Tag Archives: Freedom of Conscience

Have you heard of Kristen Waggoner and the Alliance Defending Freedom?

Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom argued Jack Phillips’ case before the Supreme Court. (Photo: Jeff Malet/The Heritage Foundation)
Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom argued Jack Phillips’ case before the Supreme Court. (Photo: Jeff Malet/The Heritage Foundation)

I was very surprised to see the far-left Washington Post post a balanced article on Alliance Defending Freedom. The ADF is a group of lawyers who do battle in defense of religious liberty and conscience in the Supreme Court. They have won 9 cases at the Supreme Court in the last 7 years, despite having to argue in front of a court that had a 5-4 liberal majority.

Here’s some of the article:

Two days before the announcement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement, a woman who stood to gain from it was on the steps of the Supreme Court once again. Kristen Waggoner’s blond bob was perfectly styled with humidity-fighting paste she’d slicked onto it that morning at the Trump hotel. Her 5-foot frame was heightened by a pair of nude pumps, despite a months-old ankle fracture in need of surgery. On her wrist was a silver bracelet she’d worn nonstop since Dec. 5, 2017, the day she marched up these iconic steps, stood before the justices and argued that a Christian baker could legally refuse to create a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.

Her job was to be the legal mind and public face of Alliance Defending Freedom., an Arizona-based Christian conservative legal nonprofit better known as ADF. Though far from a household name, the results of ADF’s work are well known. Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was just one of ADF’s cases at the Supreme Court this term. The organization has had nine successful cases before the court in the past seven years, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby…

I follow very few people on Twitter, only about 27-30. One of those people is Kristen Waggoner. She is the lead counsel in many of these Supreme Court cases. She is the best at what she does.

Her silver bracelet is engraved with a famous passage that I think has inspired many Christian women of courage. It’s from the book of Esther. The bracelet says “For Such A Time As This”. It’s a phrase that is taken from Mordecai’s warning to Esther that God is sovereign over her life, and that he has put her into a position to defend her whole nation from threats.

Here’s the passage in context from Esther 4:6-17:

6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate.

7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews.

8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said.

10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai,

11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai,

13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:

16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

Kristen Waggoner is our Esther. She actually has much better character and abilities than the real Esther .

Her biography is here on the ADF web site.

It says, in part:

Kristen K. Waggoner serves as senior vice president of U.S. legal division and communications with Alliance Defending Freedom. In this role, Waggoner oversees the U.S. legal division, a team of 100 attorneys and staff who engage in litigation, public advocacy, and legislative support. Since she assumed this role, ADF has prevailed as lead counsel in eight U.S. Supreme Court victories, including Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which she argued at the Supreme Court and won. She continues as lead counsel in Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington, which the Supreme Court remanded to the lower courts. She also served as counsel for the free speech victory that the Supreme Court handed down in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.

I consider it amazing that more Christians don’t know who she is. Christians tend to admire famous celebrities, athletes, artists. And prosperity gospel preachers. But these people merely entertain us. Kristen Waggoner is not an entertainer, she is a warrior. She goes into the most dangerous places and fights for the liberty of every one of us. She’s become a sheep dog in order to protect the sheep. Right now, we are facing challenges from people who are trying to use the law like a weapon to bully and silence anyone who tries to live out an authentic Christian life. Powerful people are trying to say that when a Christian’s liberty makes them FEEL BAD, that means that the Christian’s liberty needs to be suppressed. The ADF is there to make sure that they don’t succeed.

Whenever the ADF goes out to battle, I make sure to write about their cases on this blog. We should all be informed and give respect to Kristen Waggoner and everyone who works for the ADF. They are some of the most effective and influential Christians, and they deserve our gratitude and our respect.

More about her background

One of the other groups I like a lot is the Heritage Foundation, my favorite think tank. I have similar admiration and respect for the people who work there, such as Genevieve Wood and Jennifer Marshall. The Daily Signal, a news site operated by the Heritage Foundation, has posted a story about Kristen Waggoner’s background.

It says:

Waggoner grew up as Kristen Kellie Behrends in Longview, Washington, about two hours south of Seattle and an hour north of Portland.

What she treasures most about her upbringing, Waggoner says, is that she was steeped in consistent values at home, church, and school that shaped her worldview without sheltering her.

Her father taught her from Scripture about “being an Esther, being a Deborah, used by God,” she says, and that “joy and fulfillment come from having a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves.”

“It’s not about us, we’re a part of a bigger story that has to do with helping human flourishing. And that just shaped my whole life, even now.”

[…]Once a teacher in public schools, today her father is a licensed minister in the Assemblies of God denomination. He is associate pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington, and superintendent of an affiliated school system.

Young Kristen would go to the principal’s office to visit her father three or four times a day, sometimes because she got into trouble. In these encounters, he urged her to find and develop her talents, and apply them in a way that would honor God.

And one day, Waggoner recalls, she saw clearly that defending ministries and religious freedom should be her path.

[…]“The right of conscience is critical to the existence of the country and is the first freedom that our other civil liberties are directly connected with,” Waggoner says. “I wanted to be a part of that—that fight to preserve it for my children and my grandchildren.”

On this blog, I put a lot of emphasis on Christians being careful about what they study in school, what jobs they take, how they manage their money, and who they choose to marry. The goal of all this is to make sure that young Christians are thoughtful about having a vision for their lives, and pursuing that vision in a way that minimizes wildness, fun and thrills. Becoming a hero doesn’t happen by accident, it takes planning and execution. There is no path to success that involves doing whatever feels good moment-by-moment. In order to make a difference, we need to be careful about doing what works, not pursuing fun and thrills in the moment.

Where does Bernie Sanders stand on gay rights vs religious liberty?

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

Here’s an article from Robert Gagnon from the American Spectator. Dr. Gagnon is someone I trust on the gay marriage / homosexuality / gay rights issues. In this post he makes a list of all the things Sanders is doing and intends to do on the gay rights vs religious liberty issue.

He writes:

I have encountered a fair number of persons holding a more or less traditional view of marriage who are warming up to Sanders because Sanders strikes them as a “nice man” who just wants to “help the poor.” Pay attention, please, for Sanders has told us exactly what he would do to you as President (rest assured that Hillary Clinton would do the same):

First, Sanders will kill any sort of religious liberty legislation, such as the the “First Amendment Defense Act”:

1. “Veto any legislation that purports to ‘protect’ religious liberty at the expense of others’ rights” (the scare quotes are his). In other words, he is going to get you, you hateful, ignorant bigots who have a problem with supporting directly with your talents, goods, and money the full homosexual and transgender lifestyle.

Second, if anyone in your office finds out that you oppose gay marriage, Sanders is authorizing your pro-gay co-workers to have you fired on the spot:

2. “Sign into law the Equality Act,” of which he “is currently a cosponsor,” “which would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other anti-discrimination laws to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.” This would include a so-called “employment nondiscrimination” legislation that renders you the moral equivalent of a racist should you utter in or out of the workplace the view that homosexual activity is harmful or immoral. Think of it as anti-Christian (and anti-Muslim and anti-Orthodox Jewish) employment discrimination legislation.

Expect lots of firings and terminations to take place. Imagine your workplace as a sort of “secret police” state, except the policing won’t be so secret. Expect there to be a full-court federal push to punish with hefty fines those who do not want to contribute their talents and goods directly to “gay weddings” (bakers, florists, photographers, caterers). Churches that allow non-parishioners to use any of their facilities will have to offer these to “gay weddings” and any other homosexual or transgender activities. In some cases white-collar employees who outside the workplace write in favor of a male-female foundation for marriage (even on a Facebook post) could be charged with creating a hostile work environment and terminated.

Pro-gay indoctrination of police officers into the gay agenda:

4. “Require police departments to adopt policies to ensure fairer interactions with transgender people, especially transgender women of color …, and institute training programs to promote compliance with fair policies.” This is a mandate to indoctrinate forcibly police departments along the lines of “progressive” sexual ideology. Either they learn to advance the transgender cause or face discipline and termination. That means converting law enforcement into the most active enforcers of a homosexual and transgender agenda against the citizenry. You have no rights, except the right to remain silent.

Pro-gay  indoctrination of young children in the schools:

5. Pass “anti-bullying” legislation requiring indoctrination of children in the schools into the LGBT agenda. Your children will be taught to regard you as a “bully” and a “homophobic bigot” if you don’t affirm homosexual and transsexual identities. Your children will be given exercises that will urge them to declare their affinity with the LGBT cause. “If you believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, walk across the room to us, where these treats are waiting.” If your children don’t comply, they will be ostracized.

Dr. Gagnon lists a few policies favored by Sanders, and takes a look at his record on gay rights issues in Vermont. Suffice to say that if this man is elected President, religious liberty and freedom of conscience for Christians will be finished. Some voters think that forced redistribution of wealth by a secular government is more important than the right to live by Biblical sexual ethics. For myself, I’m not for redistribution of wealth by a secular big government. I believe in Biblical sexual ethics, and I believe in natural marriage. I don’t want to elect someone who would punish me for being supportive of natural marriage and traditional morality.

Kentucky bans pastor from prison ministry because he disagrees with homosexuality

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

Yes, in Kentucky.

The Stream has the story.

Excerpt:

Like Christian ministers across the confessional spectrum, David Wells takes seriously the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “I was in prison and you did not visit me.” Minister of evangelism of Pleasant View Baptist Church in McQuady, Kentucky, he has been visiting and mentoring juveniles in the Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center for 12 years.

Not any more. On July 7th, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) revoked his volunteer credentials and permanently barred him from visiting, counseling or leading worship services for juveniles. He was found in violation of a newly revised departmental policy on “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” because he could not sign a state-mandated statement that he would not use the word “sinful” when talking about homosexuality. The policy states that volunteers:

shall not refer to juveniles by using derogatory language in a manner that conveys bias towards or hatred of the LGBTQI community. DJJ staff, volunteers, interns, and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful, or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The acronym “LGBTQI” stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Intersexed.”

I recommend reading the articles to get the details on the inmates, so that you see what they are in for, what their real problems are, and what it is that the pastor talks to them about.

But I want to skip to the end, which is about the conflict between the gay agenda (don’t offend me by saying that what I am doing is wrong, because it makes me feel bad) with the Constitutional right of religious liberty.

More:

The issue really isn’t the way Wells speaks to the juveniles he ministers to. The issue is what he says. In effect, the DJJ wants to remove the Bible from his hands. The policy equates the teaching of Biblical morality with derogatory and hateful speech.

Removing the Bible from a pastor’s hands is like taking a scalpel from the hands of a surgeon. The policy effectively deletes passages such as Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Tim 1:10 from the New Testament. The words of Scripture are the gifts a pastor has to offer. He’s not there just to counsel the young people. He’s there to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s not hate speech, it’s love speech.

Wells is represented by Liberty Counsel. In a letter to the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, Liberty Counsel explained that the new policy creates an unconstitutional religious test for access to the DJJ. The First Amendment prohibits the government from discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. This detention center may not prohibit the expression of biblical morality because DJJ policymakers object to the Bible.

That’s what the American Constitution says, but the authorities in other states and in federal and military prisons have begun imposing similar restrictions on religious speech. This may become one more aftershock of the Obergefell v Hodges decision. The homosexual equivalency movement wants to insert homosexual activity into the category of a protected class under State and Federal law in order to use the police power of the State against those who disagree with them. It’s one more example of a growing soft persecution underway in the United States.

I have been saying for some time that Christians have been really missing the boat by focusing on charity without theology. We are interested in being nice so we can be liked. We are not interested in telling the truth, so that we can be faithful. We spend all our money feeding hungry people and helping the poor and so on, and nothing is going to defend religious liberty – the freedom to actually treat what the Bible about God as real and serious – in public. Maybe instead of doing nice things, we can try to focus more on doing good things. We can start by not voting for secularists who charm us with their desire solve the world’s problems by redistributing wealth, and instead vote for people who promise to protect our religious liberty and our freedom of conscience. No more giving money to World Vision and the Boy Scouts of America and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. We have other things to think about now.

UK Tory MP: use anti-terrorism laws against Christians who say gay marriage is wrong

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

This article appeared in the far left UK Telegraph. (H/T Dina)

It says:

New banning orders intended to clamp down on hate preachers and terrorist propagandists should be used against Christian teachers who teach children that gay marriage is “wrong”, a Tory MP has argued.

Mark Spencer called for those who use their position in the classroom to teach traditionalist views on marriage to be subject to “Extremism Disruption Orders” (EDOs), tough new restrictions planned by David Cameron and Theresa May to curb radicalisation by jihadists.

In a letter to a constituent, Mr Spencer, the MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, insisted that Christian teachers were still “perfectly entitled” to express their views on same-sex marriage – but only “in some situations”.

Christian campaigners said Mr Spencer’s remarks confirmed what they had previously warned: that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman would now be “branded extremists”.

[…]Ministers have signalled that the orders, expected to be a key plank of the Government planned new Counter-Extremism Bill, would be used not only curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but those who promote other views deemed to go against “British values”.

According to the MP’s letter, the anti-terrorism laws would be used whenever teachers taught children that redefining marriage was wrong. This is the view of every Bible-believing Christian, by the way. Defending the standard definition of marriage is now the equivalent of advocating for Jihad, in British schools.

I did a quick search to see what really is going on in the UK with freedom of conscience, free speech, and so on, and I found this story:

A Christian registrar who claimed religious discrimination has today been denied an appeal by the European Court of Human Rights, in a move described as a “sad day for liberty of conscience”.

Lillian Ladele was claiming religious discrimination after being forced out of her Islington Council job over her conscientious objection to same-sex civil partnerships.

She was seeking to appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights after losing a 5-2 majority decision in January.

Two other Christians, Shirley Chaplin and Gary McFarlane, also had their applications for appeal turned down.

It’s a good idea, when deciding who to vote for, to look at other countries to see where the policies being put forward today have led. One policy that led to a terrible place, especially for men and children, was no-fault divorce. Today, we have same-sex marriage, which denies children access to their biological mother or father, or both, and makes relationships about the needs of selfish adults, instead about the needs of children. And in the UK, speaking against this second redefinition of marriage is now a crime.

Indiana RFRA “fix” is a full repeal, religious liberty will be no defense

CNS News analyzes the “fix” proposed by Indiana Republicans.

Excerpt:

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long announced Thursday that they would submit a new versionof the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to Gov. Mike Pence to counter criticism that it discriminates against gays and lesbians.

“It was never intended to discriminate against anyone,” Long told reporters. “That perception led to the national protests we’ve seen.”

But a lawyer for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says the proposed legislative “fix” is not only unnecessary, it would undermine the religious rights of Hoosiers and leave them vulnerable to criminal prosecution for following their religious beliefs, the opposite of what RFRA was intended to do.

“We think the Indiana law is a very good law which is modeled on what has worked at the federal and state level for 20 years, and which is similar to constitutional provisions that are backed up by 50 years of jurisprudence,” Becket legal counsel Daniel Blomberg told CNSNews.com. “These laws work very well to protect the religious rights of minorities.

“All the Indiana law does is the same thing that’s been working very well for a long time,” he pointed out. “Today the Indiana legislature proposed a ‘fix’ that we think is 1) unnecessary; and 2) itself is broken and would create a very dangerous change in Indiana law.

“Individuals asked to be part of a same-sex wedding who decline because they feel it violates their religious beliefs would not be able to raise the RFRA under the ‘fix’,” Blomberg told CNSNews.com. “It would leave them defenseless. It also makes specific allowances for criminal prosecution. So not only is the ‘fix’ not helpful, it should not be accepted.

“We have a choice on how to handle these situations. We can allow government to drive religious people out of business, fine them and possibly imprison them, or we can allow religious people to have their day in court, and let the courts balance their religious claims against other competing values.”

Gary Bauer explains what’s at stake:

“Gov. [Mike] Pence is going through a rhetorical lynching,” Gary Bauer, former Republican presidential candidate and president of American Values, told CNSNews.com. “This is what we were warning about in the [Manhattan] Declaration, and why the Declaration was written.”

Besides upholding the “sanctity of life” and the “dignity of marriage,” the Manhattan Declaration, which was signed by Bauer and a number of other religious and political leaders in 2009, championed “religious freedom”. “No one should be compelled to embrace any religion against his will, nor should persons of faith be forbidden to worship God according to the dictates of conscience or to express freely and publicly their deeply held religious convictions,” the Declaration stated.

It warned that “freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.”

Such restrictions “undermine the viability of the intermediate structures of society, the essential buffer against the overweening authority of the state, resulting in the soft despotism [Alexis de] Tocqueville so prophetically warned of,” the Declaration continued. “Disintegration of civil society is a prelude to tyranny.”

“It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the tolerance movement used by the cultural Left in recent decades was just a poll-driven strategy and not an actual commitment to tolerance,” Bauer continued, adding that the Indiana law is being used to cut off debate and redefine anyone with traditional moral values as a bigot. “Every pastor and every parent should be deeply worried about what is happening in Indianapolis,” he said.

I guess I blame the church for this. I go to church. I know what goes on in there. It’s a sermon on the gospel every week. There is about 20 minutes of singing. Current events are never mentioned. The existence of God and the resurrection are never explained or defended. The Bible is just assumed to be true, and no issues outside it are ever discussed. Objections to Christian theism are never named, much less defended against. Reasons and evidence are never provided for the Biblical view on topics like abortion or same-sex marriage, much less economics, the environment, etc. The emphasis is on comforting people. The emphasis is on not judging. The emphasis is on making people feel good and leaving them free to do whatever makes them feel good.

I just don’t see young people having any interest in defending Christianity any more against the culture. I mean, I am seeing “pro-life”, “pro-marriage” evangelicals voting for Democrats because they want a bigger secular government.  They want more money to be transferred from Christian families to Solyndra so we can fight the global warming monster. They believed Obama about keeping your doctor, keeping your health plan, and not funding abortions – but Obama lied on all three of these. They want to vote for Obama’s promise that health insurance premiums will drop $3000 in 2008, and then vote for the same guy again in 2012 when the premiums have actually gone up $2500. They voted for Obama saying that he supported traditional marriage, but then his Justice Department declined to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Young Christians just don’t care about marriage as Jesus defined it – one man, one woman, for life.  They say they do, but then they vote for the party that opposes religious liberty when they get the chance. Global warming and raising the minimum wage are more important. Why? Because the secular culture told them so. And that’s their authority when it comes to voting.

Young Christians just seem to be completely disloyal to God as he really is. I don’t think that Christians really want to have to think about what would work to defend God’s reputation and character from these attacks. They just want to do their own thing, and get the praise from men, rather than the praise from God. In my own case, I am now in my upper 30s and still very much respecting the Biblical standards around sex: no pre-marital sex, no adultery, no frivolous divorce. Why is it such a difficult standard for younger evangelicals to accept and to defend? They seem to believe that chastity, natural marriage, and natural child-bearing are all unimportant things. The only rule now is to have fun with sex, and to never judge anyone for breaking the rules. That’s not what the Bible teaches, but that’s what young Christians believe. Who is going to talk to them about it? Not the pastors. Not their parents. And not their friends.