Thank You For Your Prayers of Support!

We were blessed to be covered in prayer by so many of you at home, as well as those in the courtroom as our attorneys, Robert Tyler and James Long argued in the Ninth Circuit for the Chino Valley Unified School District against an injunction on invocations at their school board meetings. Joining us at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pasadena were Church United's Jim Domen and Barbara Lesure, PIHOP's Brenda Higgins and Luis Verano, the McClintock's, Calvary Chapel Chino Hill's Gina Gleason and others!

The 3-judge panel's decision can be expected in 3-6 months. Please pray that they will recognize our country's time-honored tradition of prayer before legislative meetings and rule in our favor.

    In addition to your prayers, your tax-deductible donations are greatly appreciated so we can continue our pro bono work, fighting for religious and constitutional liberty!

National Day of Prayer – America’s Godly Heritage Endures

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 4 is National Day of Prayer in America; a day on which the people of the United States may “turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” (Public Law 105-225) Please join Advocates for Faith & Freedom and millions of Americans across the nation as we celebrate our religious liberties by recognizing our National Day of Prayer.

The acknowledgment of our Creator has always been a cornerstone in America’s sustained religious history. The United States of America was founded upon a tradition of faith and now, more than 200 years later, we still rely on God’s essential guidance.

In 1776, General George Washington recorded in his Orderly Book, “…The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary, but especially so in times of public distress and danger.  The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man will endeavour to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”

The Supreme Court affirmed our religious roots in 1892 by declaring, “…no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation state or national, because this is a religious people.  This is historically true.  From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth….this is a Christian nation.”

Many Christians are unaware that they live in a nation in which a law requires our President proclaim a National Day of Prayer each year. In 1952, President Harry Truman, declaring that “the American people should spend one day a year praying or meditating on their faith,” signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer. The National Prayer Committee was formed in the United States in 1972.

During George W. Bush’s presidency, the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer was unsuccessfully challenged in court by the ever persistent Freedom From Religion Foundation after their first attempt was unanimously dismissed by a federal appellate court in April 2011.

It has recently been reported that President Trump is ready to sign a controversial religious liberty executive order, on tomorrow’s National Day of Prayer.  The “Religious Freedom Order” seeks to provide exemptions for religious people and organizations who object to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, contraception and trans-identity. As expected, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is already gearing up for a court battle.

In the face of this and other tremendous challenges, prayer is a mighty force for peace, justice, freedom, and a more hopeful future. Let us all solemnly pray with grateful hearts for our nation, for those who lead us, and for those who keep us safe.

Scripture tells us again and again that our earnest prayers are effective; that God responds in powerful ways. Daniel 9:19, says, “Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” I Timothy 2:1-2

As Advocates for Faith & Freedom boldly stands in the gap for our nation, won’t you join us and millions of Americans throughout our country by attending a National Day of Prayer event in your city or at your church?  May God's blessings of peace and prosperity be on our faithful and grateful nation.

Three of our Cases Pending in the Ninth Circuit

Is reading the Bible aloud in public “illegal?” You may recall that in 2013, we defended two men who were arrested by a CHP officer because they were reading the Bible aloud in a DMV parking lot. The men were arrested for “obstructing or intimidating persons there to transact business” with the DMV. The District Attorney’s arrest-with-captionOffice prosecuted our clients for a misdemeanor. However, we were victorious at trial and  our  clients were  found to be  innocent  of  the charges.

This entire case was based on two police reports written by the arresting CHP officer who fabricated events to justify the arrest. Thankfully, video recordings provide the truth. We offered the CHP the opportunity to avoid a federal lawsuit by admitting the arrest was unlawful and agreeing to properly instruct its officers. We filed a federal lawsuit for unlawful arrest in federal court after the CHP rejected our proposal. The federal district judge ignored the video evidence and ruled for the CHP. We then filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal.

We appeared for oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit before a three-judge panel on December 9, 2016. The decision from the Ninth Circuit should come sometime next year. Please pray for God’s divine wisdom and guidance as we proceed in this case.

Is it “illegal” to allow invocations at school board meetings?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is aggressively pushing its agenda. They sued the Chino Valley Unified School District because it allowed a pastor or religious leader to open each school board meeting with an invocation. After a federal district court judge declared the invocations to be unconstitutional, the School District asked us to appeal their case to the Ninth Circuit and to  take  over their  defense.chino-valley-schoo-board-prayer-supporters

The so-called “separation of church and state” does not  exist  in the  Constitution,  but has been used in an  attempt to eliminate all influence of a Christian worldview in our government.  We will defend the school district all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed so that our leaders can properly begin their meetings with reverence for God and recognize their moral responsibility in government.

The outcome of this case will impact the judiciary nationally and will likely be binding on all of the nine states under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction and more than 60,000,000  residents.  Prayers have been offered at the beginning of legislative meetings since the founding of our country. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the practice in state legislative meetings and city council meetings. 

Is  it “legal” to force all Christian pregnancy counseling centers to give abortion referrals?

This is precisely the question we were asked by our client, Pastor Scott Scharpen, the president  of Go Mobile for Life—a nonprofit crisis pregnancy counseling center that operates a mobile medical clinic providing free ultrasounds.

scott-and-carolyn-sharpen-with-captionThe State of California recently enacted a new law that requires pregnancy counseling centers to give their clients a notice that “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women.” The notice must also include the phone number to the county social services office where abortion information can be obtained. The abortion notice must be posted in a conspicuous place within the waiting room or personally delivered to each patient.

Although there are some exemptions to the law, they appear to apply to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, but there is no exemption for religiously-based counseling centers.

We partnered with our friends at American Center for Law and Justice and filed a lawsuit on behalf of Go Mobile for Life in California state court where we are presently in active litigation and conducting depositions. We also filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Livingwell Medical Clinic in northern California. After the initial three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit denied our request for a preliminary injunction, we filed a petition “en banc” wherein we are requesting all of the judges in the Ninth Circuit to vote on whether an eleven-judge panel should be appointed to rehear the case.

As you can see, we are extremely busy preparing and strategizing on these three cases, as well as many others. We certainly appreciate your prayers and any contributions you can offer to assist us as we take a stand in the courts.

Help Us Get Bibles for Belizean Defense Force

It has been a number of weeks since my last correspondence. I apologize for the delay. We spent close to one month in a religious liberty jury trial from mid-May to mid-June. As a result, I simply didn’t have the time to write and get out our regular monthly newsletters. Let me bring you up to speed on a few important things we have been working on.

Bibles for the Belize Military

We have been asked to extend our advocacy for faith to the military personnel in the Central American country of Belize! A close friend of mine, John Gotz, serves as a missionary in Belize and as a military chaplain to the Belizean Defense Force of approximately 3,000 troops. The country’s leading General has requested that John acquire 5,000 Bibles to deliver to each member of the Belize and Defense Forcemilitary!

When John told me about this opportunity, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring this to Advocates for Faith & Freedom. Would you please participate in this outreach by generously donating to Advocates so that we can purchase the Bibles and advocate for our Christian faith internationally? The Bibles will probably cost us approximately $15,000.

I plan to personally deliver the Bibles to the Belizean military with John as soon as we can raise the money to buy the Bibles. We will have the opportunity to hold Bible studies for many of the troops. In contrast to the U.S. military chaplaincy policies, the doors are wide-open to the Gospel in Belize.

You can designate a specific gift by referencing “Bibles for Belize.” Thank you for your prayer and generosity.  We won’t be able to do this without your generous partnership!

In the Hands of a Jury Defend the Poor and Fatherless graphic1One of our attorneys, Jordan Bursch, and I spent 3 ½ weeks in a jury trial in downtown Los Angeles that led us to a new realization of the environment in which we live. Our client, who asked to be left anonymous, filed a suit a few years ago through another attorney claiming religious discrimination against his former employer, the Metropolitan Water District. Just a couple weeks before trial, we were asked to take the case over. Unfortunately, we had to fight as though we had “one arm tied behind our back”   due to the   prior   attorney’s agreement to exclude substantial evidence.

Picking a jury was extremely enlightening to the state of our culture. During voir dire, we were able to question and exclude numerous jurors who appeared blatantly biased. One juror claimed that “religion is the root of all evil and Christians are the worst.” Another young professional said she was an atheist and could not be unbiased in a religious discrimination case. A high ranking official at UCLA said he was atheist, grew up in communist China, and didn’t believe that anyone should have the right to bring a claim of religious discrimination, regardless of the First Amendment. A young homosexual man said that he believed that whenever he heard of a Christian claiming discrimination, “it was really the Christian doing the discriminating and doing harm to others.” This comment broke my heart as this young man does not understand true Christianity.

While we initially persuaded five of the jurors needed to prevail, the jury ruled that we were not able to show enough evidence of discriminatory intent. Even though we established clear evidence that our client’s immediate supervisor stated, among other derogatory things, that “Jesus isn’t going to save your job,” it was not enough. The burden of proof is very high for proving religious discrimination. You can imagine how easy it is for a large institution to hide their real intent for terminating an employee with vague and benign reasoning.

We knew the likelihood of success would be pretty slim when we took over this case just a few weeks before trial. However, we felt led by the Lord that this gentlemen needed our help regardless of the probable outcome. Sometimes we are called by God to show up and advocate a righteous cause in spite of the odds. I am learning more and more in this post-Christian era that we must respond to God’s calling and leave the results to Him.

 

Defending Prayer at School Board Meetings

Lastly, I wanted to ask you for your prayer as we work extensively this summer on briefs that will be due in September in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal. We agreed to take over the Praying Hands with American Flag graphicdefense of the Chino Valley Unified School District in the Ninth Circuit appeal where a District Court judge ordered the School District to cease and desist its practice of allowing an invocation at the beginning of School Board meetings. This case will likely have a national impact as many school districts nationwide have a practice of allowing invocations at the beginning of their meetings. Please pray for us to have wisdom as we research and write our legal arguments.  

Thank you for your financial support to our ministry. Because of your generosity, we can quickly come to the aid of worthy causes like these. Know that we will continue to work diligently to protect religious liberty and our First Amendment right.

Court Halts School Board Prayer.....NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT!

The Chino Valley Unified School District asked Advocates for Faith & Freedom to help them in defending its policy of allowing an opening invocation at their board meetings.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutional right of a city council to open its public meetings with an invocation —provided there was a nondiscriminatory process in selecting who offer the prayers.

The Supreme Court commented in Town of Greece v. Galloway that “legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, inaugural prayer, or the recitation of ‘God save the United States and this honorable Court’ at the opening of this Court’s sessions….”

In the 1983 Marsh v. Chambers decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Nebraska Legislature’s chaplaincy prayer practice did not violate the Establishment Clause. In doing so, the ruling noted that legislative prayers were deeply embedded in American history as early as the 1774 Continental Congress, when such prayers were presented through paid chaplains.

Chino Valley Unified School District decided to appeal a recent federal court ruling calling its own prayer policy unconstitutional, even though the board policy adopted in 2013 contained the same stipulations later upheld in the Town of Greece v. Galloway ruling.

In keeping with those long-held and federally recognized provisions, the school district retained Tyler & Bursch, LLP to represent it pro bono on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Advocates for Faith & Freedom is working in association with Tyler & Bursch, LLP to help underwrite the costs of the appeal.  This case is being defended  by Tyler & Bursch  in order to  minimize the potential bias that we have experienced in the past when advocates for Faith & Freedom is the law firm of record.

Crowd outside Chino Valley School District with captionCVUSD’s prayer policy is nondiscriminatory because it allows clergy from all faiths to present their prayers. To ensure the policy is nondiscriminatory, the district sends out a letter to all religious assemblies inviting them to voluntarily sign-up to participate in the invocation. The militant Freedom from Religion Foundation sued the school district in November 2014.

In February, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal ruled against CVUSD saying that the Town of Greece decision allowing prayer before city council meetings did not apply to school districts because of the impressionability of schoolchildren who may attend the meetings.

“The School Board possesses an inherently authoritarian position with respect to the students. The board metes out discipline and awards at these meetings, and sets school policies that directly and immediately affect the students’ lives,” Bernal wrote.

After losing at the district court level, Chino Valley officials asked us to take over their legal representation before the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. Our appeal will narrowly focus on the question of whether a school board may begin its meetings with a ceremonial prayer.

We believe this case will have serious ramifications because it is the first one to advance to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is ripe for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is also the first case to advance to the appeal level since the Town of Greece case reaffirmed the constitutionality of allowing ceremonial prayers before governmental meetings.

Because this case will require intensive staff time and legal costs throughout most of this year, we are asking that you please consider contributing to our defense fund. We seriously need additional financial support today to take on this battle. Whether you can afford to give $5, $25, or $1,000, it all matters and is greatly appreciated! We can’t afford to let a small minority of people and a radical organization redefine our way of life. To do so fosters tyranny of the worst kind. Thank you for your prayerful consideration to this cause. If you would like to donate to Advocates, click here.

Press Release 3-17-16

17 Opening Brief_4-26-17

 

School District Appeals Federal Injunction on School Board Prayer

After a California federal judge banned the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education from opening their sessions in prayer, the board has decided to appeal the no-prayer ruling. The school district recently retained Tyler & Bursch, LLP to represent it on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Tyler & Bursch’s services are being provided without charge to the school district. AdvocatesCrowd outside Chino Valley School District with caption for Faith & Freedom is working in association with Tyler & Bursch, LLP to help underwrite the costs of the appeal.

Our appeal to the Ninth Circuit will focus on the issue of whether a school district can continue with the long tradition of allowing a ceremonial prayer at the beginning of school board meetings. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that legislative prayers date back to the first Continental Congress and concluded that the well-established tradition of permitting prayer at City Council meetings, Congress, and state legislative sessions does not violate the Establishment Clause. We believe that the Ninth Circuit will agree when presented with this narrow issue of prayer before school board meetings.

This is a precedent setting case as it is the first case to advance to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeal concerning prayer at the beginning of school board meetings.

The following is the Press Release we sent out today.

US Supreme Court Upholds Prayer

This week, the United States Supreme Court issued a great ruling in favor of religious liberty. The court ruled that legislative bodies may begin their meetings with prayer, even if the prayer is Christian in nature or directed toward a specific deity.Prayer In the 5-4 decision, Justice Kennedy wrote, “Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government.”

This case concerned the city of Greece, NY, and its City Council meetings, which begin with a prayer. Most often, that prayer is a Christian one. The opposition argued that these prayers violated the First Amendment, which prohibits the establishment of a specific religion, because they did not seek out a more diverse group of prayer leaders. The majority ruled that the City Council prayers did not violate this law, because the Council did not coerce all attendees to participate in the prayer, and they did not offer any benefits to those who did participate.

We celebrate this victory for prayer, handed down by the highest Court in our Nation!

Join our discussion on Facebook and Twitter, and let us know what you think of this decision.

A Victory in California...and The National Day of Prayer

A Victory in California!           Let us give you some good news from California! Recently, we were contacted by Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute and Pastor Rick Moore of Calvary Church and StateChapel Laguna Niguel. Pastor Rick was attempting to rent city facilities from the City of Laguna Niguel in order to launch his new church. However, when Pastor Rick contacted the City, he learned that although the City rented their facilities to nonprofit organizations, the City could not rent to religiously based organizations because of a discriminatory provision embodied in the City’s ordinances.

          With help from Advocates for Faith & Freedom and Liberty Legal Institute, we were able to properly advise Pastor Rick and the City Council about the unconstitutionality of the policy prohibiting the rental to religious organizations. After a public hearing last month, the City Council voted unanimously to eliminate the discriminatory policy so that churches could rent City facilities just like other nonprofit organizations.

            Thank God for this victory!

National Day of Prayer is TODAY

          Please join us today, May 1, 2014, as we pray for our nation, our leaders, our families, our schools, our churches and ministry leaders, our children, and our future on this National Day of Prayer.

          Please go to our Facebook or Twitter page and share with us what your prayer is today.  Let’s join together as one to lift up our voices to our Almighty God and ask for His providence and guidance!

Students Stand in Prayer at School Tomorrow

 Tomorrow, September 25th at 7:00am, students around the nation will gather in prayer around their school’s flagpole. This has been a tradition since 1990, See You At The Poleand since then, millions of kids have gathered for See You At The Pole (SYATP) and lifted up their schools, teachers, friends, families, communities, and nation in prayer on the 4th Wednesday of September.

In years past, we have had the opportunity to support students around the nation in practicing their religious liberty in the school setting. Some administrations, operating under the incorrect belief that SYATP violates a “separation of church and state,” have attempted to put a stop to SYATP events. You can read more about the rights of students regarding SYATP here.

 

What can you do in preparation for tomorrow?

 

  •  Parents and students – Find out if your school is hosting a SYATP event.  Students, this is a wonderful time to meet in solidarity and prayer with your fellow classmates, and we hope you have the chance to participate!
  • Teachers – Pray for your students who will be participating in SYATP.  They are taking a bold step in faith on this day!
  • All – Please join us in prayer for this event around the country.  What an opportunity for young believers to stand strong in their faith and be a light to their peers.

Planned Parenthood is at it Again

         Planned Parenthood has sponsored and is a key advocate of AB 154 in California – a bill that would dramatically increase the number of abortions in this state. According to Planned Parenthood, the bill would “address the current shortage of health care professionals able to provide early abortion care in California” and reduce long wait times.  If passed, the bill would allow nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and certified midwives to perform first trimester abortions by means of aspiration (suctioning out the contents of the uterus) or medication (drugs that end a pregnancy). Baby_hand_and_adult Not only is this an affront to the value of life, but this could also be a potential safety issue for pregnant mothers.   Allowing non-physicians to administer these procedures could possibly result in a higher risk of complications.

We strongly oppose a bill that widens the availability of abortion and further demeans the value of unborn life.  This bill has already passed through two committees in the California legislature…please join us in prayer as it moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee!

ACTION ALERT

Please contact the members on the California Assembly Appropriations Committee and tell them you strongly oppose AB 154!  Find their contact information here: http://apro.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff