Volume 4 – Number 11


Take Action Now!!!

Plan Now for Liberty Campaign!

The annual offering campaign for religious liberty begins in January. Liberty magazine is sent to some two hundred thousand thought leaders in our nation. Every church has an opportunity to participate, not only with financial support, but supplying names of local community leaders.

Now is the time to plan. The basis elements of a successful offering drive are not difficult. Attached is a sample plan that you can modify for your own purposes.

  1. Education. Use the resources available to help church members realize the importance of religious liberty. Don’t assume that people appreciate their freedom enough to support it. Create value. What resources are available?
    1. Liberty Bonds, to be distributed on or before the offering date
    2. Campaign video, check it out on the website, www.libertymagazine.org
    3. Sample announcements will be posted on our website, www.churchstate.org.
    4. These monthly e.mail newsletters are full of good issues and stories you can use to keep your church educated all year long
    5. Liberty magazine itself!
    6. The NARLA Blog, at www.religiousliberty.info, has current commentary on important issues
  2. Ask. Need I say more? You have not, because you ask not, Someone important once said. Ask, and keep asking.
  3. Preach. Ask your pastor to schedule a special religious liberty sermon. It does not have to be on the offering date in January. Your own pastor can preach it, or you can contact us to arrange for a guest speaker. Check out our Speaker’s Bureau on our website. When the church hears a good sermon on religious liberty, it brings conviction.
  4. Outreach. Invest some time in gathering names of thought leaders in your own community to receive Liberty magazine. Begin by making sure that all of the churches receive it. Include local news media outlets, prominent lawyers, teachers, etc. If you do this work in advance, you can use the list as a fundraising tool, asking for donations to cover the list.

NARLA-West News

Welcome Edward W. Fargusson

On Dec. 1, the Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty formally welcomed Ed Fargusson as its newest member, serving as Associate Director and Legislative Affairs Director for the Church State Council.

Fargusson holds a Master of Divinity from Andrews University and a B.A. in theology from Pacific Union College. He began working for the Northern California Conference in 1981 as an intern in Hayward, Calif. After completing his degree at Andrews University in Michigan, he worked in evangelism in Chicago and Sacramento. He has served as pastor in the Alturas/Surprise Valley District, Alameda, Tracy and most recently Roseville. While serving in Alameda, Fargusson worked with lay people to establish the East Bay Chinese church and the San Leandro Fil/Am church. In 2001, Fargusson became the Assistant to the President of Northern California Conference.

Fargusson has been married to Anne (Hoellig) Fargusson for 28 years. They have identical twin sons, Michael and Joseph, who are graduates of Pacific Union College with plans to begin Loma Linda University Medical School next fall. Anne is a retired nurse. The Fargussons make their home in North Natomas near Sacramento. In his spare time, Fargusson loves to explore back-roads and hiking trails.

Ed is determined that in his every interaction with people, they will be encouraged to a closer relationship with Christ. “My passion is to build up God’s kingdom,” he said. “Earthly governments are temporary, but God’s kingdom is forever. I hope that in the work I do at California’s capitol, I can make a kingdom impact for God.”

“Religious Liberty is too often seen as a cause unto itself. This work is about the freedom to lift up Jesus as the answer to our world’s problems. Look at countries that lack our basic rights. How is Jesus to be shared without freedom?

“These are important times regarding the erosion of freedom – and especially religious liberty. I am excited to have the opportunity to be involved in this critical work at this hour of history.

“It is a privilege to join the Religious Liberty team in the Pacific Union. I am looking forward to working with an experienced and respected leader in the field of religious liberty.”

“I am excited to welcome Ed to the team,” says Alan Reinach, director of PARL. “In addition to monitoring legislation in the five states of the Pacific Union, Ed will be working to build up our grassroots response-ability, so that we can effectively impact both state and national legislation. He will be in considerable demand as a speaker, so contact him early to arrange for him to come to your church.”

Prayer List

Friends, religious liberty is not just a principle or a cause – it is a ministry, and we care about the people we serve. We want to include you in this ministry, and one way you can really help is to bless those who have suffered religious discrimination, or who are active in this ministry, with your prayers.

  • Ray – that his health may be restored
  • Ty – was in a car accident and will have back surgery soon
  • Enrique – recovery from heart attack
  • Makayla – an 18 year old in ICU
  • Eric – who was hired and fired on the same day, fired, when he informed management that he could not work on Sabbath.
  • Rocci – a prisoner who is seeking to secure an adequate vegetarian diet.
  • Sandra – to find work after being fired for refusing to work on Sabbath.
  • Teresa – to find witnesses to support her case, and another job.
  • Bruce – strength to endure ongoing harassment.
  • Anthony – for blessing in his work selling used cars.
  • Judy – success with her appeal.
  • Scott, David and other postal service workers – for help in obtaining or retaining Sabbath accommodations during a time of upheaval and transition.
  • Esteban – guidance for the administrative judge deciding his case.
  • Willie – for wisdom to guide the lawyers handling his case.
  • James – to find new work while his complaint is processed by the EEOC.
  • Richard – for his job to be restored and religious discrimination to be remedied in management.
  • Rajina – that she would be accommodated for the Sabbath.

Praise list

  • Rod – praising God that the county office where he works has approved a revised winter schedule for him to leave early on Friday afternoon, after rescinding its former policy and insisting that no scheduling accommodations would be made for anyone.
  • Paul – is praising God for not only being accommodated for Sabbath but being restored to  a 40 hour work week after being cut to 32 hours and also for being given back pay for the hours shorted! 
  • Shirley – a nurse, is praising God for her new schedule, Monday through Friday days, that permits her to participate in all kinds of church activities, not just Sabbath worship! 

The Church State Council Decade Report

The new year marks the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Wow! As a kid, I had calculated that I would be 43 years old when the century ended. That seemed like an eternity. Now we’re ten years beyond the apocalyptic fears of Y2K and the nightmare of 9-11, recovering from the economic meltdown, we hope, and looking forward to a new decade.

What has your department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty been doing this past decade? Anything noteworthy? What issues have we addressed? We prepare an annual report for administration every year, but also believe that you, our constituents and church members, deserve to see the “big picture” and understand where your tithe dollars are going that fund the ministry of religious liberty. We are committed to providing genuine excellence in our service and ministry to the church and its members. Here is a brief overview of the past decade.  

  • Freedom’s Ring Radio is completing 11 years of broadcasting, with an estimated national and international listening audience exceeding 750,000 weekly, and heard in more than 39 states.
  • Assisted hundreds of church members every year with Sabbath accommodation problems and other religious liberty issues including labor union problems, family law disputes, and church building projects
  • Conducted an aggressive and effective program of legislative advocacy throughout the five states of the Pacific Union
  • Organized the west coast chapter of the North American Religious Liberty Association
  • Formed the first local chapters of NARLA in various cities throughout the Pacific Union
  • Proclaimed the Gospel of Religious Freedom to the World through talk radio appearances on dozens of secular and religious radio stations, including some top rated local and national programs.
  • Produced the book, “Politics and Prophecy: the Battle for Religious Liberty and an Authentic Gospel.”
  • Organized and lead interfaith coalition efforts on behalf of religious freedom
  • Lectured frequently to prominent lawyers groups on religious discrimination issues
  • Continuously produced a four page Spanish language insert into the magazine, En Contacto, sent to the Hispanic Churches throughout the Pacific Union Conference, the only Spanish Adventist publication on religious liberty in North America.
  • Conducted the “Written in the Heart” campaign, producing and distributing hundreds of thousands of brochures in English and Spanish, and posters; launching www.WrittenInTheHeart.org website; and distributing public service radio spots to more than a thousand radio stations nationwide, all designed to put the Ten Commandments back where they belong – in our hearts!
  • Produced and distributed nearly thirty Public Service Radio Ads promoting religious freedom, and addressing concerns over freedom or security, sent to thousands of radio stations, and heard by literally millions of Americans.
  • Produced www.ChurchState.org, our website, newly redesigned in 2009 with tons of added features and resources.
  • Conducted annual training programs throughout the Pacific Union to educate, train and mobilize religious liberty leaders
  • Wrote, published and distributed more than 250,000 copies of “A Quick Guide to the Religion Clauses”
  • Conducted Awards Programs for Religious Liberty leaders to motivate excellence in local church ministry
  • Published a monthly email newsletter, now known as “The Liberty Bell”
  • Conducted the first state-wide lobby day in Sacramento in 2009

The past decade also produced its share of important religious liberty issues requiring considerable time and attention. The following list is not comprehensive:

In the courts and legislative bodies:  

  • Led the California Interfaith Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion in defending free exercise of religion in the legislature and in the California Supreme Court.
  • Litigated numerous cases on behalf of church members with Sabbath problems. Some of these cases resulted in the highest settlements ever reached on behalf of our members in such cases.
  • We continue to lobby for passage of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act in Congress, to strengthen Federal law protecting people of faith at work;
  • Participated in passage of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 in Congress, providing important protection for churches and the incarcerated.
  • Repeatedly protected the right of churches in land use conflicts. Two especially notable cases: we helped the San Marcos Church resolve its conflicts with the city, enabling the new church to be built. We also spearheaded a ten year battle with Solano County on behalf of the Vacaville Church for the right to operate a radio broadcast ministry on church property.
  • Constantly monitored and protected the freedom of religious schools
  • Protected the right of religious institutions to make faith-based employment decisions
  • Defended Marriage as between a man and a woman
  • Protected the right of parents to home school their children
  • Opposed discrimination against religious institutions in the provision of benefits to employees
  • Opposed tuition vouchers for religious schools as a violation of the Establishment Clause in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Successfully opposed numerous bills in the states restricting the freedoms of religious institutions
  • Opposed certain forms of government aid to religious schools under a Federal program as a violation of the Establishment Clause in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Helped pass legislation in Congress eliminating double taxation of settlements and jury awards in employment discrimination cases, including those involving religious discrimination
  • Repeatedly protected religious institutions from having to comply with “civil rights” laws requiring them to violate sincerely held religious beliefs regarding homosexual conduct
  • Successfully opposed repeated efforts to lower the age of compulsory education, to require mandatory kindergarten as a first step toward mandatory pre-school;
  • Helped pass legislation facilitating work permits for students at private and religious high schools;
  • Supported passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in New Mexico
  • Supported legislation to protect religious land use in California
  • Opposed repeated efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to weaken the First Amendment

In reviewing the past decade, we are confident there are souls in the kingdom as the result of our efforts through our extensive public outreach with the website, hundreds of thousands of brochures, radio appearances, etc. If you have any ideas for how we can better serve, please let us know. In all of this, our commitment is more than simply protecting religious liberty for all peaceful people of faith. Our aim is to represent and communicate the character of the King – a loving God who gave His only Son to die, rather than force anyone into a saving relationship. 

Religious Liberty Blogs 

How the University of California Redefines “Discrimination”

Despite the fact that I am an employment discrimination lawyer, I’m not at all sure I know what discrimination is, anymore. At least, not discrimination as understood by the University of California. The U.C. is involved in two prominent religious discrimination cases where it has been accused of discrimination, and yet it has turned around and branded the religious groups as the wrongdoer. What does “discrimination” mean in this age of postmodern political correctness? Let’s take a look.  Read Blog

Giving Civil Rights a Bad Name

Patrick McCollum is a Wiccan clergyperson who has been seeking for several years to become a chaplain in the California prison system. When his job application was rejected because of his religion, he did the all-American thing, he sued. Instead of hiring a competent lawyer, McCollum filed the lawsuit himself. Not surprisingly, he lost.
Read Blog

The Battle Over, "I Believe"

When we were children, we used to have play fights. “I dare you,” one would say, only to hear in response, “I double dare you!” Sadly, the culture wars have degenerated into a grown up version of such foolishness. The latest example is in South Carolina, where a Federal Court recently struck down the state’s approval of a license plate motto: “I believe” complete with a graphic of the Cross and a stained glass window.  Read Blog

A Dangerous Cross

In 1934, a chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars [“VFW”] from, of all the desolate places on earth, Death Valley, California, placed a modest cross, constructed out of steel pipe, on a remote hilltop in the Mojave Desert, as a memorial to Americans killed in the First World War. As a marker to honor the dead, the cross is an ancient symbol. Of course, it is also revered as a religious symbol, which is precisely why it has been used to honor the dead. There the cross has stood for the better part of a century, until a former National Park Service employee began to have second thoughts.
Read Blog 

In the News

The news items below are just a sample of some of the most recent stories posted on our website at: churchstate.org.

Germany’s Highest Court Rules Against Sunday Shopping

Constitutional provisions that declare Sunday a day of rest mean German merchants will have to significantly rein in the number of days they are open for business, Germany’s highest court ruled December 1. The ruling was prompted by protests from Catholic and Protestant churches in Berlin over laws enacted in 2006 that gave German states greater freedoms in determining store opening hours. The Berlin city-state was one of the most enthusiastic adopters of the policy, allowing stores to operate for 10 Sundays a year, including the four Sundays of Advent leading up to the Christmas holiday. Other states had opted for fewer shopping Sundays; heavily Catholic Bavaria had opted for none.

Sikh-Americans and Religious Liberty

With their distinctive appearance and religious practices, Sikh-Americans often find themselves at the center of workplace discrimination cases and other controversies involving their religious rights. And while Sikh groups have worked to carve out legal protections for the community's religious practices, their efforts have not always met with success. In California, for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a bill that would have required police in the state to receive training about the Sikh religion - including the faith's requirement that believers carry a small sword known as a kirpan. The bill, which Schwarzenegger called unnecessary, will likely be reintroduced in the state's next legislative session.

Viewpoints: Much Gray in Debate of Faith vs. Medicine

If a parent refuses to inoculate his or her child against swine flu and the child contracts swine flu and dies, should the parent be prosecuted? Most of us would say no. Parents do what they think is best for their children. If they decide against inoculation, even against the best medical advice, it's their decision. And the loss of the child would be worse than any sentence exacted by any government authority. But if a couple chooses to follow their religious beliefs by fighting sickness with the power of prayer rather than medicine and their child dies, should the parents be charged with a crime?

New Turn in Debate Over Law on Marriage

The fight over a proposed same-sex marriage law here heated up this week as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said that if the law passed, the church would cut its social service programs that help residents with adoption, homelessness and health care.

U.S. Judge Bans 'I Believe' License Plates

A US federal judge has ordered South Carolina not to issue cross-adorned "I Believe" license plates, ruling it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. US District Judge Cameron Currie ruled Tuesday that the state legislature, which in 2008 voted unanimously to approve the license plates that also include a cross in front of a stained glass window, had thus clearly given favored government treatment to a single faith in violation of the Constitution.  

Resources You Can Use

Order CD's of Conference: Marriage, Homosexuality and the Church.

A scholarly conference on the issues of marriage and sexual orientation in relation to biblical teachings and public policy positions. The presentations and panel discussions cover a wide spectrum of issues identifying same-sex attraction and gay marriage and how they relate to religious liberty and civil rights. Be inspired by testimonies of former homosexuals. Discover what the Bible tells us about homosexuality and learn what the stakes are in the current debate. Obtain CDs from: www.americanchristianministries.org.