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Missouri Family E-News

January 22 , 2012

Christian Pastor Bounced from Inauguration Ceremony



An evangelical pastor was booted from yesterday's presidential inauguration ceremonies because of his views on Biblical sexual morality.


Pastor Louie Giglio, pastor of Atlanta's Passion City Church, had been invited to offer the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony.  He was disinvited after homosexual rights activists attacked him for his opposition to homosexual conduct.   


"Gay rights" leaders dredged up a sermon Giglio presented almost twenty years ago in which he stated that homosexuality is a a sin and that the "only way out of a homosexual lifestyle is through the healing power of Jesus."


The Presidential Inaugural Committee chose Pastor Giglio because of his history of leadership in the battle against human trafficking.  Giglio is the founder of the Passion movement which challenges teens to make a passionate commitment to Christ, and to renounce the sexual abuse of women and children.


Addie Whisenant, spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, says that Giglio's invitation was withdrawn because his comments "don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country."


Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler sees it a different way.  "The White House has now declared that historic, Biblical Christianity is out of bounds, casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassment...Any preacher who holds to the faith of the church for the last 2000 years is now persona non grata."


"Anyone who has ever believed that homosexuality is morally problematic in any way must now offer public repentance...The imbroglio over Louie Giglio is the clearest evidence of the new Moral McCarthyism of our age."  


Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, expressed dismay at the decision.  "This isn't the inauguration of another four years.  I'm afraid this is the inauguration of a new era of religious intolerance in America."


Pastor Giglio was replaced on the inaugural program by Episcopal minister Luis Leon, who represents a fading denomination that avidly endorses homosexuality and welcomes homosexual ministers.


Episcopal officials recently announced that the nation's centerpiece Episcopal cathedral, National Cathedral in Washington, will soon start hosting homosexual "weddings."  A venerable cathedral from which several presidents have been buried will soon "celebrate" what God calls an abomination.


Gary Hall, dean of National Cathedral, says the move is a chance "to influence the nation."  "As a kind of tall-steeple, public church in the nation's capital, by saying we're going to bless same-sex marriages, we are really trying to take the next step for marriage equality in the nation and in our culture."  



Teacher Told to Remove Reagan Quotes from Classroom



A high school biology teacher in New York has been told she must remove inspirational messages from her classroom or she will be fired.


Joelle Silver has taught in the Cheektowaga School District for seven years.  She also serves as the faculty adviser for the school's Bible Study Club.


Silver recently received an eight-page letter informing her she must take down posters with quotes from Ronald Reagan and motivational messages from the Psalms.   Silver was also told she must eliminate post-it notes with Scripture verses from her personal desk and a prayer request box used by Bible Club members.


"Except for wearing religious jewelry...I am directing you to refrain from all other forms of communication with students during the school day [that would] promote religion or entangle yourself in religious matters," reads a letter from school superintendent Dennis Kane.


Silver has filed suit against the district, alleging a violation of her First Amendment rights.  She says her colleagues are allowed to display materials in their classrooms that reflect their social and political values.  She says she is being discriminated against because her values are those of a Christian woman.


One of the quotes from Ronald Reagan that Silver was ordered to remove is an apt commentary on the situation:  "If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." 



ACLU Backs Off Challenge to Prayer
in Franklin County



The American Civil Liberties Union has withdrawn legal action seeking to stop the Franklin County Commission from offering invocations before their meetings.  The ACLU had filed suit in federal district court last summer claiming that prayers offered prior to meetings of the Franklin County governing body amounted to an establishment of religion.


The ACLU initiated the lawsuit after sending a letter to the  County Commission demanding that the commissioners halt the practice of offering invocations altogether, or failing to do so, limit the practice to "non-sectarian" prayers.  The ACLU claimed that the prayers offered were "distinctly Christian," and were offensive to an anonymous citizen identified only as "Jane Doe."


Instead of backing down, the Franklin County Commission adopted a policy formalizing the procedures for prayer before Commission meetings.  The new guidelines reflected recommendations from the Alliance Defending Freedom, the nation's leading Christian legal defense firm.


Under that policy, ministers from the community and other citizens may sign up to offer invocations.  Prayers may be offered according to the beliefs and traditions of the person offering the prayer.  No person leading  prayer may use the occasion to proselytize on behalf of their own faith or disparage any other faith.


The action by the ACLU to suspend their central legal challenge makes it clear that they realize the policy adopted by the Franklin County Commission is constitutional.  The ACLU has chosen to abandon their posture that the name of Jesus be banned from future invocations offered at the county commission chambers in Union.


The ACLU is maintaining the portion of their lawsuit challenging the invocation practices of the Franklin County Commission prior to the adoption of the policy.  Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer had been leading prayer prior to the County Commission meetings.  The ACLU contends that having an elected official share an invocation constitutes an unconstitutional governmental entanglement with religion.


"Now our case focuses on what was done in the past," says ACLU attorney Anthony Rothert.  The ACLU is seeking a nominal $1 in damages for alleged prior violations of constitutional rights, and more significantly, the payment of their attorneys' fees.   


The ACLU retreat signals that they know they are pursuing a long-shot legal challenge.  The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the practice of government invocations in 1983 in a case known as Marsh v. Chambers.  The majority of federal appeals courts rulings since that decision have vindicated the practice so long as invocations are not used to "proselytize" or to denigrate other faiths.  Those courts have reaffirmed that the government cannot otherwise prescribe or regulate the content of prayers offered by others.  


Missouri voters recently voiced their opinion on the subject of government invocations in unambiguous terms.  Voters last August decisively approved Amendment 2, commonly referred to as the Missouri Prayer Amendment.  The proposition passed with a stunning 83 percent of the vote.   


That state constitutional amendment declared that the Missouri Legislature and local governments "may extend to ministers, clergypersons, and other individuals the privilege to offer invocations or other prayers at meetings or sessions of the General Assembly or other governing bodies."


Amendment 2 also states that citizens and elected officials "shall have the right 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."   That is exactly what Commissioner Griesheimer was doing, and has the First Amendment right to do.


The decision by the ACLU to hollow out the heart of their lawsuit is a huge victory for religious freedom in our state.  Had the ACLU been somehow successful in their legal strategy, Christian prayers offered in the name of Jesus would have been prohibited in government settings.  The only prayers which would have been permissible would have been "non-sectarian" prayers expressed in a generic fashion to a generic God.  Such pronouncements are not prayers at all, but are instead the establishment of a "civic religion," which is banned under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.


We continue to commend Commissioner Griesheimer, and former Commissioners Terry Wilson and Ann Schroeder for standing up to the intimidation tactics of the ACLU on behalf of their constituents.  Please be praying for Commissioner Griesheimer and new Commisioners Tim Brinker and Mike Schatz as they work to defend the religious liberties of Franklin County residents, and all Missourians.


Please be praying as well for the lawyers who are protecting our free exercise rights in this case:  Brett Harvey of the Alliance Defending Freedom, and St. Louis attorney Tim Belz. 



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