What Would Life for Christians Look Like Under a Clinton Presidency?

hillaryclintonwikileaks_c0-120-3829-2352_s885x516During the second presidential debate, Gorbah Hamed, a Muslim woman, asked Donald Trump to address her fears about living as a Muslim in the United States following the presidential election.

This isn’t the first time the media has asked questions about what life for Muslims would look like under a Trump presidency, and rightly so. Ever since Trump infamously proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States, journalists have been eagerly raising questions about whether the Republican nominee is a closeted Islamophobe, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to deny Muslims their constitutional rights.

Ironically (or not, depending on your opinions about the news media), I haven’t yet heard journalists ask an analogous question of Secretary Clinton: What would life for Christians look like under a Clinton presidency?

What reasons has Mrs. Clinton given for Christians to be so concerned about their constitutional right to live according to the precepts of their faith and the dictates of their consciences?

First, Clinton supports coercive non-discrimination statutes that trample upon the consciences of religious organizations and Christian business owners.

In remarks made to an event hosted by the militantly anti-Christian Human Rights Campaign, Clinton voicedher support for the Federal Equality Act. Critics warn that the Federal Equality Act would dismantle the essential pillars of religious liberty protections by amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

If signed by President Clinton, the Federal Equality Act could be used to compel Christian colleges to allow transgender biological males to live in female dorms. Likewise, Christian ministries should expect penalties if they refuse to employ practicing homosexuals. And Catholic adoption agencies could lose their licenses to operate if they follow their Church’s teaching by refusing to provide their services to same-sex couples. (Catholic adoption agencies have already stopped operating in both Massachusetts and Illinois because of similar state non-discrimination laws – an unfortunate development for the tens of thousands of children waiting to be adopted every year).

Mrs. Clinton also decried the Supreme Court’s ruling that allows Christian-owned companies like Hobby Lobby to refrain from providing abortifacients to employees. She called the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the business owners’ right of conscience “deeply disturbing.”

Under a Clinton administration, religious organizations and Christian business owners who don’t agree with the federal government’s revolutionary legal assaults on life, marriage, and gender should anticipate being given two options: repudiate the doctrines of your faith or expect the fist of government to squash you.

Second, consider Hillary Clinton’s comments at the 2015 Women in the World Summit regarding abortion. In her keynote address, she expressed her regret that too many women are “denied” reproductive healthcare and expressly stated that “deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Christians find Clinton’s radical positions on abortion even more frightening when they realize that the Progressive Left, which is financing Clinton’s candidacy, supports using the federal government to force Christian doctors and hospitals to provide abortions, violating the most sacred human right protected by the First Amendment.

Third, Mrs. Clinton would nominate far-left judges who share her vision to limit the constitutional rights of Christians. The battle for religious liberty will be fought in court – and if Hillary Clinton is able to nominate judges of her choosing, that battle for religious liberty will be lost.

Christians have a lot to fear from a Clinton administration concerning their rights. Mrs. Clinton has made it clear that she’s not going to respect the constitutional protections of religious liberty, freedom of conscience, free speech, free association, and liberty of contract.

The mainstream media’s silence about Mrs. Clinton’s hostility toward the rights of Christians is revealing. Muslims are justifiably concerned about Mr. Trump rising to our nation’s highest office, and it is appropriate for the media to share those concerns with the public. So, too, are Christians justifiably concerned about Mrs. Clinton winning the election – but their concerns are being dismissed and buried by journalists with a political agenda.


This op-ed was originally published by Family Policy Institute of Washington.

After School Satan Clubs in Public Schools? Hell No. Here’s Why

tst-baph-statueDo Satanists have an absolute right to teach their anti-Christian message to elementary students in public schools?

Earlier this summer, the Satanic Temple released this incredibly creepy promotional video to advertise its new After School Satan Clubs.

Shortly thereafter, Centennial Elementary School, a public school in Mount Vernon, Washington, decided to open its doors to the Satanic Temple, and is permitting an After School Satan Club chapter to hold meetings and events for students on school grounds this school year.

The Seattle Satanic Temple is also considering starting chapters of the club in the Tacoma and Puyallup school districts.

This is not the first time the Satanic Temple, known for their elaborate stunts of political theater, has raised the ire of traditional, God-fearing Americans. They won a court challenge allowing them to place a Satanic holiday display on Florida Capitol grounds in 2014, placed another Satanic “nativity” scene on Michigan Capitol grounds the next year, and successfully goaded a Florida School District into prohibiting the distribution of Christian materials in schools by threatening to distribute Satanic coloring books to students.

The Satanic Temple’s leadership is hoping their entry into public schools will result in the termination of Christian after school clubs by spooking school administrators into preventing all religious groups from hosting voluntary clubs in schools for students.

Every school approached by the atheist organization to start an After School Satan Club also hosts a Good News Club, an interdenominational Christian after school program that many principals credit with noticeably improving behavior among students.

The Satanic Temple – which assures parents it is atheistic despite its copious use of recognizable Satanic imagery and rhetorical appeals to Satan’s rebellion against God – is claiming the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom gives it the right to start after school clubs in public schools. This is especially ironic considering that the American founders who ratified the First Amendment believed that humans beings, created in the image of God, are given religious liberty by God – the same God that the Satanic Temple denies.

Federal courts have already decided that parody religions, which lack sincerely held religious beliefs and are used to advance political agendas, are not entitled to religious protections under the First Amendment. When a “Pastafarian” member of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion (FSMism) sued the Nebraska State Penitentiary where he was a prisoner for refusing to accommodate his religious requests, the U.S. District Court of the District of Nebraska decided,

“The Court finds that FSMism is not a “religion” within the meaning of the relevant federal statutes and constitutional jurisprudence. It is, rather, a parody, intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education. Those are important issues, and FSMism contains a serious argument—but that does not mean that the trappings of the satire used to make that argument are entitled to protection as a ‘religion.’”

The District Court refused to give religious protections to Flying Spaghetti Monster religion, which was formed for political advocacy with the intention of promoting militant atheism and a radical reinterpretation of separation of church and state.

Similarly, the Satanic Temple is a secular advocacy group that seeks to intolerantly mock and parody traditional religions and supplant our Judeo-Christian national heritage.

The “whole purpose” of the After School Satan Clubs “seems to be driven by an animosity toward Christian clubs; hence the provocative name,” said Family Research Council’s Travis Weber.

It is evident, then, that in the words of the U.S. District Court, the Satanic Temple is “not entitled to protection as a ‘religion’” because its brand of Satanism is not a “sincerely held religious belief.”

Additionally, the framers of the Constitution would likely find it inconceivable that the First Amendment is being used to defend the inclusion of atheistic clubs, using the name of Satan, in public schools.

Joseph Story, an early Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote in his Commentaries on the Constitution,

“The real object of the [First] amendment was, not to [encourage], much less advance [Islam], or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian [denominations], and to prevent national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”

He later wrote that,

“Probably at the time of the adoption of the [U.S.] constitution, and of the [First] amendment to it… the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship.”

In fact, the Supreme Court formally declared the United States a Christian nation, legally and historically speaking, in Holy Trinity Church v. United States (1892). And nearly five decades earlier in Vidal v. Girard’s Executors (1844), it stated that public schools have a responsibility to teach the Bible and the Christian religion.

These court cases and the intentions of our founders suggest that the Satanic Temple cannot justify its anti-Christian After School Satan Clubs by appealing to the First Amendment.

Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty law firm, says it will provide pro-bono legal counsel to public schools that refuse the Satanic Temple’s request to start After School Satan Clubs.

“School administrators do not have to tolerate groups that disrupt the school and target other legitimate clubs,” said Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel.

Schools would be wise to recognize that they are under no legal obligation to allow After School Satanic Clubs, and concerned parents should demand no less of their local schools.

This post was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington: http://www.fpiw.org/blog/2016/08/23/satanists-look-to-move-into-washington-elementary-schools/.

Congressional Hearings Begin on the First Amendment Defense Act

firstamendmentA congressional committee is considering legislation that would protect the fundamental rights of those who believe in traditional marriage.

The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) “would prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals, associations, or businesses, such as churches and religious colleges, by denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification because they believe marriage is a union of one man and one woman.”

Worried that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) laid the foundation to undermine religious liberty, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his dissent,

“Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage – when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing to only opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before the court.”

Passing FADA would be a great first step in alleviating these concerns.

FADA is modeled after the Church Amendments, which were adopted after the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) that found a constitutional right to abortion. The Church Amendments protect the right of those who morally object to abortion to act in accordance with their convictions.

In the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges, it is imperative that the government affirms its obligation to protect the fundamental rights of those who believe in traditional marriage. No person or religious organization should be compelled to betray their beliefs about marriage to maintain a tax-exempt status or do business with the federal government.

Sadly, this view is not shared by many progressives and LGBT activists.  Testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke claimed that “while religious belief is absolutely protected [under the First Amendment], religiously motivated actions are not.”

The professor’s position is indefensible. This statement is comparable to saying that the First Amendment only protects an individual’s right to hold opinions, but not his or her right to speak publicly about them.

Contrary to Professor Franke’s interpretation, the First Amendment does protect the “free exercise [of religion].” Free exercise includes actions that are motivated by religious convictions. The government can limit these actions only when it has a compelling interest to do so. It is absurd to conclude that the federal government has a compelling interest to ostracize and punish organizations that uphold the traditional definition of marriage.

Our founders understood the danger of allowing government to interfere in religious beliefs, and they protected against that by ratifying the First Amendment. In a letter to a Presbyterian pastor, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I consider the [federal] government of the United States as [prohibited] by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.”

Jefferson continued, “In this enlightened age and in this land of equal liberty it is our boast that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws…”

Most Americans, including those who support same-sex marriage, would hopefully agree that it would be wrong for the federal government to discriminate against religious organizations because of their beliefs about marriage.

Religious liberty is too important to be sacrificed on the progressive altar of inclusion and political correctness.

This post was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington: http://www.fpiw.org/blog/2016/07/12/congressional-hearings-begin-on-first-amendment-defense-act/. 

Iowa Civil Rights Commission May Punish Pastors Who Preach Sermons on Sexuality

fdmcocIt may now be against the law for Iowa pastors to teach that God created mankind – male and female – in His own image (Genesis 1).

The religious liberty organization Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, launched a pre-enforcement challenge to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s new interpretation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, passed in 2007.

Under this new interpretation, the state may prohibit churches from making “persons of any particular sexual orientation or gender identity” feel “unwelcome, objectionable, [or] not acceptable,” according to a brochure published by the Iowa State Civil Rights Commission.

Lawyers representing the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ worry that this broad interpretation of the Civil Rights Act could be used to silence preachers teaching from the pulpit about biblical sexuality. Comments from church officials that make a gay or transgender person feel ‘uncomfortable’ during services or any other event open to the public may put the church in violation of the law.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has also determined that places of public accommodation — now including churches, which are open to the public — must allow individuals to use whatever locker room, shower, or bathroom is consistent with their gender identity, regardless of their biological sex.

First Liberty Institute, another religious liberty organization, sent a letter to the Civil Rights Commission on behalf of Cornerstone World Outreach, a church in Sioux City. The letter asks the Commission to provide the church with an exemption by August 4. First Liberty Institute is willing to pursue “all available legal options” if the church is not granted the exemption.

“The state claims it has the power to regulate what the church even teaches – what they are allowed to say from the pulpit – in addition to how they operate regarding matters of gender and sexuality,” Chelsey Youman, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, said. “If the church has a doctrine or theology that is at odds with the state and they speak out about that – they can have the full weight of the law brought down against them.”

The most worrisome development is the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s decision to subject churches to public accommodation requirements. Though churches are exempt from requirements of the Iowa Civil Rights Act in their “bona fide religious activities,” the Commission has decided that any service or activity open to the public is a public accommodation that is not exempt from civil rights law.

Our founding fathers warned us about the danger of tyranny when government begins to meddle in the affairs, beliefs, and practices of churches. In the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote,

“That to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own.”

Churches in Washington state should pay attention to these developments in Iowa. Religious organizations are currently exempted from Washington’s non-discrimination law, though what qualifies an organization as “religious” is murky. If Washington were to follow Iowa’s lead in defining church services as public accommodations, the religious organization exemption may no longer protect a significant portion of church activities.

If pastors don’t stand up now, they may soon have to break the law in order to preach the Word.

This post was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington: http://www.fpiw.org/blog/2016/07/05/iowa-civil-rights-commission-bans-pastors-from-preaching-sermons-on-sexuality/.

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Update: After this article was published, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission issued a “clarification” that churches are “generally exempt” from the law. Alliance Defending Freedom and Fort Des Moines Church of Christ are proceeding with their lawsuit, stating that the agency’s clarification amounts to “cosmetic changes.”

In her statement, Christina Holcomb, an attorney with ADF, said, “The change in the brochure doesn’t fix the inherent problem with the Civil Rights Act that forms the basis of the lawsuit—that the act gives the commission power to determine what parts of a church’s activities do not have a ‘bona fide religious purpose’ and are thereby subject to the act’s prohibitions.”