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Missouri Family E-News

May 1, 2012 


Rally Held to Preserve PRC Tax Credits

 

 

Volunteers and supporters of Missouri's many pregnancy resource centers are rallying in Jefferson City today to preserve the state program authorizing tax credits for donations to PRC's.

 

Current state law permits donors to pregnancy resource centers to reduce their state tax liability by 50% of the amount of their donation to a PRC.  Legislative authority for those tax credits expires on August 28th of this year.     

 

The Missouri House has approved a bill which would extend the PRC tax credit for another four years.  That bill, sponsored by Representative Thomas Long of Battlefield, was overwhelming endorsed by the House by a vote of 135-3.

 

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means and Fiscal Oversight has advanced Representative Long's bill to the full Senate. However, the committee scaled back the extension of the tax credit to sixteen months, expiring on December 31st, 2013.

 

The Senate Committee action is encouraging, nonetheless, since this issue has been regularly entangled in the Senate in a hard-nosed debate concerning other tax credit programs that purportedly assist economic development.

 

Today's rally has been organized in large part by Senator Bob Dixon of Springfield, a strong supporter of the PRC tax credits and other tax incentives commonly referred to as benevolent tax credits.

 

Senator Dixon is urging efforts to extend the life of all benevolent credits that have sunset clauses.  These include tax credits for donations to food pantries, children in crisis, developmental disability and residential care providers, and the surviving spouses of public safety officers.  The food pantry tax credit expired last year.

 

"These benevolent tax credits promote increased charitable giving to programs serving the most vulnerable Missourians,"  says Senator Dixon.   "They provide a framework for donors to target their private resources to advance the public good, reducing the impact on taxpayer obligations in the future."     

 


Christian Businessman Faces Human Rights Charge

 

 

A Kentucky company that prints logos on T-shirts has  

been accused of "sexual orientation" discrimination because it refused to print promotional T-shirts for a homosexual rights event.

 

A complaint has been filed with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission against the company, Hands On Originals.  The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington claims that the company refused to print T-shirts for an annual "gay pride" festival.

 

Blaine Adamson, co-owner of Hands On Originals, says the company declined the order because they did not want to "endorse positions that would conflict with the convictions of the ownership."   The company advertises itself as a "Christian outfitter."

 

Adamson says that he contacted a competitor on behalf of the "gay rights" group who would handle the order  at the same price.  But apparently that may not be good enough for the human rights watchdogs in Lexington.   

 

Raymond Sexton, executive director of the human rights commission, says if the business makes T-shirts for other organizations, it shouldn't discriminate against the gay rights organization because of their "sexual orientation."  Sexton also said the company cannot claim a religious exemption because it is not a church.

 

Jim Campbell, staff counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, says that a private business cannot be compelled to promote messages it doesn't agree with.  "American small-business owners do not surrender their freedom at the marketplace gate."

 

"The government cannot make Americans choose between their faith and their livelihood just because activist groups make demands,"  Campbell adds.  "This kind of bullying may be practiced in a dictatorship, but violations of conscience have no place in the United States."

 

Adamson says the company has filled orders before for individuals identifying as homosexuals and that the company currently employs individuals who profess to be homosexuals.  However, he says the expectation that his company promote viewpoints that are morally offensive is unreasonable.  Adamson says he has turned down orders in the past promoting strip clubs, containing lewd or vulgar content, or including curse words.

 

You can watch a video on this incident prepared by the Alliance Defense Fund by clicking this link:

Hands On Originals       

 

ACLU Seeks to Halt Invocations by Franklin County Commission


The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding that county officials in Franklin County stop the practice of offering invocations before meetings of the County Commission.  The ACLU recently sent a letter to the Franklin County Commission urging the commissioners to halt "sectarian" prayers or cease offering prayers altogether.

Anthony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, charged that Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer has offered prayers that were "distinctly Christian," and thus is "utilizing County Commission meetings to advance his own religion."  Rothert claims that the ACLU received a complaint about "repeated instances of sectarian prayer."

"We urge you to consider ceasing prayers altogether at commission meetings in order to allow all members of the community to feel equally welcome and represented,"  Rothert wrote.  "If, however, you decide to maintain your practice of opening meetings with a prayer, we ask you to take steps to ensure that any prayers are non-sectarian...and that they be led by someone who is neither a commissioner nor employee of the county."

The ACLU falsely claims, as is their common tactic, that prayers offered before government meetings are unconstitutional.  In fact, in the only U.S. Supreme Court decision on the subject, the nation's highest court upheld the practice of public invocations.  The High Court ruled in 1983 in the case of Marsh v. Chambers that prayers offered before meetings of the Nebraska Legislature did not constitute "an establishment of religion."

The Supreme Court concluded that such prayers were constitutionally permissible so long as they were not used to proselytize listeners or to disparage any other faith or belief.  The Court went further to say that the content of the prayers was not of concern to the judiciary, and that it was inappropriate for a court to "parse the content of a particular prayer."

In his opinion, then-Chief Justice Warren Burger pointed to the history of legislative invocations in the United States.  "It can hardly be thought that, in the same week, members of the First Congress voted to appoint and pay a chaplain for each House and voted to approve the draft of the First Amendment for submission to the states, they intended the Establishment Clause to forbid what they had just declared acceptable."

Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer says he has no desire to back down to the ACLU's demands.  "I would just as soon fight them.  I'd rather stand in front of a train and get run over if I believe I'm right."

It would appear that citizens in Franklin County strongly share Griesheimer's sentiments.  An online poll taken by the Washington Missourian showed that 77 percent of respondents supported the tradition of offering invocations before County Commission meetings.

While the County Commission reviews its options, commissioners have decided to hold a moment of silence before meetings of the Commission.

The latest shenanigans by the ACLU illustrate the importance of voter approval of the Religious Liberty Amendment which will be on the statewide ballot later this year.  That proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution includes specific language authorizing the governing bodies of political subdivisions to "extend to ministers, clergypersons, and other individuals the privilege to offer invocations or other prayers at meetings or sessions of...governing bodies."

The ACLU has failed in its initial efforts to strike down the ballot summary prepared by the Legislature for the Religious Liberty Amendment.  Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce ruled that the ballot summary that voters will review at the polls is both fair and sufficient.   The ACLU is appealing that ruling.  The proposed amendment will appear on the November general election ballot, unless Governor Jay Nixon decides to place it on the August primary election ballot.

In a related story, Missouri Congressman Todd Akin has come under fire for offering prayers before meetings of a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.  Akin has come under fire from Barry Lynn of the atheist group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  Lynn claims that "public prayers in public spaces by public officials" are unconstitutional.

Congressman Akin defends the practice.  "We start Congress with a prayer, and I think it's a good idea to ask the Lord's blessing before our committee meetings as well.  It gives us a sense of  being respectful to each other."

Unfortunately for Lynn, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with Akin.  In the case of Lynch v. Donnelly in 1984, the Court observed:  "Our history is replete with official references to the value and invocation of Divine guidance in deliberations and pronouncements of the Founding Fathers and contemporary leaders...Those government acknowledgements of religion serve...the legitimate secular purpose of solemnizing public occasions..."

Missouri's proposed Religious Liberty Amendment spells out the right of citizens as well as elected officials to pray on government premises and public property "so long as such prayers abide within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances."

Please be praying for Franklin County officials that they will not yield to the ACLU's demand to censor the name of Jesus from prayers offered in the County Courthouse in Union, Missouri.

Joe's Signature