Last Chance to Help Us in 2013

Dear friend,

        A quick reminder that today is your LAST CHANCE to give a tax-deductible gift to Advocates for Faith & Freedom this year.

There’s still time to help us as we carry out this work to defend our First Amendment liberty to spread the Gospel of Jesus and to live out our faith in our daily lives.  We’ve taken on numerous new cases in the last few months; you can read about these important matters here.

Your gift can be made securely online at http://www.faith-freedom.com/donate/.  Or you may send a check postmarked by today to our office:

24910 Las Brisas Road, Suite 109 Murrieta, CA 92562

If every person on our email list gave just $25, we would make tremendous headway with our 2014 budget.  Please consider giving $25 or more today.

We know you receive a lot of requests at this time of year, and we thank God every day for you and your faithfulness to this ministry!

No "Justice" This Year?

We have had several people call our office and ask about our annual Justice Gala, a fundraising event typically held in October in Southern California.  This year, we decided not to hold the gala, for two main reasons: 1.  Organizing, staffing, and executing Justice is a large financial commitment each year, and

2.  Many times, the finances and resources we have available to carry out our core mission – defending the First Amendment right to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ – are impacted.

          But, there’s still a BIG way you can help us financially…

This year, we decided to put a greater effort towards year-end fundraising to help support the flurry of new cases that have been coming into our office over the past few months.  You can read about these new cases here.

Normally, around 400 people attend our Justice Gala, at $150 per ticket.  If we can get that same commitment from you, our supporters, we will be able to put a full $60,000 towards our cases and our mission to defend religious liberty in the courts!  At this point, we are at about 10% of our fundraising goal.

          Are you able to give a tax-deductible gift of $150 before the end of the year?  If so, please visit this page to find out how you can donate online, by mail, or by phone.

We appreciate each and every one of you – thank you and God Bless!

7 Year Marker: Advocates Gives Us a Reason to Celebrate!

Dear Partner, Looking back over 2012, we have been blessed to play a significant role in protecting our First Amendment right to share the Gospel, in combating hostility toward Christianity, and defending the will of voters. For example:

  • We have continued the fight to protect the right of churches to build and expand their ministry in the Temecula Valley Wine Country against politically powerful vintners.
  • We worked aggressively to defend students’ rights to express their religion in school and developed a booklet to educate parents, teachers, and students of their rights and warn them of the perils in California public schools (available on our website).
  • We continued to fight for the protection of traditional marriage through the defense of voter-backed Proposition 8 in California. Now, this case is at the Supreme Court, where the justices will decide whether to respect the will of voters.

But, this year is our 7 YEAR MARKER – we have been pursuing our goals for seven years! Now, because of the critical times in our culture, we must refine our goals and litigate with greater precision in order to preserve our liberty to share the Gospel. Here’s our strategy:

  1. Plan: We will aggressively increase our caseload with more tactical cases that are directly related and central to our purpose: Defending the first amendment right to spread the Christian Gospel.
  2. Pursue(a) We will pursue opportunities to challenge governmental hostility toward Christianity like the efforts to remove Christian symbols from public display; and (b) We will strategically continue to pursue cases that will challenge unlawful land use and building restrictions that are burdening and censoring churches.

You can help us right now to continue defending religious liberty and to pursue our strategy for 2013.  In order to litigate additional cases, we need to bring in $2,500 in new monthly donations by the New Year.  Please help us reach this goal by December 31st.  Whatever amount you can contribute on a monthly basis will greatly help us to take on new cases to preserve our liberty to share the Gospel.  Simply use the enclosed envelope and indicate your monthly gift pledge, or go online at www.faith-freedom.com/7-year-marker-press-on.

Thank you for supporting our mission! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Case Update:  Religious Land Use WIN for Washington, D.C. Church

Our client, the Fishermen of Man Church located in Washington, D.C., was recently faced with the potential of being designated a historic landmark by a local government agency, the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Though this may sound like a benefit to the church, this landmark designation would have placed burdensome restrictions on the church and its activities.

For example, the church had planned to make some much-needed improvements, including placing an attractive sign on the building to better indicate that it is, in fact, a church. Since it is located in the midst of a commercial district, this signage is a necessity to grow church membership. If it were called a landmark, the church would experience crippling delays and costs while the HPRB and local government carried out the landmark designation, and they would be highly restricted from carrying out their planned improvements.

In addition to these burdens, there is also a moral question surrounding the landmark designation.  In the past, the church location was used as a community movie theater, and – in a divisive time in our nation’s history – it was designated as a “whites only” movie theater.  For the congregation of the Fishermen of Man church, which is predominately African-American, this landmark designation was extremely offensive.

We represented the church at no cost and worked with the church’s local attorney in preparation for the hearing. We also sent a demand letter to the HPRB, explaining that the landmark designation they planned for the Fishermen of Man building would violate RLUIPA, the Religious Land Use and Institution

alized Persons Act, which prevents government bodies from applying regulations to religious institutions that would place a substantial burden on religious land use or regulations that are inequitably applied against religious institutions.  The HPRB then realized the church’s rights under RLUIPA and decided against the landmark designation.  Victory for the church!

 This case represents the strategic opportunities we plan to pursue in the future used to ensure the spread of the Gospel.  There are several more churches in the D.C. area alone that are facing the threat of burdensome landmark designations that threaten their very existence.  In many cases, these regulations censor churches and unreasonably control a church’s daily operations causing many churches to flee to the suburbs. We want to defend these churches’ right to not just exist, but to continue to spread the Gospel of Christ in our Nation’s capital!

 

We ask that you consider pledging a monthly gift so that we can pursue more cases and victories like this one!

 

God bless you,

 

 

 

Jennifer Bursch Associate General Counsel

7 Years and Counting: Will YOU Help Us Press On?

We are so blessed that, for the past 7 years, we have been able to pursue our mission of defending religious liberty in our nation. Now, at this pivotal time, we are looking to the future – pressing on and continuing our work! In order to do this and to grow our impact, we are hoping to raise $2,500 in new monthly donations by the start of the New Year. If you are able, please consider pledging any amount that you can to our organization on a monthly basis. We rely on these gifts to cover our ongoing expenses and to plan for growth.

We know that pledging a monthly gift is a big commitment. So, we asked one of our longtime monthly donors, Emily, to share her story and why she continues to support Advocates every month:

 

"I became a monthly sponsor while attending my first Advocates dinner event. I knew little of the organization and was financially strapped at the time. The truth is, as a single-mom with a mortgage, school loans, monthly bills, and no outside financial support I found it easy to rationalize why I could not and should not support Advocates. My decision to become a monthly supporter of Advocates was a step of (hesitant) faith. Through the dinner, I got a glimpse of the people and vision behind Advocates. It was clear that Jen and Bob were carrying out the Lord's work. They impressed me with their zeal to preserve our Christian heritage in America; to defend the ideals of religious liberty and freedom; and they came across as 100% committed to advocating and honoring Christianity's position in America's current-day culture. Seeing dedication like that, how could I not do the same?

Making a monthly gift is a highly personal decision. I encourage you to pray over the decision and to have faith when God directs you to give. I struggled over how much to give and whether or not I would actually be able to keep a monthly commitment to giving. But, since making my first gift, I've never looked back and I haven't gone broke over it! There is no gift too small

, and there is not one dollar that our God can't stretch to accomplish something for His kingdom. Any money donated to Advocates is directly invested into something with a much greater return."

"If not you, then who? If not now, then when?"

If you would like to contribute to the future and growth of Advocates, please pledge a monthly gift right now, and help us reach our goal! All gifts are tax-deductible, and your monthly donation will directly contribute to our mission of protecting the First Amendment right of Christians to spread the Gospel!

Purposes that Cultivate Our Hearts

Dear Partner, Over the last two years, my family has developed a particular passion for the people of Haiti due to three recent mission trips my children and I have taken with the Haiti Endowment Fund. Our first mission trip was scheduled just before the earthquake that devastated this small island nation. The earthquake delayed our first trip to Haiti for a short time, a time during which Christian ministries and American humanitarian aid poured into Haiti.

While bringing basic necessities to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, I have reflected upon the intolerable circumstances of living in Haiti and the blessings we cherish in the United States. If you were born in Haiti, you would likely have suffered from the lack of clean water, lack of food, unending sickness, political corruption, and widespread Voodooworship. However, if you were born in the U.S., you would have likely benefited from the abundance of clean water, healthy foods, antibiotics, democratic values, and widespread Christianity.

Because of God’s blessings, we have been the most generous nation in the world with the provision of humanitarian aid. More importantly, however, Americans have exported Christianity worldwide through the passion of missionaries and humanitarian organizations. In the context of this experience, I have come to view the necessity of our work at Advocates through a clearer lens.It is apparent to me that our work in the U.S. defending liberties has more  importance than  merely  protecting our  individual  right to go to church  or to share our faith.  Rather, the importance of our work extends beyond these liberties to the ability of Christian organizations within the U.S. to initiate and expand their ministries such that their impact is felt worldwide.

For example, we often represent churches that are seeking to rent public facilities in order to hold services but are often denied on the misunderstood application of the so-called “separation of church and state.” Sometimes, churches are wrongfully prohibited

from occupying their own property and, in one specific case, a church-affiliated school was told that it could only expand if the Christian school provided a “secular education Mondays through Fridays.”
            When Advocates stepped-in to defend the Christian school, the City of Los Angeles backed down after we filed a federal lawsuit, and now the school is educating potential ministers and missionaries from a Christian worldview!  If we don’t defend our constitutional liberties, churches may not be able to assemble for services, their teaching may be censored and their ability to send out missionaries and humanitarian aid worldwide may be severely inhibited.Our purpose is greater than mere politics or patriotic principles. We defend the First Amendment right to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our impact will not only be felt here in the U.S., but internationally as well. Please stand with us so that Christian organizations will be able to flourish in the United States minister to the nations.

Robert Tyler General Counsel