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Most Americans favor religious liberty protections for medical professionals: survey


By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter | December 7, 2022

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/americans-favor-religious-liberty-for-medical-professionals-poll.html

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WASHINGTON — A new survey reveals that most Americans support religious liberty protections for medical professionals and institutions opposed to participating in procedures that violate their beliefs and commitment to “do no harm,” even as younger Americans express more skepticism about religious liberty protections.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty unveiled the top findings of its 2022 Religious Freedom Index at its headquarters Tuesday. The fourth annual survey, conducted in conjunction with Heart and Minds Strategies, is based on responses collected from 1,004 adults in the United States from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5.  The full report is slated for release Wednesday.

As Becket Fund for Religious Liberty President and CEO Mark Rienzi explained, the Religious Freedom Index asks “the same questions year after year [to] a big number people to get a sense of how the American people are feeling about religious liberty for themselves, for other people, for people of minority faiths, [and] people of faiths that they don’t necessarily share.”

One question on the survey asked respondents to react to statements related to religious objections to assisted suicide, abortion and sex change procedures within the medical community. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed agreed that “individual physicians should be allowed to opt out of assisted suicide, elective abortion, or sex change procedures” if performing such procedures goes against their religious beliefs or their commitment to “do no harm.”

When asked if they believed that “hospitals and healthcare systems which have ethical objections or are run by religious organizations should be allowed to refuse to perform elective abortions,” 62% answered in the affirmative. Additionally, a majority (59%) of those surveyed believed that “medical students should be able to opt out of instruction regarding physician-assisted suicide, elective abortions, and sex change procedures during training.”

Only half of respondents expressed support for allowing “hospitals and healthcare systems with religious objections to assisted suicide, elective abortions, and sex change procedures” to “only employ medical professionals who agree with that position.” 

Achieving 74% support, the most popular idea introduced in the Religious Freedom Index states that “Patients and families should have access to healthcare facilities that share their beliefs about controversial procedures such as assisted suicide, elective abortion, or sex change procedures.”

The release of the 2022 Religious Freedom Index comes after the Biden administration has found itself in court over a mandate it issued forcing medical organizations to perform gender transition surgeries. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down the mandate and the Biden administration did not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving the decision in place.

Last year’s survey included a question measuring support for “freedom for healthcare workers with religious objections to abortion to not participate in abortion procedures.” Seventy-five percent of respondents either completely or mostly accepted allowing healthcare workers to opt out of performing abortions if they could not do so in good conscience.

At the same time, 44% of those surveyed believed that hospitals and healthcare systems run by religious organizations should have the ability to “set policies and standards that reflect the organization’s religious beliefs.”

The questions about the conscience rights of hospitals and healthcare workers constitute a small fraction of the inquiries posed to Americans in this year’s Religious Freedom Index. As in previous years, the survey asked Americans for their views on religion and policy, religion in action, religion in society, religious pluralism, church and state and religion sharing.

Based on responses to a series of questions, Becket calculated a dimension score on a scale of 0 to 100 for each of the subcategories examined, with 0 indicating “complete opposition for the principle of religious freedom at issue” and a score of 100 demonstrating “robust support for the same principle.” The Religious Freedom Index is a composite score calculated after combining the dimension scores.

Heart and Mind Strategies CEO Dee Allsop elaborated on the dimensions examined in the Religious Freedom Index at the event Tuesday. According to Allsop, questions about religious pluralism examine respondents’ views about “freedoms to choose your religion, and to be able to pray and pursue your beliefs.” The religious sharing dimension measures Americans’ beliefs pertaining to the ability to “talk about and preach about your faith.”

Questions about church and state survey public opinion about “government being involved in religion and religion in government.” The religion in society dimension seeks to determine “whether or not religion is part of the problem or part of the solution” to societal problems.

The religion and policy dimension queries respondents for their views about marriage and whether or not religious beliefs “should be guiding the way that we vote.” The religion in action dimension is based on responses to questions about whether or not there should be “freedom for people of faith to follow their own religious beliefs when they’re at work and in their profession.”

As panelists explained at the press conference, the overall Religious Freedom Index stood at 68 this year, showing no change from 2021. However, the changes in the index dimension scores from 2021 varied widely.  

As in previous surveys, respondents demonstrated the highest level of support for religious pluralism. The dimension score for religious pluralism came in at 84 in 2022, an increase from 80 in 2021. The dimension scores for religious sharing and religion in action barely budged from 71 to 72 and 67 to 68, respectively.

On the other hand, support for religion in society, religion and policy, church and state and religion in action declined compared to last year. The dimension score for religion and policy dropped by three points from 68 to 65 between 2021 and 2022. The religion in society dimension score also decreased by three points, from 65 to 62.

Mirroring the results of previous surveys, the dimension dealing with church and state received the lowest score in 2022, dropping from 58 to 56 over the past year. 

A group of panelists, moderated by Becket Law Executive Director Montse Alvarado, discussed the findings from the Religious Freedom Index and their implications for American society as a whole at the event Tuesday. With the U.S. Supreme Court case 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case in the news, Americans indicated that they “overwhelmingly support” the right of a photographer not to participate in a same-sex wedding if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs, regardless of what those beliefs are.

The 303 Creative case centers on Colorado-based website designer Lorie Smith, who is challenging Colorado anti-discrimination law out of concern that it would force her to create websites for same-sex marriages in violation of her religious convictions about marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Oral arguments in the 303 Creative case took place Monday.

One panelist, Nick Tomaino of The Wall Street Journal, expressed gratitude for “the durable support for people like Lorie,” noting that the Religious Freedom Index found “about seven in 10 people thinking that Lorie Smith and others like her should be able to practice their faith.” At the same time, he highlighted a trend from the survey revealing that “Gen Z women aren’t registering their support.”

Other panelists also cited Gen Zers’ beliefs about religious freedom issues as a cause for concern going forward. Stephanie Slade of Reason Magazine pointed to statistics illustrating “abstract” support for religious liberty among the youngest Americans that fades when respondents are presented with a specific example: “Among Gen Z, you have a very high number (86%) who say … they support freedom of people or groups to choose not to participate in actions or work that violate their sincere religious beliefs and conscience.”

“When you put a specific example to them and you ask ‘should an individual physician, for example, be able to opt out of providing, say, being involved in abortion or physician-assisted suicide’ or something like that, support drops 50% among the Gen Z cohort,” she said.

Another panelist, Josh Good, director of the Faith Angle Forum at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, attributed the hostility toward religious liberty among younger Americans to a “blind spot when it comes to religion” in American newsrooms. Tomaino suggested that having “religious practitioners in newsrooms” could help address this “blind spot.”

Tomaino contended that “there might be a caricature that newsrooms treat religion as something of a strange species.” Alvarado lamented the Religious Freedom Index’s finding that “37% of Americans had never heard of pregnancy centers being in any way being affected by post-Roe reality,” such as vandalism and bombings, as a consequence of media bias.

Alvarado and Slade suggested that had these people known about the targeting of pro-life pregnancy centers following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which determined that the U.S. Constitution did not contain a right to abortion, they would have become more sympathetic to arguments in favor of religious liberty.

“Story selection is a form of bias,” Slade asserted. “These stories are not getting the coverage that they deserve and they are not getting the coverage they would get if … when there are, in some cases, violence or any kind of harassment or attacks on an abortion provider, for example, these same journalists would know that this is a story and it deserves coverage and it’s a big deal.”

According to Slade, “In a healthy media ecosystem, we need people who are going out and just reporting the facts that are true.” She portrayed the current state of American media as focused on “the pure outrage-inducing opinion cable news-style journalism as opposed to reporting the facts,” where journalists see themselves on an “existential mission to represent the good against the evil.”

Slade also acknowledged that the irreligiosity of Gen Z compared to other generations might also play a role in their apparent hostility toward religious liberty: “Gen Z is much less religious themselves, they’re much less likely to think that religion’s part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”

“They’re much less supportive of freedom for people to run their businesses the way they want, for religious nonprofits to make employment decisions based on the tenets of their faith, which is a really important part of being a faith-based nonprofit, they’re much less likely to … support freedom to believe that certain behaviors are sinful.”  

After Slade reiterated that Gen Z has “less sympathy and understanding of the value of religion in society,” Tomaino pointed to academic influence as a reason why. “The water they swim in universities tends to be overtly hostile to the faith,” he concluded. He circled back to the role the media plays in shaping public opinion: “Having news coverage of the positive contributions that faith organizations make is especially important.”

When Tomaino clarified that “males registered slightly more sympathy to religious causes” than females, Alvarado responded, “they’re more religious themselves.” Alvarado and the other panelists repeatedly stressed the importance of religious liberty in a pluralistic society, with the Becket Fund Executive Director sharing a quote from noted theologian Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “The Tree of Liberty has religious roots and don’t think that you can sever those roots and have the Tree of Liberty survive.”

For his part, Good offered up his opinion that “People being more religious, not less religious, is the key to understanding pluralism better.”

Discussing other takeaways of the 2022 Religious Freedom Index, Allsop noted that when asked if “religion is part of the solution to the problems we face in our society or part of the problem,” respondents were split down the middle. This constituted a dramatic drop from the 61% who saw religion as a solution to societal problems in 2021.

“Catholics in particular and non-Catholic Christians overwhelmingly say that they feel completely or a good amount accepted in our society,” he said. Stressing that feelings of acceptance were “not quite the same for those that are religious, non-Christians,” he reported that “less than half of them are feeling that high level of acceptance in our society.” Additionally, 89% of Americans agree that “sacred sites and religious practices of Native American Indians ought to be protected.”

When asked about the First Amendment, “Less than half of Americans recognize that freedom of religion is one of the protected rights in the First Amendment,” Allsop added. “Most Americans, even though they can’t find it in the First Amendment, they nevertheless feel that religious freedom plays a really important role and provides an important good in our society.”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

12 GOP Senators Help Democrats Erode Americans’ Right to Act on Religious Convictions About Marriage


BY: JORDAN BOYD | NOVEMBER 29, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/11/29/12-gop-senators-help-democrats-erode-americans-right-to-act-on-religious-convictions-about-marriage/

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The ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ enables LGBT activists and the DOJ to bring civil action against anyone they say violates the legislation.

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Twelve Republicans disregarded their constituents’ wishes and aided Democrats in deriding the First Amendment rights of religious Americans by passing the deceptively-named Respect For Marriage Act without including any of their colleagues’ proposed protective amendments.

Of the 12 Republicans who voted to advance the RFMA to a vote on the floor, three needed to change their minds before a final vote on the bill to keep the bill from passing. It is clear from the 61-36 vote on Tuesday night that Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana did not change their minds.

Instead of using amendments as prerequisites for their support, these Republicans opened the door for their congressional colleagues to reject three separate attempts to give the bill robust legal protections for religious Americans who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

The RFMA as it stands doesn’t just repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between male and female, by codifying the Supreme Court’s approval of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. It goes further by enabling LGBT activists, who have already made a habit of exploiting the legal system to target religious Americans, and the politically motivated Department of Justice to bring civil action against anyone they say violates the terms of the legislation.

Under the guise of vague language, the RFMA could allow for the legal victimization of wedding vendorsadoption agenciesbakeries, and any other entities run by people of faith who refuse to offer services condoning same-sex marriage based on religious convictions.

Despite the RFMA’s problems, the 12 GOP senators echoed their support for the legislation by once again voting in favor of it.

For their willingness to cave to the Democrats’ agenda, those Republicans were thanked by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

I also want to acknowledge my Republican colleagues who voted in favor of advancing this legislation. Because of our work together, the rights of tens of millions of Americans will be strengthened under federal law,” he said. “That’s an accomplishment we should all be proud of.”

Other Republican senators, however, understood the risks the RFMA poses to Americans and offered solutions in the form of amendments that sought to clarify the bill’s cushioned language.

Sen. Mike Lee put forth an amendment that explicitly stated that the federal government “shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief, or moral convictionthat marriage is between one man and woman. The amendment would have also allowed anyone who is wrongfully targeted by the government over their beliefs about marriage to sue.

That amendment, which required 60 votes to be adopted, ultimately failed.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. James Lankford also introduced amendments designed to clarify language and ensure religious liberty protections for all Americans.

Lankford’s amendment guaranteed that the RFMA’s obscurity would not be wielded against organizations with traditional marriage beliefs. Rubio’s amendment eliminated the private right to sue from the RFMA.

Both amendments required a simple majority but failed.

Now that the RFMA has passed the Senate, the House is expected to vote on the updated bill as soon as this week.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who will likely assume the position of House speaker in January, told reporters early on Tuesday that he agrees with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) which says that the RFMA would “betray our country’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty.

Catholic Bishops say religious protections in the Respect For Marriage Act are insufficient and far from comprehensive and treat religious liberty as a second-class right. As you know, that’s currently in the Senate. Do you agree with that assessment by the Catholic Bishops?” one reporter asked.

I agree with them, yes,” McCarthy confirmed.

McCarthy’s willingness to signal strong opposition to the bill, which garnered support from 47 House Republicans earlier this year, shows that he is listening to conservative voters who overwhelmingly reject this legislation.


Jordan Boyd is a staff writer at The Federalist and co-producer of The Federalist Radio Hour. Her work has also been featured in The Daily Wire and Fox News. Jordan graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @jordanboydtx.

Prosecuting Paivi Rasanen for Quoting the Bible Is Making Her an International Star


BY: JOY PULLMANN | AUGUST 15, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/08/15/prosecuting-paivi-rasanen-for-quoting-the-bible-is-making-her-an-international-star/

Paivi Rasanen speaking at the Issues Etc. conference

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Paivi Rasanen must make God laugh. The 27-year member of Finland’s Parliament on trial for tweeting a Bible verse confounds so many pagan slogans.

She’s a mother of five children and grandmother of 10 who didn’t need abortion to simultaneously pull off two demanding careers: medicine and politics. An empathetic woman who eagerly shows pictures of grandbabies on her phone and expresses concern for strangers’ travel plans, Paivi (pie-EE-vee) also refuses to subjugate her reason to emotional manipulation.

She holds fast to Christian teachings about sex as reserved exclusively for lifelong marriage between one man and one woman, for which she’s been prosecuted and investigated now for three years and will be in court again this November. Her case could affect international law and is a foreboding example of where identity politics policies are quickly heading across the world.

“If we break the gender system and if we break the natural marriage system between one man and one woman, then we have dangerous consequences, especially to children,” Paivi told The Federalist in person this summer in Chicago.

This woman of science also firmly believes in supernatural revelation. In her pamphlet on Christian marriage that Finland’s top prosecutor is seeking to ban as “hate speech,” Paivi writes that “Jesus’s death and resurrection is the core of the entire Christian faith. On this the Bible stands or falls. If one does not believe it, there is nothing left of Christianity. And … if I believe this, it follows logically that I must believe everything else Christ teaches in the Bible through the Apostles and Prophets.”

Paivi speaking to a sold-out audience of Christians in Chicago, Illinois, this summer. (Joy Pullmann / The Federalist)

Persecution Spreads the Gospel

As it has often in history, persecution has created global opportunities for Paivi to spread Christian theology: about sex, its design for lasting human happiness, and Christianity’s warm welcome to those struggling with every kind of sin from the God “who hates nothing He has made.” The 2004 booklet “Male and Female He Created Them,” which prosecutors want to ban entirely and fine Paivi for writing, has gone from a few copies in a few conservative Lutheran churches to translated into half a dozen languages and read all over the world.

Rasanen’s 2004 booklet, printed from the online PDF and in its new second edition distributed worldwide.

Paivi and her husband Niilo (nee-loh) spoke this June in Budapest alongside megastar Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and his wife. Paivi said she’s seen especially strong support from Eastern European countries because many there still remember the Communists interrogating people about the Bible, as Finnish police did to Paivi three times for a total of 13 hours.

The Rasanens flew to Chicago right after Budapest so Paivi could speak at the sold-out Christian “Issues, Etc.” conference on June 25. In pearls, a flowered dress, and silvered golden hair, the petite 62-year-old asked the American crowd to pray that her case would “allow for more chances to preach the gospel in public.”

Rasanen’s case is on appeal in Finland and may end up in the European Court of Human Rights, developing precedents that could affect the world. If she loses in court, Paivi told a Christian outlet last year, “It will also affect religious freedom in other Western countries. LGBT groups have a very good network across national borders. They will try to achieve the same in other countries in Europe.”

In Q&A after her talk, Paivi said Finnish Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen is expected to push the case as far as possible because Toiviainen has said identity politics is her top priority. Paivi’s legal help from Alliance Defending Freedom International has told The Federalist they are also prepared to appeal her case as far as possible should she lose.

Paivi Rasanen speaking at the Issues Etc. conference
Image courtesy Issues, Etc.

Persecution Amplifies Word of God’s Mercy for Sinners

Toiviainen claims agreeing with the Bible that sodomy is a sin is a criminal expression of hatred toward homosexuals. Paivi and her legal team have pointed out that if the court interprets the law this way, it will effectively outlaw Christianity and free speech in Finland.

Rather than rejecting homosexuals, as she’s been accused in court, Paivi glows with happiness when relating that gay people have disclosed her “Bible trial” has brought them to faith. In speeches and court testimony, Paivi has emphasized she not only bears no animosity toward homosexuals or transsexuals, she earnestly desires them to join her Christian family by receiving the eternal life that Jesus Christ offers freely to every person.

Paivi has been dragged into European courts and smeared in the press for years as a spewer of “hate speech.” Yet while battling severe jet lag that her husband said often gives her migraines, Paivi expressed not even a flicker of animosity toward her persecutors in Chicago.

Instead, when The Federalist asked if her three-year-and-counting prosecution might be orchestrated by political enemies, she seemed stumped. She conferred with her husband and finally suggested she was simply an easy target as a well-known figure in Finland.

“In all my career I have been known as a Christian and as a biblical Christian who doesn’t accept abortion and homosexual acts and so on,” Paivi told The Federalist. “And that’s why I think that perhaps it is the reason why the prosecutor has targeted just me.”

Family Unites to Fight for Other Families

Acknowledging the Biblical directive that only men serve as pastors has never tied Paivi to the kitchen — although perhaps she’d like to retire there given the suffering her political career has inflicted. Niilo prodded Paivi into running for office nearly three decades ago to try to stop Finland from forcing doctors like her to perform abortions, they told The Federalist.

Niilo Rasanen is a pastor and theology professor at a Lutheran Bible college. Niilo’s widowed mother lived with the couple while their children were young, and Paivi’s parents moved nearby and “helped a lot,” Paivi said. That, with Niilo’s flexibility while earning his doctorate, allowed Paivi to enter public service without sacrificing their children’s needs, they said.

During the five years when Niilo was writing his dissertation, “he was always at home when the children came home” from school, Paivi noted. Paivi and Niilo occasionally pulled out their phones to translate Finnish words into English or check they were using the right words, but Finns learn at least two foreign languages in school, Swedish and English.

Niilo and Paivi Rasanen in Chicago, Illinois, in June 2022. (Joy Pullmann / The Federalist)

In response to a question from the Chicago audience, Paivi revealed threats against her family. When she campaigned against child pornography, she said, a convicted pedophile entered their front yard and threatened their children: “It was quite a difficult time because we had to keep safe our children and they were a little bit afraid many years after that.” The most violent of the recent threats include a rape threat against her son, she said.

These external threats may have helped strengthen family bonds. Paivi and Niilo’s faces light up when they talk about their now-grown children, whom the Rasanens say are a great joy and regularly text their parents Bible verses and prayers.

“The task is communal, we do it together,” Niilo said of their marriage and family. “It has been so busy and hard time in this politic area — very, very busy, very long days. If you are not doing it together, it will not work.”

“I think what has been a great power in our life is that we have felt that these callings and tasks that we have, that they are common,” Paivi added.

From Church Only at Christmas to Global Witness

Born in 1959, Paivi grew up in a remote area near Finland’s border with Sweden, in the village of Konnunsuo. Her father was the agricultural director for a prison there. He oversaw the prisoners raising vegetables and animals to feed and support themselves. Paivi remembers as a girl watching piglets being born.

Her parents went to church only at Christmas, she said, but she learned the Bible from Sunday School and at prison church services. Her family also hosted missionaries to the prison, and they explained Christianity to Paivi and her two younger siblings.

A skilled student, especially in mathematics, young Paivi read all the books in her tiny village library that was open only two hours per week, she said. An adult biography of Nobel Prize-winning Polish scientist Marie Curie particularly inspired Paivi: “I admired her. I thought that I would like to be like her, to do something great.”

At the University of Helsinki, she studied both mathematics and medicine for a half year, but it was too much. So Paivi decided to focus on medicine because “I wanted to work with people.”

Organizing up to 70 Christian students for five years of weekly door-to-door evangelism in university deepened her faith, Paivi told The Federalist: “It was a very important time for me because there were students from different faculties and I had to defend my views, and I had to know [the] Bible because they asked difficult questions.”

She met Niilo doing summer missionary work among immigrants in London, and they married in February 1985, a year after Paivi started working as a doctor. They welcomed their children in 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1996.

Because Paivi kept organizing debates and speakers about abortion among fellow medical students and doctors, the Christian Democrat political party asked her to run for office. The Christian Democrats are a small party that focuses on faith and family. From 2011 to 2015, Paivi served as Finland’s Minister of the Interior as part of a coalition government.

She Fights Like a Woman

Paivi has fought steadfastly not by disposition, but by compunction. She and Niilo chuckled quietly when noting that in university, she flatly refused all public speaking offers and leadership positions.

In person, the two Finns are true to type and their “Minnesota nice” American cousins: polite, soft-spoken, and deferential. In Chicago, Paivi and Niilo attempted for some 15 minutes to get the Uber app to work on their Finnish cell phones before they could be prevailed upon by this journalist to accept a ride.

She would have walked the mile to the conference, Paivi assured, as they had the day before, but that morning’s rain would bedraggle her hair and dress right before her speech. After a bit of emotional discomfort at allegedly imposing, followed by a quick, rain-unaffected arrival, Paivi laughed softly, expressed thanks, and commented that this would be a good anecdote for The Federalist profile.

Paivi Rasanen during audience Q&A in Chicago. Because English is a second language for Paivi, she was given the written questions in advance.

Although she’s a public figure who regularly appears on TV, including a variety show that dressed her in a bear costume to sing to her grandchildren (she showed photographic evidence), Paivi habitually asks for others’ thoughts rather than discussing her own. It’s yet another contradiction to women’s mag-celebrated attributes: expressing her femininity not only doesn’t abrade Paivi’s character, it complements it.

Paivi doesn’t assert herself as a “girl boss” who assumes masculine prosthetics, despite years of public leadership that could have taught her to do so. Her apparent emotional security in being the woman God made her bestows its own authority and charm.

Only Men and Women Fit Perfectly Together

That acceptance of one’s sex as a gift from God is also a foundation of the theological booklet that helped land Paivi in court indefinitely. Cultural Marxism foments a war between the sexes, but the Bible teaches that love means total self-giving: Husbands sacrifice everything to love their wives, and wives submit to their husbands as they do to God. The true war is not between the sexes, but against them, and in war clear chains of command are necessary to protect everyone.

The 1960s feminist war fomented between the sexes has now expanded into a war on sex itself. Now even recognizing the differences between men and women and the exclusive fertility of natural marriage is heading toward being criminalized across the West, and with it the Christianity that protects and celebrates these natural realities.

When she wrote the booklet, Paivi was already well-known as a Christian member of Parliament representing Hame, a rural Finnish province about an hour north of Helsinki. Pastor Juhana Pohjola, elected bishop of Finland’s non-state Lutheran church in 2021, had asked Rasanen to respond to proposals for government licensing of homosexual relationships. Here was a government endorsement of severing natural biological bonds between parents and children that raised both political and theological concerns.

Rasanen’s resulting 24-page booklet is a succinct summary of Christian sexual ethics. “People who submit themselves to God’s guidance in the Bible are repeatedly amazed at how the very Bible teachings hardest to understand contain God’s deep wisdoms,” Rasanen writes in the English translation.

“No choice of policies is ethically neutral,” she notes. “…In actuality, the acceptance of homosexual partnerships meant a more profound change in values than was willingly acknowledged at the time.” For example, she notes, in Finland, those proposing a homosexual partnerships act promised it would affect adults only. Yet immediately after the act passed, the proponents moved to make taxpayers pay for lesbians to be artificially inseminated and for homosexual couples to adopt children who could never know either a father or mother.

The act’s proponents also promised that Finland’s state church could maintain Christianity’s historic teachings if state recognition of homosexual couples passed. Paivi’s trial today, under a law passed seven years after the booklet was published, directly refutes that claim. It also highlights how impossible it is to reconcile the hard-won natural law framework that protects everyone equally with the identity politics that provides special rights to only government-favored groups.

Seeking an Internet Interdiction

Writing the booklet is one of three charges Toiviainen has filed against Paivi. It forms the sole count against Pohjola, the pastor who published the booklet. The two other counts against Paivi relate to her tweet of a Bible verse at the nominally Lutheran state church for sponsoring a homosexual pride parade and comments in a public radio debate she participated in years ago.

How can the #church ’s doctrinal foundation, the #bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of #pride ?” #lgbt #helsinkipride2019
Finnish Christian MP under hate crime investigation for quoting scripture – Premier

In 2019, several Finns lodged complaints against Paivi’s tweet. Police investigated, interrogating Paivi about her beliefs three times. Although the police ultimately recommended against prosecuting Paivi, prosecutors sifted through her three-decade public record. They dug up the three alleged hate crimes and charged her.

The charges against Paivi fall under the legal category of “war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The prosecutors have asked for Paivi’s writings and audio clips to be completely banned from the internet and for her, Pohjola, and his church to be fined up to a third of their annual incomes, but courts could put Paivi in prison for up to six years if she’s found guilty. Pohjola could be imprisoned for up to two years.

During Paivi and Pohjola’s trial in early 2022, thousands of Finnish supporters gathered in Helsinki outside the court. Free speech supporters in other countries rallied at Finnish embassies. The American Family Research Council sent Pastor Andrew Brunson, whom Turkey detained for two years for preaching Christianity, to give Paivi a pledge of prayers from Christians around the world. U.S. members of Congress, international human rights groups, and coalitions of religious believers have also petitioned the Finnish government to stop prosecuting Rasanen and Pohjola’s human rights to free speech and religious exercise.

“It is important that we have the freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Paivi told The Federalist in Chicago. “Freedom of speech because it is important for everyone. It is important for every minority and majority. For Christians, it is crucial because we have the commandments of Jesus to tell the good gospel to all people…”

“Also I think that it is important to respect in society also everyone’s right to speak and argue and oppose you,” she continued. “So this is [a] fundamental issue.”

For more on this case, read this profile of Bishop Pohjola, who spoke to The Federalist in person in November 2021.


Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Sign up here to get early access to her next ebook, “101 Strategies For Living Well Amid Inflation.” Her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” Mrs. Pullmann identifies as native American and gender natural. She is also the author of “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books. In 2013-14 she won a Robert Novak journalism fellowship for in-depth reporting on Common Core national education mandates. Joy is a grateful graduate of the Hillsdale College honors and journalism programs.

Stop Arguing for Religious Liberty and Start Arguing Against Religious Discrimination


COMMENTARY BY: AUGUSTE MEYRAT | MARCH 28, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/03/28/stop-arguing-for-religious-liberty-and-start-arguing-against-religious-discrimination/

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For an increasingly secular populace, actions and policies must be defended on the basis of reason much more than faith.

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In a recent legal settlement, Catholic Charities West Michigan successfully challenged Michigan’s decision to bar state funds to adoption agencies that do not serve same-sex couples. The settlement forced Michigan to reimburse the charity for its legal fees and other costs. Using an argument that has now become familiar to most Americans, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a lesbian mother of two and former gay rights activist, charged Catholic adoption agencies with discriminating against same-sex couples. In response, the Catholic adoption agencies used the same logic, accusing the Michigan state government of discriminating against Catholics and effectively denying them their religious freedom.

While Christians should celebrate this recent victory, it’s nonetheless sad this appeal had to be made. When gay marriage was legalized in Obergfell v. Hodges, Christians were assured that they could practice their faith and live out their values in peace, but this was almost immediately proven wrong. As the ink of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion was drying, LGBT groups immediately went after Christian bakersfloristsphotographers, popular chicken sandwich chains, and other Christian organizations for their religious beliefs.

Defense Based on Reason not Faith

This war will continue so long as Christians keep using the religious freedom defense. Even though this argument has the best chance of winning in legal courts, it is unconvincing in the court of public opinion. As more Americans drift away from Christianity, they increasingly view this defense for denying service to same-sex couples not as a valid objection, but as a childish copout: “The Christian God doesn’t like gay people.”

Rather, it’s important to establish that most Christian churches are established on natural law (that is, moral laws based on objective truth) as much as the Bible. To be sure, faith and reason both matter enormously, but for an increasingly secular populace, actions and policies must be defended on the basis of reason much more than faith.

This has been the case with abortion, with the pro-life position steadily gaining popular support as it has adopted more reason-based arguments. The pro-life movement has grown because it has argued that unborn babies are people, and therefore abortion is murder. Although the Bible acknowledges this argument, the argument itself isn’t strictly based on the Bible.

Reasons Against Same-Sex Couples Adopting

Similarly, in issues involving marriage and children, Christians need to appeal to reason more than their faith. In the case of same-sex couples adopting, two issues need to be addressed. First, do all couples have a right to adopt a child? Second, do children have a right to a father and mother?

Concerning whether all couples have a right to adopt, the answer is that they do not. As any couple who has gone through the process of adoption understands all too well, many screenings and conditions have to be met. Someone from the adoption agency will inspect their home, rifle through their personal information, interview them and others, and then, after so many legal hurdles, possibly allow a child to live with them. Even then, the biological parent may change his or her mind and take back the child.

As painful and expensive as this process is, it is necessary because children are human beings with rights of their own, not objects a couple acquires out of boredom or simply some charitable impulse. Consequently, adoption agencies must discriminate among couples wanting to adopt, only selecting those who meet the criteria of good caretakers.

A Right to a Mother and Father?

This leads to the second issue of whether a child’s rights include having a mother and father, as opposed to two fathers or two mothers. The science on this is mixed, both because it’s a politically charged issue and because it’s a difficult thing to measure. One may say that a loving committed couple is enough, but one may contend that a loving committed heterosexual couple is necessary.

Katy Faust persuasively argues this latter view in her excellent book “Them Before Us.” She explains that men and women represent two distinct and essential supports to a child growing up; fatherhood and motherhood are not interchangeable or dispensable. Furthermore, she argues that a child does best with his or her biological parents in nearly all cases. For Faust, adoption is an alternative that should only be considered in cases of serious abuse or neglect.

Not only does Faust support her argument with a multitude of studies, but she has both a homosexual parent and an adopted child. Even though her situation would suggest that same-sex adoption should be treated the same as any other parental arrangement, her reasoning leads her to think otherwise.

Faust’s example is a good model for all Christians trying to serve their community in accordance with their values. Whatever charitable work they do — whether it is finding homes for orphans or allowing those orphans to be born in the first place — it is done for the person in need, first and foremost. This is not a political or religious issue, but a human one.

It is not a coincidence that this means they are doing God’s will in the process. Contrary to what opponents claim, Christian values are based on objective truth, not blind faith to various Bronze Age prejudices. As such, the goal is not about winning, but about making the world a better place.


Auguste Meyrat is an English teacher in the Dallas area. He holds an MA in humanities and an MEd in educational leadership. He is the senior editor of The Everyman and has written essays for The Federalist, The American Conservative, and The Imaginative Conservative, as well as the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter.

In Its First Year, Biden’s HHS Relentlessly Attacked Christians and Unborn Babies


BY: RACHEL N. MORRISON | MARCH 18, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/03/18/in-its-first-year-bidens-hhs-relentlessly-attacked-christians-and-unborn-babies/

becerra

March 18 marks one year since pro-abortion radical Xavier Becerra was confirmed as President Joe Biden’s appointee for secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although both men claim to be faithful Catholics, they have launched unprecedented attacks on people of faith by eliminating vital conscience and religious freedom protections and funneling millions of taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry.

At the HHS Accountability Project at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., we have been keeping tabs on HHS personnel and policy. The oft-heard maxim “personnel is policy” is no exception for HHS, the largest federal agency by budget. While Becerra was AWOL on the Covid fight, he was outright zealous on culture war issues, leading HHS’s singular focus on pushing pro-abortion and anti-religion policies on the American people.

Here are the top 10 lowlights for year one.

1. Dismantling HHS’s Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

One of Becerra’s early acts as secretary was to strip the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of its independent ability to investigate violations of conscience and religious freedom laws. The division was created during the Trump administration to guarantee enforcement rather than neglect of laws that protect these fundamental and inalienable rights.

Becerra’s first budget proposal would have effectively eliminated this division as a standalone entity, despite Becerra having promised Congress that “the work [of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division] will not change.” He, along with OCR political staff (such as political ideologue Laura Durso), refused to even consult with the dedicated career professionals of the division while they methodically removed conscience and religious freedom protections from the American people.

These developments were foreshadowed by transgender activist Dr. Rachel Levine who, prior to being elevated to the number-three position at HHS, proclaimed the division should be “either disbanded or certainly redirected.” 

2. Removing OCR’s First Amendment Enforcement Power

Becerra removed OCR’s authority to enforce conscience and religious projections under the bipartisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the First Amendment. A leaked memo revealed this move came at the request of Lisa Pino, the Biden-appointed director of OCR. She is tasked with enforcing civil rights protections in health and human services, not finding ways to remove them.

Remember, it was HHS under Obama that went after the Little Sisters of the Poor and lost under RFRA. Now Becerra has removed the only internal entity that would hold HHS accountable to the law.

3. Pushing a Ridiculously ‘Woke’ Budget

The Biden-Becerra HHS budget for fiscal year 2022 removed references to “conscience,” “religion,” and “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.” But don’t worry, the new budget replaces references to these constitutional and statutory rights HHS is responsible for enforcing with a bunch of woke terms like “equity” — the Biden administration’s preferred priority.

4. Backing Forcing Nuns to Pay for Abortion

While Becerra was attorney general of California before becoming HHS secretary, OCR issued two notices of violation against Becerra and his state for violating federal conscience protections by forcing nuns (and others) to provide insurance coverage of abortion. Apart from the clear conflict of interest with Becerra leading the very office that previously found him in violation of the law, OCR under Becerra “reassessed” the conscience violations, magically finding there were none.

5. Abandoning Nurse Illegally Forced to Participate in Abortion

In 2019, OCR found a hospital had violated a nurse’s conscience rights by forcing her to participate in an abortion over her known conscience objection. When the hospital refused to change its policies to comply with the law, the federal government sued the hospital in federal court.

But on Becerra’s watch and despite his many promises to continue enforcing federal conscience laws, the Biden administration quietly dismissed the case without any settlement, agreement, or compensation for the nurse. Because federal conscience protection laws do not provide a private right of action, she cannot sue on her own and the violating hospital has been let off with impunity.

6. Relentlessly Pushing Abortion With Federal Resources

In response to Texas’ law protecting unborn children with beating hearts from abortion, the Biden-Becerra HHS announced, despite prohibitions on federal funds going to abortion, ways the department could “bolster access to safe and legal abortions in Texas.” HHS is awarding $10 million in additional funding to increase access to abortifacients for those affected by the Texas law.

OCR issued pro-abortion guidance explaining how a federal conscience protection law can protect abortion providers and patients seeking abortions. If HHS’s actions weren’t clear enough, Becerra stated, “We are telling doctors and others involved in the provision of abortion care, that we have your back.” Becerra and OCR clearly don’t want to enforce the law for those who do not want to participate in abortion.

7. Directly Funding Big Abortion

Becerra, who has oddly and repeatedly refused to acknowledge that partial-birth abortion is illegal, led HHS’s charge to fund Big Abortion. In 2021, Planned Parenthood received more than $5.4 million in taxpayer funds from HHS, an amount that is sure to increase over the next three years.

In an effort to further fund Planned Parenthood, the Biden-Becerra HHS ignored democratic norms to rush through new Title X regulations. Title X is a federal program that provides grants for a range of family planning services, but per the statute, such services cannot include abortion.

The new regulations, however, remove the requirement of physical and financial separation between Title X projects and abortion services, require abortion counseling and referrals, and remove conscience protections for Title X providers. Planned Parenthood had dropped out of the Title X program under those regulations, forfeiting that funding stream, but under the new regulations the abortion giant is expected to receive significant Title X funding.

8. Comingling Insurance Payments for Abortion

Last summer, HHS rushed through new insurance regulations that, contrary to the text of the Affordable Care Act, no longer require separate insurance payments for abortion services, allowing those payments to be comingled with payments for other covered services. Besides violating the law, combined payments create a lack of transparency and accountability. Consumers with conscience objections to abortion will no longer be on notice that their insurance plan covers abortion or that they are subsidizing abortions, including for any adult children on their plan.

9. Rescinding Faith-Based Waivers

Prompting a congressional inquiry, the Biden-Becerra HHS gratuitously rescinded waivers previously issued to faith-based adoption and foster care agencies in MichiganSouth Carolina, and Texas that allowed the agencies to qualify for HHS grants while operating in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs. In the press release announcing the rescission, Becerra unironically stated: “At HHS, we treat any violation of civil rights or religious freedoms seriously.”

Please. This action comes on the heels of a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court affirming the constitutional right of foster-care agencies to act according to their religious beliefs on human sexuality in certifying foster parents.  

10. Issuing Totalitarian Anti-Conscience Rules

HHS announced its new interpretation and enforcement of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that would force health-care professionals to perform gender transition surgeries and provide minors with harmful and sterilizing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. A new rule codifying this interpretation is anticipated in April and would likely not exempt providers with medical or conscience objections. HHS is also planning to rescind conscience regulations that protect health-care professionals from being forced to assist with abortions and protect others from having to pay for abortions.


Rachel N. Morrison is an attorney and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where she works on EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project.

Christians Stand Trial in Finland Today for Affirming Men and Women Are Different


REPORTED BY: JOY PULLMANN | JANUARY 24, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/01/24/christians-stand-trial-in-finland-today-for-affirming-men-and-women-are-different/

Paive Rasanen of Finland reading the Bible

Today in Finland, two Christians will stand trial for publicly stating the theological and scientific truth that men and women are different. Finnish Member of Parliament Paivi Rasanen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola stand accused of “hate crimes” for affirming basic Christian theology and natural reality concerning the sexual differences between men and women. One of the three charges against Rasanen includes a count against her for tweeting a picture of a Bible verse in challenging the state church of Finland’s decision to sponsor an LGBT parade. Another charge attempts to criminalize her participation in a 2019 public debate.

If the court finds them guilty, Rasanen and Pohjola could face fines or up to two years in prison. It would also set the precedent of making quoting the Bible a criminal offense in Western countries.

In November, human rights lawyer Paul Coleman told The Federalist that these cases in Finland are a “canary in the coalmine” for freedom of speech in the Western world. Coleman works for Alliance Defending Freedom International, which is assisting the two Finns’ lawyers. “Part of the scary thing about what’s happening in Finland is that it could happen anywhere else,” Coleman said Jan. 23 on the British show GBNews. Many countries have similar hate speech laws, including states and cities in the United States.

While accused of hate crimes, Rasanen and Pohjola emphatically affirm their love for all people as beautifully created in God’s image and deeply loved by a God who sent his own Son to die an excruciating death to atone for every sin, including all sexual sins. Their aim is not hate but love, they say, another core teaching of Christianity, which also commands its adherents to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Both are also charged for a booklet Rasanen wrote and Pohjola published in 2004. Pohjola told The Federalist in an exclusive in-person interview in November 2021 that he asked Rasanen to write the booklet because she was qualified, as a medical doctor and the wife of a pastor. That booklet affirms the classic understanding of sex as reserved solely for marriage, and marriage as comprising one man committed to one woman for life. In spring 2019, the two were suddenly served with criminal charges for writing and publishing this booklet decades ago, well before Finland passed its hate crimes laws on behalf of powerful special interests who dispute the differences between the sexes and their role in procreation. Rasanen and Pohjola have been summoned several times by Finnish police to be interrogated separately for hours about intricate details of their theology.

In their interrogations, the police demanded that Rasanen and Pohjola recant their beliefs. Both refused. Both have also noted the contrast between their country’s claim to be a free and modern democracy that allows for full and open debate and the way they have been treated, as thought criminals.

“If I’m convicted, I think that the worst consequence would not be the fine against me, or even the prison sentence, it would be the censorship,” Rasanen said in a statement ahead of her trial. “I will continue to stand for what I believe and what I have written. And I will speak and write about these things, because they are a matter of conviction, not only an opinion. I trust that we still live in a democracy, and we have our constitution and international agreements that guarantee our freedom of speech and religion,”

Christians all over the world are praying for Pojhola and Rasanen, including corporately in their churches. On Jan. 23, free speech supporters rallied in front of the Finnish embassy in Oslo, Norway, to show support for Rasanen and Pohjola. Several of the protesters filling the street carried signs that said “Finland: Freedom of speech?”

Several members of the U.S. Congress led by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said in a public letter that the Finnish government’s prosecutions of these Christians for their religious beliefs “raise serious questions regarding the extent of Finland’s commitment to protect religious freedom for its citizens.” Roy’s office is closely watching the trial, as are many other U.S. and international human rights organizations.

Pohjola was recently elected the bishop of the Lutheran non-state church in Finland. He was kicked out of the state church approximately a decade ago for upholding Christian teachings on the differences between the sexes. The small non-state church in Finland is growing, while the large state church is shrinking.

The Federalist is monitoring the trial today and will be covering its outcome.


Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” Sign up here to get early access to her next book, “How To Control The Internet So It Doesn’t Control You.” Mrs. Pullmann identifies as native American and gender natural. She is also the author of “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books. In 2013-14 she won a Robert Novak journalism fellowship for in-depth reporting on Common Core national education mandates. Joy is a grateful graduate of the Hillsdale College honors and journalism programs.

In Case With Global Implications, Finland Puts Christians On Trial For Their Faith


Reported By Joy Pullmann | NOVEMBER 23, 2021

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2021/11/23/in-case-with-global-implications-finland-puts-christians-on-trial-for-their-faith/

In Case With Global Implications, Finland Puts Christians On Trial For Their Faith
Photo Image courtesy International Lutheran Council

Meet the man who appears to be the first in the post-Soviet Union West to be brought up on criminal charges for publishing long-held Christian beliefs. Juhana Pohjola wouldn’t be cast to play his own part if Hollywood made a movie about a bishop put on trial for his faith. The Finnish pastor has inherited a place in the church of Martin Luther, but it appears none of Luther’s pugnacity or vitriol. In person, Pohjola, 49, is forthright but unassuming, and gentle. Stereotypically, the Finn is thin and tall. He often pauses while speaking to carefully consider his next words. He listens attentively to others with far less impressive resumes.

In more than two decades as a pastor, Pohjola has ministered to congregations as small as 30. He has spent his life building a network of faithful churches across Finland, many of which started with a few people gathered for prayer, Bible study, hymn-singing—and communion, if they can get a pastor. In an in-person interview with The Federalist, Pohjola urged fellow Christian leaders to be willing to seek out “one lost sheep” instead of crowds and acclaim.

This is the man who appears to be the first in the post-Soviet Union West to be brought up on criminal charges for preaching the Christian message as it has been established for thousands of years. Also charged in the case that goes to trial on January 24 is Pohjola’s fellow Lutheran and a Finnish member of Parliament, Paivi Rasanen. Rasanen’s alleged crimes in a country that claims to guarantee freedom of speech and religion include tweeting a picture of a Bible verse. Potential penalties if they are convicted include fines and up to two years in prison.

Finnish Authorities: The Bible Is Hate Speech

Rasanen and Pohjola are being charged with “hate speech” for respectively writing and publishing a 24-page 2004 booklet that explains basic Christian theology about sex and marriage, which reserves sex exclusively for within marriage, which can only consist of one man and one woman, for life. The Finnish prosecutor claims centuries-old Christian teachings about sex “incite hatred” and violate legal preferences for government-privileged identity groups.

Writer Rod Dreher pointed out the witch hunt nature of this prosecution: “Räsänen wrote that pamphlet seven years before LGBT was added to the national hate-speech law as a protected class. She was investigated once before for the pamphlet, and cleared — but now she’s going to undergo another interrogation.”

Rasanen and Pohjola both have adamantly affirmed “the divinely given dignity, value, and human rights of all, including all who identify with the LGBTQ community.” Christian theology teaches that all human beings are precious, as all are made in God’s image and offered eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In advance of the trial, Rasanen and Pohjola have been interrogated by police for hours about their theology. Pohjola told me in the interrogation police treated Christian beliefs as thought crimes. In a statement, Rasanen noted that the police publicly admitted their interpretation of Finland’s law would make publishing the Bible a hate crime.

“It is impossible for me to think that the classical Christian views and the doctrine of the majority of denominations would become illegal. The question here is about the core of Christian faith; how a person gets saved into unity with God and into everlasting life though the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. Therefore, it is crucial to also talk about the nature of sin,” Rasanen told Dreher. “As we are living in a democratic country, we must be able to disagree and express our disagreement. We have to be able to cope with speech that we feel insults our feelings. Many questions are so debatable and contradictory that we have to have the possibility of discussing. Otherwise, the development is towards a totalitarian system, with only one correct view.”

Major International Implications

Humans rights lawyer Paul Coleman, who spoke to The Federalist from his Alliance Defending Freedom International office in Vienna, Austria, says Pohjola and Rasanen’s cases are a “canary in the coalmine” for freedom of speech across the West. ADF International is providing legal support for Pohjola and Rasanen’s cases.

“Although all European countries have these hate speech laws, and these hate speech laws are increasingly being used against citizens for things that they say, this is the first time we’ve really seen Christians face criminal prosecution for explaining their biblical views,” Coleman said. “…It’s unprecedented. We’ve not seen attacks on free speech on this level in Europe, and that’s why they are extremely important cases, not just for the people of Finland and Paivi Rasanen and the bishop themselves, but for all of Europe. If this is upheld in one jurisdiction, we will no doubt see it in other jurisdictions as well.”

Such “hate speech” laws exist in every European country and Western countries such as Canada and Australia, and descend from Soviet influence. Coleman called them “sleeper laws,” saying that in other countries “they could be used any time just like they are in Finland. People need to mobilize against these laws and overturn them.”

Legally privileging certain sexual behavior has thus broken western countries’ promises of equality before the law for all citizens, as well as enabling government discrimination against citizens who exercise their free speech and religious liberty, as in the Baronnelle Stutzman and Jack Phillips cases in the United States.

“Establishing standards of identity” also lets government meddle in theological controversies that are none of its business, said the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Shaw, who directs church relations for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and has known Pohjola for decades. Pohjola’s church is an international partner of the LCMS.

From a natural law and historic Western perspective, “the government isn’t supposed to get into people’s brains and tell them what’s right and wrong to believe and say,” Shaw noted in a phone interview. “That’s not their realm. Their realm is in externals, things like protect people in their bodies, go to war when necessary, and punish criminals… This is really what’s at stake [in the Pohjola case]. Government has lost its moorings and doesn’t know its purpose.”

From Part-Time Pastor to Bishop

After theological study in Finland and the United States, Pohjola’s first congregation in Helsinki started with about 30 members, he says. It was only able to support him part-time at first. He remembered his wife accompanying the congregation’s hymn-singing on a piano while their firstborn daughter, a baby at the time, laid on a blanket on the floor nearby.

Finland’s state church began openly disobeying Christian theology concerning sex differences amid the global sexual revolution of the 1960s. So, Christians alienated by the state church’s embrace of anti-Christian cultural demands sought faithful pastors like Pohjola, who are known as “confessional” for adhering to historic Christian confessions. The resulting growth of his tiny congregation gradually led to establishing a seminary, then dozens of mission churches, which grew as the theologically unfaithful state church shrank. In 2013, 25 of these new confessional congregations formed the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Finland. Today, that diocese oversees 45 congregations and missions and is training 64 pastors.

That growth has been accompanied by suffering, including persecution first from Pohjola’s own church.

First Persecuted By His Own Church

In 2009, Pohjola was awarded the theological journal Gottesdienst’s Sabre of Boldness Award, which is granted “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on behalf of the Holy Church of Christ, while engaged in the confession of His Pure Gospel in the face of hostile forces, and at the greatest personal risk.” The award honored Pohjola, with other faithful Finnish pastors, for standing firm as Finland’s state church sought civil charges against them for refusing to disobey the Bible’s commands that only men be sent to lead spiritual warfare as pastors.

Like Luther before him, Pohjola was expelled by his own church body in 2014 for adhering to God’s word on this matter. The notice of his discharge declared Pohjola was “obviously unfit to be a pastor.” At the time, he responded with grief but also by saying that he must obey God rather than men, lamenting: “Instead of the Church being purged with God’s Word, she is being purged from God’s Word.”

In the interview last week, Pohjola said being defrocked from “his baptismal church” grieves him to this day. On his mother’s side, Pohjola said, his family includes Lutheran pastors in that church going back to the 17th century Reformation. But he could not disobey God’s commands to retain his social status or employment.

Division or Unity? Yes

Pohjola’s separation from Finland’s state church also had the consequence of uniting him and his flock with other confessional Christians across the globe. The International Lutheran Council is a global network of theologically unified churches, and like the confessional churches in Finland, that network is growing.

Mathew Block, the ILC’s communications manager, noted that the heightened contradictions between increasingly unnatural pagan practices and historic Christian teachings are causing a global “confessional realignment.” It’s forcing people to make a real decision about where they stand rather than allowing them to inhabit the increasingly nonexistent, indecisive middle. This is affecting churches all over the world. While it means divisions in some areas, it also is leading to unity in others. For example, despite other important theological differences, all the world’s largest Christian bodies agree with the doctrines for which the Finnish government is persecuting Pohjola. That allows them to speak in chorus to government leaders.

Already many dozens of top religious leaders across the world have formally raised their concerns with Rasanen and Pohjola’s prosecution to the Finnish government and the United Nations. Several U.S. members of Congress have also asked U.S. agencies to take action against Finland for these human rights abuses.

“I encourage Roman Catholic ecclesiastical leaders and all those who care for souls to speak up and join hands and lock arms with us as we talk about the absolute necessity of our historic Christian values of one man, one woman, marriage, and the freedom to be able to believe it, to say it, to publish books about it, and find practical ways through hospitality, education, and other social engagement to make society strong that way,” Shaw said. “All churches—one could even say all religions but in particular the Roman Catholic faith—this reflects their historic commitments as well.”

The Shepherd Faces Wolf Attacks for the Sheep

In August 2021, the international Lutheran church recognized Pohjola’s steadfast leadership amid persecution by supporting his election to bishop of Finland’s confessional diocese. The ILC hosted Pohjola’s November 2021 speaking tour in the United States, and is raising funds across the world to raise awareness of his case.

“Our mission has been that, if the shepherd sees that one sheep is missing, he knows,” Pohjola said of the churches he oversees. He noted that many people coming to faithful Finnish churches are seeking love and connection from a church family as the secular world becomes increasingly isolated and family-less, in no small part because of pagan sexual behavior and beliefs.

“People don’t go to church for social capital now. This is a serious life and they want to be serious with God. So, churches have to build communities that stand on solid Lutheran, biblical doctrine,” Pohjola says.

While he may not share Luther’s temperament, Pohjola’s response to his own persecution by church and civil authorities does mirror Luther’s simplicity four centuries ago: “Here I stand. I can do no other.” He adds a pastoral message to Christians watching governments turn on them today.

“We have to learn from the past, Christians who have suffered under persecution, and be prepared,” Pohjola said. “But it’s not something to be worried about, because Christ remains faithful to His church and wherever he is leading us, He will come with us. He will provide everything that is needed for the future of His Christians and His church.”

You can hear Pohjola talk about his case and its implications during his November visit to the United States here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=413205860293995

And watch a Federalist Radio Hour interview with Pohjola here:

Church Leaders Who Cancel Christmas Services Are Clinging To Government Lies, Not Christ


Church Leaders Who Cancel Christmas Services Are Clinging To Government Lies, Not Christ

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Wednesday against discriminatory targeting of religious groups with COVID-19 restrictions marked a significant victory in the ongoing battle to preserve religious liberty. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, hostile stakeholders in public office have assaulted the first freedom through superciliously labeling religious services “nonessential.” Christians in much of the country now find themselves in the demeaning and intolerable position of being allowed to worship only in the manner and on terms dictated by politically motivated governors.

Respecting authorities’ claims about an unknown disease made sense early in the outbreak, but now after better scientific information shows many initial fears are false. Yet politicians refuse to come clean while ignoring their own rules forbidding us from fulfilling our Christian duties. So it is time for us once again to assert that church is the most essential activity, period. Instead of valiantly fighting in the vanguard, however, many religious leaders have quickly retreated.

It is one thing for a church leader to prayerfully consider the individual needs of his church, striving to maintain unity among members in disagreements, protecting the health of the vulnerable, and offering stability amid uncertainty. It is quite another for shepherds to forsake the assembling of their flocks and enable the propaganda that congregating freely to worship God is selfish and “could kill grandma.” This unbiblical stance also overlooks the hypocrites in public office and the media who don’t even play by their own silly rules and ignore the data, for much lesser purposes than the health of our souls.

Many such religious leaders are neglecting the soul-saving mission of the church. The notion that being a good Christian requires indefinite cessation of communal worship — and for Catholics, the suspension of the sacraments — to prevent the spread of illness is a falsehood that has confused the faithful and undermined religious freedom.

Supreme Court Upholds Religious Liberty

In the case brought by the Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Supreme Court held that “the restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.” In a concurring opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch posed a pertinent rhetorical question: “Who knew that public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?”

Gorsuch held that “the only explanation for treating religious places differently seems to be a judgment that what happens there just isn’t as ‘essential’ as what happens in secular spaces.” He warned that “in too many places, for far too long, our first freedom has fallen on deaf ears.”

For several months now, elected officials and many church leaders around the country have flagrantly ignored religious liberty. States such as California, Oregon, and Washington have witnessed a new wave of post-election crackdowns on religious services. In San Diego County, churches are currently prohibited from holding indoor services. Meanwhile, a San Diego court just issued a temporary order exempting coronavirus restrictions from applying to a strip club, ruling that such entertainment constitutes “constitutionally protected speech.”

In Oregon, new restrictions limit faith-based gatherings to a maximum of 25 people regardless of church size but allow businesses to continue operating at a reduced percentage of their total capacity. Archbishop of Portland Alexander Sample rightly argued that allowing a measly 25 worshipers in a cathedral that can seat 1,000 isn’t data-driven and doesn’t make sense.

The Church Is Essential

expressed concern back in May about politicians labeling religious services “nonessential” and allowing the state to determine on what terms churches can hold services. At that time, Washington bishops effectively thumbed their noses at President Trump for declaring that state governments should allow houses of worship to reopen.

The bishops instead hitched their wagon to Gov. Jay Inslee’s rogue horse. Hence six months down the road, Inslee again targeted Washington churches as part of his latest round of arbitrary fiats. Church capacity is reduced to 25 percent, and congregational and choral singing is prohibited.

Meanwhile, the very authorities who tut-tut and wag fingers clearly don’t adhere to or believe in the merits of their own nonsense rules. Sanctimonious public officeholders have lectured us about keeping business closed, taking unemployment on the chin, staying home, and wearing masks while they visit salons, attend private dinners, and jet off out of state for holidays with family. The duplicity of notorious mask shamers such as CNN’s Chris Cuomo and White House correspondents Kaitlan Collins and Jonathan Karl has similarly been on display.

The hypocrisy is not limited to the secular sphere. Pope Francis condemned peaceful lockdown protests despite the World Health Organization’s warning against using lockdowns as the primary means of controlling the virus. Francis believes that closing churches, businesses, and schools, and forcing people out of work are all “necessary for people’s protection.” He has even canceled public celebration of Christmas liturgies at the Vatican.

Yet Francis didn’t appear particularly worried about Wuhan virus transmission when, free from any semblance of social distancing and masks, he enjoyed a cozy chat about poverty and social justice with a group of handsomely paid NBA players and fellow pals of the Chinese Communist Party. Evidently, on protecting the freedom to assemble, to provide for one’s family, and even to freely worship, government-imposed restrictions are non-negotiable, but when it’s about racial and economic politics, the holy grail of neo-Marxists, lockdowns are a suggestion only.

Against this backdrop, Christians should be prepared for the usual suspects in public office and the press, facilitated by an array of religious leaders, to crack down on Christmas celebrations. We will no doubt hear more of the “we do this not out of fear but out of love” mantra. Given, however, that the survival rate is 94.6 percent for those 70 years and older and between 99.5-99.997 percent for those 69 and younger, rapid breakthroughs in therapeutics have been announced, three reportedly effective vaccines are on the way, and government authorities are flouting their own restrictions, the “love thy neighbor” lecture is becoming as tedious as it is false.

Christians Need Church to Obey God’s Commands

The Gospels tell us the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. We cannot fulfill the second greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves if that love is not solidly founded in an encounter with God. This means gathering with the faithful in sung praise and thanksgiving, as we read in Psalms and was the custom from the earliest church, as well as explicitly commanded in scripture.

The Greek word for church, “ekklesia,” comes from the Old Testament and originally referred to the assembly of the people of Israel. When St. Paul first used the term, he intended it as the new community of believers in Christ. This “ekklesia” is not a human association borne of common interests and beliefs but a summoning by God himself.

For Catholics, the encounter with God is achieved even more profoundly through the sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus is literally and wholly present — body and blood, soul and divinity — under the appearances of consecrated bread and wine. Whatever way you look at it, religious services are essential, and church leaders should say so.

Religious leaders must get their priorities straight. No doubt, pastors are genuinely concerned for the health of the most vulnerable in their communities and trying to accommodate the confusion and fears of their congregants. Some must feel their hands are tied by unsupportive leadership. Still others, I suspect, find themselves effectively cornered by congregants whose political indoctrination runs deeper than their catechesis.

Nevertheless, the role of preachers is to win souls for Christ, not to protect us or themselves from physical infirmity. St. Paul urges a return to God through Christ and cautions against domination by earthly pleasures and preoccupations. In other words, if, as St. Ambrose of Milan taught, we have a wound to heal, Christ is the doctor; if we are parched by fever, he is the spring; if we fear death, he is life; and if we are in darkness, he is light.

After a dismal year, and in sober anticipation of Joe Biden’s threatened “dark winter,” it is more important than ever for Christians to unite in praise of the Light that shines in the darkness and which the darkness has never put out. We should demand that our religious leaders mark the Nativity with fitting pomp and ceremony and refuse to support churches whose pastors spread or cower behind the lie that the celebration of Christmas is nonessential.

ABOUT TYHE AUTHOR:
Carina Benton is a native Australian living in Washington state. She is a practicing Catholic and has taught for many years in Catholic and Christian schools. She is a mother of two young children.
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NYC Orthodox community holds large protest over new coronavirus restrictions


Reported by Joe Marino and Kenneth Garger | New York Post | October 7, 2020

Hundreds of members of the Borough Park Orthodox community took to the streets Tuesday night defying orders to disperse and lighting a fire in protest of new state mandated restrictions imposed on area synagogues, schools and non-essential businesses over a COVID-19 surge.

One large crowd huddled closely together at the corner of 50th Street and 15th avenue at about 9 p.m. as community activist Heshy Tischler ripped Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio over the order that shuts down schools completely and limits houses of worship to 10 people in certain COVID-19 hot spots.

Much of Borough Park is subject to those measures — the most restrictive — which also shutters non-essential businesses. The level of restrictions, broken down into three color-coded categories, are guided by coronavirus diagnosis data.

“It’s called civil disobedience, we can fight back,” Tischler told the crowd after tearing up his face mask. “Do not allow them to torture you or scare you,” he said, referring to the elected officials.

The closures must be made no later than Friday — though a spokesman for de Blasio tweeted that they would likely begin Thursday — and run for at least two weeks.

Councilman Kalman Yeger later showed up at another protest on 13th Avenue, according to Boro Park News. here, the lawmaker told the crowd: “We are not going to be deprived of the right that we have in America, like everybody else in America, the right to observe our religion.”

The protests swarmed in numbers later in the night with demonstrators shutting down 13th Avenue to vehicular traffic. Things also turned unruly when the crowd lit a rubbish fire after midnight at the intersection of 46th Street and 13th Avenue and chased away two city sheriff’s deputies who responded.

The defiant crowd chanted “Jewish lives matter,” as they held their ground.

At about 1:30 a.m. FDNY firefighters and cops put out the flames to the dismay of the protesters.

Earlier in the night, Yeger was among four local Jewish lawmakers who released a joint statement slamming Gov. Cuomo over the edict.

“We are appalled by Governor Cuomo’s words and actions today. He has chosen to pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities,” said the statement from Yeger, State Sen. Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

“His administration’s utter lack of coordination and communication with local officials has been an ongoing issue since the start of the pandemic, and particularly recently as we face this uptick.”

The lawmakers said that even though they represent COVID-19 hot-spot neighborhoods, the Cuomo administration has left in the dark leading up to Tuesday’s decision. Also brought up by the legislators, was Cuomo’s choice to display PowerPoint images of New York’s Jewish community gathering en masse during his Monday press briefing.

“Governor Cuomo’s choice to single out a particular religious group, complete with a slideshow of photos to highlight his point, was outrageous.

“His language was dangerous and divisive, and left the implication that Orthodox Jews alone are responsible for rising COVID cases in New York State,” the elected officials said.

Read the full article: https://nypost.com/2020/10/07/nyc-orthodox-community-protests-new-coronavirus-restrictions/

Read more at 1776coalition : https://1776coalition.com/

Ted Cruz Releases New ‘SACRED’ Bill – It Would Cancel Federal Funds For Governments That Discriminate Against Religion


Reported By Adam Casalino | July 30, 2020

Ted Cruz Releases New ‘SACRED’ Bill – It Would Cancel Federal Funds For Governments That Discriminate Against Religion

Sen. Ted Cruz is concerned that local governments may have violated Americans’ Constitutional rights during the lockdowns. Democrats allow large protests (in some cases, with thousands of people), while at the same time they are forcing churches to close. Meanwhile, these same Democrats are all too happy to take federal funds.

But Cruz is working to put a stop to that with his new SACRED bill:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would render state and local governments ineligible for federal coronavirus relief funds if the attorney general deems they are discriminating against religious individuals or institutions…

Cruz’s bill comes as religious people throughout the country have increasingly resisted lingering coronavirus lockdown mandates that forbid large assembly both in houses of worship and other establishments.

Religious liberty is protected by the First Amendment. The law makes it very clear that the government cannot prohibit Americans’ exercise of their faith. Yet numerous Democrats in states across the country have denied churchgoers the right to worship. In Chicago, the mayor actually sent a police raid into a church. New York’s de Blasio personally tried to shut down a Jewish funeral. Churchgoers have been fined and arrested. In California, they are not even allowed to sing.

Yet these same leaders look the other way as thousands protest in the streets, “social distancing” rules blatantly ignored.

Early on during the lockdowns, AG Barr showed support for churches. He directed U.S. attorneys to investigate any cases where governments violated religious rights. Thanks to Barr, several lawsuits against state governments worked out in churches’ favor. But still, Democrat leaders persisted in denying Americans the right to worship.

Cruz is calling out these local governments, hitting them where it hurts. States are eager to gobble up federal funds to address challenges related to the pandemic. Blue states have been in debt for years. So, any excuse to get federal cash would be welcomed.

If Cruz’s bill is passed, it would strike a huge blow against any state that tries to undermine religious rights.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ted Cruz introduced a bill to deny federal funds to states that deny religious rights.
  • Numerous Democrats have denied First Amendment rights to citizens during the lockdowns.
  • At the same time, these leaders allowed large protests and riots.

Source: Daily Wire

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adam Casalino

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Adam Casalino is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and graphic designer. He is a regular contributor for the Patriot Journal. Find his other work: http://www.talesofmaora.com

DOJ to Gavin Newsom: Start Reopening Churches in California


Reported by JOEL B. POLLAK | 

URL of the originating web site: https://www.breitbart.com/faith/2020/05/20/doj-to-gavin-newsom-start-reopening-churches/

Attorney General William Barr appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) warned California Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday that his reopening plan discriminates against religion and must be modified to allow for religious services to reopen. Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband pointed out that Newsom’s plan allows a variety of businesses to reopen in “Stage 2,” but does not allow churches and other houses of worship to reopen until “Stage 3,” for no apparent reason.

Citing Attorney General William Barr’s April memorandum warning state and local governments to respect First Amendment rights of religious freedom — “[T]he Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis,” Barr wrote — Dreiband argued that while California could determine the pace of its reopening, it could not infringe on religion:

Of course we recognize the duty that you have to protect the health and safety of Californians in the face of a pandemic that is unprecedented in our lifetimes.

Laws that do not treat religious activities equally with comparable nonreligious activities are subject to heightened scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. … Religious gatherings may not be singled out for unequal treatment compared to other nonreligious gatherings that have the same effect on the government’s public health interest, absent the most compelling reasons.

California has not shown why interactions in offices and studios of the entertainment industry, and in-person operations to facilitate nonessential ecommerce, are included on the [essential workforce] list as being allowed with social distancing where telework is not practical, while gatherings with social distancing for purposes of religious worship are forbidden, regardless of whether remote worship is practical or not.

Places of worship are not permitted to hold religious worship services until Stage 3. However, in Stage 2, schools, restaurants, factories, offices, shopping malls, swap meets, and others are permitted to operate with social distancing.

Whatever level of restrictions you adopt, these civil rights protections mandate equal treatment of persons and activities of a secular and religious nature.

Dreiband told Breitbart News Sunday recently that the DOJ had achieved results by writing to local governments to inform them that they were infringing on religious liberty, and they had backed down from draconian restrictions.

The Los Angeles Times notes that while several California churches have already challenged the state’s stay-at-home orders, none has yet been successful. Dreiband acknowledged these decisions, but argued in his letter that the decisions do not address discrimination in the reopening plan.

Politico noted that Gov. Newsom has tried to mollify religious communities: “I want to just express my deep admiration to the faith community and the need and desire to know when their congregants can once again start coming back to the pews, coming back together,” he said Monday.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Religious Liberty: It’s What Trump Didn’t Say


Authored by Bryan Fischer | Thursday, May 4, 2017 @ 1:45 PM

Religious Liberty: It's What Trump Didn't Say

The religious liberty executive order President Trump signed hardly helped the cause of religious liberty.

There was no word of comfort, encouragement, or support for those who have been victimized by the relentless persecution of the homosexual lobby. – Bryan Fischer

Donald Trump just issued his executive order on religious liberty with evangelical luminaries from all across the fruited plain in attendance. The order is designed to neutralize the Johnson Amendment, which on paper at least threatens churches which engage in political activity, and to prevent organizations, like The Little Sisters of the Poor, from being forced to provide abortifacients for their employees. 

These are essentially hollow promises on the president’s part. No church has ever been deprived of its tax exempt status using the Johnson Amendment. In fact, conservative evangelicals have for years tried to goad the IRS into going after them for preaching political sermons, to no avail. African-American churches have utterly ignored the restrictions of the Johnson Amendment for decades, for which we can be grateful, since that’s where the civil rights movement came from. Their pulpits were used to galvanize and mobilize parishioners to engage in direct political action, with nary a peep from the IRS. So the Johnson Amendment is a toothless tiger. 

With regard to the contraceptive battle, that battle has already been fought and won in the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court, in the Hobby Lobby case, has already ruled that businesses cannot be forced to violate their deeply held moral and religious principles to provide abortion-causing pills to their employees. So it was a nice gesture on the president’s part, but essentially meaningless. 

Meanwhile, the gravest concern is aroused by what the president did not say. The draft of this executive order that was leaked to the liberal media in February contained robust protections for Christians engaged in business from being compelled by government to violate their own values and consciences in showdowns with the radical, vitriolic, and virulently aggressive LGBT lobby. 

Our recent history is rife with Christian bakers being fined $135,000 for refusing to bow the knee to the god of Sodom, Christian florists being sued for everything they own, and Christian photographers subject to stiff fines for declining to participate in same-sex ceremonies. Christian adoption agencies specializing in hard-to-place children have been shut down. We’ve seen story after story of Christian students being expelled from counseling programs for not meekly submitting to the gay agenda, and professors being terminated or denied tenure for the same reason. 

This morning’s empty and symbolic action on the president’s part most likely betrays the hidden hand of the president’s uber-liberal daughter, Ivanka, who likely leaked the February draft to a liberal rag (The Nation) in order to stir up enough intense outrage from the LGBT community to strangle this baby in the cradle. It worked. Ivanka wore out her red pencil eviscerating the original order, leaving us with today’s order which has very nice language but is virtually entirely lacking in substance. 

The president’s words today were fine, and encouraging as far as they went. The problem with the president’s speech in the Rose Garden is what he did not say. There was no word of comfort, encouragement, or support for those who have been victimized by the relentless persecution of the homosexual lobby. They apparently will have to wait for another day, waiting without any assurance that this new administration will stand with them and protect their constitutional liberties. The best grade we can give the president for today’s remarks is an incomplete. 

Bryan Fischer Host of “Focal Point”

Rome’s Iconic Trevi Fountain to Be Dyed Red in Honor of New Christian Martyrs


waving flagby Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D., 21 Apr 2016

In a move reminiscent of the first plague of Egypt, the city of Rome will dye its most emblematic fountain blood red in commemoration of the many new martyrs killed in our time for their faith in Jesus Christ.

According to the Catholic News Agency, the Trevi Fountain will be dyed red on the evening of on April 29 “in recognition of all Christians who even today give their life for the faith.”

The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has organized the event to “call attention to the drama of anti-Christian persecution.” Vatican Cardinal Mauro Piacenza will introduce the ceremony, which will feature testimony from Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria, as well as other witnesses to Christian massacres in Yemen, Pakistan, Turkey and Kenya.

In a statement posted on their website, the group said they hope this program will create “a long-lasting, concrete reaction everywhere so that the persecuted people of the 21st century can return as soon as possible to fully enjoying their natural right to religious freedom.”

The Italian daily Il Giornale noted that there are 150 million persecuted Christians throughout the world, “a genocide that too often silent Western institutions refuse to recognize.”

The organizers added that “the systematic violation of the right to religious freedom, especially that of Christians, must become the central issue of the public debate.”

The year 2015 saw “the most violent and sustained attack on Christian faith in modern history,” according to a watchdog organization that has been monitoring Christian persecution for decades.

Open Doors, an organization founded in 1955 to assist persecuted Christians, publishes an annual “World Watch List,” reporting on attacks against Christians and ranking the most hostile national environments for believers. “The 2016 World Watch List documents an unprecedented escalation of violence against Christians, making this past year the most violent and sustained attack on Christian faith in modern history,” Open Doors CEO David Curry said at the rollout of the list. Persecution in “continuing to increase, intensify and spread across the globe,” he said.

Pope Francis has spoken frequently during his papacy on modern-day martyrs. On April 7, the Pope called martyrs “the lifeblood of the Church.” “It is the witness of our martyrs of today – so many! – chased out of their homeland, driven away, having their throats cut, persecuted: they have the courage to confess Jesus even to the point of death,” he said.

In his Good Friday ceremony of the Stations of the Cross last month, the Pope denounced the global persecution of Christians, who are still “killed, burned alive, throats slit, and beheaded with barbarous blades amid cowardly silence.” The ceremony was held in the iconic setting of the Roman Coliseum, a symbol for many of the earliest Christian persecutions and martyrdom. Francis underscored the evil of these atrocities, carried out in the name of God and religion.

“O Cross of Christ, we still see you today in the fanaticism and terrorism of the followers of a religion who profane the name of God and use it to justify their unprecedented violence,” in evident reference to the Islamist terrorists behind much Christian persecution today.Christian Persecution

According to the biblical account of the plagues of Egypt, God commanded Moses and Aaron to turn the Nile and all the waters of Egypt to blood, as a sign to Pharaoh. “Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone,” God tells Moses. Yet despite this sign, Pharaoh’s heart was “hardened” and the persecution of God’s people continued.

Picture1 true battle Picture1 In God We Trust freedom combo 2

Deal: reject ‘religious liberty’ bills that allow discrimination


waving flagBy Greg Bluestein and Aaron Gould Sheinin – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Updated: 8:26 a.m. Friday, March 4, 2016  |  Posted: 2:53 p.m. Thursday, March 3, 2016

URL of the original posting site: http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/deal-reject-religious-liberty-bills-that-allow-dis/nqcrL

no more rinos

Gov. Nathan Deal on Thursday issued a powerful biblical appeal against “religious liberty” legislation in the General Assembly and said he would reject any bill that legalizes discrimination.

His statement and those of other legislative leaders, businesses and religious groups have given gay rights supporters confidence that they may soon be able to move from defense to offense in pursuit of expanded legal protections for gays and lesbians in Georgia. Big Gay Hate Machine

The governor said he is not interested in any bill that “allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith,” and he urged religious conservatives not to feel threatened by the legalization of gay marriage. Asked whether that meant he would reject such legislation, and aide to the Republican governor said he would.Leftist Propagandist

Deal also called on his fellow Republicans pushing for the measure to take a deep breath and “recognize that the world is changing around us.”

Deal has already called on lawmakers to make changes to House Bill 757, which originally said no pastor would be forced to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony. It was amended in the Senate to include provisions that would allow individuals and organizations to deny service to same-sex couples or gays and lesbians if it violates their religious beliefs.

Mar. 2, 2016 – Atlanta – Representatives from Georgia Equality, Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign delivered copies of 75,000 emails to lawmakers and Gov. Nathan Deal to the governor’s office on Wednesday. The messages not only urge state leaders to defeat so-called religious liberty legislation they believe would legalize discrimination, but also for the state to adopt civil rights protections for all, including the LGBT community. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said Thursday that he agrees with the governor.

“Speaker Ralston appreciates and shares Governor Deal’s sincere commitment to protecting religious liberties while ensuring that Georgia continues to welcome everyone with genuine Southern hospitality,” Ralston spokesman Kaleb McMichen said.More Liberal Gibberish

Supporters of the bill, however, say it is not intended to legalize discrimination but to prevent government from forcing religious believers to act in a way that violates their deeply held religious beliefs.

Mike Griffin, the head of public affairs for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said the times are changing, but not everything is. “God’s word is not changing,” Griffin said. “When it comes to the issue of marriage, while that’s changed, God’s definition has not.”

HB 757, Griffin said, “does not seek to disenfranchise anyone, it doesn’t seek to discriminate against anyone.” “It protects people of faith from discrimination by the government coercing them into actions that violate their religious beliefs,” Griffin said.

But Deal said his religious faith tells him there are other ways.

“What the New Testament teaches us is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered the outcasts, the ones that did not conform to the religious societies’ view of the world. … We do not have a belief, in my way of looking at religion, that says we have to discriminate against anybody,” he said. “If you were to apply those standards to the teaching of Jesus, I don’t think they fit.”Picture2

Deal quoted the Gospel of John that showed Jesus reaching out to an outcast.

“What that says is we have a belief in forgiveness and that we do not have to discriminate unduly against anyone on the basis of our own religious beliefs,” Deal said. “We are not jeopardized, in my opinion, by those who believe differently from us. We are not, in my opinion, put in jeopardy by virtue of those who might hold different beliefs or who may not even agree with what our Supreme Court said the law of the land is on the issue of same-sex marriage. I do not feel threatened by the fact that people who might choose same-sex marriages pursue that route.”Picture3

Griffin, however, turned to a different verse from the Bible: Matthew 19: 4-6. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

The bill, Griffin said, “just narrowly defines this one area of marriage.”

But, as Deal and Ralston, along with powerful businesses such as Delta Air Lines, Home Depot and tech-giant Twitter, have called on Georgia’s leaders to embrace diversity, gay rights activists see an opportunity.

“Governor Deal has powerfully articulated a message of unity for Georgia,” Jenner Wood, chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, said. “His words will spread far and wide to affirm our reputation as a welcoming state that celebrates both our faith traditions and our diversity.”More Liberal Gibberish

Wednesday, after he delivered 75,000 emails calling on the governor to veto HB 757 should it reach his desk, Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham said he is increasingly optimistic.

“Over the last week we’ve seen an outpouring of concern,” he said. “The eyes of the nation are on Georgia. It’s really a pivotal time. (Lawmakers) need to decide if they’re going to cling to the bias and discrimination of the past or keep Georgia an open, fair, hospitable place to live and do business.”

After Deal’s latest comments on Thursday, Graham agreed there are ways to protect those on all sides of the issue.

“A comprehensive civil rights law in Georgia can protect all communities and groups from discrimination and can reinforce our state motto of wisdom, justice and moderation,” Graham said.

Chad Griffin, president of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign and no relation to Mike Griffin, said it’s time for Georgia to move forward.

“We want to not just kill the bad legislation that hurts Georgians but now move forward with legislation that protects LGBT Georgians,” he said.More Liberal Gibberish

A House panel earlier this year rejected a plan to do just that. But a bipartisan group of lawmakers has filed a resolution that would create a House study committee that could spend the months between legislative sessions examining the conundrum from all sides and propose a solution before lawmakers return in January.

“I’m hopeful,” said state Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Atlanta, the primary sponsor of House Resolution 1513. “I have formally requested a hearing this morning.”

Death of a nation Die true battle In God We Trust freedom combo 2

Number ONE Socialism in America Story: “Something Sickening Was Just Done To Christian Bakers Who Refused To Make Lesbian Wedding Cake”


Reported by Melody Dareing December 30, 2015

URL of the original posting site: http://www.westernjournalism.com/something-sickening-was-just-done-to-christian-bakers-who-refused-to-make-lesbian-wedding-cake/?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=ConservativeHeadlinesEmail&utm_campaign=PM1&utm_content=2015-12-30

kleins

Tyranney AlertIt was not enough for bakery shop owners Melissa and Aaron Klein to pay more than $136,000 fine to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. The state has now wiped out all cash from all their bank accounts too – and did it right before Christmas.

Melissa Klein said was checking on their three bank accounts when she found out the government took every penny. The money was even taken from a separate account the couple uses to keep their church tithe. The amount totaled around $7,000.

“It was like my breath was taken away,” Melissa Klein said in a telephone interview. “I panicked. Everything was gone.”

The couple, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, faced the wrath of the state in 2013 after they would not bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. While the Kleins will bake cakes for homosexuals for other events, like birthdays, Aaron Klein told the couple they could not support a lesbian commitment ceremony because of their Christian beliefs about marriage. Same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Oregon at the time. The couple held a commitment ceremony in June 2013 and were legally married on May 23, 2014, four days after same-sex marriage was legalized in Oregon.

Even though same-sex marriage was not yet legal in the state, the Kleins were hauled before the bureau on discrimination claims under the state’s public accommodations law. The government then ordered them to pay $136,927.07 judgment for causing “emotional suffering.” They paid it in full to avoid a state-mandated nine percent interest penalty, according to their attorney. The money was given to the Kleins through donations.

“The least expensive option to stay in compliance with the law was to pay the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries funds that will be kept in a separate account until they prevail in their court appeal,” said attorney Tyler Smith in a prepared statement regarding the case.

The couple had to shutter their retail shop and now work out of their home. They were also slapped with a gag order prohibiting them from speaking publicly about their decision to refuse baking a wedding cake for same-sex marriages.

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said in a 2013 interview that he was not trying to shut Sweet Cakes by Melissa down. He wanted them to change their views. “The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate.”Picture2

pure socialismStill, closing the business and issuing a gag order was not enough for Avakian, who actively supports gay rights in his social media posts and public comments. He authorized the move to wipe out the Kleins’ bank accounts, even the one meant for the church.

“We had three accounts,” Mrs. Klein said. “I have one account that’s labeled, ‘God’s money’ – our tithing. They just took it.”

The Kleins’ case is on appeal and Smith said they would continue to fight it even if it means taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Aaron and Melissa will continue to work to ensure that every American has the First Amendment right to express their faith-based beliefs, and to conduct their daily affairs according to their conscience,” Smith said.

Big Gay Hate Machine In God We Trust freedom combo 2

4 Supremes alert America: ‘Trouble is coming’


Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts

America needs to prepare for a major governmental assault on religious liberty in the wake of the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling, but those standing against the tide can find plenty of inspiration from those who pioneered the concept of religious freedom at the American founding.

Michael Farris is co-founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and author of “The History of Religious Liberty.” The book details the fierce fight for the religious freedom provisions that eventually emerged in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Farris said history is critical to understand in the wake of the marriage decision and the brand new threats to liberty being advocated on the political left.

The day after the Obergefell v. Hodges decision was handed down, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., told MSNBC she believed religious liberty was a much narrower concept than has been understood for centuries. “Certainly the First Amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs,” Baldwin said. “But I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception.”More Evidence

She added, “Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled? In this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts, and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.”What did you say 05.jpg

Michael Farris’ “History of Religious Liberty” is a sweeping literary work that passionately traces the epic history of religious liberty across three centuries, from the turbulent days of medieval Europe to colonial America and the birth pangs of a new nation. 

Farris is dumbfounded at Baldwin’s reading of the First Amendment. “The ignorance of members of Congress and the U.S. Senate never ceases to baffle me. How did they get there in the first place without taking a basic civics course? Or maybe they have and they just don’t believe it,” Farris said. “This senator has just simply walked away from not only the text of the Constitution and the meaning of the Constitution but our great American traditions.”

In fact, Farris believes Baldwin’s concept of religious liberty is almost completely backward. “It is an institutional right,” he said. “Churches have religious freedom, but it’s primarily an individual right. The Supreme Court – back in the day when it used to think straight – would say things like it’s not up to the government or the courts to determine which individual within a faith has correctly understood the demands of that faith. You’re allowed to go your own way.”SCOTUS GIANT

In response to the court decision, Govs. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, and Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, have announced their states will vigorously protect the religious liberty of the people. Farris applauds the efforts but warns those policies won’t stop all government intrusion into Americans’ lives or the practices of religious institutions. “That’s a good thing. It limits the areas where a church or a school can expect an attack. But a Christian college residing in one of those states can still expect an attack from the IRS or from the accrediting association or from the U.S. Department of Education if they don’t go along with the federal edicts on this,” said Farris, who warned schools and churches would be wise to protect themselves legally now given the dire warnings offered in the dissents to the Obergefell decision. “We have four justices on the Supreme Court effectively warning all the religious institutions, ‘You better do something about this because trouble’s coming.’ I don’t think that’s an idle speculation,” he said. “That’s about as strong of a warning from about as high a source as you can possibly get.”

<div>Please enable Javascript to watch this video</div>Farris expects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to provide federal protection for Christian individuals and organizations, but only to the extent that Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledges it.

In “The History of Religious Freedom,” Farris details the long, unlikely triumph of religious freedom in America’s founding. Just as in Europe, colonial America witnesses various denominations cracking down on others.

Modern history textbooks credit enlightenment thinking for the emergence of religious liberty in America. To Farris, that’s academic fantasy, cp 11and true scholars have actually debunked that notion. “It’s simply not true,” he said. “I lay out the historical evidence in great detail. One Harvard historian around the 1920s said the evidence that people who are indifferent to religion, that basically is the enlightenment crowd, were the cause of religious liberty is an unsustainable argument. There is simply no evidence for that point.” He added, “It was people who cared very deeply. It was grassroots kinds of Christians fighting establishment kind of Christians who gave us religious liberty for everybody. The battle for religious liberty wasn’t settled on the Mayflower.”

Protections for the free exercise of religion were anything but guaranteed in America. Farris said the colonial government of Virginia teamed with the Anglican Church to punish dissenters as late as the 1770s. In 1776, Virginia’s Declaration of Rights became the first declaration of religious liberty anywhere in the world.

In 1789, Congress approved the Bill of Rights and sent them to the states for approval. That same year, the French Revolution unfolded. The upheaval in the two countries has long been compared, especially as the U.S. moved forward with stability and France subsequently endured the Reign of Terror and the Napoleonic era.

Farris said there are key reasons for the very different results of revolutions rooted in freedom, including America’s much deeper respect for personal religious liberty and vastly different views about the nature of man.

“France believed that man was perfectable and that we could create our own utopia, whereas the American Revolution followed the Christian biblical idea that all men are sinners and that’s why you needed limited government, because you can’t trust any man in government to rule faithfully forever,” he explained.

According to Farris, the greatest parallel between the colonial struggle for religious freedom and today’s cultural battles is where the battle lines are drawn. Religious freedom was not championed by the ruling class. “It was a monumental battle,” he said. “It was the common people, who believed in Jesus, who believed the Bible was the authority for their faith and their life, who really fought the war and won. Many of them paid with their lives.”

Farris said the founding generation should serve as inspiration for the religious freedom fights of this century.

“Common people armed with bravery and faith in God can turn anything around,” he said. “I’ve seen it in my own life through the homeschooling movement. We were outnumbered and outgunned by the teachers’ unions day after day after day. We won battle after battle after battle because (we were) common people armed with the Constitution of the United States and belief in the Word of God.”

Tree of Liberty 03 Freedom is never free freedom combo 2

Bill of Rights’ Most Important Liberty: Religion


waving flagWritten by Bethany Blankley

John-Adams-Quote-Liberty-Lost1

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, listed non-negotiable constitutionally guaranteed freedoms in specific order, unchanged since 1791. James Madison, its chief architect, listed freedom of religion first; then speech, press, assembly, petition, right to keep and bear arms, and freedom from forced quartering of military members in one’s home.

Freedom from civil government overreach and interference was essential to establishing sustainable civil order and a just rule of law; the first ten amendments — only 468 words — were added to protect what the founders considered “preexisting rights” from federal government “encroachment.”

Freedom of religion was un-mistakenly listed as the first freedom of the Bill of Rights. And the term “religion” was well understood from its original context derived from the State of Virginia’s Bill of Rights. In Article 1, Section 16, Virginia’s Bill of Rights defines “religion” as “the duty which we owe to our Creator… the manner of discharging… [of which] can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.”

(Many significant words and phrases used to write the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution were selected from preexisting documents and individual state constitutions’ declaration of rights, which provided more detailed definitions.)

Virginia’s Bill of Rights legally defined “religion” as a means to secure freedom from government coercion, which enabled a foundational protection for other freedoms. The Bill of Rights, by defining religion, allows people to believe and act by “reason or conviction” without fear of being coerced to violate their “dictates of conscience.” In this way, religion is jurisdictional– the Bill of Rights ensures that the government cannot force a citizen to violate his/her conscience.AAA02

James Madison articulated in Memorial and Remonstrance:

“The Religion … of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as they may indicate. This right in its nature is an unalienable right. It is unalienable; because the opinions of men … cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also; because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. … This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”GOD

Madison believed that citizens were first “subject[s] of the Great Governor of the Universe,” who must first make his/her “allegiance to the Universal Sovereign” before they could consider being a “member of Civil Society.”ONE NATION

He considered religion first and foremost “immune” from any and all civil authorities. The wording used for the First Amendment’s two religion clauses were specifically straightforward: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” All matters of religion were exempted from civil authority.

Madison asserted:

“In matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.”

want_rel_liberty_rAs a legal and jurisdictional matter, Madison asserted that all men are first subject to God as an immutable fact based on the Christian worldview (Mark 12:17, Psalm 24:1). It was imperative to specify that no government could ever have authority over one’s relationship with God. Understanding that even governmental authority itself originates from God (Romans 13:1) — moral standards could not be mutually exclusive from rule of law.

Furthermore, freedom of conscience, under the jurisdiction of freedom of religion, established the next four freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. They include freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peacefully assemble, and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances. These four freedoms granted constitutional security for “residual sovereignty” of the people, not the government. The Bill of Rights ensured freedom of religion as the foundation for all other liberties. No other amendments were possible if freedom of religion had not first been guaranteed as an unalienable right.One Nation Under God

Bethany Blankley; http://BethanyBlankley.com

Bethany Blankley is a political analyst for Fox News Radio and has appeared on television and radio programs nationwide. She writes about political, cultural, and religious issues in America. She worked on Capitol Hill for four U.S. Senators and one U.S. Congressman, for a former New York governor, and for several non-profits. She earned her masters degree in theology from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland and her bachelors degree in politics from the University of Maryland. Follow her @bethanyblankley & BethanyBlankley.com.049590d9aa5e45170821a5ba6f11ac12  SCOTUS Death lost forever liberty 

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Today’s Politically INCORRECT Cartoon


waving flagThe Proverbial Camel

California Orders Churches To Fund Abortions—Or Else


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22, 2014 By

Read More At: http://thefederalist.com/2014/10/22/california-orders-churches-to-fund-abortions-or-else/

Tyranney Alert

California Orders Churches To Fund Abortions—Or Else

A regulatory change in California has placed abortion in the category of ‘basic health services’ all insurance plans must cover. Even those churches buy. Photo John Ragai / Flickr

For the past four years, the Obama administration and its friends on the Left were careful to claim that they still strongly support religious liberty while arguing that Hobby Lobby’s Green family, Conestoga Wood Specialties’ Hahn family, and others like them must lose. Principally, they contended, religious liberty protections could not be applied to Hobby Lobby because (1) It is a for-profit corporation, (2) It isn’t a church (and thus not a true “religious employer,” and (3) It is wrong on the science—Plan B, a copper intrauterine device, et cetera, they claimed, do not cause abortions. They implied, if not claimed outright, that they would surely support religious freedom in another case, but Hobby Lobby was unworthy to claim its protections.

The State of California is now calling their bluff. California’s Department of Managed Health Care has ordered all insurance plans in the state to immediately begin covering elective abortion. Not Plan B. Not contraceptives. Elective surgical dismemberment abortion.

At the insistence of the American Civil Liberties Union, the DMHC concluded that a 40-year-old state law requiring health plans to cover “basic health services” had been misinterpreted all these decades. Every plan in the state was immediately ordered, effective August 22, to cover elective abortion. California had not even applied this test to its own state employee health plans (which covered only “medically necessary” abortions). But this novel reading was nevertheless quietly imposed on every plan in the state by fiat.

The news has slowly leaked out as insurers grappling with this change have begun quietly informing employers of this sudden change in the terms of their policy. This is howCP 01 Kaiser Permanente broke the news to one California church that its insurance policy for its pastors and staff would now include elective abortion coverage:

I want to formally share with you that on August 22, 2014, the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) notified Kaiser Permanente and other affected health plans in writing regarding group contracts that exclude ‘voluntary termination of pregnancy.’

This letter made clear that the DMHC considered health care services related to the termination of pregnancies – whether or not a voluntary termination – a medically necessary basic health care service for which all health care services plans must provide coverage under the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act.  You may recall that at the request of some employer groups with religious affiliations, Kaiser Permanente submitted a regulatory filing in May 2012 properly notifying the DMHC of a benefit plan option that excluded coverage of voluntary terminations of pregnancies. The DMHC did not object to this filing, permitting Kaiser Permanente to offer such a coverage contract to large group purchasers that requested it. The DMHC acknowledged that it previously permitted these contract exclusions, but now is requiring health care service plans to provide coverage of all terminations of pregnancies, effective immediately.  To that end, the DMHC requires Kaiser Permanente and similar health care service plans to initiate steps to modify their plan contracts accordingly.

Effective August 22, Kaiser Permanente will comply with this regulatory mandate.

police_stateChurches Can Exclude Chemical Baby Killing, But Not Surgical

Several other California churches have received similar notices from their insurers, and others will follow. While California (like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS) exempts churches from its contraceptive mandate, there is no exception to this bureaucratic abortion mandate. This leaves California churches in the illogical and impossible position of being free to exclude contraceptives from their health plan for reasons of religious conscience but required to provide their employees with abortion coverage.

This California mandate is in blatant violation of federal law that specifically prohibits California from discriminating against health care plans on the basis that they do not cover abortion. Alliance Defending Freedom and Life Legal Defense Foundation have filed administrative complaints with the HHS Office of Civil Rights (which oversees this federal law) on behalf of individual employees and seven California churches forced into abortion coverage in violation of their conscience.

What will be the administration and the Left’s response to this unprecedented attack on religious liberty? If they couldn’t stand with Hobby Lobby because it was a for-profit business, not a church, and because they thought its conscience concern was misplaced on the abortifacient nature of Plan B, will they now demand religious liberty for churches forced to cover elective abortion? If not now for religious liberty, when?

Do the administration and the left-wing commentariat continue to see any life in the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections at all? The Left’s response to California’s abortion mandate will reveal whether their claims of respect for religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case were serious or mere fig leafs for an even more dismal view of religious liberty than they have let on.

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School Bans Christian Club — Again


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October 6, 2014 By

http://www.tpnn.com/2014/10/06/school-bans-christian-club-again/

Starnes Christian Club
CP 01Educators at Ward Melville High School are either woefully ignorant of the U.S. Constitution or they really don’t like Christian teenagers.

For the second year in a row, the Long Island, New York high school has denied students the right to form a Christian club.

“I feel like they have something against me and my faith,” 17-year-old John Raney told me. “I feel marginalized.”

John is the founder of Students United in Faith, a service-oriented Christian club. Nearly 20 young people wanted to join the club – but the school said no.

“I wanted to start the club because I thought it would provide a safe space for Christians to meet and talk about their faith,” he said.

As John noted, there aren’t many places like that in Long Island — especially at Ward Melville High School.

So here’s the back story:

cp 12Last year, the school pulled the same stunt. They banned John’s club because of its religious nature. Attorneys with Liberty Institute, a law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, stepped in and threatened to sue.

After a school district investigation, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich reversed the ban and apologized to John.

She told television station WCBS the initial reason for rejection was “apparently inaccurately conveyed.”

And by “inaccurately conveyed” she means they got their hand caught in the religious liberty cookie jar.

Fast forward nine months later and the school once again is telling the Christian kids they aren’t welcome to co-mingle.

I called the school district to find out what was going on. They said they would get back to me. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, John said Assistant Principal Christian Losee cited a lack of student interest in the group as well as the school’s “financial limitations.” But those excuses did not hold water.

John said there were at least 17 students who wanted to participate in the club. That seems like a pretty respectable number.  And if, in fact, the LMSELCHD Sacred Cowschool had money trouble, why did they approve four new clubs this year?

So John picked up the phone and called Liberty Institute, a nationally known religious liberty law firm. “I cannot imagine why they would come back a second time to discriminate,” said attorney Hiram Sasser. “For some reason, Ward Melville High School does not want to follow the Equal Access law.”

Sasser fired off a letter to the school district demanding the Christian students be allowed to form their club.

“This is not a complicated issue,” Sasser wrote. “Simply put, public schools cannot discriminate against religious clubs and must treat them equally, and provide them equal access to school facilities, as non-religious clubs.”

Attorney Sasser was able to compile a list of all the school’s clubs – 33 in all. They’ve got everything from a fishing club to a ceramics club. They even have a Gay-Straight Alliance.

“They let all these other clubs meet with no problem whatsoever,” John told me. “But the second me and my friends mention faith or mention God, they get up in arms about it – like there’s something wrong with believing in these things.”

Sasser said the law is clear. It doesn’t matter if only two people wanted to join the Christian club – the school would have to accommodate them.

“If they allow the fishing club, they have to allow the Christian club, too,” he said. “They cannot exclude the Christian club.”

After what happened last year, I suspect the school knows that. It seems to me they’re just engaged in a bit of bullying and intimidation.

“It sends a chilling message to all faith groups – telling them the school views these clubs as not acceptable,” Sasser said.

more tolerantJohn’s mom, Trudy Fischer, told me she’s proud that her son is sticking up for the club.

“I was really surprised in today’s age that children still have to stand up for their First Amendment rights,” she said. “Tolerance is really preached in their school. They talk about tolerance, but when it comes to this – there is no tolerance. They want to shut them up.

That’s right, Trudy. They want your son to shut up. They want to marginalize these young Christian teenagers and make them think there’s something inappropriate, something sleazy about their religious beliefs. But what’s truly sleazy is government-employed bigots continuing to bully Christian teens trying to do good deeds.

Republished with permission. Originally published at FoxNews.com.

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Bobby Jindal: Angry Americans Ready for ‘Hostile Takeover’ of Washington


http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/bobby-jindal-hostile-takeover-washington/2014/06/22/id/578509#ixzz35W7HQXzk

 Reported by NEWSMAX.COM

Trigger the VoteLouisiana Gov. BobbyJindal on Saturday night accused President Barack Obama and other

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Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education and said that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S. with people ready for “a hostile takeover” of the nation’s capital.

Jindal spoke at the annual conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group led by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed. Organizers said more than 1,000 evangelical leaders attended the three-day gathering. Republican officials across the political spectrum concede that evangelical voters continue to play a critical role in GOP politics.

“I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Jindal said, “where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”War on Christians

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The governor said there was a “silent war” on religious liberty being fought in the U.S. — a country that he said was built on that liberty.

“I am tired of the left. They say they’re for tolerance, they say they respect diversity. The reality is this: They respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them,” he said. “The left is trying to silence us and I’m tired of it, I won’t take it anymore.”

Earlier this week, Jindal signed an executive order to block the use of tests tied to Common Core education standards in his state, a position favored by tea party supporters and conservatives. He said he would continue to fight against the administration’s attempts to implement Common Core.

“The federal government has no role, no right and no place dictating standards in our local schools across these 50 states of the United States of America,” Jindal said.

Jindal used humor in criticizing the Obama administration on several fronts, referencing the Bergdahl prisoner exchange and the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

“Are we witnessing right now the most radically, extremely liberal, ideological president of our entire lifetime right here in the United States of America, or are we witnessing the most incompetent president of the United States of America in the history of our lifetimes? You know, it is a difficult question,” he said. “I’ve thought long and hard about it. Here’s the only answer I’ve come up with, and I’m going to quote Secretary Clinton: ‘What difference does it make?'”

The conference featured most of the well-known Republicans considering a 2016 presidential run, including Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Jindal is expected to announce after the November midterm elections whether or not he will launch a presidential bid.

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Christian Persecution

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