Violating The First Amendment

On Monday The Christian Post posted an article about a recent lawsuit in California. As you know, the coronavirus has allowed the governors of some states to exercise power that exceeds their constitutional authority. Governor Gavin Newsom did this when he closed down churches in his state. Grace Community Church, led by Pastor John MacArthur made a decision to hold indoor worship services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The County of Los Angeles has taken an action that appears to be in retaliation for that decision.

The article reports:

Los Angeles County has notified Grace Community Church, led by Pastor John MacArthur, that it will soon be evicted from a parcel of land it uses as a parking lot — a move lawyers say is retaliation for the church’s decision to hold indoor worship services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter dated Aug. 28, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works informed the Sun Valley-based church that on Oct. 1, it is being evicted from a large portion of the parking lot of the church that has been in place continuously since 1975.

The county warns that if Grace Community Church fails to vacate the premise as required, “the District may enter the premises and remove Grace’s personal property in accordance with the Agreement and applicable law, and Grace will be responsible for any resultant expenses incurred by the District.”

Jenna Ellis, special counsel to Thomas More Society, said the move is clearly in retaliation for the church’s decision to fight Los Angeles County’s ban on indoor church worship services.

“Los Angeles County is retaliating against Grace Community Church for simply exercising their constitutionally protected right to hold church and challenging an unreasonable, unlawful health order,” Ellis said.

“In America, we have a judicial system to ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its power, and Grace Community Church has every right to be heard without fear of reprisal. The Democrats’ message to Americans is clear—if you don’t bow to every whim of tyranny, the government will come after you. The Church has peacefully held this lease for 45 years and the only reason the County is attempting eviction is because John MacArthur stood up to their unconstitutional power grab. This is harassment, abusive, and unconscionable.”

The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Governor Newsom has shown a total disrespect for that concept. The County probably does have the right to terminate the lease, but the decision to do that is petty and harmful to the community. Elections matter, and voters need to consider the actions of all the people involved in this when they vote.

We Can, You Can’t

Spectator USA posted an article yesterday about the resumption of Trump rallies in the coming weeks. The article illustrates the double standard being applied to large gatherings of people.

The article reports:

Are you ready for the second blame wave? As the country braces itself for an inevitable repeat surge in COVID-19 infections, we’re told red-state governors ‘opened too soon’. The next outbreak, we can be sure, will be something to do with the fact the President decided to resume his political rallies, approximately two weeks from now.

What nobody says is that individual or social behavior is the cause. It can’t possibly be the thousands of people closely together marching down city streets yelling and chanting, some with masks, some not. The guidelines fell completely by the wayside for the Democrats and much of network cable news.

In the middle of May, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser extended her lockdown order through to the June 8. Two days prior to her own lockdown order was to be reviewed, on June 6, she encouraged mass gatherings of protests, in a tweet saying ‘Let’s all meet here soon #BlackLivesMatter’, with a photo showing off her big block yellow letters painted down a DC street. In a press release about a possible spike in coronavirus cases in her city, after two weeks of protests she encouraged herself, Bowser announced that ‘DC Health has confirmed that a new peak was detected in the data, resetting the Districts Phase One count to nine days of sustained decrease.’

Florida congressswoman Val Demings, who features on the shortlist to be Joe Biden’s VP nominee, tweeted on June 8 that she had joined a ‘Healing and Hope Rally last night to speak with our community as America grieves.’ Two days later she scolded the President: planning to hold ‘mass rallies in Florida and elsewhere as we experience a resurgence in COVID cases is irresponsible and selfish’.

Wow! One set of rules for me, and one set of rules for thee.

The article concludes:

Either the funniest or most egregious behavior came from the Grim Reaper himself. Remember Daniel Uhlfelder? He is the Florida attorney who donned a Grim Reaper costume and harassed Florida beach goers with body bags, he secured through funds raised from Act Blue. Daniel was so serious about the deadly virus spreading through a state run by a Republican governor that he turned his novelty act into a traveling show. But those plans were apparently put on hold as he himself joined in and encouraged protests, as he tweeted on June 7, ‘We are here in the Florida panhandle in Deep South where hundreds have turned out for peaceful protest. No peace. No justice.’ Also, no virus, it seems.

These people want you to believe that this pandemic is caused by some magical woke virus, one which somehow skips those who have the right politics. What it actually does is raise the suspicion that Democrats and progressives have wanted to keep the economy shut down and people at home as long as possible to affect the outcome of the November election. Your job and your family or your church (also protected by the First Amendment) are not important. Our joining in large crowds to protest is.

There is almost assuredly going to be a spike in COVID cases and it will also almost assuredly be put on red-state governors and the President holding rallies. But Democratic activists and politicians themselves created this situation. They encouraged the world to disregard lockdown and people will now follow their lead, no matter how much they are scolded by the media. These people think we’re all stupid. We’re not.

What if there isn’t a significant uptick in coronavirus cases as a result of the protests? Would that mean that the past two months of lockdown was unnecessary? What kind of credibility would the CDC have if we simply see the normal increase due to reopening the economy? It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks.

This Needs To Be Dealt With Quickly And Forcefully

The Gateway Pundit today posted the list of demands made by the Antifa group that has taken over a six-square-block section of Seattle. Before I get to the list, let that sink in a minute–an anarchist domestic terrorist group has taken over a portion of an American city. Can you image the experience of the people living within that area?

The article lists the demands:

Given the historical moment, we’ll begin with our demands pertaining to the Justice System.

    1. The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police. At an equal level of priority we also demand that the city disallow the operations of ICE in the city of Seattle.
    2. In the transitionary period between now and the dismantlement of the Seattle Police Department, we demand that the use of armed force be banned entirely. No guns, no batons, no riot shields, no chemical weapons, especially against those exercising their First Amendment right as Americans to protest.
    3. We demand an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the abolition of youth jails. Get kids out of prison, get cops out of schools. We also demand that the new youth prison being built in Seattle currently be repurposed.
    4. We demand that not the City government, nor the State government, but that the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington, as well as the re-opening of all closed cases reported to the Office of Police Accountability. In particular, we demand that cases particular to Seattle and Washington be reopened where no justice has been served, namely the cases of Iosia Faletogo, Damarius Butts, Isaiah Obet, Tommy Le, Shaun Fuhr, and Charleena Lyles.
    5. We demand reparations for victims of police brutality, in a form to be determined.
    6. We demand that the City of Seattle make the names of officers involved in police brutality a matter of public record. Anonymity should not even be a privilege in public service.
    7. We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.
    8. We demand decriminalization of the acts of protest, and amnesty for protestors generally, but specifically those involved in what has been termed “The George Floyd Rebellion” against the terrorist cell that previously occupied this area known as the Seattle Police Department. This includes the immediate release of all protestors currently being held in prison after the arrests made at 11th and Pine on Sunday night and early Saturday morning June 7th and 8th, and any other protesters arrested in the past two weeks of the uprising, the name Evan Hreha in particular comes to mind who filmed Seattle police macing a young girl and is now in jail.
    9. We demand that the City of Seattle and the State Government release any prisoner currently serving time for a marijuana-related offense and expunge the related conviction.
    10. We demand the City of Seattle and State Government release any prisoner currently serving time just for resisting arrest if there are no other related charges, and that those convictions should also be expunged.
    11. We demand that prisoners currently serving time be given the full and unrestricted right to vote, and for Washington State to pass legislation specifically breaking from Federal law that prevents felons from being able to vote.
    12. We demand an end to prosecutorial immunity for police officers in the time between now and the dissolution of the SPD and extant justice system.
    13. We demand the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.
    14. We demand in replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs as a replacement for imprisonment.
    15. We demand autonomy be given to the people to create localized anti-crime systems.
    16. We demand that the Seattle Police Department, between now and the time of its abolition in the near future, empty its “lost and found” and return property owned by denizens of the city.
    17. We demand justice for those who have been sexually harassed or abused by the Seattle Police Department or prison guards in the state of Washington.
    18. We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that each and every SPD officer turn on their body cameras, and that the body camera video of all Seattle police should be a matter of easily accessible public record.
    19. We demand that the funding previously used for Seattle Police be redirected into: A) Socialized Health and Medicine for the City of Seattle. B) Free public housing, because housing is a right, not a privilege. C) Public education, to decrease the average class size in city schools and increase teacher salary. D) Naturalization services for immigrants to the United States living here undocumented. (We demand they be called “undocumented” because no person is illegal.) E) General community development. Parks, etc.

We also have economic demands that must be addressed.

    1. We demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control.
    2. We demand the restoration of city funding for arts and culture to re-establish the once-rich local cultural identity of Seattle.
    3. We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington, due to the overwhelming effect that education has on economic success, and the correlated overwhelming impact of poverty on people of color, as a form of reparations for the treatment of Black people in this state and country.
    4. We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that Seattle Police be prohibited from performing “homeless sweeps” that displace and disturb our homeless neighbors, and on equal footing we demand an end to all evictions.
    5. We demand a decentralized election process to give the citizens of Seattle a greater ability to select candidates for public office such that we are not forced to choose at the poll between equally undesirable options. There are multiple systems and policies in place which make it impractical at best for working-class people to run for public office, all of which must go, starting with any fees associated with applying to run for public office.

Related to economic demands, we also have demands pertaining to what we would formally call “Health and Human Services.”

    1. We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.
    2. We demand the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned businesses. Your money is our power and sustainability.
    3. We demand that the city create an entirely separate system staffed by mental health experts to respond to 911 calls pertaining to mental health crises, and insist that all involved in such a program be put through thorough, rigorous training in conflict de-escalation.

Finally, let us now address our demands regarding the education system in the City of Seattle and State of Washington.

    1. We demand that the history of Black and Native Americans be given a significantly greater focus in the Washington State education curriculum.
    2. We demand that thorough anti-bias training become a legal requirement for all jobs in the education system, as well as in the medical profession and in mass media.
    3. We demand the City of Seattle and State of Washington remove any and all monuments dedicated to historical figures of the Confederacy, whose treasonous attempts to build an America with slavery as a permanent fixture were an affront to the human race.

Transcribed by @irie_kenya and @AustinCHowe. Special thanks to Magik for starting and facilitating the discussion to create this list, to Omari Salisbury for the idea to break the list into categories, and as well a thanks to Kshama Sawant for being the only Seattle official to discuss with the people on Free Capitol Hill the night that it was liberated.

Bringing in the National Guard would not look good, but I believe it needs to be done. This is the equivalent of a foreign entity taking over a portion of an American city. This cannot be allowed to stand.

The Right To Work

The American Spectator posted an article today about a recent decision by the West Virginia Supreme  Court.

The article reports:

This spring, the West Virginia high court upheld the state’s right-to-work law. That part of the ruling was no surprise, as courts for over 70 years have said right-to-work laws are constitutional.

Perhaps the more significant part of the ruling, which garnered less attention, is that the court essentially said the entire country should be right-to-work.

Right-to-work simply means that a union cannot get a worker fired for not paying the union. A right-to-work law gives workers the freedom to support a union if they are doing a good job, and refrain from supporting a union if they wish.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Janus v. AFSCME  that everything government unions do is political and that public employees have a First Amendment right to decide to support their union or not. The Janus case brought right-to-work to public employees across the country.

The article concludes:

Even West Virginia Justice Margaret Workman, who was critical of right-to-work, agreed in part and disagreed in part with the decision, writing, “I also believe that although Janus was a decision involving only public employees’ unions, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows; there is no principled basis on which to conclude that under the legal analysis upon which Janus is based, a prohibition on the collection of agency fees is constitutional for public employees’ unions but unconstitutional for private employees’ unions.”

Currently, 23 states can force private sector employees to pay unions. Similarly, airline and railroad employees, who are governed by a separate federal law, are also forced to support unions whether they want to or not.

If the U.S. Supreme Court does eventually decide the question with the same reasoning as the West Virginia Supreme Court, then all employees, public and private, will have the right to choose whether or not the union at their workplace is doing a good job and if they want to support it.

After all, freedom is blowing in the wind.

If a union is necessary in a company, the employees will support it. If it is not, the employees will not support it. That is called freedom.

Some Thoughts On Our Religious Liberty

Yesterday Andrew McCarthy posted an article at The National Review about a recent Supreme Court decision. The title of the article is, “It wasn’t just religious liberty that Chief Justice Roberts strangled.” The article is detailed and complex, so I suggest that you follow the link to read the entire article. However, there are a few things I want to point out that I think are very significant.

The article notes:

Most startling was that Chief Justice John Roberts not only joined the court’s four left-leaning justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan) in declining to uphold religious liberty. Roberts also wrote a brief opinion explaining his decision. 

That opinion is an eye-opener. Roberts accords the right to worship no deference by virtue of its being a fundamental liberty expressly protected by the First Amendment. We are to see it as an activity like any other activity, commercial or social, the pros and cons of which technocrats must weigh in fashioning regulations. The opinion, moreover, champions the power of government officials to dictate to the people who elect them without “second-guessing by an unelected federal judiciary” — exactly the power that the Bill of Rights, and the incorporation jurisprudence by which the court has applied much of it to the states, are meant to deny.

The article also points out:

In rejecting the religious liberty claim, Roberts counters that it is not a matter of unlawful discrimination if different things are regulated in different ways. Religious gatherings, he rationalized, are being restricted like gatherings that are physically similar, such as lectures, concerts, theater productions and spectator sports. He conceded that less intense restrictions have been imposed on other activities, such as shopping, banking and laundering. But that, he insists, is because of salient differences in the way they are conducted: small groups, no extended proximity, and so on.

But wait a second. What about the constitutional pedigree of religious exercise? That was the point pressed by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in a brief dissent joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. (Justice Samuel Alito also opposed the denial of First Amendment relief but did not join Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion.)

The article concludes:

There is no recognition, in Roberts’ rendering, that there is another side to this equation — a side where 400 times the number of people who’ve died have lost their jobs, millions of them facing ruin. The stubborn message: Don’t expect the court to help you, you’re the ones who elected these people; if you don’t like what they do, un-elect them. If you’ve elected social engineers who say the Bill of Rights is above their pay grade, that’s your problem.

The justices are happy to order that abortion must be available, to decide which couples (or perhaps throuples) must be permitted to marry, and to dictate what’s ever next in the ceaseless march of progressive, organic “liberty.” But as for the liberties that are actually in the Constitution, we are on our own.

Unfortunately Justice Roberts has been something of a disappointment to those of us who expected him to be a responsible judge who would uphold the Constitution. He has wandered away from the constitutional role of the judiciary more than once.

Congress Shall Make No Law…

Townhall posted an article today calling attention to one aspect of the response to the coronavirus that needs to be looked at closely.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The headline of the Townhall article states, “If ‘Congress Shall Make No Law…’ Why Can Governors?” That is a very good question. I realize that the coronavirus is real and that it is a threat to certain groups of our population. But it is not a threat to everyone. There are people who could easily continue to go about their business without negatively impacting anyone, yet that has not been allowed to happen. If my Facebook feed is accurate, many small businesses have been shut down while the big box stores have been allowed to remain open. Assuming small business owners can practice social distancing in their stores, that makes no sense (unless there is an ulterior motive).

The article at Townhall notes:

The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That’s unambiguous. Not “pretty unambiguous,” just unambiguous. Full stop. Yet governors across the country are ignoring or suspending almost every one of those rights enumerated at the top of the Bill of Rights, with little to no pushback from the press, which just happens to be the only part of the first two amendments not under assault.

It’s actually not under assault — it’s gone — suspended indefinitely in the name of “the common good.” Governors have declared coronavirus emergencies and wiped clean the rights our nation was founded for the purpose of putting those rights beyond the reach of government.

These suspensions were not done by vote; they were done with the stroke of a pen. Constitutionally, they can’t be done by either. There is no provision of the Constitution allowing for the waiving of rights under any condition, but most legislatures are content to sit back and watch this all proceed without their fingerprints anywhere near it.

Governors made a point of canceling Easter services, even at drive-in churches set up in parking lots. “You’re not allowed to leave your home,” they declared. The irony of placing innocent Americans under house arrest while releasing prisoners in the name of “compassion” was lost on journalists too busy expressing indignation that people might want to worship even in the face of a pandemic.

The article concludes:

Now they’re taking to the halls of capitals, to the streets. Police are being ordered to put down offenders demanding their liberty back. Many police departments are refusing, but an alarming number of them are complying. It was impossible just two months ago for the answer to the jailhouse question of, “What are you in for?” to be answered with, “I went to the beach,” yet this is the reality under many Democrat Governors.

We will wrestle our freedoms back and soon. When we do, it’s important to remember not only who took them and why, but who tried not to give them back. From Maine to Michigan, from Illinois to California, they were progressive Democrats. They didn’t see coronavirus as a tragedy. They saw it as an opportunity. As Hillary Clinton said last week, “this would be a terrible crisis to waste.”

This is the Democrats’ nature: they know better than you do what you need, they are better than you are, smarter than you. Coronavirus just allowed a peek into their minds. Individuals are irrelevant to the left, as are your rights. The Constitution is an obstacle to be overcome, by any means available, not the restraint on their power it was written to be. Remember that come November…or you soon won’t be allowed to say it.

Our freedom is in danger. We need to wake up quickly.

Why The U. S. Constitution Matters

We are in the midst of a major health crisis. We need to be intelligent in handling this crisis. However, we also need to remember that our Constitution applies in ALL situations–crisis or not. Unfortunately some of our elected leaders have forgotten that.

The Federalist posted an article today about some of our elected leaders who have chosen to ignore the Constitution in dealing with the coronavirus.

The article reports:

The most egregious example of this outpouring of authoritarianism was an attempt by Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer to ban drive-in church services on Easter. On Holy Thursday, one day before Christians were to begin their most important religious celebrations of the year, Fischer declared that drive-in Easter services would be illegal.

To remove all doubt about his seriousness, he also threatened arrest and criminal penalties for anyone who dared violate his order, and in an Orwellian twist, invited people to snitch on their fellow citizens. Fischer justified this by saying it was “to save lives.”

Thankfully, a federal judge made short work of the mayor’s idiotic power-grab, issuing a temporary restraining order against the city of Louisville on Saturday, writing so as to remove all doubt, “The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”

There are other examples of this overreach:

…That’s a good start, but the targeting of churches, while undoubtedly the most offensive overreach by state and local governments, is hardly the only instance of government gone wild. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has taken it upon herself to declare what items are and are not “essential,” dictating to grocery stores what they can and cannot sell as part of a sweeping order issued Friday.

Among the nonessential, and therefore banned, items are fruit and vegetable plants and seeds. Never mind that growing fruits and vegetables at home right now would help maintain social distancing during the pandemic, the governor has spoken and her word is law. (Lottery tickets, on the other hand, are still permitted.)

Beyond the fruit and vegetable ban, the governor’s order is an object lesson in the absurdity and inconsistency of arbitrary power and rule by fiat. Michiganders are banned from traveling “between residences” if they own a cottage or a summer home, but the ban only applies to Michigan residents, so an out-of-stater with a cottage in the Upper Peninsula could presumably still visit. The ban also still allows travel between states, so if a Michigander has a cottage in Wisconsin or Ohio, he can travel without fear of being arrested or fined by state police.

The article concludes:

Why did Whitmer tailor her order this way? Probably because she knows she has no authority to ban travel between states, or issue orders to Americans generally—no more than a mayor has the authority to shut down drive-in Easter services in his city.

That these officials need to be reminded of that, and in some cases restrained by federal judges, bodes very ill for America. Now more than ever, we need leaders who don’t just care about protecting us from the pandemic, but also care about preserving liberty in a time of crisis.

When we vote in November, we need to remember who was willing to abide by the Constitution and who used the coronavirus as an excuse for a power trip.

Uneven Precautions

Hot Air posted an article today about some recent comments by New York City Mayor DeBlasio.

The article reports:

“A small number of religious communities, specific churches and specific synagogues, are unfortunately not paying attention to this guidance even though it’s so widespread,” the New York Democrat said Friday at his daily press briefing.

“I want to say to all those who are preparing for the potential of religious services this weekend: If you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services,” he added.

De Blasio said that continued resistance of authorities to close religious services could mean a permanent shutdown.

The last paragraph is an amazing statement. Particularly when you consider the fact that he has not closed down the parks in New York City.

The article notes:

But it’s still interesting to see how selective the Mayor is in the targets he picks for “special treatment” in terms of enforcing his social distancing decrees. As I mentioned above, why threaten to close the synagogues when he still hasn’t closed the public parks? We’re seeing much larger crowds still clogging the parks than you’re likely to find in the average temple on any given Saturday.

The last paragraph of the article reminds us how silly Mayor De Blasio’s statement about closing down the churches and synagogues is:

The last thing I’ll touch on here was de Blasio’s admonishment about potentially closing the buildings “permanently.” That’s hogwash. Or perhaps malarkey, if you’re feeling more Bidenesque. Sooner or later this virus will pass. When it does, the rules about not gathering in large groups will go out the window. And any elected official found trying to shutter churches and synagogues at that point will quickly find themselves on the losing end of a massive court case, if not run out of town on a rail.

At any rate, one thing Americans need to make sure of is that the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment of our Constitution do not get lost in the fight against the coronavirus.

Why The Bill Of Rights Is Important

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The free exercise of religion will be under scrutiny in the Supreme Court this session.

Yesterday CBN News reported:

The US Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on an important religious liberty concern. On Wednesday, the high court announced it will take up two cases which could decide if religious institutions have the right to pick who teaches their religion. Or if the government gets to have the final say.

Both cases will be rolled into one case for a hearing this spring at the court. Both involve California Catholic schools that each dismissed fifth-grade teachers the schools felt were performing their jobs poorly.

These teachers were deeply involved in the religious education of their students. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned lower court rulings and decided neither teacher was so involved in religious teaching that the schools should be allowed to get rid of them.

The article concludes:

Becket ( Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) Executive Director Montserrat Alvarado stated, “Parents trust Catholic schools to assist them in one of their most important duties: forming the faith of their children.   If courts can second-guess a Catholic school’s judgment about who should teach religious beliefs to fifth graders, then neither Catholics nor any other religious group can be confident in their ability to convey the faith to the next generation.”

The two cases are Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James Catholic School v. Biel. In the Morrissey-Berru case, the Ninth Circuit agreed the teacher had “significant religious responsibilities,” but decided those duties weren’t religious enough for the school to invoke its First Amendment right to control who’s teaching the faith to its students.

The cases involve something known as the ministerial exception. It represents the idea that religious groups involved in teaching their faith can only truly be free from government interference if they have full control of choosing who teaches that faith in their institutions.

Freedom is always one generation away from extinction. We need to protect all of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

Losing Our First Amendment Rights

On Tuesday, The Christian Post posted an article about a bill recently signed into law in New York State.

The article reports:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that prohibits churches and other nonprofits from campaigning for or against political candidates.

Cuomo signed Senate Bill S4347 last week, creating a state-level equivalent to the current federal Johnson Amendment, which bans electioneering among nonprofits.

In a statement released last Wednesday, Cuomo said he felt the law was necessary in response to efforts by the Trump administration to weaken the Johnson Amendment.

“For too long we have listened to the Trump administration threaten to remove common sense protections prohibiting tax exempt organizations from engaging in inappropriate political activities,” Cuomo said.

“New Yorkers have a right to free and fair elections, and this law will further protect our democracy from unjustified interferences once and for all.”

Also known as Assembly Bill A623, the bill amended the state tax law to say that  nonprofit organizations, religious or secular, cannot participate in “any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

The article reminds us:

In May 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order which, among other things, called for the federal government to stop enforcing the Johnson Amendment.

“In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective,” stated Section 2 of the executive order.

Despite the executive order and Trump saying on multiple occasions that he eliminated the amendment, it still has not been officially repealed.

The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

People do not give up their First Amendment rights because they enter a church.

The article also includes a quote by Ryan Tucker of the Alliance Defending Freedom:

Ryan Tucker of the Alliance Defending Freedom took issue with Cuomo’s signing of the law, writing in a New York Daily News opinion piece last week that the state government was “cracking down on political speech.”

“In the minds of New York lawmakers, a group can only speak freely if it pays the government extra for the privilege of doing so. That type of financial coercion may pay for a payroll increase in Albany, but it will sideline the roles of both secular and religious charities,” Tucker wrote.

“Cuomo’s comments are wrong. The government can’t condition your tax-exempt status with the surrender of your First Amendment rights or any other constitutionally protected freedom.”

That is a very interesting way to look at this. Why should churches give up their right to speak out on political issues that are relevant to spiritual life simply because they are tax exempt?

When Is Higher Education Against Diversity?

Yesterday Christian Headlines posted an article with the following headline, “Duke University’s Student Government Rejects Young Life over LGBTQ Policies.”

The article reports:

Duke University’s student government has denied the Christian organization Young Life official status as a student group on campus, citing its policy on sexuality.

The decision by the Duke Student Government Senate on Wednesday (Sept. 11) comes amid ongoing clashes nationwide between religious student groups and colleges and universities that have added more robust nondiscrimination policies.

Young Life, like many evangelical groups, regards same-sex relations as sinful. Its policy forbids LGBTQ staff and volunteers from holding positions in the organization.

The student newspaper the Duke Chronicle reported Thursday that the student government senate unanimously turned down official recognition for the Young Life chapter, because it appeared to violate a guideline that every Duke student group include a nondiscrimination statement in its constitution. 

Young Life, which is based in Colorado Springs, is a 78-year-old organization with a mission to introduce adolescents to Christianity and help them grow in their faith. It has chapters in middle schools, high schools and colleges in all 50 states and more than 90 countries around the world.

But the student government objected to a clause in Young Life’s sexuality policy. After the student government was told the organization would not change its sexuality policy, it rejected the group.

The Young Life policy states: “We do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ. We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.”

So following the Biblical guidelines on sexuality (both heterosexuality and homosexuality) will prevent your Christian group from being recognized on a College Campus.

The article concludes:

Over the past two decades, many colleges and universities have attempted to exclude religious groups because of their positions on sexuality, among them InterVarsity and Business Leaders in Christ.

Greg Jao, senior assistant to the president at InterVarsity, said about 70 colleges and universities have attempted to exclude InterVarsity chapters over the years — in some cases because it bars LGBTQ employees, in others because its faith statement more generally violates school nondiscrimination policies.

In most cases, the issues are resolved, but others have ended up in court. InterVarsity is now suing the University of Iowa and Wayne State University.

“Most of the time universities back down because it’s a violation of students’ First Amendment rights,” said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm that defends religious freedom cases.

Duke, however, may be in a different category as a private institution. Private universities don’t have the same obligations under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause that a government entity does.

As a private entity, Duke may actually be able to do this, but any Christian who sends their child to Duke is supporting an anti-Christian agenda.

Can’t Both Viewpoints Have A Parade?

Last weekend there was a Straight Pride Parade in Boston. A group of people decided that since there have been gay pride parades, they should be able to have a straight pride parade. As expected, there were protestors in attendance. Some of them were not very nice.

The Washington Times is reporting today that some of the people who misbehaved during the parade, who expected to get off with a slap on the wrist after being arrested, are not necessarily getting off that easily.

The article reports:

Two Boston Municipal Court judges refused to throw out the charges against the 18 defendants who appeared Tuesday in court, frustrating defense attorneys and prosecutors who sought to have minor charges dismissed, as reported by local news outlets.

Judge Thomas Horgan also told out-of-towners that they risked 90-day jail sentences if they set foot in Boston for any reason other than court and lawyer appointments, rejecting one defendant’s request to visit relatives in the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

“Stay out of Boston,” said Judge Horgan, according to the Boston Herald.

The article continues:

Meanwhile, Larry Calderone, vice president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, praised the courtroom outcome, noting that many of those arrested came from outside the city and state and accusing them of coming to “create havoc.”

He said the four officers injured have not been able to return to work yet, and that the union wants the offenders “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“A lot of the assaults that happened during the day, you only knew of a few of them,” Mr. Calderone told reporters outside the courtroom. “Many officers were assaulted throughout the day with bottles of urine being thrown at them, bottles of chemicals, bottles of unidentified material, rocks.”

The city is looking into complaints that police used excessive force during the event.

“Multiple times I asked why I was arrested, he said ‘for calling me a pig,’” Joshua Abrams, who was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, told WBZ-TV before his arraignment. “Well, that’s my First Amendment right to do so.”

If Mr. Abrams was resisting arrest, that is a crime. This is how protestors who cross the line from protest to assault need to be treated. Enforcing the law serves as a warning to those who want to cause trouble that they will be held accountable for the trouble they cause. The First Amendment allows protest; it does not allow assault.

As a side note, American Greatness reported the following yesterday:

Far-left Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley lent a helping hand to violent antifa agitators over the weekend after a number of them were arrested on assault and battery charges.

The two “Squad” members urged their followers on Twitter to contribute to the bail fund for the “counter-protesters” who tangled with law enforcement while protesting the Straight Pride Parade in Boston on Saturday. A masked Antifa protester told reporters that the violence was necessary in order to shut up Straight Pride marchers.

This is the fact of the new Democrat party. If you are for law and order, there is no way you can support this. I have not yet heard any Democrats denouncing these tweets.

The First Amendment Allows The Free Exercise Of Religion–It Doesn’t Restrict It

The First Amendment was designed to prevent the establishment of one religion sanctioned by the government. It was not designed to put obstacles in the way of people choosing to practice their religion.

Yesterday CNS News posted an article about a policy of the Trump administration designed to protect the rights of Americans to practice their religion.

The article reports:

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham praised Vice President Mike Pence for defending religious freedom at Veterans Affairs hospitals in a recent speech, where Pence said, “Under this administration, VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones.” 

In an Aug. 29 post on Facebook, Rev. Graham wrote, “‘VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones.’ Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the American Legion’s 101st National Convention yesterday about all that this administration is doing to help our nation’s military veterans.”

“He also addressed the issue of a current lawsuit in New Hampshire to remove the Bible of a World War II POW from a VA hospital’s ‘missing man’ table,” remarked Graham. “Vice President Pence said, ‘…under the last administration, VA hospitals were removing Bibles and even banning Christmas carols in an effort to be politically correct.

The article concludes:

“In 2014, the Navy Exchange Service Command issued a memo for the removal of Bibles in Navy Lodge guest rooms following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation,” reads the letter. “The Navy reversed course and announced that the Bibles would be replaced.  Similarly, the Establishment Clause does not require that you remove Bibles from the Missing Man Table displays.  The mere presence of a Bible coerces no one.”

At the Manchester Veterans Affairs hospital in New Hampshire there is a “missing man” memorial table that includes a Bible. In May, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, headed by Michael Weinstein, filed a federal lawsuit to have the Bible removed. The litigation is ongoing.

“That sectarian Christian Bible bolted down to that POW/MIA table at the Manchester NH VAMC is a grotesque gang sign of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism, exceptionalism and supremacy, indeed a middle finger of unconstitutional repugnance to the plurality and separation of church and state guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution,” Weinstein told the Military Times.

Weinstein is well known in the military as someone who frequently uses lawsuits to end religious speech. Barack Obama appointed Mikey Wienstein to be a consultant to the Pentagon to develop new policies on religious tolerance, including a policy for court-martialing military chaplains who share the Christian Gospel during spiritual counseling of American troops. These are some of the policies that President Trump is quietly undoing.

A Disturbing Trend On College Campuses

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Basically that means that even people you disagree with have the right to speak. However, that principle is not being taught on many of our college campuses.

The Daily Signal posted an article today about some recent events at Williams College.

The article reports:

At Williams College in Massachusetts, biology professor Dr. Luana Maroja wrote online last year that she was concerned about student and administrator attitudes regarding free speech. She gathered more than 100 faculty signatures on a petition calling for the school to adopt what is known as the “Chicago Principles,” a statement in favor of free expression developed by the University of Chicago.

More than 60 schools have endorsed this statement, a welcome response to the disrupted events and other nonsense that have plagued universities around the country.

Some Williams students will have none of it. Maroja says that more than a dozen of them barged into a faculty meeting last November holding signs such as “free speech harms” and saying faculty were trying to “kill” the students.

After that, tensions escalated. The College Fix reports that a professor subsequently “threatened violence” if Williams adopted the Chicago statement. All this, because Maroja dared to promote the idea that Williams should maintain a “climate of mutual respect.”

If that isn’t troubling enough, a poll of the students is even more troubling:

A recent survey of college students found that more than half of respondents say shouting down speakers is “always” or “sometimes” acceptable. Sixteen percent of respondents say it is “always” or “sometimes” acceptable to use violence to stop a speech protest or rally.

These responses are disturbing. Civil society – life in the office, in your neighborhood, at your child’s soccer game – depends on people tolerating those who do not share their beliefs, not trying to silence them through intimidation or violence. The American Dream dies if we live in fear of persecution.

Williams officials should take seriously the threats posed to the next generation of adults that come from limiting the ideas that can be considered on campus. The school should require students to attend sessions on free speech during freshman orientation – and explain that hiding from ideas with which you disagree is a poor strategy for life.

New policies for public universities in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin now serve as examples of how to protect everyone’s freedom of expression in a campus community.

These policies affirm the idea that anyone should be allowed to protest or demonstrate in public areas as long as they do not prevent others from doing the same. Moreover, they stipulate that their public universities must be prepared to penalize individuals who silence others.

The article notes that Williams is a private college and can set its own policies regarding free speech. However, it is troubling that the First Amendment is no longer appreciated or practiced on some college campuses.

Elections Have Consequences

The Daily Caller posted an article today about a planned resolution that will be introduced in Congress this week by Democratic Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar.

The article reports:

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar says she will introduce a resolution this week supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The freshman Congresswoman told Al Monitor on Tuesday that her resolution approving of a boycott of one of America’s allies will be an exercise in “American values,” and a stand for the First Amendment. The move comes after President Donald Trump accused Omar and other progressive congresswomen of being anti-American.

“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” she told the outlet. “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

I don’t have a problem with anyone exercising their First Amendment rights. However, it is interesting to me that a Congresswoman would introduce a bill approving a boycott of one of America’s strongest allies. Israel is the only truly free country in the Middle East–it is the only country that allows people to worship whatever god they serve. The Congresswoman has shown herself to be anti-Semitic in previous statements, and this resolution simply reinforces that idea. Last time I checked, antisemitism was a form of racism. It seems that some of the charges this woman is making against the President might apply to her.

A City That Has Forgotten Its Heritage

The Daily Caller is reporting today that the City of Boston is being sued by Liberty Council for refusing to include a Christian flag in a 248-flag display on Constitution Day in 2017 and 2018.

The article notes:

“The city’s application policy refers to the flagpoles as a ‘public forum’ open to ‘all applicants,”’ Shurtleff said in a statement, “City officials have never denied the ‘messages’ communicated by Boston Pride and the pink and blue ‘transgender’ flag, and even the flags of Communist China and Cuba, but will not allow the civic and historical Christian message of Camp Constitution.

Boston has allowed the pride flag, Turkish flag, communist Chinese flag and Cuban flag — among others — to fly high and proud above city hall. Their reason for disallowing Camp Constitution’s Christian flag: no non-secular flags permitted, the lawsuit filed by the group says.

However, the Turkish flag is not secular. Turkey is one of 21 different nations with an Islamic symbol on their flag.

The article concludes:

“Censoring religious viewpoints in a public forum where secular viewpoints are permitted violates the First Amendment,” said Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said in a statement. “Boston city officials may not ban the Christian flag as part of a privately-sponsored event when they allow any other flag by numerous private organizations. It’s time for the court to stop the city’s unconstitutional censorship,” he added.

Camp Constitution executives are optimistic about “key undisputed facts” that will compel the court in their favor. They say the city changed their parameters about the flags after their application and that the refusal is “content-based” discrimination.

The City of Boston’s press office did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation for comment at the time of publishing.

Christianity is a major part of America’s heritage. The Judeo-Christian moral principles form the basis for our legal system. It seems a little odd to allow the Islamic flag to be flown and not allow the Christian flag to be flown.

The Growing Contempt For Freedom Of Speech

Walter E. Williams posted an article at Newsbusters today about the attack on free speech.

The Professor notes:

The First Amendment to our Constitution was proposed by the 1788 Virginia ratification convention during its narrow 89 to 79 vote to ratify the Constitution. Virginia’s resolution held that the free exercise of religion, right to assembly and free speech could not be canceled, abridged or restrained. These Madisonian principles were eventually ratified by the states on March 1, 1792.

Gettysburg College professor Allen C. Guelzo, in his article “Free Speech and Its Present Crisis,” appearing in the autumn 2018 edition of City Journal, explores the trials and tribulations associated with the First Amendment. The early attempts to suppress free speech were signed into law by President John Adams and became known as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Later attempts to suppress free speech came during the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln and his generals attacked newspapers and suspended habeas corpus. It wasn’t until 1919, in the case of Abrams v. United States, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally and unambiguously prohibited any kind of censorship.

Unfortunately many of our college campuses have lost the concept of free speech and open debate.

The article reports:

Today, there is growing contempt for free speech, most of which is found on the nation’s college and university campuses. Guelzo cites the free speech vision of Princeton University professor Carolyn Rouse, who is chairperson of the department of Anthropology. Rouse shared her vision on speech during last year’s Constitution Day lecture. She called free speech a political illusion, a baseless ruse to enable people to “say whatever they want, in any context, with no social, economic, legal or political repercussions.” As an example, she says that a climate change skeptic has no right to make “claims about climate change, as if all the science discovered over the last X-number of centuries were irrelevant.”

Rouse is by no means unique in her contempt for our First Amendment rights. Faculty leaders of the University of California consider certain statements racist microagressions: “America is a melting pot”; “America is the land of opportunity”; “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough”; and “There is only one race, the human race.” The latter statement is seen as denying the individual as a racial/cultural being. Then there’s “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” That’s “racist” speech because it gives the impression that “people of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.” Other seemingly innocuous statements deemed unacceptable are: “When I look at you, I don’t see color,” or “Affirmative action is racist.” Perhaps worst of all is, “Where are you from, or where were you born?”

We should reject any restriction on free speech. We might ask ourselves, “What’s the true test of one’s commitment to free speech?” It does not come when people permit others to say or publish ideas with which they agree. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when others are permitted to say and publish ideas they deem offensive.

I hated it when the neo-Nazis were allowed to march in Skokie, Illinois, but that is what free speech means. The concept of hate speech is the antithesis of free speech–it is an excuse for censorship. If you are not comfortable enough in your own ideas to be willing to let others who do not share those ideas speak, then maybe living in a free country isn’t your cup of tea.

When Perspective Is Missing

All of us have our sensitive spots. Sometimes we react to comments we find offensive that were not meant to be offensive at all. Sometimes we read meanings that were never intended into things based on our own experience. Some recent local events illustrate that point.

A local weekly newspaper called The County Compass (which I would consider a conservative news outlet) publishes a page written by members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). The CCTA is composed of ordinary citizens who are concerned about the rapid growth of government and increase in taxes in recent years. Members attend local board meetings of various kinds and attempt to hold our elected officials accountable. They also post vetting reports of candidates on their website during elections to provide voters with information. The group is made of up people of all ages from different professional backgrounds and personal experiences. Recently the CCTA page dealt with the issue of bringing those to justice who have engaged in a soft coup attempt to undo the 2016 election. The writer of the article stated that she hoped those guilty would be held accountable for their violations of the civil rights of Americans and their attempted coup. At the top of the article was a picture of a noose, which to many Americans represents an old fashioned concept of justice. Unfortunately, for some people a noose, even in a totally non-racial context, represents racism. The professionally outraged saw the picture and swung into action.

A local young black woman chose to post that graphic on her Facebook page with a remark about the paper’s being racist for having published it; she chose to disregard the subject matter of the article entirely; therefore, her post was completely out of context.

The NAACP got involved, and a local TV station interviewed Jeff Aydelette, the publisher of The County Compass, and the NAACP on the subject.  Then this past Wednesday, about 120 members of the NAACP staged a protest rally outside the offices of the Compass.  Jeff offered them chairs, went around and shook hands, and behaved in his usual gentlemanly way.  Again, a report was featured on local TV.

Now The County Compass is getting calls from advertisers who are cancelling their ads.  They are saying that the NAACP is telling them that their businesses will be boycotted if they continue to advertise in the Compass.

Although I am willing to concede that the picture may represent different things to different people, I think it needs to be viewed in context. I believe that this protest is simply an effort by the political left and its allies to shut down a conservative news outlet. This should be a wake-up call to all Americans who value free speech and freedom of the press that our First Amendment rights are under attack.

 

Forgetting Your Oath

On Tuesday The Washington Examiner reported the following:

Democratic Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson asserted that people who mock members of Congress online should face prosecution.

“Those people who are online making fun of members of Congress are a disgrace, and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable [sic],” Wilson said during comments made Tuesday outside of the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Homestead, Florida.

“We’re gonna shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted,” she continued. “You cannot intimidate members of Congress, frighten members of Congress. It is against the law, and it’s a shame in this United States of America.”

Wow.

This is the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The underline is mine.

This is the oath Representative Wilson took when she became a U.S. Representative:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

Enough said.

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Breitbart reported today that a  student at Park City High School in Park City, Utah, has admitted to releasing pepper spray inside a lecture hall last month in an attempt to prevent the school’s Turning Point USA student group from hosting an event. The student said that he did not feel that the Turning Point USA event would be a safe thing to have at his school (so he made it unsafe by using pepper spray? Logic, anyone?).

The article reports:

“I didn’t feel as though [the TPUSA event] was a very safe thing for a lot of our students to really have in our school, so I decided I wanted to disrupt it,” said the student during his hearing in 3rd District Juvenile Court on Friday, elaborating on his reasons for releasing the dangerous chemicals inside the lecture hall.

…Judge Knight reportedly told the student that he had been shutting down speech because he did not agree with it, and suggested that he find less harmful means for protesting, if he chooses to do so again in the future.

The student, who had been facing 18 criminal charges, admitted in court to four class B misdemeanors, which included one count of criminal mischief, a third-degree felony, two counts of assault and one count of disrupting a meeting.

Judge Knight dismissed the remaining 14 charges and sentenced the student to 100 hours of community service.

Additionally, the student was ordered to write an essay about civility, write a letter of apology to the school’s resource officer who entered the school seeking to identify the substance, pay restitution to the school for clean-up costs, and pay the co-pay of the individual who was hospitalized as a result of the incident, according to The Park Record.

We need to start teaching our children about the First Amendment. Evidently they are not learning about it in school.

Taking Away The Freedoms Guaranteed In Our Constitution

The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution reads:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Laws passed by Congress and state legislators are supposed to be in line with the U.S. Constitution. However, there is a bill currently in the House of Representatives that not only undermines the First Amendment, it also cancels out The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. H.R. 5 is a nightmare for those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of religion.

The Heritage Foundation lists seven problems with the bill:

1. It would penalize Americans who don’t affirm new sexual norms or gender ideology.

2. It would compel speech.

3. It could shut down charities.

4. It would allow more biological males to defeat girls in sports.

5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals.

6. It could lead to more parents losing custody of their children.

7. It would enable sexual assault. 

All of these problems have already arisen. Please follow the link to The Heritage Foundation to view the details.

The Liberty Counsel posted an article on May 10 detailing one major aspect of H.R.5. The article states:

HR 5, in the U.S. House, and S. 788, in the Senate, misnamed the “Equality Act,” takes the unpreceded step of eliminating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) as a claim or defense to the application of many federal laws. This bill drastically alters religious freedom in all cases, not just those involving LGBT.

For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits houses of worship to make employment decisions based on religion. This recognizes the essential right for houses of worship to employ those who align with their religious doctrine. The “Equality Act” would abolish this fundamental right. Catholic and Christian churches could be forced to hire atheists. If a synagogue preferred a Jew over a Muslim, it would not be able to raise RFRA as a claim or defense.

RFRA is a federal law that protects religious freedom. Specifically, it “prohibits any agency, department, or official of the United States or any State (the government) from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except that the government may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person.” 

However, HR 5 clearly forbids raising RFRA as a claim or defense to the application to the “Equality Act” and many other federal laws that would be amended by this bill.

This “Equality Act” extends the federal protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy, i.e. abortion. HR 5 applies to employment, housing, rental, public accommodation and more. In addition, the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” will be defined to mean “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” In other words, under the terms of this bill, “pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition… shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.” The “Equality Act” also expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.”

After passing the House Judiciary Committee recently, the “Equality Act” will now go to the House next week and then be sent to the Senate, where the bill number is S. 788.

If you value religious freedom in America, please call your Senator and tell them to vote against this bill. It will probably pass in the House of Representatives, but needs to be stopped in the Senate. If you are not a religious person and don’t think this is a problem, remember that if the government can undo religious freedom, it can also undo other freedoms. You might not be impacted this time, but if this bill passes, there will be more to follow.

The Democrats’ First Proposal Upon Taking Control Of The House Of Representatives

The first bill introduced in the House of Representatives when the Democrats took over was H.R. 1. The bill was sponsored by Representative John P. Sarbanes of Maryland and is called the “For the People Act of 2019.” Great, only it’s really not for the people–it’s for bigger federal government and smaller state governments.

Politifact posted an article on February 8th about the bill.

The article mentions some of the demands the bill would make on states:

• Offer online voter registration;

• Establish automatic voter registration;

• Allow voter registration on the day of a federal election;

• Allow voters to correct their registration information at the polls;

• Restore voting rights to felons after they leave prison;

• Offer at least 15 days of early voting; and,

• Follow new rules before purging voters from registration lists.

The bill also has several measures related to campaign finance or ethics:

• Require super PACs to disclose donors who give more than $10,000;

• Require major online platforms to maintain an online public record of people who buy at least $500 worth of political ads; and

• Use public financing to match small dollar donations to House and presidential candidates.

There are also some other interesting items in the bill listed in a pjmedia article of January 10th:

It forces states to implement mandatory voter registration. If someone is on a government list — such as receiving welfare benefits or rental subsidies — then they would be automatically registered to vote. Few states have enacted these systems because Americans still view civic participation as a voluntary choice.

…H.R. 1 would also force states to have extended periods of early voting, and mandates that early voting sites be near bus or subway routes.

…H.R. 1 also undermines the First Amendment by exerting government control over political speech and undoing the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision.

The proposal also undoes another Supreme Court decision. In Husted, a case arising out of Ohio, the Court ruled that federal laws — known as “Motor Voter” — do not prohibit states from using a voter’s inactivity from triggering a mailing to that voter to see if they still are living at that location. H.R. 1 would undo that ruling and prohibit states from effectively cleaning voter rolls.

For further information follow the link to the pjmedia article.

Article 1 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

States are given the authority to hold elections. To put the federal government in charge of elections is to open the door for fraud on a large scale. That is exactly what H.R. 1 does.

H R 1

The Democrats in the House of Representatives are planning to start the new year off with a bang. Hopefully it will turn out to be more of a whimper. H.R. 1 is called the “For the People Act of 2019.” It is actually only for some people who want to make sure that the Democrats win all future elections. It was introduced into the House on January 3rd.

Breitbart posted an article about the bill today. In their article is a link to the Conservative Action Project which is opposing the bill.

The Conservative Action Project lists some problems with the bill:

H.R. 1 undermines the First Amendment. H.R. 1 undoes key Supreme Court cases that protect elections as fundamental to free speech. It would allow the Federal Election Commission to track and catalogue more of what Americans are saying, register even very small political donations, and make public those who donate to different charitable and nonprofit organizations. The legislation will subject private citizens to intimidation and harassment for their private and political beliefs, far broader than what was done in the IRS targeting scandal in 2013.

H.R. 1 yanks election authority away from the states. H.R. 1 reasserts the ability of the federal government to micromanage state elections through a process known as “preclearance.” Preclearance, which was previously overturned by the Supreme Court, requires states to get permission from the federal government for changes as small as modifying the hours of an election office, or moving a voting location from a school gym to the library. Critically, none of these practices would undo any fraud or corruption. Rather, these same practices result in incorrect registrations and inaccurate voter data, while failing to address actual corrupt practices like ballot harvesting. Moreover, they are all designed to eliminate the federalism that keeps elections transparent, local, and fair.

H.R. 1 attacks individual voter integrity. America was founded on the principle of “one person, one vote.” H.R. 1 turns this on its head by weaponizing every aspect of the political regulatory system. The Federal Election Commission, which is currently a neutral body, would be given a 3-2 makeup, guaranteeing a partisan outcome with little accountability toward the actual votes which are cast. H.R. 1 also includes a 600 percent government match for political donations, and authorizes even more public dollars to campaigns. The bill also wants to make Election Day a new paid holiday for government workers, with additional paid vacation given to bureaucrats to oversee the polls. All of these changes are designed to distance the outcome of the election from those casting their votes.

H.R. 1 would also implement the following changes:

• Forces states to implement mandatory voter registration, removing civic participation as a voluntary choice, and increasing chances for error.
• Mandates that states allow all felons to vote.
• Forces states to extend periods of early voting, which has shown to have no effect on turnout.
• Mandates same-day voter registration, which encourages voter fraud.
• Limits the ability of states to cooperate to see who is registered in multiple states at the same time.
• Prohibits election observers from cooperating with election officials to file formal challenges to suspicious voter registrations.
• Criminalizes protected political speech by making it a crime to “discourage” someone from voting
• Bars states from making their own laws about voting by mail.
• Prohibits chief election officials in each state from participating in federal election campaigns.
• Mandates free mailing of absentee ballots.
• Mandates that states adopt new redistricting commissions.

H.R. 1 would cause sweeping and irrevocable damage to the free speech, privacy, and integrity that are central components to free and fair elections in America. We oppose H.R.

Our new House of Representatives has obviously decided to throw out our Constitution wherever possible. This bill is representative of that. It opens the door to massive voter fraud and nationalizes state elections, which is unconstitutional. Nationalizing all elections also greatly increases the vulnerability to hacking. The bill needs to fail miserably or we will be in serious danger of losing our representative republic.

But It Sounds So Wonderful

Sometimes I wonder if anyone in Congress has actually read the U.S. Constitution.

Shmoop states:

Clause 1. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Constitution generally leaves it up to the states to organize congressional elections, but gives Congress the power to set new rules for federal elections as it sees fit. In 1842, Congress passed an important law requiring single-member district elections in every state, standardizing congressional election practices nationwide. The same law set one standard Election Day—the Tuesday after the first Monday in November—throughout the country. We still use the same Election Day today.

On Thursday PJ Media reported that one of the top legislative priorities of the new House of Representatives is the passage of H.R. 1.

The official name of the bill is:

H.R.1 – To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.

If only that were what the bill is actually about.

These are some of the provisions of H.R.1 listed in the article:

It forces states to implement mandatory voter registration. If someone is on a government list — such as receiving welfare benefits or rental subsidies — then they would be automatically registered to vote. Few states have enacted these systems because Americans still view civic participation as a voluntary choice. Moreover, aggregated government lists always contain duplicates and errors that states, even without mandatory voter registration, frequently fail to catch and fix.

H.R. 1 also mandates that states allow all felons to vote. Currently, states have the power under the Constitution to set the terms of eligibility in each state. Some states, like Maine, have decided that voting machines should be rolled into the prisons. Other states, like Nevada, have chosen to make a felony a disenfranchising event.

…H.R. 1 would also force states to have extended periods of early voting, and mandates that early voting sites be near bus or subway routes. While purportedly designed to increase participation, early voting has been shown to have no effect on turnout.

…H.R. 1 also undermines the First Amendment by exerting government control over political speech and undoing the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision.

The proposal also undoes another Supreme Court decision. In Husted, a case arising out of Ohio, the Court ruled that federal laws — known as “Motor Voter” — do not prohibit states from using a voter’s inactivity from triggering a mailing to that voter to see if they still are living at that location. H.R. 1 would undo that ruling and prohibit states from effectively cleaning voter rolls.

You get the picture. Please follow the link to read the entire article. Aside from the fact that most of H.R. 1 in unconstitutional, it is a naked power grab by the new House of Representatives. It needs to be stopped cold.

A Rookie Mistake Or A Portent Of Things To Come?

Not every country in the world has freedom of speech. In a case recently decided, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff appealed an Austrian court’s conviction of her for denigrating the beliefs of an officially recognized religion by uttering “hate speech” against the prophet Mohammed. Unfortunately the European Court of Human Rights ruled against her appeal.

For those who came in late, the hateful words uttered by Elisabeth were in the form of a rhetorical question about Mohammed’s sexual relationship with a 9-year-old girl: “What would you call it, if not ‘pedophilia’?”

The European Court of Human Rights is made up of a group of countries considered to be part of western civilization. What Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff said is true, but evidently that fact did not help her case. How in the world did we get here? We need to realize that free speech is a gift that needs to be protected.

Meanwhile back in America, yesterday The Federalist posted an article about a recent statement by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Admittedly the new Congresswoman is not known for her knowledge of the U.S. Constitution or any familiarity with her new job description, but her comment is somewhat chilling.

The tweet below is her response to a meme about socialism that she did not find humorous:

There are some problems with that statement.

The article notes:

Now, in a perfect world, we’d be holding debates about the merits of state-controlled economies versus markets via more dignified forums and mediums, but that’s not how things go in 2018. Not only is this all absurdly juvenile, but Ocasio-Cortez should be aware that, per page 150 of the House Ethics Manual, “Members…are not to take or withhold any official action on the basis of the campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals, or their partisan affiliation. Members and staff are likewise prohibited from threatening punitive action on the basis of such considerations.”

This seems like a small matter, but it is not. Essentially it is an incoming member of Congress threatening to use subpoena power against someone she disagrees with. Combine that with the censorship of conservatives on social media, the concept of ‘hate speech’ (who determines hate speech?), and the rumblings that the First Amendment is no longer needed, and you have the potential for Americans losing a large portion of their freedom. Pay attention and stay tuned. This may not have been a casual remark.