faith&j ustice Volume V, Issue 3
THEY SAID NO What happened when 12 nurses refused to help their hospital perform elective abortions
Volume V, Issue 3
Beryl Otieno Ngoje, R.N.
4 KNOWING GOD FROM CAESAR:
THE DUTY OF A CHRISTIAN CITIZEN
6 THEY SAID NO “We didn’t come into this profession to do [abortions]. And if that meant our jobs, well … God was going to provide.” – BERYL OTIENO NGOJE, R.N. –
“If you believe in the Ten Commandments, you believe in political engagement.”
12 COLLEGIATE ACADEMY PREPS CHRISTIAN LEADERS OF TOMORROW “We’re helping them think through the big picture – to discover what God is calling them to do.”
14 BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE,
TO ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION “No one on the school board at the time was representing the voice of faith...”
16 ALLIANCE PROFILE: JOSEPH BACKHOLM “People are awakening.”
Cover photo: Maria Cristina Abad, Virna Balasa, Julita Ching, Sharon Danquah, Jacqueline Deseo, Ronetta Habaradas, Marites Linaac, Mila Mananquil, Lorna Mendoza, Beryl Otieno-Ngoje, Ossie Taylor, Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya.
Alliance Defending Freedom 15100 N. 90th Street Scottsdale, AZ 85260 [Phone] 800-835-5233 [Fax] 480-444-0025 www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org
Editor Chuck Bolte
Senior Writer Chris Potts
Photography Bruce Ellefson
Design Director Bruce Ellefson
Contributors Heather Cordasco, Michael Novak, Jana Novak, 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 Celebration of Heroes by Alan Sears, President, CEO and General Counsel ne of the great distinctions between Christianity and other world religions is the fact that, for Christians, time is not cyclical, but linear – there’s an Alpha and an Omega. Because of that, history matters. What came before us affects not only us, but those who come after us.
and, last year, Dr. Robert George and the late Charles Colson, who together wrote the Manhattan Declaration in defense of religious liberty. This year, we presented the award to Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia (see Updates, p. 17).
That’s why history is so important to me, personally. That’s why, if you hear me speak at an Alliance Defending Freedom event, or if we have the chance to enjoy conversation over a dinner table, you’re probably going to hear me say something about George Washington, or Dwight Eisenhower, or one of my other favorite heroes from America’s past.
These men are personal heroes of mine, extraordinary men of remarkable character and enduring accomplishment. I have watched them across many years, in briefing rooms and church services, at podiums and press conferences, across conference tables and office desks. They’ve stood for the enduring truths of
But not all of our heroes are of yesterday. We are so blessed, as Americans, even in – especially in – these often fractured, contentious days, to enjoy the leadership and the legacy of outstanding men and women whose courage, whose vision, whose ability to articulate our deepest beliefs inspires us and inspires others to stand tall and speak thoughtfully for religious freedom.
or several years now, Alliance Defending Freedom has been giving special recognition to people like these through the Edwin Meese III Award for Originalism and Religious Liberty, which we present each fall to individuals who demonstrate a profound understanding of, and a public commitment to defend, an originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution. Previous winners of the award are former Attorney General Edwin Meese III (with whom I had the privilege of serving during the Reagan administration), federal appellate judge Robert Bork,
View a special message from Alan. Visit www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice.” the Bible and the Constitution in the teeth of punishing political winds and changing currents of the legal culture. It is a wonderful privilege to honor their example, to shake their hands, to benefit from their profound wisdom and endurance. The “Alliance” of Alliance Defending Freedom includes these men – and all those who came before and will follow us – who stake their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” on their bedrock belief in America, and bring unswerving devotion to the cause of defending her freedom. ★ John 15:5
Apart from Christ, we can do nothing.
Above: Alan Sears and the late Charles Colson Alliance Defending Freedom
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
Knowing God From Caesar: The Duty Of A Christian Citizen A recipient of the 2012 Alliance Defending Freedom Edwin Meese III Award (see story, p. 3), Charles Chaput is Archbishop of Philadelphia, and the former Archbishop of Denver (1997-2011). An outspoken conservative, he has drawn wide attention this year for his bold leadership among Christians opposing the threat to religious liberty posed by the health carerelated mandates of the Department of Health and Human Services. In his book, Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, he strongly urges people of faith to take a “more active, vocal, and morally consistent role” in the political process. How does the Imago Dei – the belief that we are made “in the image of God” – shape the Christian worldview, and impact how believers see their responsibilities to society? St. Ignatius of Antioch said the coins of the Roman Empire were stamped with the image of Caesar, and our coinage, as Christians, is stamped with the image of God. We can give Caesar the coinage of taxes, because his image is stamped on them, but we can never give Caesar the coinage of our human reality, because it’s stamped with the image of God. 4|
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It’s so important for us to understand that each of us can be, as St. Thomas More said, “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” Being faithful to the image of God in our own life – and seeing the image of God in everyone else – leads us to love and serve others by speaking the truth to them.
“We need to be careful ...
but to avoid any engagement on these issues is cowardice.” –Archbishop Charles Chaput
What are the responsibilities of a Christian citizen? We have a responsibility, because of the Ten Commandments and the ethical teachings of Jesus, to be responsible not only for ourselves, but for our families, and beyond that, for others. We see everyone in the world as our brother or our sister, and we see our local community as people who should be our friends, because of our understanding of who Jesus is, and what He teaches.
“Government is asking us to render unto Caesar
Politics is really a way that community organizes itself, and it seems to me that Christians would anxiously want to be part of that organization, so that society will constantly support the dignity of every individual and [serve] the common good. If you believe in the Ten Commandments, you believe in political engagement.
what properly belongs to god, and we can’t do that.”
–Archbishop Charles Chaput
Why is it important for pastors and priests to speak out on public policy issues? It’s very important for pastors and spiritual leaders to be prudent [and not] substitute their own opinions for the teachings of the Gospel. We have to be cautious about that – especially if we are engaged actively in a political party, and somehow identify the activities of that party with the demands of the Gospel. The church should be separate from any political party. But pastors should encourage members of their church to become involved in parties, and to do what they can to make sure the party platforms align with the Gospel and the teachings of Christ. We need to be careful … but to avoid any
Visit www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice” to learn more about how this ministry is defending your religious freedom and supporting your church leaders as they speak out on the most important issues of our time.
engagement on these issues is cowardice. We’re supposed to avoid giving to Caesar what belongs to God, and sometimes Caesar – government – tries to take more than it should.
How should Christians respond when the government tells us to go against our faith beliefs? We say, “No – we’re not going to do anything contrary to our conscience. Government is asking us to render unto Caesar what properly belongs to God, and we can’t do that.” We fight against it with every means possible. Sometimes, that leads to civil disobedience, if it’s a matter that you can’t find your way around in a morally acceptable way.
Is it coincidence that we’re seeing more conscientious resistance on university campuses? The campuses are a place where the truth wins or loses in big ways, because they’re institutions of education and reflection. I very much stand in admiration of people who are willing to fight the fight on the campuses, because that’s such an important battleground for the truth. The next generations of leaders for our country are coming from those universities. Sometimes young people of the church are more courageous than their parents, or grandparents, or church leaders, and they’re willing to stand up for the truth in the face of opposition in ways that older, more settled folks are not willing to stand. I thank them for their leadership, and hope they’ll continue to be a good example to their seniors about how to be faithful to the Gospel.
Why is the work of Alliance Defending Freedom so important right now? I don’t know what we’d do without Alliance Defending Freedom, because the ministry has an expertise when it comes to dealing with the government, and with the laws of our country, that most individual citizens, and most church communities, don’t have. I’m deeply grateful for the work of Alliance Defending Freedom, and especially grateful to the donors who support its work, because without those donors, the work wouldn’t be possible. ★ Alliance Defending Freedom
What happened w hen 12 nur ses refused to help t heir hospit al perform elective a bor t ions
THEY SAID by Chr is Potts
Alliance Defending Freedom
Nurses Ossie Taylor, Jacqueline Deseo, and Lorna Mendoza discuss the outcome of their lawsuit against the hospital.
NURSES IN A BIG CITY hospital never know what a day’s shift will bring – straightforward cases or medical miracles, major crises or minor first aid. Whatever her station, whatever the duty of the moment, a nurse tries to ready herself for anything. But some things, you just can’t see coming.
It was Beryl Otieno Ngoje’s turn to work the desk in the Same Day Surgery Unit at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), in Newark. She was busy with the usual administrative duties – filing charts, handing out forms to the patients, answering visitors’ questions – when another nurse hurried up beside her. “Oh, something just happened, you won’t believe it,” the woman said, visibly excited. “I have it in my hand.” She held up a clenched fist, palm up. “I have it in my hand,” she said again. “What do you have in your hand?” Beryl asked, bemused at the woman’s demeanor. “Do you want to see?” “Yes,” Beryl said – and instantly regretted it. The other nurse opened her hand to reveal the tiny, tiny form of a baby, just aborted. “I felt like somebody had just hit me with something in my face,” Beryl remembers. 8|
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She began to cry, to the consternation of her coworker. “I’m sorry – I didn’t know you were going to react like that,” the woman said. It was a moment that seared Beryl’s soul and haunted her memory, and it would come back often, in the days ahead. For the other nurse was not just a co-worker, but her manager … with the power to hold not just an unborn baby, but Beryl’s career in the palm of her hand. THE
UMDNJ Same Day Surgery Unit – like nurses at any other hospital – are a lively mixture of backgrounds and personalities. Beryl, a native of Kenya, is a quiet ICU specialist who’s been with the hospital for over 15 years. Fe Racpar Vinoya Esperanza is from the Philippines, and speaks with cheerful delight about her love for music and for her church. Lorna Mendoza has been a nurse for 25 years, at University for more than a dozen, and takes both her work and her Christian faith very seriously. “We high-five each other,” Beryl says, “Most of us are there 12 hours, and that is a good portion of your day. It is important that you get along and feel relaxed and free.” But, “you don’t get to socialize a lot,” Fe says. “You’re more busy here than in the ER.”
The nurses of Fe’s unit are responsible for monitoring, medicating, and placating patients going into and coming out of surgery. That means a lot of bedside comfort, encouragement, and interaction with both patients and their families, so conversations between coworkers tend to be quick exchanges in the hallway or on break. What the nurses share, more than close friendship, is delight in and commitment to a job they love. “It’s a noble job,” says Fe. “Very fulfilling … a healing profession. Everything you do for the patient just makes them feel better, and satisfies my entire being, because I’ve helped someone.” “A lot of people don’t realize … we usually see somebody at their worst,” Beryl says. “They’re not perky, happy – they’re ailing and hurting. They just want somebody to be there. I can make a difference. I can help in whatever little way. I find that very gratifying.” All operations on this unit are elective – that is, the patient chooses to have a specific procedure done: a tonsillectomy, a hernia repair, the removal of cataracts. And, sometimes, an abortion. Not the kind of abortion where the mother’s life is in danger, Beryl says. “They just choose to end it. These are people who go to the doctor and say, ‘Look, I don’t want this pregnancy.’ The age range is mostly
teenagers – 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds – and a lot of times, they come back.” “To some, it’s like contraception,” Fe says. “Five or six times, you see them there.” If she ends up talking to those patients, she says, “I always tell them, ‘I’ll be praying for you, and I hope that this is the last time I’ll see you doing this kind of procedure.’ I can see in their faces how guilty they feel, the guilt in their hearts.” Many say, “Yes, definitely this is my last time.” And yet, so often, they come back. FE KNOWS, ALL TOO WELL, ABOUT
that guilt in their eyes. Twenty years ago – still new to America, still learning the language and culture, just getting the hang of her first nursing job – she found she was pregnant. But her doctor said the number of rubella antibodies in her blood was too low, and posed far too great a risk for the baby. He urged her to get a therapeutic abortion. Fe and her husband pressed the doctor repeatedly – was this absolutely necessary? He assured them it was, and, out of their depth in a new country, they didn’t realize they had any choice. Fe soon found herself in a clinic, surrounded by half-a-hundred teenagers, all waiting their turn to abbreviate the life in their wombs. Fe sat with her husband and sister.
Within a year, Fe was pregnant again. She is now the mother of three … yet her thoughts linger, sometimes, on the one she lost. The experience makes it that much harder, she says, to watch the young teenagers come through to eliminate a child just because it might complicate their lives. She knows how their hearts will be haunted in ways they can’t imagine now.
set up a training program that would give each nurse on the unit hands-on experience in how to assist with and clean up after abortions.
Which is why she was horrified to learn that she was being ordered to help with their abortions.
“We were all shocked,” Fe says. “All these years I’ve been a nurse, I was never told to help kill children.”
THE CHANGE CAME IN SEPTEMBER
of 2011, with the news that a peer was being promoted. Though employed in the same unit as Fe, Beryl and the rest, this particular nurse had long been assigned to a special team that carried out the abortions without any involvement or
“As long as you work here,” she told the 12 nurses who openly protested, “you’re going to have to do it. If you don’t, you’re going to be fired or transferred out.”
But the managers remained adamant. Hospital administrators supported them. When the nurses brought up a long-standing, in-writing agreement exempting them from taking part in abortions apart from a medical emergency, officials told them “an emergency” would hereafter be defined as any situation in which the patient
“All these years I’ve been a nurse, I was never told to help kill children.”
“We were the only ones crying,” she says. Right up until the moment of the procedure itself, Fe was on the phone with her doctors, trying to get their okay not to end her baby’s life. But her pediatrician and the specialist were adamant, and she went through with what they told her to do. The decision has troubled her ever since. “I wasn’t able to sleep for a long time,” she says. “It took me years to just feel that, okay, it’s done. I asked for forgiveness. The Lord knows my heart, that I didn’t want to have that happen.”
assistance from other nurses on the Same Day Surgery floor. The abortion team had always drawn its staff from nurses who had expressed no qualms about helping end a child’s life. Promoted from that team to a supervisory position over all the nurses, the new assistant manager announced that – since she and others had to help with abortions – she saw no reason why every nurse shouldn’t help. Hospital officials agreed, and passed a new, mandatory policy to make it so. The assistant manager quickly
was “bleeding.” And every birth involves bleeding. “I knew we were going to lose our jobs,” says Lorna, who, at one point, amid the flurry of discussions with the managers, was asked to provide a patient with a bedpan. Retrieving it, she found an aborted baby inside. Horrified and sobbing, she called for help, telling the manager who responded, “I don’t know what to do with this. I can’t do this.” She soon found herself in the office of the vice president of nursing, where she was accused of refusing to help Alliance Defending Freedom
patients and threatened with termination. She wasn’t the only one called in. “Our jobs were hanging by a string,” Beryl says. “We were like, ‘All right. If they’re going to fire all 12 of us, fine. But this is against what we believe God wants us to do.’ We didn’t come into this profession to do [abortions]. We told them we weren’t comfortable with it and didn’t feel they should force us. And if that meant our jobs, well … God was going to provide.” When even their own union declined to help them, Fe wrote a letter to hospital officials saying that she and her coworkers would not participate in abortions. She passed it around for the other nurses; 15 signed it. Bypassing her manager, she submitted the letter to the director of nursing. Response was swift. A meeting was called for the next day, with each of the signing nurses, the labor board, a union official, the managers, and “an expert on ethics” scheduled to be on hand.
“These are pre- and postoperative nurses. They’re not even supposed to be there for a surgery, whether it’s abortion or not.” – Matt Bowman “Is there a catch?” Fe asked. Visions of skyhigh attorneys’ fees danced in her head.
“my clients’ legal right not to be forced to participate in terminating a pregnancy.”
“No catch,” Stratis said. “We’re pro bono lawyers.” Fe drove home in a daze.
“It was like we had been talking to a brick wall, and that brick wall just got smashed,” Fe says. “We were very happy after that. It gave us a sense of hope.”
THE DAY OF THAT ANNOUNCEMENT,
Pastor Terry Smith, of Life Christian Church in West Orange, New Jersey, returned from a trip. A staff member told him that one of his parishioners – Fe – had called, shared what was happening at the hospital, and asked for advice. The pastor immediately phoned Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council. “I’ll be all over this,” said Deo, who hung up and called Alliance Defending Freedom. Shortly afterward, staff attorney Matt Bowman was on the phone with a local allied attorney, Demetrios Stratis, enlisting him to help defend the nurses. The two immediately called Fe. “I remember … I was driving and speaking to them three-way,” says Fe, who had just been convincing herself the nurses’ case was hopeless. “I didn’t know a thing about conscience law – it was very, very new to me.” The two told her she had a legitimate case, and offered to defend her. Best of all, Stratis said he could be on hand for her meeting with the managers the next day. 10 |
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NEXT MORNING, SHE MET STRATIS
at the hospital entrance. She took him upstairs to the Same Day Surgery Unit and introduced him to the nurses on duty and others waiting for the meeting. Twelve of the 15 immediately agreed to have him and Bowman represent them in the case. “A godsend,” Beryl says. “We had no idea which way to go. It was like something from heaven just dropped in our lap at the right time. It boosted our morale a lot.” It did considerably less for the morale of the nurse managers and others gathered for the meeting, who had not reckoned with the nurses hiring outside counsel. “Who are you?” a manager asked Stratis. “He’s our attorney, and he is going to speak on our behalf,” replied Fe. Everyone split into huddles – Stratis and the nurses in one room, administrators in another. After a few minutes, the nurse manager came to cancel the meeting, but not before Stratis made it clear that he would be defending
Stratis and Bowman reminded hospital officials – face to face and in writing – that their new policy transgressed both state and federal laws that make it illegal to compel medical professionals to violate their conscience by forcing them to help with a nonemergency abortion. With their actions, the hospital was not only risking a lawsuit, but more than $60 million in federal funding. Still, administrators stubbornly contended that all abortions in the Same Day Surgery area – each scheduled weeks in advance – were “emergencies.” “These surgeries are, by definition, elective, outpatient procedures,” Bowman says. “If they weren’t, the ER is just 30 seconds away.” Plus, he points out, “these are preand post-operative nurses. They’re not even supposed to be there for a surgery, whether it’s abortion or not.” To get around that, he says, the abortion team “would give a woman a pill that induced labor, give it in the pre-op area,
“It was scary,” Beryl says. “We prayed a lot. We came into work and stepped off the elevator and said, ‘God just let the day go by well, without incident’ – because we had our incidents. It was very, very uncomfortable.” The 12 drew strength, she says, from each other, from praying friends, and from their faith that, “Our God is greater than this.”
from one of the other nurses. “And very thankful. The next day, I went to work, and all of us were hugging and very happy.” “Before, I used to think that some prayers won’t be answered,” Fe says. “Sometimes, I’d feel very hopeless. But with this case, I saw how the Lord moves … providing the resources, the people who would help us out. It just strengthened my faith. I really thank God for Alliance Defending Freedom.” “I’m not sure I know where we’d be today if it wasn’t for them, really,” Beryl says. “We were up against some really big guns, and Alliance Defending Freedom was determined to support us.”
As a court date drew nearer, the hospital came Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Bowman up with another threat: listens as the nurses share their stories. if the 12 would not help “This case took an emotional toll on all of these nurses,” Stratis says. “To stand up, to with abortions, adminand leave her there. After a couple of istrators would hire nurses who were willing be part of a lawsuit against their employer, is very, very hard to do. There was a lot at hours, she’d start going into labor.” And to do so. Soon, officials intimated, there stake. Some were the sole breadwinners for now, she was outside the surgical area – in might not be work enough for everybody … in which cases those nurses willing to do their family. Being faced with termination a section for which the 12 pro-life nurses anything might well enjoy greater job secuof their job or standing up for their faith were responsible. rity than those only willing to do most things. … that is a very, very difficult decision, especially in these economic times.” With the hospital unwilling to budge, Amid all the tension, threats, and growAlliance Defending Freedom filed suit on ing media coverage, the judge in the case But “I couldn’t do what they were asking behalf of the 12 nurses to defend their stunned everyone by suddenly announcing, me to do,” Beryl says. “I could not. You go legally protected right of conscience. Their against what you believe, what are you? managers, meanwhile, insisted on including in a preliminary hearing, that a settlement What’s left? Just a shell of what you are.” the 12 in abortion training, which included had been reached. interactions with abortion patients and “We had gotten everything [the 12 nurses] Spoken like a woman whose conscience is handling dead babies. Three were forced requested,” Stratis says. “We’d gotten the in good hands. ★ to take part before the nurses enlisted hospital to agree not Bowman and Stratis. Once hired, though, to force them to perthe two quickly obtained an injunction that prevented other nurses from having to form these abortions. There would be no undergo training the following day. retaliatory measures against them, and One of the three forced to train did not they could feel free quite accomplish, perhaps, what her and sleep at night, managers had in mind. During her shift, a knowing that the next patient expressed reluctance to go through day they would not with the procedure. The nurse talked with have to be trained on her awhile, then – at her request – quietly the abortion process brought in the woman’s husband. After Visit Alliance Defending Freedom.org to or help a woman kill a bit, the woman dressed and they left … see more of the nurses’ stories, and to learn an innocent child.” having decided not to have the abortion. how your generous gifts are enabling this minis try to successfully defend the sanctity of life. “I was crying – really FOR WEEKS, THE 12 NURSES WORKED crying,” says Lorna, who heard the news in a decidedly tense environment. Alliance Defending Freedom
Collegiate Academy Preps Christian
Leaders of Tomorr Be inspired by a short video you will want to share with your friends and potential Collegiate Academy students. Go to www. AllianceDefendingFreedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice.”
“I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to gather under God’s name to be academically trained and to fellowship with others that share my same love and passion for our Lord.” – Alliance Defending Freedom Collegiate Academy Delegate
rom the beginning, Alliance Defending Freedom staff knew what they didn’t want Collegiate Academy to be: summer legal camp for undergraduates. Or Blackstone Legal Fellowship, Jr.
Blackstone, now in its 13th year, brings well over 100 law students from all over the world to Phoenix for an intensive, summerlong immersion in the biblical and constitutional basis for religious freedom, followed by an internship on the front lines with Alliance Defending Freedom and its legal allies. And, admittedly, say the organization’s leaders, the phenomenal success of Blackstone in building relationships between these law students and the ministry stirred the first notions of offering a similar resource to college upperclassmen and recent graduates. “After years of Blackstone,” says Jeffery Ventrella, Senior Vice President for Student Training and Development, “we realized that some of this teaching needs to occur before law school. We need to permeate college campuses. This younger generation is the future, and they’re not always aware of the sound legal policy arguments that support religious freedom, life, and marriage.”
Alliance Defending Freedom
“We’re helping them think through the big picture – to discover what God is calling them to do.” – Tim Chandler
ow Ventrella had been part of similar academies for college students in South Africa, Canada, and Great Britain, and brought the best of what he’d gleaned from those programs to his team’s plans for a unique Collegiate Academy. They used social media like Facebook to put the word out to Christian colleges and Christian groups at secular schools. And: they drew considerable help from Blackstone Fellows, many of whom contacted friends and teachers at their alma maters. “We thought we’d initially draw mostly from Christian institutions,” says Tim Chandler, Vice President
Collegiate Academy students discuss insights gleaned from their morning sessions. for Staff Operations, who helped lead the Collegiate Academy. But “it turned out that students from secular schools were especially drawn to the program. In fact, Harvard was by far our top ‘feeder school.’”
God’s calling on their life, it will be worthwhile.”
“I didn’t just learn about legal issues. I was challenged to follow God’s calling in my life and to build my own character and strengthen my own faith.” – Collegiate Academy Delegate
“We’re helping them discern how, as believers, they are different from other students,” says Alan Sears, President and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom, “and to determine how they may best serve God. And we’re identifying and developing future leaders in law and policy at an earlier stage.”
hile there would be similarities between the Collegiate Academy and Blackstone – time for worship, team-building, and plenty of thoughtful lectures on the law from some of the finest legal minds in the country – Ventrella and his team knew there would need to be differences, too. “At Blackstone, we give them the nuts and bolts of thriving at law school,” he says. But at the Collegiate Academy, “there’s a bigger emphasis on calling and vocation.” “We’re helping them think through the big picture,” Chandler says, “to discover what God is calling them to do. ‘If you’re thinking of law school,’ we tell them, ‘come here and grapple with that.’ And hopefully, for many, they will be going to law school. But even if they don’t, if they leave here with a much clearer sense of
his year’s first Collegiate Academy drew 59 students from 42 schools across the country – and Ventrella’s team hopes many of those will one day return as law students for Blackstone. “We’re making high-yield investments,” Ventrella says. “It’s not only fishing in, but stocking the right pools.” And, by deepening these students’ faith and their understanding of the Christian legal perspective on crucial issues, he says, the Academy is not only helping the students themselves, but cultivating “a brighter Christian presence on key college campuses.”
“The Collegiate Academy rekindled my passion for redemptive, intellectual, vocational work. It also put me in touch with some of the most highcaliber peers I’ve ever met. It feels like we’ve entered an alliance – it’s a good feeling.” – Collegiate Academy Delegate ★ Alliance Defending Freedom
BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE, TO ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION by Heather Cordasco
Heather Cordasco first heard of Alliance Defending Freedom in January 1994, when Focus on the Family introduced the new organization on its national radio program. Listeners were urged to donate to the fledgling ministry, and despite a tight budget and the expenses of two young children, Heather and her husband, Carlo, decided to give a gift. Today, the Cordascos are longtime Ambassadors for Alliance Defending Freedom and new members of the Ambassadors’ Advisory Council. They live in Williamsburg, Virginia, where Heather works as a wellness coordinator and manages a group fitness program. And for all that – plus involvement in her local church – she felt a conviction, not long ago, that there might still be one more thing she could do to make an impact for religious freedom in her community. 14 |
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f you had suggested, even a short time ago, that I consider running for public office, I’d have told you, flat out, “no.” After 20 years of concentrating all my efforts on our family, just the thought of all the time and effort involved in running for office seemed overwhelming to me. But one day there came an opening, and I was approached about filling it. The first time they asked, I did say “no.” The second time, my husband said “no.” The third time, we finally agreed. It wasn’t exactly a sure thing. My opponent was a well-known local businessman with a lot more money to invest in the race than I had. But somehow, all the volunteering I’d done along the way in our church, our community, and with various local groups and committees seemed to connect in the minds of
the voters. That verse in Galatians 6:7 – “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” – really came to life for me during the election. Winning this seat was important to me, because I knew that no one on the school board at the time was representing the voice of faith … or even the voice of just down-to-earth, common sense. “Maybe that’s what I can contribute,” I thought. When I was running for my seat, people often said to me, “You aren’t going to change anything – you’re just one vote.” “That’s true,” I told them, “but maybe I can ask that one question that’s never been asked before, or start that one conversation that no one’s ever had.” In fact, that’s exactly how it’s worked out. Just by coming at some issues from a slightly different angle, I’ve been able to peel one
or two or three other representatives over to my side on some key votes.
principal and posted on the bulletin board, he made them take it down.
Sometimes, there’s not a lot of genuineness in politics. So it’s important to me that the people I serve know they
My term started one month later – too late to do anything about the Christmas party. But I had an idea. Alliance De-
“No one on the school board at the time was
representing the voice of faith, or even the voice of just down-to-earth, common sense.”
can reach out to me. During one of our meetings, another board member said, right in front of everyone, “You’re all about personal responsibility, aren’t you?” “Yes, I am,” I said. She seemed to be in shock.
had barely been elected when I first heard the story of what happened with Landon.
fending Freedom distributes a booklet called Student Rights Handbook that clearly spells out what teachers, coaches, parents, and students can and can’t do with regard to expressing their faith in the public school setting. This, I realized, was a wonderful opportunity to put that booklet in the hands of the people who most needed to read it.
I enlisted Landon and a fellow ministry Landon is my pastor’s son, and leader of Ambassador, Tom Morr, telling them I’d One Desire, a Christian club at one of order the booklets if they would come to our local high schools. The club wanted the next meeting of the school board to to put up flyers last December inviting hand them out. They did just that, with any and all to a Christmas party the club Landon explaining what had happened with the flyers, and Tom pointing out some of the legal implications of the “Go to www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org to principal’s decision, for download your free copy of our Student Rights both the school and Handbook and watch a video you will want to share the district. with other parents.”
was sponsoring. Not a winter festival, but a Christmas party – with carols and the Bible story. Of course, all flyers had to be approved by the principal. Like many people in our local school system, this particular principal (an interim) was completely uninformed about the rights and civil liberties of Christian students, and very worried about putting the school in a position to be sued. Even though the flyer had already been approved by the vice
Afterward, in a special session, I was able to ask some questions: “How did this happen? What exactly is our policy?” The superintendent quickly explained that the flyer should have been permitted – that the district’s policy didn’t allow that kind of discrimination against one group while supporting the activities of others. The principal, he said, had made a mistake. As it happened, our superintendent had scheduled a meeting the next day with every middle and high school principal
in the district. He reiterated in detail the district’s policy on religious expression. Just like that, Christian students in each of our schools had their rights affirmed.
y first year on the school board has taught me three things:
1. Local politics is as critical as national politics. School board members and supervisors affect our everyday lives much more directly than state and national officials do. 2. If you’re not keeping officials accountable, don’t assume any of them are voting your position on the issues. Christians lose a lot of legal ground just by not showing up. 3. Christians should run for office. We need people who grasp the issues – even more, we need people with dependable character and a rocksolid Christian worldview. My work with Alliance Defending Freedom has done so much to prepare me for this role – teaching me to be strategic, to not care who gets credit, to regard those against us as opponents – not enemies. And to realize that success often comes from quiet, steady progress … and someone willing to stand for the truth. ★ Alliance Defending Freedom
oseph Backhom is in the fight of his life. But he’s not fighting alone.
As director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW), coordinating grassroots efforts and lobbying for life, marriage, and religious freedom at the state capital, he’s facing a legislature that has aggressively embraced the homosexual legal agenda, and recently passed a law redefining marriage. But he has a dependable ally in Alliance Defending Freedom. “It’s basically like having in-house counsel, people who are friends but also very good lawyers,” he says. “It gives an organization like mine, that’s small and growing and doesn’t have the resources to have a real legal staff, access to resources far beyond what our size would indicate.” Backholm, a 2003 graduate of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, is drawing on all of his Alliance Defending Freedom resources and contacts to generate a strong response to the legislature’s new marriage law. His team has worked hard to get a referendum on that law onto the November ballot, created “Preserve Marriage Washington” to galvanize a broad cross-section of support for the initiative, and he’s confronted churches bluntly with their responsibility for what’s happened.
Joseph Backholm Director, Family Policy Institute of Washington Visit www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org and click on “Faith & Justice” to learn more of what Alliance Defending Freedom is doing to help Family Policy leaders like Joseph Backholm to win the fight for marriage in states like yours.
Above: Joseph Backholm is a leader in continuing efforts to defend marriage in Washington state. 16 |
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“People who knew better just did nothing,” he says. “We’ve been terrified of being identified as political, or as someone who’s mean.” Those threats, he says, have neutralized people who have the ability to do something. “We allowed this movement to gain strength, and momentum, and political influence within the legislature … and never held legislators accountable for decisions they made along the way. The churches were not engaged in any way in trying to stop this.” Thankfully, he says, that’s changing. “Fifteen-hundred churches agreed to participate in the signature collection drive (for the marriage referendum),” Backholm says. “We needed 120,000 valid signatures and we had about a quarter of a million – an all-time record for referendum signatures in Washington state. People are awakening.” That, and the support of Alliance Defending Freedom, may decide the issue. “The resources are just critical – it gives me hope that our movement is going to be successful in the long run,” he says. “There are really good people working on this, and it’s growing.” ★
in the news Volume V, Issue 2 ON THE SQUARE This year’s Edwin Meese III Originalism and Religious Liberty Award – which last year went to Dr. Robert George of Princeton University and to Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship – was presented in October to Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia (see On The Square, p. 4).
The Newland Family, owners of Hercules Industries Alan Sears (l.) presents the 2011 Meese Award to Charles Colson.
mission on International Religious Freedom, which monitors the state The award, sponsored by Alliance of religious freedom around the Defending Freedom, recognizes world. Archbishop Chaput has been individuals who demonstrate a pro- one of America’s most outspoken found understanding of, and a pub- religious leaders in confronting the lic commitment to defend, an origi- threats to religious freedom posed nalist interpretation of the United by the Obama administration’s States Constitution. Congressman push for a health care mandate that Wolf is founder of the U.S. Comincludes abortion-inducing drugs. Volume V, Issue 2 ALLIANCE PROFILE the state legislature power to maintain it, and against a new “civil unions” law. The activists argued that none of the legislation accomplished what they were demanding: a complete redefinition of marriage.
In a case with broad implications for marriage battles across the country, Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Jim Hochberg (above) successfully defended a Hawaiian law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Three people had filed suit against the law, against an amendment giving
blocks obamacare mandate In the first-ever legal victory against the ObamaCare mandate, Alliance Defending Freedom secured a major victory for Colorado’s family-owned Hercules Industries – a ruling with enormous implications for religious freedom in America.
Governor Neil Abercrombie refused to defend the marriage law, so Hochberg and Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys were granted intervention on behalf of the Hawaii Family Forum.
The desire of Hercules’ owners to run their company in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious convictions (including the sanctity of life) has put them on a legal collision course with the Obama administration, whose mandate would require the company to provide contraception, sterilization, and so-called “morning after” pills for its employees.
On August 8, a federal court ruled that the laws and amendment were all constitutional, being “rationally related to legitimate government interests,” including “societal understanding of the link between marriage, procreation, and family structure.”
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hercules, challenging the order, and in August, a federal judge granted the company an injunction, blocking enforcement of the mandate pending a decision in the lawsuit – a stunning legal rebuke to the government’s case.
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Michael Novak and Jana Novak
George Washington’s personal Bible.
n 2012, the British people voted George Washington the greatest enemy Britain ever faced. We found Washington a startling choice – until we saw that it was his character they admired, his steadiness in both his defeats (many) and his victories (few), his ability to keep his ragged band of troops inspired, and in the end, the startling magnitude of his achievement. To hear Washington himself tell it, his army owed its endurance in the field to a firm reliance on divine Providence. Often in his daily orders to his troops, Washington spiritedly reminded them: “The liberties of our people now depend, under God, upon the valor of your arms.” Under God, for there was no way in the annals of common expectation that his ragged army could have won victory over the best army and navy in the world, ably led, and in insuperable numbers. When he was in his 20s, he almost died three times during his official scouting trips to the Ohio Valley wilderness for
the governor of Virginia. He wrote his brother after one incident, “I now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence.” Near Pittsburgh in the French and Indian War in 1755, two horses were shot out from under him, his coat bore four bullet holes, and he was the last officer sitting upright on horseback. The best of the Indian sharpshooters had clean shots
Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies.”
Washington expressed his trust in Providence most clearly in his almost daily “General Orders” to his beloved troops. He directed that colonels or commanding officers of each regiment must procure chaplains, arguing that only religious practice among the men reduced vices injurious to morale, and tempered exultation in victory and despondency in “For Washington, Providence was defeat. Sometimes he assumed his personal but a fact that had been experienced.” voice: “The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to at him, and normally they didn’t miss. live, and act, as becomes a Christian Their chief marveled later, “A power far Soldier defending the dearest Rights and mightier than we shielded you.” Liberties of his country.”
not a doctrine to be believed,
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Later, during the War for Independence, Washington saw a steady stream of clear signals that Providence was looking out for his men. He noted after one engagement: “We must be thankful, as I truly am, for this instance of Divine favour.” And after another, “I shall most religiously believe, that the finger of
More than once he rebuked them: How could men implore the aid of Providence, and then in daily actions violate His will? “The General” (as he was affectionately known) had learned to rely on Providence from the prayer books his mother read to him. In later years, no religious subject so
ngton’s Providence engaged his mind. He collected particularly illuminating sermons on the workings of Providence, sent to him from chaplains and men in the field, and he later published them as a book. In statements both private and official, General (and later President) Washington emphasized that the blessings of Providence have so abundantly been “experienced” by the American people, that no people in history has a greater duty of gratitude to “a gracious Providence.” For Washington, Providence was not a doctrine to be believed, but a fact that had been experienced. In official documents, he pointed out concretely many “signal mercies” during the preceding months, flashing out like lighthouse beacons: The chance interruption by an American patrol of Benedict Arnold’s courier, carrying secret plans of a fateful betrayal to the British, for example. The sudden arrival of a fierce storm over Boston on the night the British marines were to disembark and overwhelm Washington’s positions. The signal arrival of a captured munitions ship just when bullets were in shortest supply. After each such visible blessing, the General urged his men in the field and all
citizens to redouble their prayers and their efforts to live holy and devoted lives, so as to be worthy of so many blessings, and to ask the Lord to continue them.
women erect and willing, not supinely submissive. “If friendship, then liberty!” William Penn had taught them. That was the motive behind the Liberty Bell.
At the start of the War of Independence, the Americans had no national army or navy, and no ammunitions factory on their side of the ocean. Yet after reflection, they declared war on the greatest of all military powers at the time. That they did so with “a firm reliance on Divine Providence” was their hidden ace. Even though their British foe might pray to the same Providence, the Americans saw liberty as the purpose of God’s creation – better, its condition. Like the name of their capital city, Philadelphia (“The Love of Brothers”), the Americans held that God created the world for friendship with each of His human creatures. Thus, the Almighty, who might have created men unfree, fit only for submission, instead created them free. The Governor of all things wanted the friendship of free women and free men, not those coerced – men and
No Bible-lover, Tom Paine agreed wholeheartedly: as between “that robber George III” and those willing to die for their own liberty, Providence could not support the King against the colonists, without being unfaithful to His own purposes. In his private letters and his public statements – and not merely “public,” but official statements, uttered in his role as commander-in-chief and later president – Washington seldom missed an opportunity to give praise to Providence, and to beg God’s continuing favor on this nation. As Lincoln wrote, we need “another Washington” today. We need a “New Birth of Freedom.” We need the help of Providence. It has been ever thus. ★
Best-selling writer, diplomat, and philosopher Michael Novak is the author, with his daughter, Jana, of Washington’s God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our Country. Alliance Defending Freedom
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