Tag Archives: Religious Liberty

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.

Supreme Court sides with Christian baker against secular left fascists and ACLU

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

On Monday, the Supreme Court finally ruled on one of the cases where Christian bakers were persecuted by gay couples and gay rights activitists who wanted to use the power of the government to control the behavior of Christians. Basically, the gay rights activists wanted Christians to act like non-Christians on moral issues. They were using the power of the state to force their morality on Christians. It was the height of intolerance and bigotry.

Here is the first article from Fox News that I’m linking to, written by Kristen Waggoner. Kristen is lead counsel on this Colorado case, as well as the Washington state case against the florist Barronelle Stutzman.

Excerpt:

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of cake artist Jack Phillips, saying the Colorado Civil Rights Commission unjustly punished him when it ordered Jack to create a custom wedding cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. As the court said, “[t]he neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised here …. The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.”

You’ll hear a lot of lies about the case from the mainstream media.

Here’s the truth:

Jack has never refused to serve any person based on who they are or what they look like. Everyone is welcome in his shop—even the two men who sued him. In fact, he told those men that, even though he couldn’t create a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage, he would be happy to sell them anything else in his shop or design a cake for them for a different occasion.

Over the years, Jack has declined to create many custom cakes because of the messages they express. If you’re looking for a ghoulish Halloween cake, a boozy bachelorette-themed dessert, or a cake celebrating a divorce—Masterpiece Cakeshop isn’t your place.

Here’s what the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered Jack to do:

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to design cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse same-sex marriage regardless of their religious beliefs, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

Here’s an example of the hostility to Christianity of the Colorado commissioners:

Commissioner Diann Rice makes the following comment just before denying Phillips’ request to temporarily suspend the commission’s re-education order:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in…the last meeting [concerning Jack Phillips]. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust… I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use – to use their religion to hurt others.”

The Commissioner certainly wasn’t shy about ramming her secular leftist ideology down Jack’s throat, and with the full power of the secular state behind it. But she wasn’t willing to allow Jack to live according to his beliefs. He had to be forced to accept her beliefs and her morality. At gunpoint, really.

Another prominent defender of liberty is David French, who used to work for the ADF, and is now at ACLJ. He wrote about the case for National Review. He addresses the all-important question about what we can expect from future rulings. Will this decision apply broadly or narrowly?

He writes:

[…][T]he Court focused on Phillips’s second claim, holding (by a 7–2 margin) that Colorado violated his right to free exercise of religion when it held him in violation of state public-accommodation law. Justice Kennedy focused on two critical aspects of the case to support his ruling. He first condemned anti-religious comments made by state commissioners during the hearings before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. He especially singled out a commissioner’s claim that “freedom of religion” has been used to “justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history,” including slavery and the Holocaust. The commissioner called Phillips’s religious-freedom claim “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use.”

[…]Had Kennedy stopped his opinion at that point, Phillips’s victory would have been important, but profoundly limited. The obvious response would be for the commissioners to reconsider the case, cleanse their rhetoric of outright hostility, deliver the same result on a cleaner record, and put the more difficult free-speech claim right back in the Court’s lap. But Kennedy didn’t stop. He found a separate ground for concluding that Colorado was motivated by anti-religious animus, and that separate ground will make it difficult for states to take aim at “offensive” religious exercise, even when it occurs in a commercial context.

It turns out that the state of Colorado had protected the right of bakers to refuse to create cakes with explicitly anti-gay messages.

[…]All bakers — regardless of religion — have the same rights and obligations. At the same time, gay and religious customers enjoy equal rights under state public-accommodation statutes. Any ruling the commission imposes will have to apply on the same basis to different litigants, regardless of faith and regardless of the subjective “offensiveness” of the message.

This is a severe blow to the state. It hoped for a ruling declaring that the cake wasn’t protected expression and a free-exercise analysis that simply ratified the public-accommodation law as a “neutral law of general applicability.” Such a ruling would have permitted the favoritism on display in this case. It would have granted state authorities broad discretion to elevate favored messages and suppress dissent, all while operating under the fiction that they weren’t suppressing protected expression or religious exercise.

It was an excellent idea for whoever asked for those anti-gay cakes to do that so that we would know that the law was not being enforced equally. Because of that, we got a broad ruling that will be applicable elsewhere. It’s not everything we wanted, but it’s more than I expected.

Ohio parents denied custody of their daughter for not supporting transgenderism

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

A long, long time ago, I wrote a very long post detailing a secular case against same-sex marriage. One of the reasons was that promoting gay rights would infringe on other basic rights, like the right to free speech and freedom of association. Same-sex marriage denies that that the two genders are different. Those who disagree with this are now being punished for their disagreement, e.g. – Christian business owners. It isn’t difficult to predict that transgender activism will cause the same sorts of problems.

Here’s an example reported at the Daily Wire:

On Friday, Ohio parents were denied custody of their daughter for not being supportive enough of her alleged transgenderism.

The 17-year-old biologically female child identifies as a boy and claims she has suicidal thoughts over her parents’ lack of support for her transgenderism (they won’t, for example, call her by her new chosen male name). The parents were fighting for custody of their daughter back from the state in an effort to stop potential transgender hormone treatment.

An attorney representing the parents, whose names have not been disclosed because of privacy concerns, argued that the girl was not “even close to being able to make such a life-altering decision at this time.” Representatives of the girl argued that a “medical team” claimed that the treatment was a matter of life and death.

Hamilton County Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon granted custody to the girl’s maternal grandparents, who are open to transgender hormone therapy. The teenager has been living with them since 2016.

According to CNN, Hendon also granted the grandparents the option to petition to change the teen’s name to her new male name in probate court. The girl is now covered by their insurance.

“The grandparents, rather than parents, will be the ones to help make medical decisions for the child going forward. But before any hormone treatment is allowed, the court ordered, the teen should be evaluated by a psychologist who is not affiliated with the current facility where he is receiving treatment, on ‘the issue of consistency in the child’s gender presentation, and feelings of non-conformity,'” notes CNN.

I thought this part was very interesting:

The parents’ Christian faith was used against them in the case by Donald Clancy of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

“Father testified that any kind of transition at all would go against his core beliefs and allowing the child to transition would be akin to him taking his heart out of his chest and placing it on the table,” argued Clancy.

Brinkman denied the allegations and argued that the parents believed hormone therapy was “unnecessary” and “would do more harm than good.”

In cases like this, I always like to remind Christians to remember how they vote. Many Christians think that a big secular government should be empowered to hand out welfare, stop global warming, provide free sex changes, free abortions and free contraceptives, etc. But they don’t understand that a big secular government does not care about religious liberty, parental autonomy, or conscience rights. They care about redistributing taxpayer money to buy the votes of people who depend on government.

Legislators and judges are paid by taxpayers, through the collection of mandatory taxes. This means that the victims of Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon are paying her salary. They are paying her to overrule their decision-making. Think about that. And think about that again when you decide whether to vote for smaller or bigger government.

Frank Turek lectures on the case against same-sex marriage

About the speaker Frank Turek:

Dr. Frank Turek is a dynamic speaker and award-winning author or coauthor of four books: Stealing from God:  Why Atheists Need God to make their Case, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Correct, Not Politically Correct and Legislating Morality. As the President of CrossExamined.org, Frank presents powerful and entertaining evidence for Christianity at churches, high schools and at secular college campuses that often begin hostile to his message. He has also debated several prominent atheists including Christopher Hitchens and David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

Frank hosts an hour-long TV program each week called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist that is broadcast Wednesday nights on DirecTV Channel 378 (the NRB Network). His radio program called CrossExamined with Frank Turek airs on 122 stations every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. eastern and is available continuously on the free CrossExamined App.

A former aviator in the US Navy, Frank has a master’s degree from the George Washington University and a doctorate from Southern Evangelical Seminary.  He and his wife, Stephanie, are blessed with three grown sons.

He’s one of my favorite speakers, and I admire him for being willing to take a public stand on controversial issues like gay marriage. He’s actually had to pay a price for that in his professional life, and I blogged about that before.

Here’s the lecture on gay marriage, featuring Christian apologist Frank Turek. It was presented in July 2015, after the Supreme Court decision.

[youtub=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3YmHAIgVfg]

Outline:

Outline of Frank Turek's lecture on same sex marriage
Outline of Frank Turek’s lecture on same sex marriage

Introduction:

  • how to present your case against marriage safely
  • Christians are required to go beyond tolerance
  • loving another person can mean opposing the person when they want to do something wrong, even if they hate you
  • what did Jesus say about marriage? (see Matt 19:4-6)
  • what did Jesus say about sexual morality? (Matt 15, Matt 19)

Summary:

  • the same-sex marriage debate is about whether to compel people who disagree with the gay lifestyle to validate and normalize it
  • P1: the government has an interest in marriage because it perpetuates and stabilizes society – this is the purpose of marriage
  • P2-4: government can take 3 kinds of stances towards behaviors: promote, permit or prohibit
  • government promotes behaviors when it has an interest in them
  • same-sex relationships should be permitted, but not promoted
  • Q1: if same-sex marriage had serious negative consequences, would you reconsider their position?
  • Q2: are heterosexual relationships the same as homosexual relationships?
  • Q3: what would society be like if everyone married according to the natural marriage definition: one woman, one man, for life?
  • Q4: what would society be like if everyone married according to the same-sex marriage definition: man/man and woman/woman?
  • Should Christians care about law and politics? or should they just preach the gospel?
  • They should care because people often get their cues about what is moral and immoral based on what is legal and illegal
  • Many of the social problems we see today can be traced back to problems with marriage and family
  • Children do much better when they have a relationship with their mother and their father
  • Same-sex marriage necessarily destroys the relationship between a child and its mother or its father
  • When a country embraces same-sex marriage, it reinforces the idea that marriage is not about making and raising children
  • same-sex marriage shifts the focus away from the needs of the children to the feelings of desires of the selfish adults
  • does homosexuality impose any health and mental health risks?
  • what has the impact of legalizing same-sex marriage been in Massachusetts to individuals, schools, businesses and charities?
  • how same-sex marriage poses a threat to religious liberty
  • how should you respond to the view that homosexuality is genetic?

My biggest concern is religious liberty, and we are seeing how same-sex marriage has proven to be incompatible with religious liberty. But I also care about children… I want them to have mothers and fathers who put their needs first. How did we ever get to this point where the ever-changing feelings and desires of adults are somehow linked to marriage? Marriage is about a commitment – it is the subjugation of feelings and desires to responsibilities and obligations. It is a promise. A promise to commit to love your spouse and children regardless of feelings and desires. It requires more self-denial, self-control and self-sacrifice. Not less.

Highlights from day one of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case

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 thought it might be worth reading about the first day of arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Not only can we find out what is likely to happen, but we’ll also learn how the ADF lawyer Kristen Waggoner is making her defense.

The Daily Signal reports:

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a closely watched case dealing with free speech, religious liberty, and same-sex marriage.

Specifically, the justices considered whether the state of Colorado can force Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding against his deeply held religious beliefs.

Attorneys for Phillips clearly explained that he seeks to exercise his freedom only to speak messages that he agrees with, while still welcoming all customers into his store. The First Amendment’s free speech and religious liberty clauses protect his freedoms to do just that.

In a lengthy and charged oral argument, the nine justices wrestled with how Americans who hold different views on marriage in our post-Obergefell society can continue to live with each other in mutual respect.

Here is the key that might predict the outcome, from the Supreme Court’s swing vote:

In one of the most charged exchanges of the day, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yarger about whether a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission who compared Phillips to a racist and a Nazi demonstrated anti-religious bias—and that, if he did so, whether the judgment against Masterpiece should stand.

More:

After disavowing the commissioner’s comments, Yarger argued that the ruling should still stand. But Kennedy returned to the issue again, telling Yarger that “tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs.”

Kennedy also pointed out there were other cake shops that would have accommodated Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the same-sex couple who requested a cake for their wedding.

In a similar line of questioning, Justice Samuel Alito pointed out that the state of Colorado had failed to demonstrate mutual tolerance when it only protected the freedom of cake artists who landed on one side of the gay marriage debate—namely, the state’s side.

When three religious customers went to cake artists to request cakes that were critical of same-sex marriage, those cake artists declined—yet Colorado did not apply its anti-discrimination statute to punish the artists. But when Phillips declined to create a cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage, Colorado imposed a three-pronged penalty that drove him out of the wedding cake business, causing him to lose 40 percent of his business.

[…]In the exchange with Alito, the Colorado solicitor general said that cake artists could not discriminate on the basis of identity, but could discriminate on the basis of messages. Gorsuch later responded, saying that’s exactly what Phillips has argued.

It was also made clear that Phillips was not discriminating against identity, but just refusing to agree with the state’s position on same-sex marriage.

During the oral arguments, the court appeared to recognize what is patently obvious from the facts. Phillips welcomes all people into his store, encourages them to buy off-the-shelf items, and will make custom-designed cakes for them provided they don’t ask for items that violate his beliefs.

He has served gays for the 24 years his store has been in operation and welcomes their business to this day. He does not discriminate against anybody because of their identity.

So comparisons to shopkeepers in the Jim Crow South who sought to keep the races “separate but equal” are a smear that divert attention from the real issue: Phillips simply disagrees with the state on the issue of marriage.

More:

Finally, the oral arguments revealed the scope of how far the state of Colorado is willing to go to impose its views of marriage on citizens. In one line of questioning from Roberts, Colorado admitted that it would force Catholic Legal Services to provide a same-sex couple with legal services related to their wedding even if it violates Catholic teachings on marriage.

And in questioning from Alito, the ACLU answered that the state could force a Christian college whose creed opposes same-sex marriage to perform a same-sex wedding in its chapel.

I was listening to the latest Ben Shapiro podcast, and in the last 10 minutes, he talked about the case. He pointed out that at the time when Phillips refused to participate in a same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage was not even legal in Colorado. Nevertheless, Colorado went after him. Hard. I think they secular left is going to lose this case – it’s just too much fascism. Too much intolerance.

You can read more about Kristen Waggoner here. She’s also arguing the Arlen’s Flowers v. the State of Washington case. A great lady. A real hero.

If you’re looking for a great book to read on what comes after same-sex marriage and how to discuss and debate it, read Ryan T. Anderon’s “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty“. It’s the best book for laymen on the subject. Really helps you to know how to talk about this issue. I had to do it a week ago with one of my atheist co-workers who asked ME out to lunch to talk more about his spiritual journey. If you don’t read, you can’t defend.