faith&j ustice Volume VI, Issue 1
THE GOOD FIGHT Saving marriage in North Carolina hinged on individual courage and a rock-solid alliance
Volume VI, Issue 1
Dr. Patrick Wooden
4 WHY THE BATTLE TO DEFEND ‘MARRIAGE’ IS SO IMPORTANT
“The law is a great teacher. Whatever is legal, people think is moral, and whatever is illegal, people think is immoral.”
8 THE GOOD FIGHT
6 PULPIT FREEDOM SUNDAY SPARKS GROWING MOVEMENT IN U.S. CHURCHES
“As a pastor, you can’t stand by and see the Word of God and that which is best for our society trampled over and say nothing.” – DR. PATRICK WOODEN –
“This is not civil disobedience. This is civil obedience of the highest kind.”
14 FINDING HONORABLE SOLUTIONS “By fighting for my religious freedom, I would be standing up for God... and for my country, too.”
16 ALLIANCE PROFILE: MAJOR GENERAL DOUGLAS CARVER “I’ve got your back, Chaplain. Just preach the Gospel.”
Alliance Defending Freedom
15100 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85260 [Fax] 480-444-0025
Bruce Ellefson Casey Mattox, Sarah Stites, Chris Potts, Alan Sears
Alliance Defending Freedom would enjoy hearing your comments on the stories and issues discussed in Faith & Justice. Please direct comments/questions to www. AllianceDefendingFreedom.org, call 800-835-5233, or write: Editor, Faith & Justice, Alliance Defending Freedom, 15100 N. 90th Street Scottsdale, AZ 85260. © 2012, Alliance Defending Freedom. All rights reserved.
Minutes With Alan
A Better Life
by Alan Sears, President, CEO and General Counsel
A few months ago, I finally made time for a bittersweet job
I’d been putting off for eight years—going through the accumulated papers, books, and paraphernalia of my late father. It’s a task that befalls more and more of us, as we get older: sifting through the keepsakes, the knickknacks, the pictures, choosing what to save … surprised by what we remember, and have forgotten. He was a man of his time, my father: the World War II generation. His convictions were quiet but ran deep. He worked hard, and was gone a lot—driven, like so many parents of every era, by the desire and the determination to give his children a better life than he’d had. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, in a day and place where many never finished high school. He spent his professional career teaching people all over the world how to prepare for, and survive, a nuclear attack. He worked with governments, armies, and ordinary citizens, telling them how to build shelters and what to place inside them, and how to live together should a group of them crowd into one of those cramped shelters for a nuclear winter. I thumbed through the manuals he used and helped write, and was struck, in particular, by this phrase: “During the period following a nuclear attack, religious worship and prayer would be useful to people in a fallout shelter.” I thought about that, opening the tiny New Testament he gave me as a child—the one I marked inside with a crayon, one long Sunday morning before the words and sermons had meaning. I thought about it, as I leafed through my 1960s high school graduation program, unabashedly featuring hymns and prayers for the students. My father had no way of knowing that, in some ways, his life was actually better than mine, or my children’s, has turned out to be … for he lived in an era when faith was still understood and respected, not only by the people around him, but by the government that printed civil defense manuals. In that sense, the “better life” I’m trying to give my family is really a life very like the one he enjoyed.
Which is why there’s a certain irony in realizing that the work we’re doing at Alliance Defending Freedom is very like the work he did: meeting with people here in the U.S. and abroad, using every tool at our disposal to warn them of the dangers and prepare them for the once-unthinkable attacks that are now all too possible in the fragile, hostile legal environment of our time. I pray that we do our jobs half as well as he did, and that, like him, you and I can leave our children not just a few keepsakes, but a life that is better for being lived with religious freedom. John 15:5 - Apart from Christ, we can do nothing.
View a special message from Alan. Visit www.Alliance DefendingFreedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice.” Alliance Defending Freedom
On The Square
Why The Battle To Define ‘Marriage’ Is So Important Q&A with
Dr. Frank Turek Dr. Frank Turek is founder and president of Cross Examined.org, a non-profit ministry that presents seminars in Christian apologetics on church, college, and high school campuses to reach the three-out-offour Christian youth who drift from their faith while in college. Turek is author of Correct, Not Politically
Correct and co-author of the award-winning I Don’t
Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist and Legislating Morality. He worked with the North Carolina coalition that secured passage of a marriage amendment in that state last year (see story, p. 6). 4
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Why is it so important to legally define marriage as the union of one man and one woman? Heterosexual relationships are the foundation of society. Procreation, and the nurturing and care of children, are the primary purpose of marriage, because these relationships bring forth and best nurture the next generation. While some heterosexual relationships don’t [produce] children, the only relationships that do are heterosexual—and we have to preserve that, legally and nationally. If we equate same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships, then we’re saying that marriage has nothing to do with children—it’s just about coupling. And that ultimately leads to people not getting married but still having children … and we all know what a disaster that is. Same-sex “marriage,” wherever it is passed, doesn’t lead to two types of marriage. It leads to genderless marriage. The institution becomes genderless, which means it becomes childless.
What are the challenges for those working to preserve marriage? The other side has all the great slogans, but all the worst logic. This isn’t a sound bite issue. It takes reasoned conversation, and most people don’t want to take time for reasoned conversation.
To see more of this interview with Dr. Turek, and learn more about how this ministry is working to preserve marriage, visit www.AllianceDefending Freedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice.”
The best sound bite I’ve heard on this is: “This isn’t bigotry, this is biology.” It is about biology. Same-sex relations and opposite-sex relations are biologically different, and passing a law that says they’re the same won’t change that—it will only teach people that they’re the same, even though they’re really not, which will lead to negative consequences. Whenever you alter the culture’s understanding of the family, you are undermining civilization itself.
Will changing marriage laws—either way—really make much impact on what people believe? The law is a great teacher. Whatever is legal, people think is moral, and whatever is illegal, people think is immoral. The foundation of this issue is, can we pass a law that promotes [homosexual behavior] – which same-sex “marriage” does – so that it now becomes the legal, moral, social, and cultural equivalent of heterosexual [behavior]? That takes generations to sink in, but when it does, now you have a whole new world. Laws do change hearts and attitudes. That’s what this is about. This isn’t about marriage. This is about social validation. This is about transforming society so that [those who practice homosexual behavior] feel better about what they are doing.
Why are so many Christians—even Christian leaders— supportive of same-sex “marriage?” They don’t think through it. They’ve been duped into believing it’s a civil rights issue, when it really isn’t. They don’t want to be called names if they don’t
support it. They may have friends and relatives who consider themselves homosexual, and they just want them to be happy. People don’t understand the implications of same-sex “marriage.” They think the government is involved in marriage just because two people love one another. But when you go for a marriage license, they don’t ask you if you love the other person. That’s not the point. The point is that marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of society, and when our
The law is a great teacher. Whatever is legal, people think is moral, and whatever is illegal, people think is immoral. marriages are strong the government has less to do. Everyone—even [those who practice homosexual behavior]—benefits because a man and a woman come together in marriage, stay together, and bring up kids: a safer society, fewer problems, and lower taxes … because the government doesn’t have to be as big to take care of all the problems that result from broken families. Economic problems come from moral problems. Ultimately, all of our problems are moral.
Why is the work of Alliance Defending Freedom so important right now? Alliance Defending Freedom has always been in the lead in defending marriage in our country, which impacts our religious freedoms directly. If not for Alliance Defending Freedom, religious freedom would be in much worse shape than it is. But these issues would never have come up if Christians had been Christians for the past 100 years. Same-sex “marriage” wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar. [Leftists] are just presenting their side—it’s the church that’s been silent. Instead of fighting back, we decided we’d just “be separate” from the culture. We didn’t engage. If you take the godly people out of the culture, you’re Alliance Defending Freedom
Pulpit Freedom Sunday Sparks Growing Movement In U.S. Churches Who decides what a pastor can preach from the pulpit—his church, or his government?
We’re not trying to turn churches into political machines. We’re trying to free pastors to speak from their pulpits. – Erik Stanley Alliance Defending Freedom
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That question lies at the heart of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an event organized for the last five years by Alliance Defending Freedom to challenge government efforts to censor, intimidate, and dictate to pastors what they can and cannot preach from their pulpits. Pastors who take part in the event elect to address the political positions of candidates from a biblical perspective, providing their congregations with godly insight into tough questions while defying an Internal Revenue Service regulation designed to keep them from doing just that. The IRS regulation—popularly known as the Johnson Amendment— was passed by Congress in 1954 as an amendment to section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. Pushed through by then-Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, the law linked a church’s tax-exempt status to its willingness to remain silent on political issues and
To learn more about the Alliance Defending Freedom Church Project and see inspirational interviews with pastors who participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, visit www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice.”
nationwide. Pastors who participate in the event not only preach on the ostensibly “forbidden” issues, but mail a copy of their sermon to the IRS. They’re effectively inviting prosecution … with the understanding that Alliance Defending Freedom will step in to defend them, free of charge, should the IRS accept that invitation.
The IRS, though, has yet to fol-
Dr. Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte, North Carolina, was one of more than 1,600 pastors nationwide who participated in 2012 Pulpit Freedom Sunday activities.
candidates. Since even moral issues as fundamental as abortion and same-sex “marriage” can be labeled “political” (and often factor into why people vote for or against a given candidate), the IRS has been urged by some activist groups to use the amendment against churches that address candidates’ positions. “The objective of Pulpit Freedom Sunday is to create a court case that will challenge the constitutionality of the Johnson Amendment in court,” says Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel and director of Alliance Defending Freedom’s Church Project—a larger, ongoing effort to detect and defend against legal threats to churches
low up with, much less prosecute, any participating pastor. Meanwhile, the number of pastors participating has grown exponentially since the first event in 2008. That first year, 33 pastors from 22 states took part; this year, over 1,600 pastors from all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico) stepped up—three times as many as last year. An extraordinarily diverse array of denominations has been represented: everything from biker and cowboy churches to Messianic Jewish congregations. Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Hispanic, and Native American groups have all taken part. Last October, the event was the focus of more than 170 media stories in outlets from CNN to Time. And yet, even among many, both in and out of the faith, there’s been vocal pushback from those who see Pulpit Freedom Sunday as a major step toward politicizing churches. An editorial in the Bloomberg View of October 3, 2012, for instance, suggested that “The line between religious belief and political action is often indistinct,” and that “pastors demanding government tax prefer-
ences for political crusades have clearly crossed it.” Stanley disagrees. “We’re not trying to turn churches into political machines. We’re trying to free pastors to speak from their pulpits in the way they feel led,” he says. “We recognize that pastors and their church leaders may disagree among themselves about whether a pastor ought to talk about candidates in an election from the pulpit— but we should all agree that it’s not the government’s job to tell pastors they can’t talk about these issues.”
But should churches be in the business of challenging government, many ask. Doesn’t the idea of Pulpit Freedom Sunday basically encourage pastors to break the law? Stanley, again, says no. “We’re encouraging pastors to exercise their constitutionally protected rights. This is not civil disobedience. This is civil obedience of the highest kind, because we are demanding that the government abide by the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.” Through this event, he says, pastors “are setting up a legal test case to challenge the constitutionality of a very unconstitutional law.” These pastors are discovering not only that their people want to hear a biblical perspective on the most volatile issues of our day, Stanley says, but that “when America’s pastors are free to speak from their pulpit on all of the issues the Bible talks about, our country is better for it.” Alliance Defending Freedom
Saving marriage in North Carolina hinged on individual courage and a rock-solid alliance 8
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Gravely ill as he was, Dr. Jim Forrester knew a last chance when he saw one. In the fall of 2010, something happened in his beloved North Carolina that hadn’t happened since Reconstruction—Republicans were voted into control of the state legislature. That political sea change turned all kinds of tides in every committee of both houses; bills sinking to forgotten depths suddenly popped to the surface again. One of those bills was Forrester’s. For eight years, as a state senator, he’d introduced it again and again, only to watch it languish through the deliberate disdain of various committee chairmen. The bill proposed an amendment to the state constitution, to be voted on by the people of North Carolina, defining marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The bill faced enormous, entrenched political opposition from nearly every major player in the state—academics, celebrities, a sizeable number of clerics, all the major media, and powerful legislators on both sides of the aisle. Worse, it faced mostly apathy from the people whose votes would be crucial to its success. Forrester was dying. His bill, they told him, was doomed. He refused to accept that. Instead, he quietly launched what quickly became one of the most critical battles of the decade-long war for marriage in America. It was a
by Chris Potts
Alliance Defending Freedom
of some 20 religious groups forged a political committee, Vote FOR Marriage NC, and chose Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, to lead it. A demure, determined woman with a cheerful manner and a ready smile, she had already lobbied for the bill across seven legislative sessions.
If we can get this to the people, the people will vote for it. – Dr. Jim Forrester battle with implications far beyond North Carolina—one whose outcome would hinge on the power of prayer and the herculean efforts of a small, persevering group of Christian leaders. This is the story of that battle. This is the proof of what an alliance can do.
A family physician, decorated flight
surgeon, and 11-term senator in the state legislature, Forrester successfully sponsored a 1995 statute defining marriage—but he knew activist judges could and would find ways around it. Only a constitutional amendment, he decided, would prevent same-sex activists from rewriting the law. “You know, we have rights in this country,” he told Mary Frances, his wife of 51 years, before he passed. “You can live with anybody you want to, you can make any kind of formal arrangements you want to, you can share any kind of property. But you can’t redefine ‘family.’ We need to love these people, but we shouldn’t let them decide something for the rest of us.” “If we can get [a marriage amendment] to the people, the people will vote for
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it,” he said. “As long as the people send me back here, I’m going to stand up until I get my amendment.” The 2010 election changed everything. Wary of the political “hot potato,” the state’s new Republican leadership called a special legislative session for September 2011 to address the amendment issue. Clearly, the vote would be close. Mrs. Forrester, state director of Concerned Women for America, asked her husband how she could help. Start making phone calls, he said. She did more than that. Her group sent out 10,000 postcards, asking voters statewide to phone fence-straddling legislators in support of the bill. Thousands upon thousands called. But those favoring the measure weren’t the only ones marshalling their forces. Cars began circling ominously through the Forresters’ driveway at all hours. A same-sex couple held their commitment ceremony outside his office door. The Forresters were deluged with phone calls and e-mails—many filled with obscenities, vulgarities, and death threats. Forrester pressed on, finding allies as well as opponents. House Majority Leader Paul Stam, Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell, and Senator Dan Soucek all stepped in at crucial moments. Leaders
“I clearly felt called by God to do this,” she says. Confronted daily by the enormity of the task and aggressiveness of the opposition, she returned often to 2 Chronicles 20:15: “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” “Let’s take up our positions,” she kept telling her team. “Let’s do what God’s called us to do.” Her faith wasn’t the only advantage Fitzgerald brought to the table. She is an Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorney, and soon enlisted the legal ministry in helping fine-tune the language of Forrester’s bill. Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks took point on those efforts. “Having attorneys who understand the subject and can advise on using different types of language to accomplish different objectives is vitally important,” Nimocks says. “That’s where Alliance Defending Freedom comes into play. We’ve advised legislatures and marriage proponents across the country on language that’s appropriate for constitutional amendments, bills, and other legislative avenues to make sure they get it right.” The revisions, lobbying, phone calls, and prayers all culminated on September 12, 2011, with a slender three-vote win in the House; the next day’s vote in the Senate would be even closer. To win, the pro-amendment forces would need 30 senators. For days, they scrambled tirelessly to nail down the last few votes. The morning of the 12th, they found themselves still one vote short. The senators went into caucus, and everything came down to one last senator who’d opposed the bill from the start.
Now—besieged by prayers from all over the country (including a small group of pastors just outside the door) and thousands of phone calls from his constituents—he buckled. “It’s all about letting the people vote, right?” he asked. And with that, Forrester’s amendment finally passed. The meaning of marriage in North Carolina was in the voters’ hands.
Let’s take up our positions. Let’s do what God’s called us to do. – Tami Fitzgerald
“Most states have a year or so to
organize and raise money,” Fitzgerald says. “We had a much shorter time frame.” House Democrats who supported the amendment, but feared a conservative turnout would hurt their governor at the November polls, had agreed to vote for the measure only if it went on the primary ballot, in May—an election notorious for low voter turnout. “It can be an uphill battle, trying to get voters to come to the polls in May,” Nimocks says. “You have opponents of marriage out-spending, out-campaigning, out-working the grassroots.” With the governor, the attorney general and a conglomerate of law professors opposing the marriage amendment, and the media joining in, he says, “it could seem to the average citizen that protecting marriage isn’t a good thing.” Fitzgerald wasn’t fazed. She began assembling her own coalition: a group of black pastors, the Christian Action League, Catholic dioceses. She also sought out the soon-to-be president of the state Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Mark Harris, who, in one day, suddenly found himself catapulted into the thick of the hottest political fight to hit his state in years. “At 10:30 on a Tuesday morning in November I was elected president,” he remembers. “At 2:30 that afternoon, the state convention went on record as the largest body of believers in full support of the marriage amendment. Within 30 minutes of that vote, the media be-
gan to call.” Days later, Fitzgerald was on the doorstep of Harris’s Charlotte church, recruiting him for a massive task. More than one-fifth of all North Carolinans identify themselves as Southern Baptist—nearly 1.5 million potential voters. Without their help, she told him, the amendment didn’t stand a chance. “Dr. Harris understands the impact these cultural issues have on the church,” Fitzgerald says, “and how important they are to the church’s ability to give out the Gospel. He embraced this from the first day. He took the message to 4,300 Baptist pastors—he wore himself out.” “Herding pastors is like herding cats,” Harris laughs. Still, his strategy was effective, if exhausting: he asked 20 leading pastors from the state’s five largest cities to meet with him—then took a week and hit the road. In each city, he asked each pastor to a) lead his people in praying fervently for the election, b) spur them to grassroots efforts of every kind, c) encourage them to give generously to the cause … and d) recruit four other pastors who would do the same.
The results were extraordinary—a blitz of phone calls, mass mailings, signs, speeches, voter registrations in every corner of the state. Prayer meetings multiplied. Sermons from hundreds of pulpits were heard, printed, and broadcast. And over $400,000 was raised for the campaign. That kind of action draws strong opposition. Other denominations and state religious leaders worked just as fervently to denounce the amendment. Along with phone calls, e-mails, and death threats, some pastors, like Michael Barrett of Pleasant Garden Baptist in Greensboro, saw their churches infiltrated by outsiders seeking more insidious ways to undermine the marriage effort. Barrett had announced in advance his intention to preach a biblical message on marriage and homosexual behavior. A few days after the service, he learned that a version of his sermon—carefully edited to make it sound threatening and hateful—had been posted on YouTube. To Barrett, the attempt at intimidation was simply proof that the marriage fight “was one battle, but we’re facing a more important one—calling pastors to use their influence” in the culture.
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“It’s critical for pastors to understand that we must be willing to stand,” Harris says. “If we are going to be spiritual leaders, we have got to take that role seriously and be willing to stand up and share truth— because that is what God called us to do.”
No one relishes that
role more than Dr. Patrick Wooden, pastor of Upper Room Church of God in Christ Jesus in Raleigh, and one of North Carolina’s most influential evangelical leaders. “Some of us are just made for the battle,” he says, beaming. “As an African-American minister, I have witnessed firsthand what has happened to our community as a result of the demise and destruction of the two-parent family. I just felt that it was part of our calling to fight this battle.” Fitzgerald knew early on that the outspoken Wooden—a tall, barrel-chested man with the physical presence to back up his spiritual assertions—would be an indispensible ally. “He is a visionary leader,” she says, “a tenacious lion. He’s not afraid of going against what those in the culture are saying. His primary concern is what the Lord says.” Wooden waded headlong into the marriage battle, speaking boldly not only in churches but in debates at nearby universities and on local TV stations. When opponents suggested that, as a member of a race that has endured discrimination, he should not be speaking out against a bill they termed “anti-homosexual,” Wooden replied, “The amendment is not ‘anti-’ anything. It’s pro-marriage. You can’t compare racial discrimination to discrimi-
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nation based on deviant behavior.” Like the other leaders of the coalition, Wooden endured everything from obscene verbal assaults to threats on the life of his family. Even a fellow African-American pastor cursed him to his face, and many questioned his involving the church in socalled “political issues.” “We did not encroach on the politicians’ sacred ground,” Wooden says. “They encroached on ours. Marriage belonged to the church long before the government attached itself to it. Most of the issues that bring people like me out are when we see things done or attempted that are just anti-biblical and we know they’re bad for the community. As a pastor, you can’t stand by and see the Word of God and that which is best for our society trampled over and say nothing.”
The intensity of the battle ramped up
even higher in the last weeks of the campaign. A sizeable kidney stone kept Harris in agony, but he continued speaking at rallies across North Carolina, his
wife driving him all over the state and writing a marriage blog for the church’s website. The massive media battle ebbed and flowed: President Obama spoke out against the amendment; Billy Graham, 93—a North Carolina native—came out in support of it one week before the vote. And Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys continued to provide crucial resources—offering legal advice and media training, joining in the debates and public forums, penning op-ed pieces and talking with pastors to affirm their constitutional right to speak out. Through it all, the marriage coalition held together, encouraging each other and talking strategy on weekly conference calls. There were some ardent debates over tactics, but “no one had an ulterior motive,” Wooden says. “The mission remained pure. We never lost focus on the goal.” The goal was realized on May 8, when voters in record numbers came out to the primary polls. More than 60 percent of them approved the amendment—an extraordinary and decisive victory. “It was a big battle,” Wooden says. “A
We did not encroach on the politicians’ sacred ground. They encroached on ours. Marriage belonged to the church long before the government attached itself to it. – Dr. Patrick Wooden
wonderful, wonderful victory for our state. The joy came from being part of something that really mattered—realizing that, when we are dead and gone, we did this thing, and we did it because we knew that the God of the Bible was with our cause.” Coalition members and hundreds who’d stood with them rejoiced together that night in a North Raleigh hotel ballroom.
But one voice was conspicuously missing from the celebration: Dr. Forrester had died the previous October, soon after his bill passed the legislature. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, with full military honors. His widow, Mary Frances, set aside her grief to fight for his dream, campaigning tirelessly, night and day, for months, “determined that I would never look back and say, ‘I could have, should have.’ “I just knew I had to finish this for him,” she says. “I thought, ‘If he could do what he did, I can do this. I can do this.’ And I did.”
“At the end of the day, this marriage
amendment is a freedom of religion issue, more than anything else,” Wooden says. “If those who oppose traditional marriage actually had their way, and you followed this to its logical conclusion, it would severely change the way we practice our faith. When pastors all of a sudden see that, it is a different game. That is what is at stake.”
Visit www.AllianceDefending Freedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice” to hear more from Dr. Mark Harris and Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks, and to learn how your generous support is enabling Alliance Defending Freedom to win the crucial battle for marriage in America. May 8, 2012: Tami Fitzgerald (l) and Mary Frances Forrester celebrate voter approval of an amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“We wouldn’t imagine the issues that would come,” Harris says. “Once samesex marriage becomes law, you’re vulnerable—any individual who holds religious convictions and tries to express them will be put on the defensive.” The support of Alliance Defending Freedom gave many pastors an extra boost of confidence, he says, to stand for marriage during this critical statewide battle. “They were very encouraging every step of the way to us,” Harris says. “To know you have this network of some 2,200 attorneys willing to stand behind you … the wisdom, the knowledge, the experience that they bring to the table … it gives a pastor a great deal of confidence to be able to take that stand when you know you have this legal team standing with you.” Fitzgerald says that kind of legal support will be crucial in the many battles yet to come. “The fact that, on the day after our marriage amendment election, the president himself came out of the closet on [samesex] marriage is alarming,” she says. “It shows the average voter across the country that this is a significant issue we’re going to be fighting for a very long time and that elections have consequences ... for your personal values and your religious freedom.” “These issues—when they come before us and we recognize them for the spiritual issues that they really are—can be a wake-up call for the church,” Harris says. “That is my prayer, that God might propel us now to take stands on these issues that may very well lead to that great spiritual awakening that so many of us hunger for, are praying for, and have been hoping to be a part of. “If we will stand shoulder to shoulder and arm in arm,” he says, “we can do some pretty amazing things in truly impacting Alliance Defending Freedom
FINDING HONORABLE SOLUTIONS
by Sarah Stites
A year ago, Alliance Defending Free-
dom helped Sarah Stites—then a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia— file suit against the Fairfax County Public School Board. The lawsuit charged the board with violating her constitutionally protected religious freedom by denying her community service credit for working with children in the “Kids Quest” program of her local church. Sarah needed the credit to complete her requirements as a member of her school’s National Honor Society (NHS)—a student organization dedicated to high academic performance and service to the community. Both goals come naturally to Sarah, and her family hoped her NHS experience would enhance her college applications. The board’s policy, though, altered that plan—as well as her perspective on her responsibility to stand for her faith.
I’m a very non-confrontational person. 14
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I like to let conflicts resolve themselves. So it was odd to find myself, one day last spring, dealing with two different conflicts related to my religious faith. The first involved National Honor Society. Early on, I had doubts about joining NHS. It was a great honor to be asked, but between classes, homework, cross country, drama club, and church activities, I really had too much going already to add anything that involved extra hours of community service. So, I asked the faculty sponsor if what I was doing at my church could count as my NHS service hours. He okayed that, but said I’d need approval from a faculty advisory committee. They, too, approved my request, in writing, and my parents learned that the national office of NHS allows church work to count as community service. With all that settled, I joined the Honor Society.
By fighting for my religious freedom, I would be standing up for God... and for my country, too. Throughout my junior year, everything seemed fine. I kept my grades up, completed four times the number of service hours required, and logged those hours online. My church work really was a service to the community. Ours is a large, very diverse congregation, so every Sunday I taught, fed, sang, and played with children of many ethnic backgrounds— rich and poor, healthy and disabled, from traditional homes and anything but. It was a remarkable, rewarding experience.
The summer before my senior year, I
saw on an NHS report that I wasn’t getting credit for my work at the church.
“They’ve forgotten they gave me permission,” I thought, but figured that would be easy enough to straighten out, once school started. I just kept logging my hours online and didn’t worry about it. But in September, I received a letter from that same faculty advisor, stating that, because I’d failed to follow through on my community service obligations, he was putting me on probation and assigning me punitive hours. I contacted him immediately, pointing out the hours I’d logged from my church work and reminding him that he and the committee had already allowed me to count them toward my credits. But suddenly this man who’d seemed so reasonable the year before was absolutely determined to deny that approval. My parents tried to talk with him, but he just kept insisting that counting church hours violated school board policy. His prior okay, the approval of the national organization—none of that mattered. He wasn’t about to let church work apply to NHS. That’s when my mother thought of Alliance Defending Freedom. She and Dad had supported the organization from its beginnings. We read Faith & Justice and pray for the work, and she knew they defend cases just like this. So she called, and soon Legal Counsel Matt Sharp replied to tell us that, yes, Alliance Defending Freedom would take the case. The Fairfax County policy was clearly unconstitutional, he said, and since my folks had kept all the paperwork detailing our agreements with the school, we had a strong case. But we’ d have to
challenge the policy quickly—with a lawsuit—if NHS was to reinstate me in time for it to count on admission applications. Honestly, I was really reluctant to do that. NHS wasn’t that important to me, and the part of me that dreads confrontation was afraid I’d be turning my whole senior year into one long endurance test, with everybody snubbing me and whispering about “that girl who’s suing the school.”
ated the stand I was taking, and that his church was praying for me. Suing didn’t ruin my life, after all.
In fact, it gave me courage. Through
drama club, I was cast that semester in a play written by a fellow student. I soon realized it contained elements that I couldn’t, in good conscience, be a part of. I found the writer and, swallowing my fears of conflict, told her of my concerns, and that, as a Christian, I needed to drop out of her play. To my astonishment, she understood, and told me she’d take out the offending elements and rewrite it—just so I could be in it.
My parents understood, and assured me they wouldn’t make me go through with the lawsuit. But they did ask me to consider this as an opportunity to stand up for my faith, and maybe do something for other students who were facing the same problem and didn’t To see Sarah Stites have the option of hiring share her story on a lawyer and making it national television, right. By fighting for my visit www.Alliance religious freedom, they DefendingFreedom.org, said, I would be standing and click on up for God … and for my “Faith & Justice.” country, too. So we prayed about it a lot, and I decided to file the lawsuit. Alliance Defending Freedom took care of everything. Matt Sharp kept us informed about what was happening all the time, and worked with my parents to ensure the lawsuit didn’t take over my life. When Fox News asked me to come on their Sunday morning show—a pretty terrifying prospect for someone who hates the limelight—Alliance Defending Freedom’s media team helped me prepare for what to wear, when to speak, what to say, and even how to relax on national television. Gradually, word of what was happening got around campus. To my amazement, there was almost no commotion. Some of my friends were a little surprised— most people at my school lean Left. But a history teacher I’d never met took me aside one day to tell me he appreci-
Both experiences—the lawsuit, and that play—helped me realize that God uses small people to do big things, and gives them what they need to do them. When we called Alliance Defending Freedom, my dad was out of work. We had no income. But God provided Christian attorneys who took our case at no charge— and won! The school board not only gave me NHS credit for my church work, but changed their policy so other students could get that kind of credit, too. (A California school district later changed its policy, to follow suit—so my lawsuit not only helped students in Fairfax County but in another district as well.) Conflict is still not my favorite thing, but I’m learning. I’m so thankful that when I was afraid, God gave me courage. And when I needed help, He gave me Alliance Defending Freedom. Alliance Defending Freedom
ajor General Douglas Carver, retired, served as Chief of Chaplains for the U.S. Army, and as one of
the nearly 3,000 military chaplains serving with America’s armed forces all over the world. At the 2012 Alliance Defending Freedom Pastor Academy, General Carver shared the concerns felt by many chaplains over the impact that changing political policies are having on the religious freedom of those who minister God’s Word on military bases and battlefields. General Carver knows battlefields endanger not only
people’s lives, but their souls. He tells of a smiling man
who came regularly to chapel services at the Iraqi front, always in civilian clothes. One day, talking with Carver,
the man asked, “Do you know what I do?” Carver didn’t. The man explained that it was his job to vanish into the desert, move invisibly between the lines, locate key en-
emies, and kill them. “I’ve killed a lot of people,” he said. “Can God forgive me?”
Carver helped him pray and find the answer. But some
questions, he says, are more problematic. One that chaplains hear often is: “What can I do while I’m in uniform? Do I have to leave my religious beliefs and practices
outside the base?” They ask because of increasing “chal-
lenges to religious expression,” Carver says, among both troops and the chaplain corps itself.
If he could, he says, “I’d require every chaplain to take
at least one semester in constitutional law, so that they
clearly understand the First Amendment freedom of expression and freedom of exercise of religion—for not only themselves, but the troops that they serve.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is on hand to protect those constitutional freedoms for chaplains like Carver—who
Major General Douglas Carver U.S. Army Chaplain
understands all too well how crucial such protection is. One day, in Iraq, he was asked to lead a service in an
extremely dangerous area. Out of nowhere, the man he’d counseled a short time before—the one who’d “killed
a lot of people”—appeared and told him, “I’ve got your
back, Chaplain. I’m in the shadows, watching. Just preach the Gospel.”
Visit www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice” to see General Carver’s interview on the challenges chaplains are facing under changing government policies.
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For Carver, the memory of that assurance of protection is tightly entwined with something that a wounded soldier
once told him: “Thank you, sir, for ensuring that we have chaplains. I couldn’t do what I do without knowing that a man of God is nearby, praying us through.”
Updates Volume III, Issue- 2
In The News CHARGES OF ‘HATE SPEECH’
In what looks like the longawaited final word on a 10-year old case with profound implications for religious freedom in North America, Canada’s highest court has affirmed and protected a pastor’s right to free speech. Pastor Stephen Boissoin had been punished by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for writing a letter-to-the-editor for his local paper that expressed his Christian views about homosexual behavior and his concern about materials being used in local schools to promote such behavior. Incredibly, the commission fined Boissoin $5,000 and ordered him never to say anything critical of homosexual behavior or same-sex unions for the rest of his life.
Three years ago, Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorney Gerald Chipeur successfully appealed Boissoin’s case to a Canadian court that reversed the commission’s ruling. That decision was appealed to the Alberta Court of Appeal, which, last October, affirmed the lower court’s ruling, exonerating Boissoin.
BRINGING MY HUSBAND’S KILLERS TO JUSTICE
Volume V, Issue 2 attacked his village, destroyed the church, burned Christians’ homes, then dragged him through the streets, beating and stoning him. His wife, Ludia, and young son, Obedio, saw it all from their nearby hiding place.
Working with Allied Attorneys in the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), Alliance Defending Freedom has now helped bring nearly 200 individuals to justice for violent crimes, including the 2008 murder of Pastor Akbar Digal in the Kandhamal district of northeast India. Pastor Digal was killed when a mob of 300-400 Hindu extremists
At the urging of EFI attorneys, Ludia filed a criminal complaint and recorded her deposition— one of many filed by other Christians who saw their loved ones killed during the riots. With that evidence, and the support of Alliance Defending Freedom, EFI attorneys have been able to secure convictions against 187 of the killers, most of whom have been sentenced to life in prison.
VICTORY AT THE SUPREME COURT Alliance Defending Freedom recently re-
corded its 39th victory in cases the ministry has supported at the U.S. Supreme Court. In this case, funding was provided in the legal defense of a religious club, Columbia Christians for Life (CCL), whose members were threatened with arrest for protesting abortion on public sidewalks in Greenwood County, South Carolina. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit eventually heard the case and affirmed that the constitutional rights of CCL members were violated, but the court declined to award attorneys’ fees. The U.S. Supreme Court overruled that decision, saying that CCL members were entitled to recover the attorneys’ fees incurred to protect their constitutional rights. Before the current term ends, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two other important marriage cases: one, involving Alliance Defending Freedom clients who are defending California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and the other, a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.
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Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Planned Parenthood Pushes For Legal Abortion (Not So Much Keeping It ‘Safe And Rare’) Remember, a decade or so ago,
when the abortion industry mantra was that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare?” Those words were even in the Democrat Party platform for a while – part of an effort to brand abortionists like Planned Parenthood as reluctant facilitators of a necessary evil rather than owner/operators of a thriving billion-dollar industry. Those days are gone. In 2011, Planned Parenthood, now the nation’s largest abortion provider, carried out nearly 900 abortions per day, or just over 37 an hour—that’s an abortion
These were not random inspections. Each of the clinics knew the inspectors were coming.
frequency. Suffice it to say, a Planned Parenthood abortion every 95 seconds is not “rare.” And, as illustrated by Planned Parenthood’s resistance to even basic health inspections and regulation in Virginia, any pretense of concern about real safety is also out the window. All that matters to Planned Parenthood is that abortion be unrestricted, never mind safety and rarity. For example, in 2011, Virginia’s Board of Health issued emergency regulations—over the strenuous objection of Planned Parenthood—requiring health inspections of the state’s abortion clinics for the first time in two decades. Reports on those now-completed inspections have been obtained by the Virginia Family Foundation (VFF) via a Freedom of Information request. As Victoria Cobb, President of VFF put it, “Some of this is just horrific.”
The Commissioner of Health reportevery 95 seconds. Which means, on average, Planned Parenthood carries out about 330,000 of the 1.2 million abortions in America annually. So while Planned Parenthood and its political allies in Washington, D.C. continue to lie about mammogram services in order to rebrand the business as a broader women’s healthcare provider, there’s no longer the same reticence about abortions or their
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ed that every one of the nine abortion clinics inspected had some deficiency. Those deficiencies included the remains of unborn children and blood frozen to the bottom of freezers, sponges that were used to clean surgical implements for a full week without being changed—yes, the same sponge was used over and over and over for a week—and abortion clinic staff who admitted not knowing which
instruments were clean and which were dirty. And the evidence keeps growing: 80 violations have been recorded in just 9 clinics. Again, these were not random inspections. Each of the clinics knew the inspectors were coming.
On September 14, 2012, these same
Virginia abortionists came out in force in Richmond to try to stop the Board of Health from issuing final health and safety regulations. Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to members of the board urging them to enact regulations to ensure the health and safety of Virginia abortion clinics. And through the work of allies like the Virginia Family Foundation, pro-life Virginians also turned out in force, urging the board to take action to protect women’s health—not the bottom line of the abortionists who prey on them. And we won. To the abortionists’ chagrin, the abortion clinic health and safety regulations were approved and are now in effect. What does it say about Planned Parenthood’s supposed concern for women’s health that it would oppose these rules so aggressively? Abortion clinics will never be safe for the unborn children whose lives they take with alarming frequency. Shouldn’t they at least be safe for the women?
PERFORMS AN ABORTION EVERY 95 SECONDS. Visit www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org to see scenes from this year’s Students For Life of America Conference,—which drew thousands of pro-life young people from all over the country.
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