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Tony Perkins / March 13, 2015

School Rejects Censorship as a Matter of Principal

Texas is known for a lot of things – but pushovers aren’t one of them. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) learned that the hard way when it picked a fight with White Oak High School. Using its small-town playbook, the atheist activists fired off a warning to the district complaining about a principal that reads a scripture as part of his morning announcements. Dan Noll’s “Thoughts of the Day” had never been controversial before, so when a student recorded the audio and sent it to the Left’s attack dogs, it caused quite a stir. But if FFRF thought a little letter would scare Superintendent Michael Gilbert, they had another thing coming. In a response that should bring a smile to the face of every Christian conservative in America, Gilbert took it to the Left’s bullies with this fiery response.

Texas is known for a lot of things – but pushovers aren’t one of them. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) learned that the hard way when it picked a fight with White Oak High School. Using its small-town playbook, the atheist activists fired off a warning to the district complaining about a principal that reads a scripture as part of his morning announcements.

Dan Noll’s “Thoughts of the Day” had never been controversial before, so when a student recorded the audio and sent it to the Left’s attack dogs, it caused quite a stir. But if FFRF thought a little letter would scare Superintendent Michael Gilbert, they had another thing coming. In a response that should bring a smile to the face of every Christian conservative in America, Gilbert took it to the Left’s bullies with this fiery response.

> “Let me be clear, this is an attempt to draw us into a contest of words for the sole purpose of giving the FFRF a large amount of free press/recognition that they and their very few members (1,200 in Texas) do not deserve. This group and others like it, are wanting us to provide them with negative quotes to use in the promotion of their agenda. We can and will make the adjustments needed to ensure our students experience a morally sound, positive character based education. There are a multitude of options to provide our students, faculty and staff the opportunity to express their First Amendment Rights as provided for in the United States Constitution. Let me also be clear that we have not (in my opinion) violated anyone’s rights and/or subjected anyone to undue stress. Bible studies and scriptures are allowed in schools.”

Then, with perfect pitch, he wished the Foundation well. “I’m sorry you feel (this) way,” he said. “I will be praying for you and your staff daily.” At a time when most educators are tripping over themselves to do the Left’s bidding, Michael Gilbert’s courage is exactly what the doctor ordered. Our ten-gallon hats go off to the Superintendent for teaching these liberals a lesson in religious liberty!

In Ferguson, All Wounds Run Deep

A “peaceful” protest outside the Ferguson Police Department turned out to be anything but for two seriously wounded officers in Missouri. In what St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar is calling an ambush, a gunman shot one officer in the face and another in the shoulder during a heated demonstration outside headquarters in the early hours of this morning. Hours after Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned, angry people gathered at the station demanding more.

In August, just days after the shooting, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was on the ground in Ferguson linking the shooting of Michael Brown to race. No one questions that America’s ongoing struggle with racial tension is serious. But to have the nation’s top law enforcer prejudge a case as volatile as Ferguson is extremely dangerous – as we saw with riots breaking out across America.

Last week, after an almost six month investigation by Holder’s agency, the U.S. Justice Department officially cleared Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. However, in an effort to save face for the President and himself, Holder released another report claiming “widespread racial bias” in the Ferguson police force. In the documents released last Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder’s agency finally admitted that “Wilson’s actions do not constitute prosecutable violations” of federal civil rights law. But that finding was almost overshadowed by the 100-page accusation of racial discrimination, which sparked fresh outrage in an already fragile town.

That outrage almost turned deadly [Wednesday] night, as more blood was shed on the streets of Ferguson. This time, the victims were two local law enforcement officers who were protecting the crowd that had gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department. Based on the trajectory of the bullets, investigators are certain the pair were targeted, potentially by a sniper. The injuries, which doctors say are “very serious,” should heal – but the same may not be said of the conflict that triggered the shooting. Given the ferocity of the opposition, Belmar says “it’s remarkable that we haven’t had something like this happen (before).”

In January, I joined more than 150 evangelical and religious leaders in Dallas, Texas to arrest the racial divide that still exist in America. While those couple of days of meetings didn’t put the issue to rest, it has furthered an effort that addresses the heart and soul of the matter. Unfortunately, as church leaders are working to bring the divide together, actions like Eric Holder’s are driving the divided further apart. As a former police officer and a minister, I have the ability to understand the concerns of both sides. There has been, and there remains, injustice in America – and race is a factor. But not every police officer or every incident involving individuals of different ethnic backgrounds is racial.

Furthermore, every problem in America does not need a federal solution. The threats of the Attorney General to take over the Ferguson Police Department, especially in the absence of any criminal wrongdoing, is just another example of the lawless overreach of the Obama administration. The Founders understood that bad local and state leaders are easier for the people to rein in or replace than a despot at the federal level with an army.

Navy Chaplain: Keep Calm and Carrier On

Remember when the Pentagon said religious liberty wouldn’t be a casualty of open homosexuality in the military? So does Wes Modder. So imagine his surprise when the long-time chaplain was sent home for exercising his. Unfortunately, the Navy Lt. Commander is yet another victim of the President’s broken promises during the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Sabotaged by his own staff, Chaplain Modder was ordered to clean out his office for counseling troops in accordance with the biblical teachings of his sponsoring church. It’s an outrageous report – one that has become all too familiar in the Obama military, where Christians are being forced underground. Of course, the Defense Department insisted that stories like Modder’s would never happen in a post-DADT world. In fact, the Navy – like most service branches – went so far as to reassure its ranks with a special memo about how unaffected chaplains’ religious rights would be.

“Chaplains,” officials explained, “will continue to have the freedom to practice their religion according to the tenets of their faith. In the context of their religious ministry, chaplains are not required to take actions that are inconsistent with their religious beliefs (e.g. altering the content of sermons or religious counseling, sharing a pulpit with other chaplains or modifying forms of prayer or worship).”

The U.S. Navy must have a short memory, because those protections have certainly eluded Modder. When he was served with a five-page “discrimination” complaint, the chaplain’s only crime was offering moral advice and guidance based on the Bible’s interpretation of sexuality. As a Christian, that includes discouraging homosexuality, premarital sex, and out-of-wedlock birth. The Navy itself says that chaplains are to “minister” and “advise” on matters of religion, morals, ethics, and morale in accordance with – and without compromising – the tenets or requirements of their faith.“

This is exactly why FRC worked to change the language of the National Defense Authorization Act last year! With the help of conservatives in Congress, who fought to include these protections, the Pentagon is bound by federal law to "accommodate individual expressions of belief of a member of the armed forces reflecting the sincerely held conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member and, in so far as practicable, may not use such expression of belief as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.”

Unfortunately, we have an administration that has little regard for the law, therefore we need to force them to abide by it. You can help put pressure on new Defense Secretary Ash Carter by signing our petition demanding Modder’s reinstatement. Click here to add your name to more than 45,000 – and then forward it to your family and friends!


This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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