Throughout our nation an effort is afoot to eradicate our religious freedoms. This isn’t an idle claim. To illustrate how our religious freedoms are being attacked, I want to highlight just a few of the many cases in which our religious rights are under fire.
As I mentioned in an earlier column, businessman Tim Bono was told by the Arlington County (Va.) Human Rights Commission that he must duplicate pro-homosexual videos even though doing so would counter the Christian standards he had established for his business. Thankfully, with the help of Liberty Counsel, Mr. Bono filed a complaint with the commission and the complaint filed by a lesbian activist was dismissed this week. Liberty Counsel will now proceed with the suit that challenges the commission’s authority to recognize “sexual orientation” as a civil right.
In San Diego, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to stay a federal district judge’s order to remove the Mt. Soledad Cross, meaning the city must remove the historic cross by Aug. 1 or face fines of $5,000 per day. The Thomas More Law Center, a national public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has been fighting to save the cross since 2004. Richard Thompson, the Law Center’s president and chief counsel, said, “It is an outrage and insult not only to Christians, but people of all faiths that this memorial site to our veterans and fallen war heroes would be desecrated by removal of a universally recognized symbol of sacrifice just because one atheist was upset about it.”
A federal judge in Sacramento this week dismissed atheist Michael Newdow’s lawsuit against the national motto, “In God We Trust.” In the present case, Newdow v. Congress, Newdow argued that having to use money inscribed with the national motto offends him and is unconstitutional. While this is an encouraging win, the effort to purge even innocuous references to God from the public square continues. Barry Lynn of the high-profile Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has admitted that his organization wants to eliminate phrases like “In God We Trust” from our currency.
In Henderson, Nev., a high-school senior had her microphone unplugged by school officials after she mentioned her Christian beliefs and quoted the Bible in her valedictory address a few days ago. The Rutherford Institute says it will file a First Amendment lawsuit against the school district for violating Brittany McComb’s constitutional right to free speech and equal protection under the law.
“This is yet another example of a politically correct culture silencing Christians in order to not offend those of other beliefs,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. (Similar occurrences have taken place in other American high schools.)
In Atlanta, Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have filed suit in defense of FAA employee Larry Dombrowski who was suspended without pay for expressing his religious beliefs and views on homosexual behavior at work.
“Religious employees, including those of the federal government, are not second-class citizens,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Kevin Theriot. “No government employer is permitted by the Constitution to silence speech in the workplace just because it expresses religious views.”
In Whittier, Calif., elementary-school officials backed down after earlier telling Christian students they could not sing a religious song in a talent show. After saying the song was “not appropriate,” the school backed down after receiving a legal demand letter from the Pacific Justice Institute. The students represented their school’s Good News Club, a nationwide after-school program that encourages kids in their faith.
PJI staff attorney Matthew McReynolds, who wrote to the school on the students’ behalf, said, “The Supreme Court has said this isn’t all that complicated – schools don’t endorse everything they fail to censor. Student-initiated expression, including talent shows, is clearly protected by the First Amendment and cannot be excluded just because it’s religious.” Still, education officials across this nation continue to target Christian students who attempt to voice their beliefs at school.
I could quite literally write all day giving examples of religious persecution in our nation. Our Founding Fathers would be disgusted with this effort to exterminate religious expression in the public square. Thank God there are courageous individuals like those listed above who are willing to fight for their rights. And thankfully, the organizations listed above and many others are working to preserve our rights. Without them, America would be lost in a sea of abject secularism.
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