Tony Perkins / Jun. 10, 2017

Music Case a Major Key for Religious Liberty

Colin Collette led worship at the Holy Family Catholic Community for 17 years, but his personal life wasn't exactly in harmony with the church's teachings. Three years ago, when Collette announced his same-sex engagement, leaders at Holy Family had no choice but to let the music director go.

Colin Collette led worship at the Holy Family Catholic Community for 17 years, but his personal life wasn’t exactly in harmony with the church’s teachings. Three years ago, when Collette announced his same-sex engagement, leaders at Holy Family had no choice but to let the music director go.

It was a difficult decision, especially for someone who’d been a part of the parish for so long. Still, Cardinal Francis George said in a statement, Colin was participating “in a form of union that cannot be recognized as a sacrament by the Church.” Hurt and angry, Collette sued the Archdiocese of Chicago for his job back, arguing that he deserved equal rights in the workplace. But this is, as the Supreme Court has pointed out, no ordinary workplace. It’s a church, where members — and more importantly, ministers — are guided by specific moral beliefs.

The reality is, Collette was treated the same way as a heterosexual would have been for entering a “non-sacramental marriage.” In the end, the conflict between Collette’s personal and professional life doesn’t just hurt Colin, it hurts the church’s witness. As the Catholic Church’s synod of bishops has said, “We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society.”

When the case went to court in April, Judge Charles Kocoras didn’t have to deliberate long. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Hosanna-Tabor made it clear that it’s the “right of religious organizations to control their internal affairs.” In fact, as Chief Justice Roberts wrote, meddling in the church’s business “intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs.”

Here, Kocoras wrote, “the evidence is overwhelming that Collette’s positions at the Parish were critical to the spiritual and pastoral mission of the church Defendants argue that Collette’s position as Director of Music made him a key ministerial employee of the Parish. We agree. As the Seventh Circuit noted in Tomic v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria, ‘Music is a vital means of expressing and celebrating those beliefs which a religious community holds most sacred.’ By playing music at church services, Collette served an integral role in the celebration of mass. Collette’s musical performances furthered the mission of the church and helped convey its message to the congregants. Therefore, Collette’s duties as Musical Director fall within the ministerial exception.”

For religious liberty, it may be one of the most important cases the media isn’t talking about. Above all, it reminds the government that that the First Amendment wasn’t meant to protect the government from religion, but to protect religion from government.

FRC’s Travis Weber cheered the ruling, which follows on the heels of SCOTUS’s church-affiliated hospital decision earlier this month. Travis thinks Kocoras’s opinion is just as significant. “The principle that government should not interfere in religious organizations’ internal decision making has long existed in our law — for good reason. When a religious organization decides how its faith impacts its practice, it’s exercising this long-held freedom of autonomy, which is the oxygen of our free society. This freedom is something we must guard very carefully, as it is necessary for our country to continue to thrive.”

Originally published here

Military Goes to the Mattis Over Transgenders

Rebuilding the military might cost billions of dollars, but there’s one change that wouldn’t cost a cent: putting a stop to the Left’s social engineering. FRC’s Peter Sprigg makes that point in an op-ed that has more relevance the closer we get to July 1. That’s the date former Defense Secretary Ash Carter set for officially “accepting” people who identify as transgenders into the ranks. With time ticking down to a deadline that could spell disaster for national security, the Army and Marine Corps are ramping up their opposition to an agenda that would seriously compromise our military.

In a memo to the Pentagon, branch leaders of those two fighting forces are asking for a delay on the policy of at least two years so that they can gather enough data to “make proper assessment about accepting them for service.” As the sources told USA Today, the Army, in particular, is “concerned about the ability of transgender troops to deploy to war zones while receiving [gender] transition treatments.” Peter highlights the obvious problems of this in his column for The Hill, explaining that even advocates of transgender service admit that such a change may threaten morale and readiness.

In one journal article, author Allison Ross “admits that transgender service members might not be able to perform in their assigned roles, but have to ‘occupy temporary, low-risk jobs that allow them to take time off for the required surgeries’ — and she has the gall to assert that this ‘affects military readiness no differently than allowing non-transgender service members to receive medical care for injuries received in battle.’” Others worry that putting out the welcome mat for people who identify as transgender might actually make the military a magnet for people seeking “gender reassignment” procedures at taxpayer expense.

Although Donald Trump was quick to call some of his predecessor’s military decisions “ridiculous,” he explained that he would rely on the recommendations of his top brass before rolling back the Obama-era rules. So far, Defense Secretary James Mattis hasn’t given many clues as to how he would decide the issue. In the past, the four-star Marine general has slammed politicians for imposing “social change” on the military, but few seem to know whether he’ll act on those words now.

Since the policy isn’t law, it can be changed internally — which is what a number of conservative groups requested in a letter last month. Signed by both Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) and myself, the Conservative Action Project wrote, “President Trump has mandated that his administration restore the strength of our military… The process of strengthening our military will not succeed, however, if military service personnel have to contend with problematic military/social policies imposed by the Obama administration — policies that actually impede mission readiness, command proficiency, and combat effectiveness.” The military regularly discharges service members who are not medically deployable, Peter points out. It would be unfair not to hold individuals who identify as transgender to the same standard.

We applaud the leaders of the Army and Marine Corps for putting their mission — not political correctness — first. These are serious and complex issues that directly affect the safety of every American. The military can’t afford to waste more time and energy on political distractions that aren’t just detrimental for people in that lifestyle but for our military at large. For more on this explosive topic, check out FRC’s publication, “Should Individuals Who Identify as Transgender Be Allowed to Serve in the Military?

Originally published here

All Eyes on the Buckeyes!

The 3rd Annual FRC Watchmen Ohio 7:14 drew several hundred pastors and leaders from across Ohio this week to the steps of the state capitol in Columbus. Organized by Pastor JC Church, who is our Midwest director of our Watchmen on the Wall outreach to pastors and churches, their purpose was to unite their voices in a concert of prayer for their communities, for their state and our nation. While there were several pastors and evangelical leaders who came to the microphone, there were no speeches or sermons — only seasons of prayer. They were joined by numerous state legislators and a Christian business leader, and each prayed targeted prayers. Ohio legislators expressed gratitude for seeing and receiving such spiritual support. Join us for the Call2Fall on Sunday, July 2, for a nationwide Concert of Prayer.

Afterward, pastors and legislators packed a room for lunch and heard from JC Church, who called the pastors to set aside their logos and egos and unite for the common cause of advancing God’s kingdom and his righteousness. Speaking from the book of Numbers, JC declared: “Moses counted the people twice. The first time was to organize. The second time was to mobilize. The cry of the culture needs to be met with the compassion of the church. So we must organize and mobilize or we will agonize!”

Todd Starnes of FOX News also spoke to and encouraged the crowd with several stories from the war on religious liberty in America and how people like you and me are taking a stand. As he finished, Todd declared: “One of my favorite films is ‘We Were Soldiers’ starring Mel Gibson. The movie is about American soldiers who were sent to a location that was near the base camp of a veteran North Vietnamese army division with several thousand men. After valiantly holding off the North Vietnamese for two days, they were being overrun by the enemy with no options left… With the bullets flying, Sergeant Major Basil Plumley barked at a war correspondent by the name of Joseph Galloway who was crouched down in the foxhole: ‘You can’t take any pictures from down there, sonny.’ Galloway gets up and is handed a rifle, but rejects it saying, ‘I’m a non-combatant.’ And Plumley responds by saying, ‘Ain’t no such thing today!’”

Starnes concluded, “There must be no such thing as sitting on the sidelines or hiding in the shadows. It is time for God’s people to stand up! Making America great again begins by us refusing to hide liberty’s light under a bushel! No! Hold it high! Let the light of freedom burn bright so all the world can see that we are once again that shining city on a hill.” To that, we say: Amen!

Originally published here

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

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