Tag Archives: speech
It’s a chilling reality to realize that if the government can force Jack Phillips, under threat of legal penalty, to violate his core convictions, that same government can (and will) force us all to violate our conviction at some point. No one that loves liberty and freedom should desire to see such authority placed in the hands of any government.
Suppose you’re a high-school football coach that has received praise and accolades in your annual review for the last 7 years. You’ve also been told by athletes and parents about what a good influence you are on the players and what a great role model you are. You don’t do anything special or different for your entire tenure as a coach. Then, one day you find out the school is placing you on administrative leave and suggesting you not be re-hired.
What would you think?
That is the position coach Joe Kennedy found himself in when the local Washington state school district he worked for refused to allow him to continue saying silent prayers on the football field.
Here’s the story.
In 2008 Coach Kennedy saw the movie “Facing the Giants” and decided to start praying for his team. He would stroll out to the field before and after games to say a silent prayer for the athletes. He didn’t tell anyone, didn’t invite anyone, he just started praying. Before long members of his team joined him and they would silently pray before and after games. No one was forced. No one was disciplined or removed from the team for not praying. It was a completely voluntary routine.
A federal appeals court has decided that the New York DMV can refuse to issue a license plate stating simply “choose life” because the DMV (and court) finds the plate “patently offensive.”
The rejection based on the “patently offensive” criteria is the same measure used to ban pornography from public view. The court ruled that since the message of life is “patently offensive” to so many New Yorkers, it could cause road rage, and therefore it is acceptable to ban.
Where do I start in criticizing this absurd ruling by the court?
Let’s start with the idea that it is better to ban a license plate someone might find offensive than to allow on the grounds that it may cause an incident of road rage. First of all, if adults are not capable of driving on the road with another car carrying a license plate with a message they disagree with without engaging in road rage – I’m not sure they are fit to have a driver’s license. This line of reasoning is in itself “patently offensive” as it implies that people are not able to control themselves when faced with a message they disagree with.
I don’t even want to talk about a person calling himself a “Christian” wanting a cake with the words “God hates gays” on it; and what the cake was for. I’m angry at the fact that such a person exists and the damage to the Gospel said person is doing. The fact, however, that the cake shop refused to print the message is another story entirely. That is something we need to talk about.
Azucar Bakery in Denver, CO. was asked to print the cake for a man named Bill Jack. Jack also requested the cake to be in the shape of a Bible with an image of two men holding hands with a big X through them. The bakery refused to comply with the request saying the message was “discriminatory, and hateful.”
Who! Wait a minute. I thought business owners had no rights to refuse such requests based on their personal views. I thought “discriminating” against customers because of a business owners core convictions and beliefs was no frowned upon and illegal. Isn’t the idea that business owners are not allowed to refuse such requests at the heart of the Masterpiece Cake Shop story and Jack Phillips, the owner?
Just days after the City of Coeur d’Alene reversed course and declared that a pastor would not have to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies; Houston Mayor Anise Parker has dropped her unconstitutional subpoena of pastor’s sermons.
An article at the Christian Post notes that Mayor Parker intends to defend the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), but has decided to drop her request for the sermons, speeches, and other communications of local pastors.
“After much contemplation and discussion, I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort. It is extremely important to me to protect our equal rights ordinance from repeal, and it is extremely important to me to make sure that every Houstonian knows that their lives are valid and protected and acknowledged.”
As the battle in Houston continues over the city subpoenaing the sermons of at least five pastors for their involvement in opposing a local “bathroom bill,” the commentary continues to flow. Below you will find some notable voices and their thoughts on the subject to help you stay on top of the issue. Every American should be angry over the fact that any government entity would dare subpoena the speech of anyone, let alone pastors. All speech, and religious speech such as sermons is certainly included, is protected by the First Amendment and the government has no business seeking it. Prayerfully the city will back down. If not, I hope the Texas State Supreme Court squashes the subpoena request and ends the city is sued inquisition. Mayor Parker needs a strong wake-up call and reminder that she has no business intimidating people by violating their civil rights.
CBN: ADF Unimpressed by Houston’s Revised Subpoena’s
The Alliance Defending Freedom released a statement on the changes. “The city of Houston still doesn’t get it. It thinks that by changing nothing in its subpoenas other than to remove the word ‘sermons’ that it has solved the problem. That solves nothing,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in the statement. “Even though the pastors are not parties in this lawsuit, the subpoenas still demand from them 17 different categories of information – information that encompasses speeches made by the pastors and private communications with their church members,” he continued. “As we have stated many times, the problem is the subpoenas themselves; they must be rescinded entirely.”
The news that Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, Texas subpoenaed the sermons and other communications from several pastors after the passage and attempted repeal of a controversial “bathroom bill” in the city has become a national matter.
Bathroom bills are dangerous, to say the least. Typically a bathroom bill will allow a man to use the women’s bathroom, locker room, or other facilities (and vice versa) based on little more than a perceived gender identity. In other words a man can simply say that he is a woman and be allowed to use the women’s facilities. The dangers of such bills seem obvious to everyone but the activists pushing for their passage.
When the Houston bathroom bill was being proposed by the city many pastors spoke out against it and even encouraged their congregations to oppose the bill. Such speech is not merely appropriate for a pastor inside his church it is constitutionally protected speech. But that didn’t stop the city of Houston and Mayor Annise Parker from subpoenaing the sermons, emails, and other communication of these pastors.
That’s when people across the country got mad.
Most people have never heard of the Johnson Amendment. For that matter as soon as you say IRS code you will lose most of your audience. Nevertheless, this one amendment has had a significant impact on churches and, as a result, on society as a whole.
The Johnson Amendment was inserted into the IRS code in 1954 as a way to limit the speech of pastors and churches regarding elections, political campaigns, and social and political issues. Taking a cue from the fictitious “separation of church and state,” the Johnson Amendment seeks to control the speech of America’s pastors because of the influence they wield.
No doubt the effects of the Johnson Amendment are clear today. At one time America’s pastors took a leading role in education their congregations regarding political issues and candidates, now, most pulpits are silent.
For some time people like myself has been warning that the government was becoming increasingly intrusive on the religious freedoms of churches. Stories from the last few years alone are enough to make any sane persons head spin. From zoning law restrictions to taxes, the government has been seeking to get more than a foot in the door of America’s churches.
I have warned on more than one occasion that before long the government would try to silence America’s pastors – either through regulation, IRS intimidation, or both. It seemed a no brainer to me that the end game was to pretend to value freedom of religion while seeking to monitor and regulate exactly what speech is used.
It seems that day has come far sooner than anyone expected.
The city of Houston has issued subpoenas to a group of pastors for their sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, or any mention of Mayor Annise Parker; who happens to be a lesbian.
Good news! The IRS has agreed to start monitoring churches more closely concerning political speech. Doesn’t that make you feel safe?
Apparently a lawsuit brought against the IRS by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has resulted in an agreement between the atheist group and the IRS to spend more time monitoring churches. After all, we can’t have churches giving direction to their congregations about critical issues, and where candidates stand on those issues. (Alliance Defending Freedom has sent a FOIA request to the IRS asking for these new policies.)
The lawsuit was first prompted in 2009 as a result of the nationwide ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday” campaign started by Alliance Defending Freedom. This campaign was started as an effort to challenge the unconstitutional “Johnson Amendment” that was inserted into the IRS code back in 1954. The Amendment makes it illegal for tax-exempt organizations to engage in electioneering, broadly defined as endorsing one political candidate or another.