Tag Archives: Religious Freedom

Todd Starnes: Ted Cruz is the best candidate to defend religious liberty

Ted Cruz explains policy to little girl who wants to be President
Ted Cruz explains policy to little girl who wants to be President

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, my second favorite think tank behind the Heritage Foundation, is advising the Ted Cruz campaign about religious liberty issues. They’ve actually made a list of things for him to do if he is elected President. Since this issue is the core of my being – it animates my whole life plan – I was curious to see what Cruz intends to do about religious liberty.

Here is Todd Starnes of Fox News writing about it:

America’s Christian bakers and florists and wedding planners will be safe under a Ted Cruz presidency.

“I am absolutely convinced in my discussions with the senator that religious liberty will be a lot better off in America with a Cruz administration,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and Chair of Cruz’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council.

The council released exclusively to me its initial recommendations for both legislative and executive actions that will restore the nation’s First Freedom – the freedom of religion.

[…]The council, made up of prominent religious leaders, recommended 15 action items that will protect Americans from discrimination by the federal government on the basis of their view of marriage and also protect employers threatened by the HHS contraception mandate.

[…]The council is also calling on Cruz to direct a review of the IRS’ treatment of religious organizations and to direct federal agencies to respect the free exercise of religion.

The list includes measures to promote religious liberty at the Department of Education, the IRS, the Department of Health and Human Services, the armed forces, and in the federal government as a whole.

Cruz has a record on defending religious liberty:

Cruz has been a passionate advocate of religious liberty for years. He’s been in the front line trenches defending our First Freedom – helping secure courtroom victories to preserve the Texas Ten Commandments monument and the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial.

“As president, I have pledged on my first day in office to rescind every single one of President Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions, and to direct every federal agency to respect and protect the religious liberty of every American,” Cruz said.

His vow is certainly welcome news to American Christians who have been subjected to eight years of vicious attacks by militant LGBT and atheist groups – not to mention the Obama administration.

“Our constitutional liberties should not be subject to the whims of the current administration, and – whether Hobby Lobby or the Little Sisters of the Poor – people of faith should not be made to bow down at the altar of political correctness,” Cruz said.

I took a look over the names of the people on his panel of policy advisors, and was surprised to see people I actually know on it. You probably know these names as well: Jay Wesley Richards, Everett Piper, Bishop Harry Jackson, Ken Blackwell, and Jason Benham. Jason Benham has had to face discrimination himself, when his show was pulled because of his Christian worldview. If I had to pick a scholar who has the same interests as me across the board, it would probably be Jay Richards. So, needless to say, I’m pretty pleased with this. Seems to me like we have been losing, losing, losing at religious liberty for the last 8 years under Obama and his Democrat allies in the House, Senate, federal government and Supreme Court. If Cruz wins, thins are going to change for us on this all-important issue. I just want to be free to be me, and not to be punished for disagreeing with other people on issues of morality and conscience.

I guess it goes without saying that Donald Trump is the polar opposite of Cruz on all of these issues. That’s why it’s important to me that someone with a record of standing up for religious liberty at the Supreme Court wins the nomination. I don’t want someone who only has talk – and Trump’s talk isn’t even that encouraging. He’s promised gay rights activists “forward motion” on gay rights. I think we’ve had enough of #NewYorkValues already under Obama, Mr. Trump.

By the way, if you’re not listening the Family Research Council Washington Watch Weekly podcast, please subscribe. They cover everything from social issues, to fiscal issues, to foreign policy. One of their frequent guests is retired Lt. General William G. Boykin, who is also on Cruz’s foreign policy advisory committee, which I blogged about before.

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Disney, Marvel, NFL and Apple threaten to boycott Georgia over religious freedom bill

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

This story is from the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary Marvel are threatening not to shoot films in Georgia if the governor signs a religious liberty bill that the opponents say is discriminatory against gays and the transgendered.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a Disney spokesman said in a statement.

The boycott threat comes after Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued a clarion call for Hollywood to stop doing business in Georgia after the legislature passed the Free Exercise Protection Act.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has not indicated whether he will sign the bill.

The bill would originally have protected religious liberty and conscience over the demand of gay activists that anyone who disagrees with them be punished:

[…]The bill initially would have allowed Georgians to decline service for same-sex weddings if doing so violated their religious beliefs. But, sensing the coming storm, Mr. Deal urged lawmakers to make substantial changes to the legislation before passing it.

But then protections for religious liberty and conscience were removed:

“I know there are a lot of Georgians who feel like this is a necessary step for us to take,” Mr. Deal said during deliberations over the bill. “I would hope that in the process of these last few days, we can keep in mind the concerns of the faith-based community, which I believe can be protected without setting up the situation where we could be accused of allowing or encouraging discrimination.”

The new version of the bill says the protections do not apply in cases of “invidious discrimination,” which could mean religious wedding vendors would not be protected from declining to service same-sex marriage ceremonies.

The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau said this week that it has heard from at least 15 companies that are considering pulling convention business out of Atlanta if the legislation becomes law. ACVB President and CEO William Pate said the loss of that business could cost the city up to $6 billion, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported.

Conservatives accused Georgia of gutting the bill’s primary purpose.

“It is unfortunate that the Georgia legislature caved to pressure from big business and special interests to water down their weakened bill even further,” wrote the Heritage Foundation’s Roger Severino and Ryan Anderson at the Daily Signal. “Other states must stand vigilant against such cultural cronyism.”

And for me, this story just reinforces why I don’t have a television, why I don’t go to movies in the theater, and why I don’t buy comic books or other products from entertainment companies.

I also don’t follow American football because the NFL has been anti-Christian and anti-family for some time.

The Daily Signal explains:

A CBS News/Associated Press story Sunday, headlined “NFL warns state of Georgia over ‘religious freedom’ bill,” reported that “the NFL acknowledged that the religious exemptions bill … could have an impact on the selection process for the championship game in 2019 and 2020.” Atlanta is one of four cities up for the next two Super Bowls.

[…]“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement, adding that the NFL may evaluate “whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies” when looking at Super Bowl contenders.

Yes, because tolerance and inclusiveness require making sure people of faith who don’t support same-sex marriage have no freedom to live in accordance with their beliefs.

ESPN is also on record as being anti-Christian and anti-family, which is why I never tune them in. Why would I choose to be influenced by people who disagree with free speech, religious liberty and conscience protections?

I’ve blogged before about Apple’s opposition to religious liberty and conscience rights. And they are involved in the Georgia legislation as well:

“We urge Gov. Deal to veto the discriminatory legislation headed to his desk and send a clear message that Georgia’s future is one of inclusion, diversity, and continued prosperity,” said Apple in a statement. Hundreds of companies are part of Georgia Prospers, a coalition that told The New York Times that the bill “could harm our ability to create and keep jobs that Georgia families depend upon.”

I don’t use Apple products, not even if they are given to me for free.

Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran

This might be a good time to recall what happened to the Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran with this story is from the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

Cochran’s book, published in 2013 and called “Who Told You That You Were Naked?,” expresses a biblical view on marriage and addresses homosexuality from his Christian perspective.

[…]Fast-forward a few months, and Cochran received a 30-day suspension without pay, after an LGBT activist group started to protest the book.

“LGBT citizens deserve the right to express their beliefs regarding sexual orientation, and deserve to be respected for their positions without hate and discrimination,” Cochran said, according to a January article from The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “But Christians also have the right to express their beliefs regarding sexual orientation and be respected for their position without hate and without discrimination.”

After 34 years as a firefighter, Cochran’s fairy-tale career came to a halt in January due to his personal views on gay marriage.

Just to refresh your memory, this is what religious freedom laws are supposed to defend against:

Everyone knows that big government and big labor unions are opposed to conservative values. Big business, contrary to popular myth, is also not conservative. Small businesses are conservative, but big businesses are not conservative. It’s very important for Christians to understand who is opposed to religious liberty so that we can vote accordingly. The right to behave as a Christian in public should be our number one concern.

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.

Republicans introduce bill to protect natural marriage supporters

Hillary Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign
Hillary Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign

Ryan T. Anderson writes about it in The Daily Signal.

He says:

[…][Congress] today introduced the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) to guarantee such a scenario never becomes “an issue.”

This bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, is good policy in part because it is so simple. It says that the federal government cannot discriminate against people and institutions that speak and act according to their belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. That’s it in a nutshell.

[…][G]overnment should respect those who stand for marriage and the First Amendment Defense Act would do so by specifically prohibiting bureaucrats from retaliating against individuals, family businesses, charities and schools because they refuse to change their deeply held views on what marriage is, no matter what the Supreme Court or politicians may say about it in the coming days.

Now you might be thinking, “everything is going to be fine for Christians” or “we can trust the Democrats to not act like Nazis”, but let’s not talk in generalities, let’s look at the facts with a specific example where the government went after Christians:

[…][I]n July 2014, Obama issued an executive order barring federal contractors from what it describes as “discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The order contains extremely narrow accommodations of religious freedom and no exceptions for contractors who conscientiously judge sexual conduct to be relevant to their mission, purpose or bathroom policies.

Such radical changes in policy in effect exclude legions of taxpayers from being eligible for federal contracts funded with their own tax dollars because they hold conscientious beliefs about sexuality and biology that run counter to the administration’s.

Similar threats to religious freedom and conscience in licensing and contracts are mounting at the state level.

Facing coercion by state governments to place children with same-sex couples, faith-based adoption agencies in Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C., have been forced to end foster care and adoption services rather than abandon their belief that children do best with a married mother and father.

In those states, refusing to place children in same-sex households would have meant forfeiting necessary contracts with the state government for foster care services or, in some situations, even losing state licenses to place any children for adoption.

So, do you think that adopted children would be better off in a home where they have an adoptive Mom and an adoptive Dad? Well, there is a lot of evidence from studies showing that both moms and dads help a child’s development in different, complementary ways. But the Democrats think either moms or dads are dispensable to kids, and so yes, they do go after Christian organizations who put the needs of the children over the needs of selfish adults. And what happens to those organizations? They shut down. And what happens to those kids? They don’t get adopted.

We have an election coming up in 2016, and it will be a time for pro-marriage voters to consider where the candidates stand on religious liberty issues. Make sure you make it a priority to find out, and to get involved in getting pro-religious-liberty candidates elected.

Why does the Wintery Knight have to have an alias?

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

To answer that question, let’s look at the latest from The Weekly Standard by Johnathan Last.

It says:

You may recall Brendan Eich. The cofounder and CEO of Mozilla was dismissed from his company in 2014 when it was discovered that, six years earlier, he had donated $1,000 to California’s Proposition 8 campaign. That ballot initiative, limiting marriage to one man and one woman, passed with a larger percentage of the vote in California than Barack Obama received nationally in 2012. No one who knew Eich accused him of treating his gay coworkers badly—by all accounts he was kind and generous to his colleagues. Nonetheless, having provided modest financial support to a lawful ballot initiative that passed with a majority vote was deemed horrible enough to deprive Eich of his livelihood. Which is one thing.

What is quite another is the manner in which Eich has been treated since. A year after Eich’s firing, for instance, Hampton Catlin, a Silicon Valley programmer who was one of the first to demand Eich’s resignation, took to Twitter to bait Eich:

Hampton ‏@hcatlin Apr 2

It had been a couple weeks since I’d gotten some sort of @BrendanEich related hate mail. How things going over there on your side, Brendan?

BrendanEich ‏@BrendanEich

@hcatlin You demanded I be “completely removed from any day to day activities at Mozilla” & got your wish. I’m still unemployed. How’re you?

Hampton ‏@hcatlin Apr 2

@BrendanEich married and able to live in the USA! .  .  . and working together on open source stuff! In like, a loving, happy gay married way!

It’s a small thing, to be sure. But telling. Because it shows that the same-sex marriage movement is interested in a great deal more than just the freedom to form marital unions. It is also interested, quite keenly, in punishing dissenters. But the ambitions of the movement go further than that, even. It’s about revisiting legal notions of freedom of speech and association, constitutional protections for religious freedom, and cultural norms concerning the family. And most Americans are only just realizing that these are the societal compacts that have been pried open for negotiation.

He co-founded the company, invented the most widely-used client-side programming language used on the Internet, and he had to step down for making a donation to the cause of male-female marriage. This guy is a hundred times the programmer that I will ever be. And yet he has not found a job since he was thrown out of the company that he co-founded and made successful.

That’s why I have an alias.  Because I want to be able express my convictions about issues ranging from abortion to marriage to intelligent design to climate change without losing my job. I need my job to be able to help other Christians, and to have any chance at all of getting married and having children.

The Weekly Standard article traces the progress of the gay agenda, quoting from gay activists in Slate, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Republic, etc.

Let’s look at one of them: Jonathan Rauch writing in The Daily Beast:

Then Rauch turned to the question of whether or not the creation of same-sex marriage was an obvious extension of liberty—as gay rights advocates have always insisted—or something much bigger:

Virtually all human societies, including our own until practically the day before yesterday, took as a given that combining the two sexes was part of the essence of marriage. Indeed, the very idea of a same-sex marriage seemed to most people a contradiction in terms. .  .  .

By contrast, marriage has not always been racist. Quite the contrary. People have married across racial (and ethnic, tribal, and religious) lines for eons, often quite deliberately to cement familial or political alliances. Assuredly, racist norms have been imposed upon marriage in many times and places, but as an extraneous limitation. Everyone understood that people of different races could intermarry, in principle. Indeed, that was exactly why racists wanted to stop it, much as they wanted to stop the mixing of races in schools. In both intent and application, the anti-miscegenation laws were about race, not marriage.

Why should this distinction matter today, if both kinds of discrimination are wrong? Because asking people to give up history’s traditional understanding of marriage is a big ask. You don’t expect thousands of years of unquestioned moral and social tradition to be relinquished overnight.

[…]The First Amendment carves out special protections for religious belief and expression. That does not mean, of course, that Christian homophobes can discriminate as much as they want provided they quote the Bible. It does mean, at least for a while, courts and legislatures will strike compromises balancing gay rights and religious liberty, something they did not have to do with black civil rights. This makes gay marriage more complicated—legally, socially, and even ethically—than interracial marriage. And it means gay-marriage supporters will hit a constitutional brick wall if we try to condemn our opponents to immediate and total perdition.

Got that? Gay activists do “expect thousands of years of unquestioned moral and social tradition to be relinquished” – just not overnight. Courts and legislatures can compromise on annihilating freedom of speech and religious liberty – at least for a while. The generous gay rights activists won’t condemn those of us who think that children need a mother and a father to immediate punishment of the sort that Brendan Eich got. Or the punishment that the Oregon bakery got. Or the punishment that the Washington florist got. Or the punishment that the New Mexico photographer got. Only some people will need to be punished – as an example to the others to fall in line.

Are you getting this? This is fascism.

There are three things to do to make it safe for people who believe in natural marriage to speak out without fear. First, never vote for any Democrats ever again, and make sure that the Republicans you vote for are supportive of religious liberty and free speech. Second, we need to get informed in order to be persuasive on the marriage issue. Read a book on pro-marriage apologetics. Read another book on the sociological evidence that shows the importance of mothers and fathers to children. And then read another book on the sociological evidence for the harm caused to children raised by same-sex parents. Then you will know what you have to know to be a change agent for marriage where you are. Finally, it’s never a bad idea to donate to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the team of lawyers who defend Christians in court.