Family Foundation Files Brief In National Day Of Prayer CaseJul. 07, 2010
The Family Foundation today signed onto an amicus brief (see brief) by Liberty Institute filed in the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the National Day of Prayer in Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Obama (see news release). Those represented in the brief in addition to The Family Foundation include Dr. James Dobson, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family Action (CitizenLink), the American Civil Rights Union, Let Freedom Ring, and Liberty Counsel, as well as 27 other state family policy councils. On April 15, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the federal government's observation of prayer is unconstitutional (see Christian Post), despite numerous rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court that protect long-standing traditions of religious invocations. Today's brief argues that not only is the National Day of Prayer constitutional, but that Judge Crabb's ruling establishes active hostility to religion and must be reversed.
When Congress passed a statute in 1952 calling for the president to issue a proclamation designating the National Day of Prayer, it memorialized the virtually unbroken tradition of presidents from Washington to Truman, each of whom designated a day of prayer.
In May, The Family Foundation also joined an amicus brief in the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in another important religious liberty case, Joyner v. Forsyth County (N.C.). The details of this case date back to March of 2007 when the American Civil Liberty Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit against North Carolina's Forsyth County Board of Supervisors stating:
[the Board] does not have a policy which discourages or prohibits those whom [the Board] has invited to deliver prayers from including references to Jesus Christ, or any other sectarian deity, as part of their prayers.
It is clear that attacks on our first freedom, the right of conscience, seem to be coming every day. The National Day of Prayer has been recognized by presidents of both parties and by Congress for decades and prayer has been part of our national character since its founding. It is appalling that a single judge can undermine that longstanding tradition but, unfortunately, the courts have a mixed record at best on protecting our First Amendment rights.
The Family Foundation has been, and always will be, a voice for religious freedom in our commonwealth. The words of Thomas Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom — that are the foundation for the tradition of religious liberty in our nation and the precursor to the First Amendment — must be preserved and protected. That is a legacy that we have inherited and we must defend.
Live Webcast Tonight On Health Care ReformSep. 11, 2009
Conservative groups' Webcasts on health care "reform" have drawn tens of thousands this summer. In light of the president's address to Congress the other night, FRC Action is offering another one, tonight. Details are below courtesy of an FRC Action alert. You will see many familiar, outstanding names, some of whom help us, such as Bishop Harry Jackson and Matt Staver. Log on and learn the truth about what's in the bill!
President Obama showed the nation that his plan to reform health care is already on life support. The theme of his speech can be summed in that the details, as the President said, still need to be "ironed out." Tonight at 8:30 pm ET, FRC Action will have its ironing boards out as our live webcast of "A National Townhall on Health Care Reform" examines the moral, ethical, and financial dangers of President Obama's health care plan. Join our stellar lineup of Congressional leaders and policy experts as they dissect the dangers inherent in the President's proposed plan, and we'll answer your questions on the President's plan and some alternative approaches.
Tony Perkins, President, FRC Action
Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.)
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.)
Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State
Doug Johnson, National Right to Life Committee
Bishop Harry Jackson, Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
Wesley J. Smith, renowned ethicist
Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel
Mark Kellen, M.D., President, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
Kathryn Serkes, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
Dr. David Prentice, FRC Senior Fellow for Life Sciences, FRC
David Christensen, Senior Director for Congressional Affairs, FRC
Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, FRC Action
Go to www.frcaction.org/webcast to register to watch tonight's event and send us your questions by email for consideration by tonight's guests.
What An Honor!Jul. 02, 2009
In May, we noticed that none other than Right Wing Watch, the blog of the well known national liberal organization People For The American Way, had commented about us. In fact, it was concerned about the launch of our "Winning Matters" program, which engages pastors to lead their congregations into full participation into the public square. We noted at the time that we must be doing something right if such a large, national organization and RWW were keeping their eyes on us, a lil' ol' state policy organization. So, imagine how we feel now that they've mentioned us again (see here), this time ridiculing Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., for speaking at some of our pastors events around the commonwealth. Wearing this online red badge of courage, we thought we'd report on something they really could chew on.
People For The American Way and other liberal, secular progressives believe, given recent election trends, that the death of Christianity in America is near — or at least we've been minimized to the point of a curious, but irrelevant, nuisance. It's apparent to the collective liberal institutional genius (media, academia, public education, special interest groups, unions, etc.), that many Americans finally are enlightened, no longer hold the traditional values that are the result of one's faith in God, and that the country has reached the Rubiconof a mother state with no looking back (the flipping of conservative Virginia their prize possession).
Those of us who still dare live in the Stone Age are so few in number that we can be essentially forgotten by society and left to dwell in our caves. Finally the progressives can officially progress . . .
But maybe not. In Roanoke last week, we hosted a pastors event in connection with the Winning Matters 2009 Campaign. Approximately 40 pastors from around the region filled the room and were encouraged, equipped and empowered to continue influencing their congregations and communities on traditional values issues. (For information on other pastor events around Virginia, click here.)
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University's School of Law, reminded them of their personal and congregational rights to speak freely on the issues of the day. Rick Scarborough, of Vision America, challenged them to speak truth to their communities and leaders, as he has done for many years with great success. Family Foundation staff offered practical steps to make their churches more effective voices, including:
» Preaching a citizenship sermon; » Holding a voter registration drive; » Distributing General Assembly Report Cards; and » Distributing voter guides.
Each pastor there decided to stand up and be counted for the cause of Biblical values. They certainly didn't look dead in their passion to make a difference. Besides, even if they were, secular progressives forget that we serve a God who raises the dead. That alone, should give Right Wing Watch plenty to blog about.
Constitutional Rights Upheld, Another Victory For Religious LibertySep. 24, 2008
A federal court recently ruled in favor of Christian students in the Williamsburg-James City County School District after that district's superintendent unfairly charged them a fee for use of the district's facilities (read Richmond Times-Dispatch article here). The district school board ignored advice from Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal group, and now will have to cough up more than $20,000 in taxpayer money for legal fees to pay for its discrimination. The case was brought by the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Virginia after it was forced to pay fees for use of school facilities when other groups were allowed free access. Liberty Counsel warned the school district that it was discriminating, but the school district refused to listen. Liberty Counsel then brought suit and won in federal court.
Once again a school administration chose to act against religious liberty in the face of not only advice from a premier legal group, but also the United States Constitution and previous court rulings. It is unfortunate that the school administrator's decision will cost the taxpayers of that school district more $20,000 in case it was destined to lose in addition to refunding the fees Child Evangelism Fellowship was forced to pay.
As The Family Foundation fought to pass legislation this year to protect the religious liberty rights of students in the classroom we were confronted over and over with the argument that "there isn't a problem" and that "religious expression thrives in Virginia." We know this is not true. This case proves the point.
Unfortunately, some school administrators are outright hostile to religious expression, to the point of ignoring several cases that have well established "equal access" in case law, including cases that go back to the early 1980s, as well as the high profile Good News Club v. Milford Central School in 2001 (read case synopsis here). Exactly what are these school board attorneys advising if even non-legal experts are aware of this case law?
In Milford, the United States Supreme Court held that an outside religious club could meet at an elementary school after school hours because the school permitted other non-religious groups to meet at the same time and there was no perceived endorsement of the club's religious activity.
However, unfortunately, many school administrators simply are ignorant. Virginia schools work under religious liberty guidelines drafted by then-Attorney General Jim Gilmore in the mid-1990s as well as the new Religious Liberty law we worked to pass during the 2008 General Assembly. Additionally, we currently are working with Attorney General Bob McDonnell's office in hopes that it will update those decade-old guidelines.