Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How Long Will America Have A Prayer?

President Bush has proclaimed Thursday, May 1, 2008 as the 57th annual National Day of Prayer. All across the Nation, there will be privately-sponsored prayer breakfasts, prayer walks and prayer gatherings at state capitol buildings, city halls, churches, schools and parks. In Washington, D.C., there is a 90-hour prayer and Bible-reading marathon outside of the Capitol building leading up to the National Day of Prayer.


Similar events will be held in many cities and towns. Public events have been organized by churches and religious organizations in all 50 states. Liberty Counsel will be participating in the 41st annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Orlando, Florida, which is a Kick-Off Event for National Day of Prayer events throughout Central Florida.


It sounds like a serene and unifying time for Americans to be reminded of our deep and historical religious roots. However, whenever God is mentioned in this society, controversy cannot be far behind. Some groups like the pro-Muslim group, CAIR (Counsel on American Islamic Relations), complain that prayer events organized by Christians on that day are slanted towards Christianity, rather than being “inclusive” of other faiths. They want to hijack the traditional Christian prayer events and turn the national focus from a time of intersession into a watered-down version with moments of silence and reflection.


A California chapter of the anti-Christian group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is trying to undermine Christians by petitioning Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger not to support events hosted by evangelical Christians. The ultra-liberal Interfaith Alliance of Central California is actually holding a protest at a Christian prayer event in that state.


One radical group is insisting that “other faith traditions” be included in any public observances that are organized by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is a private Christian group that was started in order to coordinate events on the National Day of Prayer. The prayer coordinators sign a statement of faith in Jesus. There are recent indications that some with the Task Force may be bowing to pressures to try not “offend” non-Christians by praying in Jesus’ name. Honorary Chairman Ravi Zacharias plans to deliver a prayer at an interdenominational National Day of Prayer event in Washington, D.C. Instead of invoking Jesus’ name, his written prayer concludes, “In God’s Holy Name.”


Zacharias’ prayer stands in stark contrast to the first prayer of the Continental Congress, which was delivered on September 7, 1774 by Reverend Jacob Duché. That distinctly Christian prayer ended with the words: “All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. Amen.” It is the name of Jesus that separates the Christian faith from non-Christian faiths.


This nation was birthed by Christianity and national prayers have traditionally recognized that fact. The National Day of Prayer was established by an act of Congress in 1952, but the origin of prayer proclamations pre-date Congress.

Here is a list of a just a few of this Nation’s many prayer proclamations:


• On June 12, 1775 the First Continental Congress issued a proclamation for a national day of “Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer,” held on July 20. This event set the precedent for future proclamations.


• Congress set May 17, 1776, as a “day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” throughout the colonies. Congress urged Americans to “confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God’s] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness.”


• John Adams continued the practice of issuing fasting and prayer proclamations, when he declared May 9, 1798 for that purpose.


• Congress set the first Thursday in May, 1779 as a day of “Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer to Almighty God.”


• President George Washington declared Feb. 19, 1795 a day for prayer and public thanksgiving.


• President John Adams proclaimed May 9, 1798 a national day of “Solemn Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer.”


• President James Madison proclaimed a day of “public humiliation and prayer” in August, 1812 in response to a joint resolution of Congress calling for the proclamation.


• President James Buchanan proclaimed a national day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer for January 4, 1861.


• President Abraham Lincoln signed a Congressional Resolution calling for a Day of Prayer on March 30, 1863.


• President Harry Truman signed legislation in 1952 proclaiming a National Day of Prayer. The bill had widespread support and passed unanimously by Congress.


• In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 100-307 which was passed by Congress to fix the annual National Day of Prayer permanently on the first Thursday of May. Vonette Bright, Co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, who headed the National Prayer Committee, proposed the legislation that was unanimously approved by both houses of Congress.


Days of prayer and fasting are a traditional and important part of American history. Prayer and spiritual renewal are necessary to sustain liberty. We need leaders in all sectors, both public and private, who are not afraid to acknowledge Jesus Christ. Christians should never forget Who gave us our freedom. Without Him, this Nation will not and cannot long endure.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Liberty Counsel Asks Court to Stop School Board’s Discrimination Against Christian Club

Today at 11:30 a.m., Liberty Counsel will appear in federal court on behalf of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Virginia (CEF) to request an injunction against the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools. The school board is engaged in unconstitutional discrimination against CEF’s after-school programs for children.

The school board charges CEF a facilities usage fee for holding its free after-school Good News Clubs, while granting free use to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other organizations the board has deemed patriotic and community service groups.

School board policy also gives the superintendent unfettered discretion to waive usage fees for "nonprofit organizations in direct support of public school students or staff." Although CEF is an organization that directly supports public school students through its Good News Clubs, the superintendent refused to grant CEF a fee waiver. By requiring the fee, the school district has imposed a discriminatory burden on CEF that prevents the Good News Clubs from expanding to all the schools in the district.

After-school Good News Clubs teach children respect, good citizenship, moral values and character development from a biblical perspective. The school board recognizes the Boy Scouts and other youth-focused groups as providing beneficial community services, but discriminates against the Good News Club by refusing to provide equal access.

The United States Supreme Court has already ruled that Good News Clubs must have the same access to school facilities as other after-school programs. A school cannot reject CEF’s use of facilities because of its identity or religious viewpoint. Liberty Counsel has obtained victories for CEF in numerous states from coast to coast and frequently litigates when school districts do not reverse unequal treatment of Good News Clubs.

Equal access is the law, and equal access means equal treatment in every respect, including equal cost. Parents should be allowed to choose whether to send their children to a Good News Club, just as they can choose Boy Scout or Girl Scout programs. It is absurd that any school official would disfavor an organization that promotes good citizenship, responsibility and character development. These are qualities that children need to develop. Of all places where public schools ought to respect the First Amendment, it ought to be in Williamsburg and Jamestown, Virginia, where our forefathers planted the seeds of liberty.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

VA Supreme Court Hears Arguments Regarding Recognition of Same-Sex Civil Unions

Today, Liberty Counsel presented oral argument at the Virginia Supreme Court in a case that highlights the conflict between states that recognize same-sex civil unions and those that do not. The case of Miller v. Jenkins involves a conflict between the laws of Virginia and Vermont. Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, presented the oral argument on behalf of Lisa Miller and her six-year-old daughter, in an attempt to protect Lisa’s parental rights from her former same-sex partner.

Lisa is the fit, biological mother of a six-year-old daughter, with whom Janet Jenkins has neither a biological nor an adoptive relationship. In 2000, while living in Virginia, Lisa and Janet traveled to Vermont and entered into a civil union. Shortly after Lisa gave birth to her child through artificial insemination, Janet became abusive and Lisa became a Christian, ending their relationship.

In Virginia, where Lisa and her daughter reside, the Constitution and its statutes do not recognize same-sex marriage and civil unions. Virginia has one of the strongest laws in the country prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions. However, on March 14th the Vermont Supreme Court granted parental rights to Janet based upon the civil union law as though she were in a marital relationship. If the Virginia Supreme Court decision conflicts with the Vermont Supreme Court, the case will automatically go to the United States Supreme Court.

This case is exceptionally important because the future of Isabella hangs in the balance. Her future will be to either remain with her biological mother, Lisa Miller, or potentially be ripped away from her mom and placed in a lesbian household and paraded as a political trophy of the homosexual agenda. This case is also important because states must also have the sovereign authority to maintain their marriage policy as the union of one man and one woman, while rejecting same-sex unions. Virginia’s Constitution compels the state supreme court to not recognize out-of-state, same-sex marriages and civil unions. But if Virginia loses its sovereignty, then the sovereignty of every other state is put in jeopardy.

The opinion of the court will be posted on the Virginia Supreme Court’s Web site, http://www.courts.state.va.us/scv/home.html, once a decision is released.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hearing Questions The Importance of Abstinence Education

On April 23, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), will hold a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss abstinence education, but the debate is likely to be critical of abstinence, rather than focus on its vital importance.

Currently, the majority is slated to have five witnesses, while the minority will only have one. This disproportionate list of witnesses can be seen as a blatant attempt by the majority to skew the debate in opposition of abstinence.

Please encourage members who support abstinence education to not only attend the hearing, but also to be prepared to respond to the criticism of abstinence education. A complete list of committee members can be found at http://oversight.house.gov/about/members.asp.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Ten Commandments Weekend

On March 13, 2008, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KA) introduced S.Res. 483 to designate the first weekend in May of 2008 as Ten Commandments Weekend. Senator Brownback said, “It is important for Americans to remember the importance the Ten Commandments have in our nation. The Ten Commandments are the cornerstone to the faith of millions of Americans of many faith traditions, and are a cornerstone to a fair and just society. We as a nation should take a weekend to reflect on the impact the Ten Commandments have had on the foundation of America’s national life.”

Currently, the Resolution is before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Please contact these members and ask them to pass S.Res. 483 out of committee. A complete list of committee members can be found at http://judiciary.senate.gov/members.cfm.

A similar resolution (H.Res. 598) was introduced by Representative Todd Akin (R-MO) on August 1, 2007, but it has been stalled in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform since the date of introduction.

The full text of each Resolution can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov by typing the resolution number into the bill search box.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Parental Rights to Home School Children

Yesterday, Representative Howard McKeon (R-CA) introduced H. Res. 1076, which supports parental rights in education, including the rights of parents to home school their children.

The Resolution notes that the initial decision of the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles, California, on February 28, 2008, would have had an adverse impact on approximately 166,000 children who are currently being home schooled in that state. Further, the House commends the California court for allowing a rehearing of this matter and calls upon the court to uphold United States Supreme Court precedent which recognizes the fundamental and constitutional rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

This Resolution has 32 co-sponsors and was referred the House Committee on the Judiciary. The full text of the Resolution can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov by typing H.Res. 1076 into the bill search box.

Please contact members of the House and urge them to vote for this important Resolution that supports the rights of parents to home school their children.