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Tony Perkins / Mar. 2, 2021

SCOTUS Reiterates Its Open-Door Policy on Churches

Six Supreme Court justices directed the last remaining holdout to fall in line.

It’s a battle, Pastor Mike McClure said, that he “never wanted to be in.” But it’s a battle that God called him to fight — and he knows it. Keeping his church open hasn’t been easy, but then being obedient in the face of controversy usually isn’t. Still, Pastor Mike pointed out, it’s amazing when you do what’s right how “the Lord just shows up.” And late Friday, He wasn’t the only one. The Supreme Court decided to weigh in too — and the Christians of Santa Clara County couldn’t be happier.

It’s been more than three weeks since the Supreme Court ripped up Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D-Calif.) worship ban. And even then, some liberal officials wouldn’t comply. Santa Clara County decided that “indoor gatherings of all kinds remain very risky” and took it upon themselves to keep the churches closed despite what the justices had ordered. If people wanted to visit their churches to pray or take confession, that was one thing — but actual worship services, the county argued, would have to wait.

Fortunately, that all changed this weekend, when six Supreme Court justices directed the last remaining holdout to fall in line. After the ruling in February, the attorneys at Pacific Justice Institute had argued, every house of worship from the Mexican border to Oregon were open at 25 percent capacity — except for Santa Clara County. There, they sit “as an island of tyranny with zero capacity for indoor worship services.” How is that fair, the churches asked? It isn’t, Justices John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and rookie Amy Coney Barrett agreed. In their short, unsigned order, they granted the pastors’ requests and pointed out, not so subtly, that the issue should have already been settled. “This outcome is clearly dictated by this court’s decision in the South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom,” they wrote.

Local pastors celebrated. “My clients — the churches — are grateful to be able to open their doors again this Sunday after having been locked for most of the last 12 months,” the Institute’s Kevin Snider said with relief. “The Supreme Court has once again held that the right to freely exercise ones religion cannot be suppressed by government officials that care to stamp out religion during a pandemic,” FRC’s Legal Research Fellow Katherine Beck Johnson cheered.

At least for now, Pastor McClure and others in the county have seen their courageous stand pay off. As hard as things have been, Mike explained on last week’s “Pray, Vote, Stand,” by choosing to stay open and fight for others to do the same, he’s had the best opportunity ever to share the gospel. “Many people have been coming to Christ… We’ve even had some great conversations with the prosecuting attorneys,” he said. “We’ve just seen [God] at work in the midst of all that’s going on…”

Even in the midst of the churches’ persecution and millions of dollars in fines, he’s watched people’s lives undergo a miraculous transformation. He told the story of a county official, heading up suicide prevention, who was so depressed and discouraged that he was considering suicide. He wandered into Calvary Chapel San Jose one Sunday and not only received Christ — but brought another friend the following Sunday who became a Christian too! “He was actually a part of our court brief saying that this is the best thing that ever happened in his life. And so as much as the church is being [oppressed] this is exactly where God wants us to be — defining His love for a hopeless culture.”

“I just think everywhere we go, when we open the doors, I see people blessed every week. And I told [the court], ‘I can’t think of one person who’s died coming to church, but I can fill this courtroom 10 times over with personal testimonies of people who said they would be in a desperate place [without it]. The fruit of that, the blessing God has brought is evidence of that. Every pastor who’s opened up can… testify of these exact same things. So, I’m telling you: God’s at work — and… if you open your church like we have, you will see it.”

Originally published here.

Nadler on God: He’s 'No Concern of This Congress’

There were a lot of powerful arguments against the Equality Act, but Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) resorted to the ultimate authority: the Bible. During an intense debate on the House floor, the Florida representative said it was time for his colleagues to hear the truth about the transgender issue. But Democrats aren’t interested in the truth — or God. And far-Left radical Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) didn’t mind saying so.

“‘A woman must not wear men’s clothing nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this,’” Steube read from Deuteronomy 22:5. But let’s be clear, he said. “It’s not clothing or personal style that offends God, but rather the use of one’s appearance to act out or take on a sexual identity different from the one biologically assigned by God at birth.” What’s happening when men, women, and children do that, Steube said, is that “they’re making a statement that God didn’t know what He was doing when he created them.” And if Congress supports that — by passing extreme transgender bills like the Equality Act — then this country is “go[ing] directly against what is laid out in scripture.”

Democrats, irate that the Florida congressman dared to quote the word of God on the House floor, unleashed on Steube. Everyone from Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) to Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), shamed him for being transphobic and intolerant. But it was Congressman Nadler’s response that was the most shocking and revealing. “Mr. Steube,” he said pointedly, “what any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress.” In other words, take your God and your Bible and leave them out this.

Almost immediately, a picture of Nadler started circulating on social media with the line, “God has no authority in the House of Representatives” at the top. It was a paraphrase of Nadler’s comment but a legitimate expression of his belief and the Left’s, which is that there’s no room for God in public policy. Not surprisingly, the fact checkers rushed to Nadler’s defense, insisting that he’d said nothing of the kind. “Quote falsely attributed to Jerry Nadler,” USA Today insisted — followed by PolitiFact, whose headline was, “Jerry Nadler didn’t say ‘God has no authority in the House of Representatives.’” Only at the bottom of the piece does the outlet concede, “That’s similar to what’s in the Facebook post, but it’s not a direct quote. We rate the post False.”

Of course, anyone who’s followed Jerry Nadler knows that it isn’t a leap for the Democrat who dropped “God” from the congressional oath to demand we leave him out of the public debate altogether. It’s fine to split hairs and point out that the New York liberal’s exact words weren’t the way some people repeated them. But the pattern is clear: Nadler wants God removed from the House.

If it weren’t for our friend, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), who knows how many witnesses might have been sworn in during the last Congress without God? “Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman,” interrupted Johnson during a 2019 Judiciary Committee meeting. “Point of parliamentary inquiry…. We had a conversation on the floor last week, and I just noted you left out ‘So help me God.’” “Sorry,” Nadler said. “Do you want me to repeat the whole [oath]?” he asked. “I would love that,” Johnson responded. “Thank you.” Later, Nadler told reporters he “forgot.”

Unfortunately for Americans, Democrats aren’t forgetting faith — they’re fighting it. And the Equality Act is all the evidence anyone should need. Under it, there’s no room for orthodox religion anywhere — not in Congress, not in the workplace, not in social services or medicine, not in schools, not even in Christian schools. It’s one thing for liberals to kick God out of the Pledge of Allegiance or their Democratic National Convention, but it’s quite another to force the rest of the country to abandon Him too. Consider the fallout, Steube warned. “Whenever a nation’s laws no longer reflect the standards of God, that nation… will inevitably bear the consequences.”

And that’s exactly what we’re seeing in this gender identity chaos. Since the minute Joe Biden became president, he’s made it his mission to destroy any sense of sanity on the issue, even nominating a man who identifies as a woman to the second most important post at HHS. Yet when people like Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) point out the utter disaster this agenda has been for children, they’re shamed and marginalized. Fortunately, even that isn’t stopping conservatives.

At this weekend’s CPAC, former President Donald Trump ran through the laundry list of Biden’s outrageous policies — including his demand that we sacrifice women’s rights and the First Amendment on the altar of transgenderism. “Joe Biden and the Democrats are even pushing policies that would destroy women sports,” Trump said. “Young girls and women are incensed that they are now being forced to compete against those who are biological males. It’s not good for women. It’s not good for women’s sports which worked for so long and so hard to get to where they are… If this doesn’t change,” he warned, “women’s sports as we know it will die.” And faith and freedom along with it.

Originally published here.

Pentagon Adds Training to Its Anti-Conservative Arsenal

There are a lot of threats in the world, but there is only one this president appears to care about combating — conservatives. In yet another sign that America is doomed to a term of unprecedented extremism, the Biden administration just released its training materials for its “one-day military stand down” to weed out dangerous views. But what constitutes as dangerous? Good question, leaders say — and not one they have an answer to.

If there’s one thing the January 6th riots have given the Left, it’s an excuse to flush out conservatives from just about every possible angle. The latest comes from the Defense Department, where new Secretary Lloyd Austin is putting the finish touches on a training session aimed at “rooting out” radicals in the ranks. But as time goes by, Politico points out, there’s a “growing sense of anxiety within the Pentagon that this push could feed the perception that it is policing political thought, favoring one political party over another or muzzling free speech.” And a quick scan through the official talking points shows they have plenty of cause for concern.

“As you heard in the secretary’s video remarks,” the document begins, “extremist ideologies, particularly those that undermine the oath we each took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, have no place within the Department of Defense. Actively espousing ideologies that encourage discrimination, hate, and harassment against others will not be tolerated within our [unit].”

Then, taking a page out of Barack Obama’s second term, the DOD goes on to talk about the dangers of “hate groups,” explaining that the military has “a compelling interest in preventing [their] advent in spread…” Of course, way back in 2013, the Left’s definition of “hate groups” included mainstream faith-based groups like FRC and American Family Association. Now, eight years and a Capitol riot later, it’s only logical to assume their definition is even broader — including every Bible-believing Christian and conservative.

As military attorney Roger Maxwell warned on “Washington Watch,” “The line is just not clear at all.” Unfortunately, the motives are — to drive conservative and Christian members of the military either underground or out of the service altogether.

Even Politico acknowledges that there’s no consensus across the military “on how to define extremism.” Does it mean belonging to a racist group or holding certain values and views? The reality is, the military already does a good job smoking out people associated with the KKK or other white supremacist groups. So the only thing this training accomplishes is to open the door to an even broader, more sinister interpretation that targets social conservatives.

That much is obvious from the New York Times own webpage, where the paper’s magazine is actually soliciting stories from troops and veterans — not just of extremism in the military, but of “far-Right extremism,” specifically. “For friends and relatives of veterans,” the paper insists, “and for most people with a Facebook account, the radicalization of a sizable fraction of veterans, and the embrace by veterans of conspiracy theories, is hardly news… [E]xtremists and bigots in uniform have long been outing themselves on social media with supportive references to conspiracy theories and the posting of neo-Nazi symbols and coded and not-so-coded references to hate… For this reason, The New York Times invites you to share your stories or tips about extremism in the armed forces.”

As if the New York Times snitch line isn’t bad enough, some branches are taking the DOD’s mandate as an excuse to silence speech. In the Navy, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr. has already warned sailors that “Just by posting, retweeting, or liking an offensive post on social media — you could be participating in extremism. You may not personally know any shipmates with extremist beliefs,” Nowell said. “But I assure you that those forces of darkness are among us.”

The tentacles of religious hostility run deep in this administration. Anyone who doesn’t embrace the Left’s “new morality” will be a target, including the men and women fighting for the freedom they want to deny us.

Originally published here.

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

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