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Missouri Family E-News

August 26, 2014

TN Student Kicked out of Class for Blessing Classmate  

A high school student in western Tennessee was suspended after she offered a blessing to a fellow classmate who had sneezed.

Kendra Turner is a student at Dyer County High School.  During computer class time, a student sitting next to her sneezed, and she responded, as so many Americans do, by saying "bless you."

Her teacher reportedly demanded to know who said that and why she had said it.  Kendra said it was common courtesy, and was then told by her teacher:  "We don't say that in my class."

When Kendra asked her teacher why it was a big deal to her, she reportedly yelled at her, saying:  "We will  not have Godly speaking in my class."  In fact, the teacher has a board in her class which lists banned words in her classroom that includes the phrase "bless you."

Kendra was kicked out of class and sent to the principal's office, after which she served an in-school suspension.  The principal stated that teachers had the right to set their own rules to "avoid distractions in the classroom."

Assistant Principal Lynn Garner reportedly advised Kendra that "maybe her pastor should teach her, because freedom of speech and religion does not work at school."

Kendra's pastor, Steven Winegardner of the Dyersburg First Assembly of God, had quite a different take on the situation.  He hopes students will lead a petition drive calling on the school to repeal the classroom ban on the words "bless you."

"Christians have been told to be quiet and shut up.  It's ridiculous.  Everybody has a right to their beliefs.  I'm glad Kendra stood up."

Some of the students at Dyer County High School responded to the incident by wearing T-shirts to school with the words "bless you" emblazoned across the front.     

Navy Returns Bibles to
Guest Rooms


The Department of the Navy has reversed a decision to remove all Bibles from hotel rooms at U.S. naval facilities.  Navy officials say the Bibles will be returned to guest rooms in Navy lodging facilities while policies on religious literature are reviewed.  


The Navy Exchange Service Command whipped up a controversy when it issued a directive instructing housekeeping staff to remove all religious materials from Navy lodge and inn guest rooms.  Bibles in the hotel rooms had been furnished by the Gideons Organization.


Navy officials adopted the new policy shortly after being contacted by the atheist organization The Freedom from Religion Foundation.  FFRF had argued that the presence of the Bibles indicated that Christians were favored over guests with other religious beliefs or those who profess no religion.


"That decision and our religious accommodations policies with regard to the placement of religious materials are under review," said Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry.  "While that review is under way, religious materials removed from Navy Lodge rooms will be returned."


Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, says there is really nothing for the Navy to review.


"If chaplains can be in the military, then Bibles can be in Navy lodges.  Our nation has a history of religious accommodation since George Washington established the chaplain corps in 1775."


"Allowing Bibles in guest quarters is a continuation of our desire to serve those who serve us," Crews added.  "We trust this is the last time the Navy will trample on the religious freedom of the men and women who serve this country."


Should the Bibles remain, the Freedom from Religion Foundation is suggesting that Navy guest rooms also be furnished with copies of the "Born Again Skeptics Guide to the Bible."     




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Farm Family Fined
for Declining to
Host Gay Wedding

A New York farm family has been fined by state human rights officials for refusing to allow their farm property to be used for a same-sex union ceremony.  Cynthia and Robert Gifford were found guilty of state laws banning discrimination based on "sexual orientation."

The Giffords own Liberty Ridge Farm in Schagticoke, New York, a rural area in east central New York state not far from Albany.  The family opens up the 50-acre farm to the public for berry picking, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and fall festivals.

The Giffords live on the second and third floors of a barn at Liberty Ridge Farm.  They make the first floor of the barn available for special functions including wedding ceremonies and wedding receptions.   During such ceremonies, they allow part of their living space on the second floor to be used as a bridal suite.

The Giffords were approached in September of 2012 by a lesbian "couple" who wanted to use the family's barn for a same-sex "wedding" ceremony and reception.  Because of their religious convictions, they declined the request, feeling that they could not allow their family home to be used to celebrate an occasion that violates God's decrees.

The lesbian "couple" then filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, alleging that they were victims of "sexual orientation" discrimination.  Administrative Law Judge Migdalia Peres determined that the family barn was a "place of public accommodation," and that the refusal to allow the same-sex ceremony was an illegal "denial of access."  "The fact that the the Giffords reside at Gifford Barn does not render it private," the judge wrote.

Judge Peres imposed a $10,000 civil damages fine on the Giffords and ordered them to pay $3000 in damages to the lesbian "couple" for their "mental pain and suffering."  She also ordered the Giffords to provide "sensitivity training" to any farm help who would qualify as employees under the law.

"We believe it is our right to choose who we market to, just like any business," said Robert Gifford.  "We are a family business and we feel we ought to stay down the family path."

Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, points out that the family business has not refused service to homosexual customers.  In fact, they even allowed another lesbian couple to hold a birthday party for their adopted child at the farm.

"Anyone, regardless of their sexual preference, can pick blueberries, ride the trolley, or participate in any of the other opportunities Liberty Ridge provides," McGuire says.  "But the Giffords drew the line at what they felt was participating in a 'wedding' that violated their conscience.  For that, they're paying a price.  People should not have to violate their religious and moral convictions--especially in their own homes--as the price of doing business."

Jim Trainor, an attorney for the Giffords, says anti-discrimination laws go too far when they turn a private residence into a place of accommodation.  "The family farm is the Giffords' home.  They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there."

Trainor points out that the Giffords are not just renting out their barn for wedding ceremonies and receptions.  They are personally involved in every aspect of the wedding occasion.  They decorate the barn, they set up floral arrangements, they provide the catering, they organize a fireworks display.  They even greet and drive guests in their farm trolley.  In being forced to sponsor same-sex ceremonies on their property, they would be compelled to be intimately involved in every aspect of a ceremony that God calls an abomination.

McGuire says that citizens of New York were betrayed by the New York Legislature when they adopted same-sex "marriage" legislation.  "When the bill was passed, we were promised that religious freedom amendments would protect our religious liberties.  Our legislators bought the lie and today every New Yorker is living the lie.  Town clerks are out of work and business owners are facing human rights complaints.  All kinds of people are now being impacted by the Empire State's religious freedom farce."

The incident at Liberty Ridge Farm is just the latest outrageous episode resulting from revisions to state and local "public accommodations" laws.  "Gay rights" activists have aggressively pushed for modification of these anti-discrimination laws to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," along with involuntary characteristics such as age, race, gender, and disability.

A New Mexico photographer was ordered to pay $6000 in attorney's fees to a lesbian "couple" after she declined to photograph their "civil union" ceremony.  The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that Elaine Hugenin was guilty of "sexual orientation" discrimination, and that she had forfeited her religious freedoms when she decided to enter the marketplace.

A Washington State florist is being prosecuted by that state's Attorney General for declining to provide flowers for a same-sex "wedding."  Bakers in Oregon and Ohio have been found guilty of "sexual orientation" discrimination, and been required to undergo "rehabilitation" training.

The Missouri Senate approved a bill during the 2013 session which would have added "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Missouri's "public accommodations" statutes.  Fortunately, the Missouri House preserved the religious freedoms of Missouri business owners by refusing to take up the bill for consideration.

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