Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Conservatives and Christians taking campus discrimination / censorship cases to court

And they are winning – as The College Fix reports.

Excerpt:

They’ve been ordered not to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution. They’ve been denied promotions because of their faith. They’ve been forced to help pay for abortion-inducing birth control. They’ve been judged solely by the color of their skin.

And they’re fighting back. And they’re winning.

Conservative and Christian students and professors who have been denied free speech or faced discrimination and religious persecution because of their beliefs have recently enjoyed a string of courthouse victories in what’s amounting to something of a banner year for such causes.

There’s been at least six big legal wins in as many months.

Here’s one of the six that surprised me:

Last month, the high court gave the evangelical Wheaton College the injunction it wanted against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, setting a national precedent on the matter.

Wheaton was among dozens of Christian and Catholic universities to file suit against the federal mandate, saying they should not be forced to pay for birth control if it violates their religious beliefs. Now the White House is writing new regulations to allow for such exemptions.

I was on a long drive Friday night, and was listening to the audio book version of Nancy Pearcey’s “Total Truth”. Both me and the woman I am mentoring are reading it. She was talking about Alan Sears and the pro-religious-liberty law firm “Alliance Defending Freedom”. ADF is one of the groups who defends the rights of students on campus.

I found a profile of Alan in this Breitbart article.

It says:

Alan Sears is a committed Christian attorney who served in the Reagan administration, including in the Justice Department, who became increasingly concerned about the ACLU and its leftist allies’ success at sterilizing American life of every reference to God, faith, and biblical values. After returning to the private sector, he was recruited by more than thirty Christian leaders to start an organization that would build a nationwide network to fight for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, the importance of marriage, and the rights of parents. The Alliance Defense Fund thus began in 1994.

Fifty years ago, references to faith were widespread in American life, where public prayers were common and official communications and presidential speeches would frequently cite the Bible or Christian belief, and such things were not controversial. Now the ACLU and far left has succeeded in giving us so many years of sterile secularism that it has become the new baseline. Many local school boards that once had to be sued by the ACLU to ban singing Christmas carols at a properly named Christmas Concert are now quite content to ban those carols on their own, and to order the concert renamed a Winter Concert.

Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. Instead of an ACLU lawyer suing that school on behalf of some militant atheist parent, now an ADF lawyer is suing the school for telling a Christian student that she cannot draw a picture of Jesus when she’s asked to draw someone who is important to her.

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Sears has built an organization that is every bit an equal to the ACLU. Its staff of roughly 200 employees includes dozens of lawyers, who coordinate the efforts of over 2,200 “allied attorneys” nationwide, in almost every state of the Union and more than a dozen countries around the globe. To date, these lawyers have contributed an astounding $141 million in pro bono legal work (yes, that means free of charge) to people and organizations involved in legal fights on ADF’s issues. These attorneys become part of the Alliance upon completing ADF’s weeklong legal training conference. (Full disclosure: I have attended this training academy twice—once as a lawyer in their legal track and once as a journalist in their media informational track.)

ADF also makes grants to support lawyers and scholars for their work on behalf of those issues of faith, life, marriage, and families. And its Blackstone Legal Fellowship program takes over 100 promising law students every year and treats them to nine weeks of excellent food and accommodations over the summer in exchange for spending their days in lectures and seminars on natural law, government, philosophy, and learning key legal doctrines, followed by six weeks of “field work,” to equip them for lifelong service of ADF’s mission-related issues in whatever field they end up pursuing in their career.

Something to think about if you are a young person. It’s a tough thing to make it through secular law school with your faith intact, but if you can, the benefits to all of us can be huge. It’s a high-risk, high-reward option for talented young Christians and conservatives to pursue.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Jennifer Roback Morse lectures to the Blackstone Legal Fellowship

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Two lectures from the great Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. One of my favorite scholars to listen to, and a great debater, as well.

Lecture one: Love and Economics

(June 13, 2014) Dr J traveled to Phoenix to participate in Alliance Defending Freedom’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship, where she gave two talks. This is the first one, “Love and Economics,” on what marriage is and why we need it–stay tuned for the next one!

The MP3 file is here.

Lecture two: Defending Marriage

(June 13, 2014) Dr J traveled to Phoenix to participate in Alliance Defending Freedom’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship, where she gave two talks. This is the second one, “Defending Marriage,” on why marriage matters and what has happened and will happen as it gets more and more redefined by the progress of the sexual revolution.

The MP3 file is here.

I was listening to these late at night, and when she said “you know Catholics aren’t good with Bible verses” at the beginning of lecture two, I howled with laughter. I’m sure the property manager is going to let me know not to howl with laughter after midnight. Oh well – it was hilarious. She is Catholic. I howled again when made a comment about chaste people over the age of 30, like me. It’s just FUN to listen to, but these are serious subjects.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pastor Matt: Christian apologists should care about the loss of religious liberty

From Pastor Matt Rawlings‘ blog. First he summarizes a couple of religious liberty cases – Brendan Eich and Elane Photography.

Excerpt:

[...][F]ew seemed to pause and ask about the ramifications of a nation incrementally losing the religious freedom it has long enjoyed. I would argue this is an issue that committed Christian thinkers should take very seriously.

First of all, the loss of religious freedom (along with the growth of centralized government) is historically dangerous for all people.  The loss of one freedom often serves as the domino for the loss of others.  We are a people called to love our neighbors (Matt. 22:37-40) and standing by while persecution may be inching toward many certainly does not count.

Second, some have argued that if we lose our freedom it will help the church grow or at least “separate the men from the boys.” This is a romantic notion that persecution is good for the church but it too is a failure to love our neighbors and is not entirely accurate.  For example, see Acts 9:31, which reads, “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.”  Moreover, great revivals like the First and Second Great Awakening and the immediate post World War II boom took place in times of religious freedom.

Third, true rational discourse in true marketplace of ideas depends on true religious freedom. One cannot arbitrarily exclude certain ideas from public debate because it strikes certain segments of the culture as offensive. If any person believes that open dialogue is a key to truth then that person should fight for any voice to have his or her say.

I’ll skip to his conclusion:

So, we need to graciously and intelligently contend for our freedom by supporting Christian legal groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and, of course praying for God’s continued grace.  We also need to train ourselves in public and practical apologetics including why it is that traditional marriage is good for a country (and it is).  In the meantime, be sure to go to Speak Up Church and gather resources on how to help protect your church from the current attacks on religious freedom.

Read the whole thing. This is a great post, and one you ought to click through and read.

Now before my remarks, I wanted to produce the biography of one of the ADF lawyers I heard in a recent podcast.

Douglas Napier bio:

Douglas H. Napier serves as Senior Vice-President-Legal for Alliance Defending Freedom at its headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he leads a litigation team of approximately 40 attorneys and legal support staff at offices in District of Colombia, Arizona, Kansas, California, Georgia, and Tennessee. Before joining Alliance Defending Freedom in 2007, Napier practiced civil trial law in Iowa for 16 years. He earned his J.D. from the University of Iowa College, with distinction, and is a fellow of the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers. Napier is admitted to the bar in Iowa, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, and the U.S. Supreme Court, and has been admitted pro hac vice to several federal courts across the nation.

I’m glad that some Christians are making the plans to get these law degrees that allow them to do something about threats like this.

My thoughts

When I posted this on Facebook earlier on Monday, I was surprised to see a bunch of people posting Bible verses and talking about how persecution might not be such a bad thing. And this always annoys me, because I wonder if these people really understand what persecution looks like, in different times and places. It looks like murder, torture, imprisonment, fines, trials, sickness, disease, loneliness and despair. It’s not something you wish for. It’s certainly not something you want for others. We have a threat to religious liberty. That threat should be met with law degrees from prestigious universities – and life plans that allow you to get those degrees. We need to be making life plans to either get the degrees that can counter the threat, or to support those (financially) who are getting them or who already have them. I’m in the latter group.

Filed under: Commentary, , , ,

Good news: Christian conservative professor wins discrimination case

From the ACLJ.

Excerpt:

Late last month a federal jury in North Carolina found that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington retaliated against conservative Christian professor Mike Adams when the university denied him a promotion to full professor. Rather than evaluating his work on the merits, the university denied his promotion in a process that was chock-full of deception, discrimination, and disorder.

The jury’s verdict was for liability only, with the judge to determine the lawful remedy. This afternoon, the judge ruled – holding that Dr. Adams was entitled to receive the promotion he was wrongly denied, the pay increase he was entitled to, and back pay to compensate him for lost income.

This ruling sends a message to public universities: academic freedom isn’t just for the Left, it’s a constitutional right for all professors — even Christian conservatives.

The ACLJ represents Dr. Adams, along with Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney Travis Barham.

This is not the ACLJ’s only case in defense of conservative professors’ rights to academic freedom. We’ve also filed suit against officials at UCLA after they fired longtime Professor James Enstrom for blowing th whistle on junk environmental science and academic fraud.

The battles continue, and we remain committed to defending our fundamental freedoms – on campus and off.

Here is the bio for Barham:

Travis Barham serves as litigation staff counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom at its Regional Service Center in Georgia, where he litigates to preserve religious freedom and freedom of speech on college and university campuses across the nation. Barham joined Alliance Defending Freedom in 2006 and is a member of the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 7th and 11th Circuits, and the state of Arizona. He is also admitted to federal district courts in Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Barham has practiced law since 2006 and earned his J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he graduated summa cum laude.

David French is no longer with ADF and is now with ACLJ. He has his JD from Harvard Law School, and taught at Cornell Law School, too.

The Alliance Defending Freedom is my favorite legal group for defending religious liberty. They seem to have a lot of lawyers with degrees from top universities. It’s encouraging for me to see Christians work so hard to be able to make a difference for us all. The ADF is also defending Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court, and doing a great job by all accounts!

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

How the ADF kept nurses who wouldn’t perform abortions from being fired

In 2011, a story came out about New Jersey nurses being forced to perform abortions (or be fired). I blogged about it, but we didn’t really know the details. Well, now the details have emerged and the case has finally been decided. Here’s a press release from the heroic Alliance Defending Freedom, which protected the nurses involved from violating their consciences.

Excerpt:

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 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.

“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.”

“We were all shocked,” Fe says. “All these years I’ve been a nurse, I was never told to help kill children.”

But the managers remained adamant. Hospital administrators supported them.

[...]“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. She gave the letter to her manager, who took it 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.

I think so often in this world today, Christians are on the defensive when it comes to acting on their convictions. My expectation is that we will never win when we do the right thing. The other side is so strong, and we have so few conservative Christians who are intentional about studying well, earning well, and reaching positions of influence. But sometimes we do win, because there are still some Christians left who have paid the price to get the education and training that allows them to do something when the freedoms of Christians are threatened.

This time, it was the Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers who saved the day:

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.

[...]Amid all the tension, threats, and growing media coverage, the judge in the case stunned everyone by suddenly announcing, in a preliminary hearing, that a settlement had been reached.

“We had gotten everything [the 12 nurses] requested,” Stratis says. “We’d gotten the hospital to agree not to force them to perform these abortions. There would be no retaliatory measures against them, and they could feel free and sleep at night, knowing that the next day they would not have to be trained on the abortion process or help a woman kill an innocent child.”

“I was crying – really crying,” says Lorna, who heard the news 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.”

Where does this desire to force people to commit murder come from? Well, it comes from the political left. In fact, the Obama administration actively opposes conscience protections for medical workers, and actively opposes conscience protections for military chaplains. This is to say nothing about the HHS mandate, which forces entire organizations and businesses to subsidize abortion-causing drugs.

I think that Christians need to be thoughtful, calculating and realistic about how we are going to deal with threats like this. Although some of us may prefer to study things that are easier, and do jobs that are comfortable, there is a real need for more of us to study hard things and do hard jobs. We need people with the right degrees in the right fields, and we need people who are good at earning and saving money. The truth is that this is the way the world works, and wisdom requires that we do what we have to do (not what we like to do) in order to be ready for the the challenges we are likely to face. The other side is certainly doing their job of getting the degrees and the money that they will use against us.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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