups like the ACLU are determined to use the coercive power of the state to stamp out beliefs they do not like. In states like Massachusetts and Illinois, faith-based providers have been forced to close because they declined to violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs about the meaning of family and rights of kids to a mom and dad.
That is why our Adoption Protection Act is so important. The Act codifies what has been practiced in Kansas for decades, ensuring that faith-based adoption providers will be allowed to continue to help kids find forever families.
We are struggling to get it passed, despite having large Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. In the most recent failed vote in the House, four members of Republican leadership and several Republican committee chairmen voted no. Kansas isn’t alone; my colleagues in Georgia and Oklahoma have experienced similar obstacles.
This fight is far from over, but the experience has been revealing. If a state like Kansas faces such resistance to a simple, common sense law protecting ministries that help kids finds parents what does that say about the broader fight for religious freedom?
It says we need to elect principled and competent statesmen who will use the powers of public office to preserve fundamental freedoms.
It says we need to identify and train the next generation of political leaders who will hold fast to what is right—even when not politically popular
And, it says that we, as believers, need to engage in the political process. When our ability to even care for orphans as God calls us to do is threatened, the Church can’t afford to not have its voice represented in the public square or by our elected leaders.
This is why Family Policy Alliance’s sister ministry created the Statesmen Academy—to equip and train godly leaders who will advance religious freedom, life, and family values at every level of government.
This is why Family Policy Alliance continues to fight for common-sense policies like protecting faith-based adoption agencies in D.C. and in the states.
And, this is why Family Policy Alliance and all our state allies, including Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, will continue to equip voters to select the candidates who will advance the values we share in state and federal elections.
We firmly believe that we don’t need Republican leaders, and we don’t need Democrat leaders. We need leaders who will defend our values—especially basic ones like making sure kids have a chance at finding a forever family.
A special session to be held to consider undoing a troubling city ordinance.
North Carolina lawmakers want to protect the privacy of women and children. They will hold a special session to consider undoing a troubling city ordinance. It could also stop other cities and counties from enacting similar rules.
In February, the Charlotte City Council passed a so-called sexual orientation/gender identity measure that allows men access to women’s bathrooms, changing rooms and locker rooms.
John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory, urging him to stop these dangerous ordinances.
“These changes mean that men can enter women’s restrooms, shower rooms, bathhouses and similar facilities in any ‘public accommodation’ in the City of Charlotte,” he said. “This would place the privacy, safety and dignity of women, children, the elderly and others at great risk of physical, emotional and/or mental harms inherent with unexpectedly encountering an individual of the opposite sex in a facility that is deemed to be private.”
Similar ordinances have been used in other states to drag Christian business owners to court.
Rustin explained that they have forced “small business owners such as florists, bakers, photographers, bed and breakfast owners and others who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage and human sexuality to either conform to a government dictated viewpoint or face legal charges, fines and other penalties. The Charlotte ordinance directly violates the constitutionally protected right to religious liberty, which our Founders considered to be our first and most cherished right.”