Tag Archives: FFRF

October 5th is Pulpit Freedom Sunday: is your church getting involved?

I listened to this podcast from the Alliance Defending Freedom  and this podcast from the Family Research Council on the weekend.  Both of them mentioned that something called Pulpit Freedom Sunday was happening this Sunday.

So I looked it up and found this online:

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an event associated with the Pulpit Initiative, a legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit. Pulpit Freedom Sunday encourages pastors to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to speak truth into every area of life from the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom also hopes to eventually go to court to have the Johnson Amendment struck down as unconstitutional for its regulation of sermons, which are protected by the First Amendment.

The web site is here. They are up to 3520 pastors now who are participating. My pastor did not participate last year. He is not very intelligent when it comes to apologetics and policy, so he probably doesn’t know what to say. Or maybe he just afraid, which I can understand more than not knowing what to say.

Not everyone is happy with this. The IRS is investigating churches (not Democrat-favoring churches, of course) for speaking about specific issues.

Here’s an article on that.

Excerpt:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to investigate the political activity of churches after reaching a settlement with an atheist legal group. But a court has yet to decide whether or not to close the case.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the IRS jointly asked a Wisconsin federal court last week to dismiss a 2012 lawsuit, FFRF v. Koskinen. The FFRF had alleged that the IRS failed to have a policy in place for investigating political activity at tax-exempt churches and religious organizations, nor did the agency enforce its 501(c)(3) codes against electioneering.

Meanwhile, more than 1,600 churches have deliberately broken the existing law since 2008, endorsing political candidates from their pulpits during Pulpit Freedom Sunday events organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The next “showdown” will be October 5.

“This is a victory, and we’re pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions,” said FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor in a press release.

However, the case has not yet been closed. Father Patrick Malone of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had been granted permission to interveneon the side of the IRS, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (which represents Malone) has asked the court to dismiss the case but “with prejudice.” In other words, Becket argues the FFRF should not be able to sue the IRS again on this particular issue, while the FFRF argues that it should be able to do so.

Regardless of the court’s final decision, the IRS won’t be free to investigate churches until a moratorium related to the agency’s controversial scrutiny of tea party organizations is lifted after a congressional investigation closes.

CT has noted how the six-year run of Pulpit Freedom Sunday has tried to provoke the IRS into (ironically) punishing pastors as a means to reexamine the rights of pastors to promote politicians from the pulpit. The initiative even gained an unexpected allylast year in Sen. Charles Grassley and the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations (CAPRO).

Meanwhile, LifeWay Research has found that only 10 percent of Protestant pastors believe pastors should endorse political candidates (while noting that is a different question from should the IRS ban the practice.)

The IRS has not released the language of the settlement, and ADF is concerned about how secretive the church investigations will be—if they indeed happen. ADF has issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in pursuit of the documents surrounding the settlement between the FFRF and the IRS.

“This is one of the major problems with the IRS,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with ADF. “They are secretive, which breeds mistrust and leads to problems in knowing just how they will enforce and interpret the law.”

Becket has also requested information on documents the FFRF and the IRS are not making available, including: “all documents relating to any investigation or determination by a high-ranking IRS official, in writing, of the acts and circumstances, including potential violations of the electioneering restrictions, that led to the high-ranking official to reasonably believe that a church or religious organization may have violated the requirements for tax exemption under 501(c)(3).”

Stanley says ADF’s strategy—helping churches realize how government is censoring what they say—will not change. If the IRS does monitor electioneering more closely, he hopes the issue will end in a lawsuit.

“The Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional,” said Stanley. “If the IRS begins enforcing it again against churches, Alliance Defending Freedom stands ready to defend a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit.”

ADF has organized Pulpit Freedom Sunday for six years, with 1,621 church and religious leaders participating in 2012 (2013 dropped to nearly 1,100 participants). But until now, the IRS has all but ignored ADF’s attempts to bring the issue to a head. According to Stanley, the IRS does not want to challenge the Johnson Amendment—which bans tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates—in court.

I think it’s interesting that the FFRF is not so much interested in debating whether atheism is true as they in shutting down theists who seek to live consistently with their beliefs by using the power of big government. I think that’s pretty par for the course though, if you look through 20th century history. That’s what atheist regimes have done, so we should expect individual atheists to do that as well.

I don’t recommend to the atheists at FFRF that they intimidate Christians, though, as Jesus seems to think that limiting the practice and free expression of Christian convictions is a bad idea.

Read Matthew 18:1-7:

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,

3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;

6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!

I think that we Christians need to take positions that are in accord with what God’s Word says, and we need to be ready to defend our positions in public using public arguments and public evidence – especially scientific research – that will be persuasive to non-Christians who do not accept the Bible. That’s the only way to stop the cultural decline caused by the secular left.

The best introductory book on the interface between Christianity and politics is “Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late“, co-authored by Jay Wesley Richards. The Kindle edition is $9.99. Richards’ Ph.D is from Princeton University.

The best comprehensive book is “Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture” by Wayne Grudem. The Kindle edition of that one is $4.99. Grudem’s is from Cambridge University. First-rate Christian scholarship on practical Christianity.

And you can listen to Grudem delivering Sunday school training at his church on every single chapter of that book right here. All free, and no ads. Be sure and scroll through all the previous years to get all the topics! Ethics, social policy, fiscal policy, foreign policy and more!

For more information on Pulpit Freedom Sunday, check out this web site.

If you want to hear about things like this, then subscribe to the FRC podcasts and the ADF podcast.

Ball State University sides with Darwinian Inquisition and against academic freedom

Evolution News reports:

In a blatant attack on academic freedom and the unfettered consideration of scientific viewpoints, the president of Ball State University (BSU) in Muncie, IN, has imposed a gag order on science faculty forbidding their discussion of the theory of intelligent design (ID) in science classrooms.

Ball State has been the focus of media attention since an extremist atheist group, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, demanded an investigation into whether Ball State physicist Dr. Eric Hedin had informed his students about the theory of ID. Dr. Hedin’s interdisciplinary honors course “Boundaries of Science” included a “Partial Bibliography” listing books favorable to, and others critical of, intelligent design.

Now BSU’s President Jo Ann Gora has declared that ID is a “religious” idea at variance with “the consensus of science scholars” and may not be discussed in science classes, since that would be a violation of “academic integrity.”

“Students and the public are owed a genuine evaluation of the merits of ID, touching as the theory does on ultimate questions of life’s origins,” responded Dr. Stephen Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “However, when scientific discussion is censored by a university, fair-minded evaluation becomes impossible.”

Dr. Meyer is the author of the recent New York Times bestseller Darwin’s Doubt, a rigorous summary of the current state of the argument for intelligent design.

“In the Orwellian world of Ball State’s president, academic freedom apparently means only the ‘freedom’ to support the majority’s view,” said Dr. John West, associate director of the Center for Science & Culture. “This is exactly how the academic ‘consensus’ against the theory of intelligent design is maintained — by intimidation, fiat, and legal threats.”

ID theorists hold that a variety of features observable and testable in living creatures and in the fossil record are best explained as the product an intelligent cause rather than an unguided process such as natural selection. Dr. Meyer’s book, for example, begins by examining the abrupt origin of complex, diverse animal life in the Cambrian era, 530 million years ago.

Not unexpected, given what we knew about the panel charged with evaluating Dr. Hedin’s course.

But I do have some good news today. Tune in at 2 PM to read my report on yet another new peer-reviewed paper hostile to Darwinism.

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Atheist Inquisition led by Jerry Coyne seeks to censor pro-ID physicist at Ball State University

Evolution News reports.

Excerpt:

There is a very disturbing affair going on at Ball State University that everyone needs to know about. The public university in Muncie, Indiana, has been under pressure from a rabid national atheist group and from atheist activist Jerry Coyne to discipline an assistant physics professor for teaching about intelligent design. Coyne and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) claim it’s a legal, constitutional matter, no less: teaching about ID violates the First Amendment! “It’s religion taught as science in a public university, and it’s not only wrong but illegal,” writes Coyne. “This will now go to the lawyers.”

Ball State has announced it will indeed scrutinize the situation. FFRF staff attorney Andrew L. Seidel complained in a legally vacuous letter to Ball State president Jo Ann Gora. Amazingly, the university responded with this ominous public statement:

The university received a complaint from a third party late yesterday afternoon about content in a specific course offered at Ball State. We take academic rigor and academic integrity very seriously. Having just received these concerns, it is impossible to comment on them at this point. We will explore in depth the issues and concerns raised and take the appropriate actions through our established processes and procedures.

Being the subject of such controversy, with your employer issuing public statements about how higher ups will be “explor[ing] concerns” about your “academic rigor” and “integrity,” is obviously the last thing an academic in Eric Hedin’s shoes wants. It’s enough to make the blood drain from your face.

Click here to sign the petition to defend academic freedom at Ball State University.

What opposition to Christmas displays tells us about atheism

A post critical of litigious atheists, by Doug Giles.

Excerpt:

The atheists I grew up with in Texas were a tad bit pluckier than today’s lardy hagfish atheists who file lawsuits every winter when they see a child wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Yep, the anti-theists I used to hang out with in the Lone Star state were rugged individualists who were so busy milking this existence that they didn’t have time to bleat like a stuck sheep because a plastic baby Jesus statue endangered their delicate beliefs.

My other non-believing buddies who weren’t the robust Hemingway types were usually heady stoners who were into physics, Pink Floyd and Frisbee and were completely comfortable around people of faith versus today’s reflexively irate, touchy atheists who pop a blood vein in their forehead if they accidentally hear “Silent Night” playing at Macy’s.

For God’s sake atheists, übermensch up why don’t you?

Giles then goes on to explain one of the latest attempts by former-Pentecostal-hymn-singer Dan Barker to ban nativity scenes and other Christmas stuff from being displayed.

Then concludes:

Yep, according to the 21st century metrosexual atheist motif, anything that offends them should now be banned. That makes me scratch my head because I thought the atheists were the tough-minded ones who could stare death in the face and mock God and His dictates, but now a silicone statue of Yeshua in diapers puts them in a tailspin. Hello, sweetie.

He mentions Dan Barker in his article, so I think it’s worth linking to this post I wrote about how Dan Barker abandoned Christianity. To persist in the Christian life requires a certain amount of intelligence and wisdom. You have to be good at life. Dan couldn’t cut it.