religious freedom

Urge Override Of Governor McAuliffe’s Vetoes!

Recently, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed two bills that would protect religious liberty: SB 236, a bill that would protect the free speech rights of public school students; and SB 555, a bill that would have prohibited government censorship of military chaplain sermons. Both passed with large bipartisan majorities, including a unanimous vote in the Senate for SB 555! The General Assembly will hold its annual "veto session," where it reviews vetoes and amendments to bills, on Wednesday, April 23:

Please urge your senators and delegates to vote to override the governor's vetoes of SB 236 and SB 555 (click the links to find their contact information). If you don't know who your legislators are, click here.

SB 236, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), would create "limited public forums" at certain public school events. Limited public forums restrict the schools from censoring speech simply because it is from a faith perspective. The schools can still "limit" the speech to the matter at hand; for example, a graduation speech still has to be about graduating, but it can contain statements about the importance of faith. The bill also protects students' rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as "see you at the pole" gatherings and wear clothing with religious expressions.

Students in our public schools shouldn't be treated as a second-class citizen simply because their viewpoint is motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have. It is tragic that in Virginia, the birthplace of religious freedom, Governor McAuliffe has chosen to listen to the ACLU and has trampled on the right of Virginia's students to simply express their beliefs.

SB 555, patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), prohibited state government from censoring sermons given by chaplains in the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force. This reasonable, common sense measure passed the Senate in January 37-0! The governor's explanation for vetoing the bill is a remarkable misunderstanding of the actual definition of a chaplain.

Overriding a governor's veto requires two-thirds support from both chambers, meaning that 27 members of the Senate and 67 members of the House of Delegates have to vote for an override.

At what point do we finally say, enough is enough? Our God-given, inalienable right to exercise our faith, live according to our conscience, and speak truth to culture is in serious jeopardy if we allow people like Terry McAuliffe to dictate what we can and cannot do in the public square.

Your legislators, regardless of party, need to hear from you. They need to know that you are not going to stand for this type of discrimination any longer! Please act today:

Contact your senators and delegates today and ask them to override Governor McAuliffe's vetoes of SB 236 and SB 555 at the upcoming April 23 Veto Session.

Special Message From Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Governor and Fox News Channel's Mike Huckabee has a special message that he recorded for Virginia's values voters concerning the importance of voting in this year's gubernatorial election this coming Tuesday, November 5. Virginians will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the entire House of Delegates. There is much at stake (see this short video), including maintaining Virginia's new abortion center safety standards, religious freedom to allow church affiliated adoption agencies to place babies with married couples who adhere to their religious beliefs, the hard won school choice law, the defense of Virginia's Marriage Amendment, defunding Planned Parenthood and taxpayer funding of abortion, the expansion of Medicaid and Obamacare in the Commonwealth — not to mention job creation, responsible tax and budget policies — and so much more. Please take one minute to hear Governor Huckabee and make plans to vote on November 5, or by absentee before then if necessary, and be sure to share this and encourage others to vote, too.

[audio mp3="http://familyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Family-Foundation-of-VA-.mp3"][/audio]

The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Caught On Tape: IRS Agent Attempts To Restrain Religious Freedom Of Pro-Life Group

The Texas-based, non-profit organization Pro-Life Revolution received its tax-exempt status from the IRS last week. That sounds fine until you understand it applied for it two-and-a-half years ago. Along the way, the IRS put up several road blocks, one of which was dramatically revealed Monday in an audio recording of an IRS agent trying to discourage Pro-Life Revolution President Ania Joseph from continuing the process (to put it mildly), and telling her if it does continue the process it would have to alter its mission, beliefs and speech, all through a deceptive and factually wrong citation of the law. Throughout the "conversation" — which actually is a diatribe by IRS Exempt Organization Specialist Sherry Wan — Ms. Joseph tries to respond but is either cut off, or never allowed in, by the non-stop Ms. Wan. Hear it for yourself, below (and see John Jalsevac at LifeSiteNews.com for more).

Four months after, Pro-Life Revolution initially applied for its tax-exempt status in January 2011, the IRS sent it a letter

requesting "more information" and an explanation of how the organization's activities are educational or charitable, even though IRS rules specify that an organization need only operate for “one or more” of the three exempt purposes. Ania Joseph nonetheless replied and answered the IRS’s questions.

To further complicate its application process, this past February the IRS requested still more information from Pro-Life Revolution

in another letter and attempted to apply a standard for tax exemption to Pro-Life Revolution that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held to be unconstitutional in 1980. Alliance Defending Freedom pointed this out in a letter responding to the IRS, which finally granted tax-exempt status to the organization in a letter received Thursday.

While the IRS scandal has become common knowledge, the revelation of its tactics still are coming to light. The annoying, deceptive, persistence of Ms. Wan, most likely, is on the mild side of the the IRS' arsenal of liberty squelching weapons. As more are revealed, it will be interesting to see if they in turn will expose those who approved them.

Does Religious Freedom Matter Anymore?

On this date in 1786, the Virginia General Assembly enacted one of the most important initiatives in our nation's history — the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom. Today, Governor Bob McDonnell issued a proclamation celebrating the Statute and Senator Bill Stanley (R-20, Moneta) and Delegate Chris Peace (R-97, Hanover) gave speeches in their respective chambers to bring attention to this day. This amendment to our state constitution was the foundation for our First Freedom as defined in the U.S. Constitution a few years later. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson — it is one of the three accomplishments for which he wanted to be remembered and engraved on his tombstone; the others being author of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the University of Virginia — the Statute recognizes that our right to exercise our faith

. . . can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.

It adds:

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

As attacks on the religious liberty of Americans continue to grow, it is important to remember the real meaning of the term and take the opportunity to educate our friends and neighbors who may be buying into some of the secular left’s notion of "separation of church and state." For example, we often call our First Freedom a "constitutional right to religious freedom," but the reality is that this freedom comes from God and is simply to be protected by the constitution; it doesn't come from our constitution.

It is important to note that we have the freedom to be involved in "civil capacities" and express our "opinions in matters of religion" in these capacities. This is particularly important to remember as the radical secular left in Virginia has attacked us for our support of pro-life and pro-family legislation as a violation of "separation," something that flies in the face not just of the Statute but over 230 years of American history. This is not only our right, it's our duty.

This year, we are supporting initiatives that we hope will restore the real meaning of Jefferson's Statute. One, an amendment to the state constitution by Senator Stanley — working with Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax) — would seek to reestablish our rights as citizens to pray at public government meetings, a longstanding tradition that the secular left has sought to stop, successfully in many cases, throughout Virginia.

Of course, one major threat to the freedom of all Americans is the federal government's mandate that citizens fund the birth control of others through President Obama's health insurance scheme, a mandate that is currently being challenged in nearly 30 lawsuits across the nation. While the secular left and abortion industry call this mandate about "access" to birth control, the truth is that it requires a redefinition of the word "access" to mean "paid for by somebody else at the expense of their freedom of conscience."

Understanding Obamacare's Surprises In Two Entertaining Minutes

It's not quite the Schoolhouse Rock! classic that "I'm Just A Bill" is, but Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) has created a highly entertaining, but extremely serious and informative, animation that explains some of the numerous hideous surprises contained in Obamacare's 2,700 pages that are not widely discussed. For example, if the law was really about healthcare, wouldn't life-saving drugs be free? Not! In fact, Obamacare will increase those costs while making end-of-life drugs free! No only that, but an abortion premium will come out of your paycheck. We thought liberals were all about choice and against government coercion. Gag rules, forced compliance, restrictions on religious liberty and more are documented in two entertaining minutes. Although the U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare, there still are conscience clause and First Amendment aspects of it that currently face legal challenges, with ADF thoroughly involved in those cases. On its Obamacare page, linked above, it has an update and a synopsis of these troubling, religious-freedom-restricting sections of the law. It's blog (also linked above) provides more involved details. It will leave you shaking your head in disgust. But if you're going to be appalled at something, you might as well be entertained by it. So, please watch this video and share it with as many people and on your social media sites. The more who are aware, the better chances we have of its eventual repeal.

Alliance Defending Freedom explains the surprises buried in 2,700 pages of Obamacare. 

Governor McDonnell Signs Religious Liberty Protections

Governor Bob McDonnell yesterday signed into law one of The Family Foundation's highest legislative priorities for 2012 — conscience protections for faith-based child placement agencies (SB 349 and HB 189). With the governor's signature the bill becomes law on July 1. The law provides strong, explicit conscience protections for adoption and foster care agencies, ensuring those agencies cannot be forced to violate their beliefs, nor punished for following them when placing children. It also means that birthparents and prospective adoptive parents can continue to choose agencies that share their values.

Please click here to thank Governor McDonnell for signing the legislation.

Also, please send a note of thanks to the patrons of the legislation. Both Senator Jeff McWaters (R-8, Virginia Beach) and Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) withstood the hysteria of the homosexual lobby, its defenders in the legislature and their bullying tactics to see this legislation through. They deserve a great deal of appreciation for standing firm during a difficult battle — one where opponents attempted dozens of amendments that would have watered down the bill and used misleading rhetoric to describe the legislation. These are not easy battles to fight, and legislators who are willing to stand tall and carry these important pro-family bills must receive our gratitude (not only now, but during the session, as well, when the heat is the hottest). It's not easy to pass a bill of this magnitude, much less in its first year, but 93 out of the General Assembly's 140 legislators voted for legislation.

Click here to send a thank you note to Senator McWaters (SB 349).

Click here to send a thank you note to Delegate Gilbert (HB 189).

Faith-based child placement agencies do incredible work helping children and families, and have done so for decades.  Unfortunately, because of these ministries' belief that children should have both a mom and a dad, homosexual activists unsuccessfully tried to shut them down last year through the state's regulatory process. This tremendous victory for religious freedom comes as we witness the Obama administration's unprecedented attack on the free exercise of faith in the public square and, in fact, is forcing religious institutions into actions contrary to their beliefs. As a result of this legislation, Virginia has shielded regulations with a stature and will be one of only two states to provide conscience protections for faith-based child placement agencies. We hope that our victory will serve as a model for other states.

We also would like to express our appreciation to our friends at the Virginia Catholic Conference for their tremendous advocacy on this issue, as well as leaders from numerous faith-based organizations across Virginia who came to Richmond multiple times to testify, strategize and provide wise counsel regarding their marvelous work.

Governor McDonnell's signing of this important legislation is a tremendous victory for religious liberty and an affirmation of the critical role faith-based organizations play in providing hope and security for thousands of children and families in Virginia. The governor and the General Assembly have recognized the importance of ensuring these agencies continue to do the marvelous work they have done for decades.

Regardless of the assertions of opponents, this legislation does not in any way change current law regarding who can adopt in Virginia; it simply confirms that faith-based agencies will not be discriminated against by the state simply for acting according to their faith principles. While the media will likely parrot the false claims of legislators and opponents to this new law, the truth is that this bill simply protects the status quo. We thank Governor McDonnell for his support of this legislation throughout the process and for signing it into law (click here to send him a note of thanks).

 

General Assembly Issue Five: General Assembly Liberals Take Page From Lady Gaga Playbook

This is the fifth in a series about key issues facing the 2011 General Assembly, which starts January 12. Issue One, Life Defined And Protected, was posted Tuesday; Issue Two, Eliminate ObamaCare Induced Abortion Funding In Virginia, was posted Wednesday; and Issue Three, Restoring The Balance Of Power, was posted Thursday; and the fourth, Transparency Isn't Just A Word, was posted Friday.

Richmond's liberal political class appears to have completely missed the message of the voters in Virginia concerned about over spending and joblessness. Instead, taking a page out of the Harry Reid-Lady Gaga playbook (see Film Industry Network blog), they plan on making homosexual issues their top priority (see Richmond Biz Sense) the coming General Assembly session.

Building on what they view as "momentum" from the lame-duck Congress' vote to repeal the military's "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, Democrat leaders will focus their energies on passing legislation that would give special protections to homosexuals, not just in state government hiring as they tried in the past, but in all hiring — public and private — across Virginia.

This fulfills the dream of the ACLU's Kent Willis who said last year:

We hope this is only the beginning, and that [it] will inspire legislators to finally pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in both private and public sector employment. (Emphasis added.)

This blatant attack on religious freedom would pose a threat to every church, faith based ministry, adoption agency, school and charity in the commonwealth. No longer content with an incremental approach, it appears that Virginia liberals want it all and they want it now.

Of course, we are confident that their legislation will go no further than it did last year. The fact is that there is no evidence of broad discrimination against homosexuals taking place in Virginia. Even The Washington Post admitted that there are "thousands of homosexuals" working in state government. Proponents of the measure can point to one —just one — case where someone filed suit that they were fired because of their "sexual orientation," but even that case has been disputed.

According to one of the nation’s leading homosexual activist leaders and recent Obama appointee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (approval for her nomination took place in the late night final hours of the lame duck Congress), Chai Feldblum:

There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases sexual liberty should win. I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.

Those who advocate for the advancement of sexual behavior protections in our law have little or no room for those who have religious convictions on those issues. In her paper, Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion, Feldblum, who authored the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), argues quite openly that it is the primary goal of this political movement to elevate (either through legislation or the courts) homosexual orientation to moral equivalence with heterosexual orientation, and to do so at the cost of religious liberty. She admits in her assessment of the clash that:

We are in a zero-sum game: a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side, (but) in making the decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the (sexual) liberty of LGBT people.

So there you have it, the true motivation behind the so-called "non-discrimination laws." It is to discriminate against people whose faith teaches that homosexuality is wrong.

Thanks To Our 25th Anniversary Gala Sponsors!

This year marks The Family Foundation's 25th anniversary. That's 25 years of standing up in the public square for life, marriage, parental authority, constitutional government and religious freedom. We could not have made it this far, or realized the successes we've seen, without the faithful support of our partners. For that reason, we want to express our special appreciation for all of our 25th Anniversary Gala sponsors. Through their generosity, the following individuals, families, elected officials and businesses have allowed us not only to commemorate this special milestone, but also ensure that we retain our position as the Commonwealth's leading voice for traditional values.

Thank You!

It’s not too late to add your name to this list or to purchase individual or couples tickets. Please visit our Gala Web page here or call The Family Foundation at 804-343-0010. Space in the Gala program to advertise your business or recognize The Family Foundation's 25th anniversary also remains available.

Special thanks to our 25th Anniversary Gala sponsors and patrons:

Silver

Anonymous * Tom and Nancy Chewning * Ruble and Sharon Hord * Scott and Teri Rigell * John and Margaret Whitlock

Five Star

Governor Bob McDonnell * John and Shirley Seibert * Rick and Sherry Sharp * The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia * James Wynne

Four Star

Barrett Capital Management, LLC * Congressman Eric Cantor * Steve and Renee Hupp * Chris and Marilyn Meyer * Ken and Linda Newsome * Jonathan and Milby West * Scott and Amy Ziegler

Three Star

Anonymous (2) * David and Kay Barrett * Mack and Gay Bass * Birthmother Ministries, Inc. (Birthmothers ®) * Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling * Morton and Helen Blackwell * Wendell and Alice Brown * Bruce and Karlynn Bucher * Donelson Caffery and Angela Wiggins * ccAdvertising * Delegate Ben and Elizabeth Cline * Mike and Phyllis Cobb * Pastor Bob Collins * Rick and Nancy Collins * Tim and Hunter Cook * Alex Cooke * Carlo and Heather Cordasco * Robert and Kathie Cox * Jim and Suzanne Curran and Daryl and Tara Bowman * John and Rebecca Disosway * The Honorable Doug and Jean Domenech * Equity Concepts, LLC * Eternity Anglican Church * Ty and Margy Fabling and Toni and Carla Williams * Faith Baptist Church (Prince George County) * Bob and Susan Fitch * Bruce and Donna Folkes * Home School Legal Defense Association * David and Marcy Kozlowski * John and Suzanne Kuta * Delegate Jimmie and Elizabeth Massie * Fred and Anne McCormick * Michael and Kris McMunn * The Steve Morales Family * National Church Purchasing Group * National Institute of Family and Life Advocates * Mac and Lorna Nichols * Delegate John and Honorable Pat O’Bannon * Barry and Linda Oxford * G.F. (Penn) and Lynn Pendleton * Chris and Billie Jean Pickford * PODS — Portable on Demand Storage * The Rappahannock Region Family Forum * The Honorable Jack and Judi Reid * Religious Freedom Coalition * John and Susan Robinson * Phil and Rachel Rohrer * Eric and Tammy Samuelson * Rick Schofield (2) * Randy and Sharon Secrist * Paul and Lorna Swenson * Thomas Road Baptist Church * Lindsay Trittipoe * Todd and Jill Vander Pol and Family * Virginia Christian Alliance * Delegate Lee Ware * The Wilkes Family * A.C. and Lucy Wilson and Bob and Pat Wilson * Congressman Rob Wittman * David and Stephanie Wyman

Two Star

Melvin Adams * K. Bakeer Al-Mateen * Margaret Barbee * Dan and Janis Carrell * Delegate Barbara Comstock * Delegate Kirk and Julie Cox * Bob and Rose Follett * Congressman Bob Goodlatte * Louis and Phyllis Heacock * Speaker Bill and Cessie Howell * Senator Ryan McDougle * Bill and Hope McRorie * Senator Tommy Norment * S. Ronald Owens * Randy and Clay Reynolds * Delegate Roxann Robinson * Mike and Elizabeth Smith * Ashley and Gail Taylor * Senator Jill and Alex Vogel

One Star

Jim and Betsy Beamer * Dick Black for Senate * Peter and Mary Ana Broadbent * Marilyn Brooks * Delegate Kathy Byron * Delegate Bill and Paula Carrico * Charlie and Shirley Cheek * Child Evangelism Fellowship of Greater Richmond * Delegate Mark and Genia Cole * Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli * Jasen and Christy Eige * Delegate Scott and Whitney Garrett * Shaun Griffin * The Honorable John Hager * Thomas and Jennifer Hanrahan * Jim Hinish * Steve Hunt for Senate * The Kincaid Family * Delegate Manoli and Hyde Loupassi * John Luck Renovations * Gary and Aimee Marx * McLaughlin & Associates * Stu and Laura Mendelsohn * Tom and Donna Morr * Linda Nash * Christopher and Jennifer Nolen * Delegate Glenn Oder * Arne and Arlene Owens * Patricia Phillips for Senate * Delegate Brenda and Roger Pogge * Delegate Charles and Janet Poindexter * Jack and Diana Robinson * Senator Frank Ruff * The Honorable Eva and Leander Scott * Galen and Janet Simmons * Van and Phyllis Stephenson * John and Margaret Thompson * Wendell and Patsy Walker

Calling A "Truce" On Social Issues?

Today, as we watch an out of control federal government spend our children's futures into fiscal oblivion, as we watch our own president ignore constitutional principles, and as we watch the greatest expansion of government in our lifetimes and the corresponding loss of freedom it brings — aren't the issues you and I care about, as your teenagers might say, "so yesterday"? I mean, we hear it all the time. From media pundits and politicians — even politicians who used to be one of us — we hear the new mantra that there are "more important issues that need to be dealt with," such as the economy, jobs and our security. However, abortion and traditional marriage — "family values" — are divisive distractions from what really matters.

Just recently, yet another political leader, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels — a "pro-family" Republican mentioned as a presidential candidate — urged us to "call a truce" (see Hot Air) on family issues until the nation's economic problems are solved. After all, aren't we all worried about the economy? Isn't making sure we have jobs so we can feed our families more important right now than so-called "social issues"? (See Weekly Standard.)

That is certainly what the political class in Richmond and Washington want us to think. And wouldn't it be so much easier for them if they didn’t have to be "distracted" by issues that they deem less important than the economy? So, how do I, the president of The Family Foundation, respond to that? Why do I believe our mission is more important than ever and that you need to be a part of that mission?

While there is no doubt that reinvigorating our economy and getting Americans back to work is a high priority, the way to do that is not government programs and giveaways. It is strong families that provide the foundation for financial success (study after study proves it, read here). Let's be frank — no matter how good the economy, our nation is in peril if we continue to ignore God's principles of justice for innocent life and family.

I am increasingly discouraged by what I see around me in our culture and, in particular, the increasing hostility toward religious faith in the public square. Our religious freedom is facing a crucial challenge. I honestly believe that our right to practice our faith — to exercise our religion and voice our opinions in matters of public policy — is in danger. There are a lot of people and groups that want us to shut up and go away. But I can promise you, The Family Foundation is not going away.

We have been here for a quarter of a century and we will be here for another quarter century with your continued help and activism. We are going to continue to fight for values-centered public policy — laws based on our values — regardless of our opponents. We are going to continue to fight for lower taxes, less government, education freedom, strong marriages and, yes, for the unborn, even when it's uncomfortable for the political class.

It isn't our job to make politicians comfortable. It's our job to hold them accountable.

Virginia News Stand: May 21, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Up In Smoke

Admittedly, it is too easy, but given the day's very unusual story, what else to entitle today's comments? Meanwhile, at State Police headquarters today, a memorial service was held and a chaplain prayed in Jesus' name — and we're still here! Amazing how that works. It never ceases to amaze me how the very vocal minority secularists think — demand — that once a person gets elected to public office, or goes to work in a governmental capacity, that person loses all of his or her religious liberty.

Speaking of religious freedom, make that intolerance, a New York boy was suspended from school for wearing Rosary Beads. The details are at the Fresh Ink Blog. In Commentary, David Limbaugh writes on the Obama administration's media control which, combined with its Orwellian NewSpeak regarding the economy (bad now is good) is creepy as Matt Towery explains, and Frank Salvato tells the GOP that if  you win back Congress, the status quo will not be tolerated. Michael Reagan explores the Tea Party and Kay Daly has two pieces examining Elena Kagan.

Have a good weekend while you rest assured the world will be here Monday. Even if state troopers are praying in public.

News

Prayer at state police service mentions Jesus, other faiths (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Identity theives buy pot with Sen. Saslaw's credit card (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Pot bought with Virginia lawmaker's American Express card (ABCNews10, Sacramento/News10.net)

Anti-abortion fetus dolls handed out to Norfolk students (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Cuccinelli says his office wants to protect environment (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Landes: Health reform has many hidden costs (Charlottesville Daily Progress)

GOP to pick 9th District candidate (Bristol Herald Courier)

Group: No complaints about Liberty regarding Lynchburg’s elections (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News

Democrats cheer as Mexico's Calderon criticizes state immigration law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Maine Sen. Snowe lauds high court nominee Kagan (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Dem family feud could cost party Hawaii seat (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Consumer watchdog eyes lenders in new bank rules (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

AZ Gov. Brewer, 'Mr. President, Secretary Napolitano — Do Your Job!' (Fresh Ink Blog GOPUSA.com)

Obama's Choreographed Media Blackout (David Limbaugh/GOPUSA.com)

It Simply Cannot Return to the Status Quo (Frank Salvato/GOPUSA.com)

Economic Recovery Is All Greek to Me (Matt Towery/GOPUSA.com)

How Would You Like Your Tea — Sweetened or Unsweetened? (Michael Reagan/GOPUSA.com)

Princeton PULLED DOWN Elena Kagan's thesis. . . (Kay Daly/Fresh Ink Blog GOPUSA.com)

A SCOTUS nomination in trouble? 39% FOR, 39% AGAINST (Kay Daly/Fresh Ink Blog GOPUSA.com)

Teen to be suspended for . . . Rosary beads? (Fresh Ink Blog GOPUSA.com)

Nancy Pelosi: Bring it on! (Fresh Ink Blog GOPUSA.com)

The Shady ShoreBank Bailout (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

Banning the Veil (Linda Chavez/GOPUSA.com)

One Man's Stand: Senator Jim Demint Debates Against The "Hate Crimes" Amendment

U.S. Senator Jim Demint (R-S.C.) spoke on the Senate floor last night during the debate on the "hate crimes" legislation. He was one of the few to brave the Politically Correct — that is, Intolerant — liberal Senate mob. It is worth the view. He also blogged about it. Check out his blog, here.

Senator Jim Demint tells liberals what they don't want to hear — the truth about their big government control grab, intolerance, and their curtailing of First Amendment religious freedom and free speech rights.

VEA/NEA Endorse Policy Contrary To Virginia Law At The Expense Of Education

Yesterday,we reported on the VEA's proud go-along at the NEA national convention endorsing same-sex marriage (see here). Instead of concetrating on issues that matter to teachers and improving education, the VEA has endorsed advocating a radical left-wing policy in contradiction of the Virginia Constitution and statutory law. The president of the VEA, Dr. Kitty J. Boitnott, responded to our post with a long comment on the thread stating that our take on the VEA/NEA position wasn't exactly what the convention meant with its lock-step adoption of the radical homosexual agenda. She goes on about "social justice." What any of this has to do with teaching clearly is beyond most parents' concerns for their children's education. 

Not only is the  homosexual marriage resolution contrary to the views of a majority of Virginians, she did not answer our concern about whether the VEA, with this policy position, now will encourage its member teachers to ignore the new traditional marriage guidelines to the Family Life Education curriculum. A true conflict of interest now is on the record.

Adopting a radical agenda contrary to Virginia law. Wasting time on matters completely non-germane to education. A significant conflict of interest.

We report. You decide. Below is the resolution:

NEA Representative Assembly New Business Items (NBIs) NEW BUSINESS ITEM E ADOPTED

"Resolutions B-13 (Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identification Discrimination) and I-13 (Civil Rights) set forth NEA's opposition to the discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples and its belief that such couples should have the same legal rights and benefits as similarly-situated heterosexual couples. The Legislative Program is in accord: NEA supports "obtaining, preserving, and strengthening basic civil and human rights under law," and specifically calls for "passage of a federal statute prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression." Section IV(b). In implementation of the foregoing policies, the Representative Assembly adopts the following action plan with regard to same-sex couples:

1. NEA will support its affiliates seeking to enact state legislation that guarantees to same-sex couples the right to enter into a legally recognized relationship pursuant to which they have the same rights and benefits as similarly-situated heterosexual couples, including, without limitation, rights and benefits with regard to medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, and immigration.

2. NEA does not believe that a single term must be used to designate this legally recognized "equal treatment" relationship, and recommends that each state decide for itself whether "marriage," "civil union," "domestic partnership," or some other term is most appropriate based upon the cultural, social, and religious values of its citizenry.

3. NEA will support its affiliates in opposing state constitutional and/or statutory provisions that could have the effect of prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions from providing the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples as are provided to similarly-situated heterosexual couples.

4. NEA will take such actions as may be appropriate to support efforts to (a) repeal any federal legislation and/or regulations that discriminate against same-sex couples, and (b) enact federal legislation and/or regulations that treat same-sex couples and similarly-situated heterosexual couples equally with regard to social security, health care, taxation, and other federal rights and benefits.

5. NEA recognizes that the term "marriage" has religious connotations and that same-sex marriages may not be compatible with the beliefs, values, and/or practices of certain religions. Because of its support for the separation of church and state and the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, NEA supports the right of religious institutions to refuse to perform or recognize same-sex marriages.

The Executive Committee will monitor the implementation of this New Business Item, and keep NEA affiliates informed of actions taken to achieve its objectives."

You Had To Be There . . .

We've received a few questions about yesterday's vote in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on HB 2314, the chaplain prayer bill. The most asked question is simple: What was the actual vote on the bill? Unfortunately, because of the game played in committee, its not as simple as that. In fact, the final vote on the bill is in no way a reflection of where individual legislators actually stood on issue of chaplain prayer or religious freedom. Essentially, an amendment to the bill (herein referred to as the "Norment Amendment") added by the committee changed the bill from a pro-religious liberty bill to an anti-religious liberty bill. It changed the bill into what is the current state police policy that censors prayers. Because of the Norment Amendment, we wanted the bill to fail (as did the patron, Delegate Bill Carrico). However, some of the members of the committee (who support religious liberty) voted against killing the bill in hopes that they could fix it later.  Thus, the final vote is very mixed and does not reflect the actual positions of legislators.

Because of the confusion over the final vote, we are counting the vote on the Norment Amendment as the actual position of legislators on the bill (shockingly, this vote is not available online). We do, however, have the entire meeting on video so we have record of that vote.

In a true "you had to be there" example, this is a debate and outcome that can be very confusing. Some legislators who voted to keep the bill alive at the end actually had ill intent for the bill, but my guess is they will attempt to hide behind that final vote. We won't let them.

We have a small sampling of yesterday's debate in the video below:

Or Prohibiting The Free Exercise Thereof

Last week, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruledthat the Rev. Hashmel Turner, a member of the Fredericksburg City Council, could not open council meetings with a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Former United State Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor sat on the panel as a guest judge, and wrote the opinion (click here to read the opinion). At issue was whether government could regulate prayer. Fredericksburg councilmen traditionally take turns offering a prayer to open city council meetings. When it was Turner's turn, he offered prayers "in the name of Jesus Christ." Predictably, the ACLU threatened a lawsuit, so city council changed its policy prohibiting such specificity, allowing a so-called non-sectarian praise of God, instead.

Turner and his lawyers, from the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute, plan an appeal to the United State Supreme Court. As Rev. Turner told The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, "I don't believe the last say-so in the matter should be left up to Justice O'Connor, so I intend on going ahead to the Supreme Court."

Here is the First Amendment in its entirety:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

According to The Free Lance-Star, Justice O'Connor wrote "that the city's policy makes the prayers more inclusive and does not violate Turner's First Amendment rights to free speech."

What too many people, including, unfortunately, justices and judges, don't seem to understand is the "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" part of the establishment clause (see a good post here from American Sentinel). While they pontificate about a "separation of church and state" which is nowhere mentioned in the amendment, they are dead silent on the non-prohibiting part, which is expressly stated. If the government, which is charged to protect free speech and exercise of faith can't protect such practices on its own grounds, who's to say they will protect it elsewhere?

As far as the establishment clause, so often misapplied, there's nothing in Rev. Tuner's prayer, nor in allowing him to pray, that establishes a state-run church. The Fredericksburg City Council is not Congress, for starters. Second, many faiths worship Jesus Christ, so that doesn't establish a specific church, such as Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. (Sorry, ACLU, "Christian" isn't a church, just like Islam doesn't define all of the denominations within that faith.) Third, it would have to be one powerful prayer to create a national church in such a swoop.

In fact, the council prayer isn't directed to the citizens of Fredericksburg or even public school students — not even Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. It's directed to the councilmen, so that they may have the wisdom to make good decisions. They should be able to pray as they wish. It is a freedom of speech issue as much as a freedom from government mandated or written prayer as anything else. It's funny how liberals scream government should not sanction formal prayers, such as a daily school prayer. But here's government — the city council — going so far as to mandate the deity and phraseology Rev. Turner can reference or use (they allowed "Almighty God" and "Heavenly Father"). What forms of government do state-regulated prayer bring to mind?

It certainly is confounding how such simple and plain language is so wrongly interpreted, especially when the framers of the constitution wrote extensively and clearly about the content of the constitution. We'll keep praying for Rev. Turner and like-minded public officials, as well as for judges to finally learn to get it right. At least as long as the government lets us.