Church State Council Launches New Website
We are very excited to announce the launch of the new Church State
Council website, www.churchstate.org. This
site is designed to provide abundant resources to church and community leaders
to become active and effective in religious liberty ministry. The site is rich
in content, and is deserving of a lengthy browse. One of the goals of the site
is to represent to the world the significant commitment and contribution the
Seventh-day Adventist Church is making to religious freedom. Among the many
features, check out:
- Help for
those facing religious liberty conflicts
about important current legislation
- Listen to
Freedom’s Ring Radio programs
- Book a
guest speaker for your church or community from our Speaker’s Bureau Calendar
of upcoming events
current news articles about religious freedom
- Sign up
for our monthly newsletter
- Find a
good book about religious liberty by perusing our extensive book reviews
- Join the
North American Religious Liberty Association!
Take Action Now!!!
Letters to Congress:
Workplace Religious Freedom Act
NARLA Executive Director Barry Bussey’s latest blog
urges everyone to send their e.mails and letters to Congress asking that WRFA
be reintroduced. Read his blog at: So, You Want ENDA? What
West Conference Calls –Time for Religious Liberty Leaders to Call Us!!!
Calling all religious liberty leaders, interested
church members and pastors, and members of the North American Religious Liberty
Association. Or should I say, it is time for you to call us.
On September 21st, about two dozen
members or the North American Religious Liberty Association West met together for
the first of what are intended to become monthly conference calls to hear the
latest updates and reports on religious liberty. Read more
Barry Bussey, Executive Director of NARLA, burned the
midnight oil in the eastern time zone to update us on his efforts to gather
stories of those who have suffered religious discrimination in the workplace,
in order to support efforts to pass the Workplace Religious Freedom Act.
Alan Reinach reported on his plans to introduce
legislation in California to tighten up state laws requiring religious
There was also discussion of the likelihood of a
ballot initiative calling for a California Constitutional Convention, and the
risks and opportunities posed by such a convention.
Finally, we received reports from chapter
activities in Arizona, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, Riverside and Loma Linda. These reports were very
Our next scheduled conference call will be on October 19th at 7:00 p.m. The purpose is to help develop and
build local religious liberty teams/chapters/ministries. If you are interested
in participating, call Pat at 916-446-2552, or e.mail to email@example.com, for
information on how you can join the conference. Conference attendees are
expected to be, or become, active members of the North American Religious
Liberty Association. Check it out! Be informed! Get involved!
Stories of Religious Discrimination Needed Now!
We need stories from those
who have suffered religious discrimination at work.
Barry Bussey, legislative
affairs director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has been working closely
with a coalition of more than 40 groups in Washington, D.C. to press for
passage of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, a bill to strengthen Federal civil
rights laws to protect against religious discrimination, and require religious
The Coalition is preparing
for a new legislative push this fall, and has asked for stories from those who
have suffered religious discrimination, and whose requests for workplace
accommodation – for example, scheduling accommodations to avoid working on
Sabbath – have been denied. Read more
If you or anyone in your
church has suffered religious discrimination in an employment setting, we need
your stories now! Please send us a write up, and include as much of the
following as you can:
- Short bio
of where you are from, etc.
religious affiliation and why was there a problem at the workplace
happened when you requested accommodation for your religious practice
fears did you have
- When you
lost your job how did that affect your family? Your relationships with
struggles have you faced in seeking other employment?
- A picture
Please send this
information directly to the Department of Public Affairs & Religious
Liberty of the Pacific Union Conference, 2686 Townsgate Road, Westlake Village,
CA 91361, or e.mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call: 805-413-7396.
Your help is really needed
now, so that we can pass this urgently needed bill!
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
- 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.
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
- Rajina -
that she would be accommodated for the Sabbath.
The Santa Barbara County Attorney dismissed the citation to a student
leader in the summer literature evangelism program, issued in Lompoc, and will
inform its code enforcement officers of the statutory exemption for religious
On a personal note, this ministry has suffered many attacks, both
professional and personal. We were gratified, recently, that the Lord saw fit
to repel a personal attack on my wife, Christa, who had been suffering intense
pain in her right arm for weeks. After expert medical treatment failed to
alleviate the problem, and following a day of fasting and prayers of repentance
on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, our pastors and head elder came over to
anoint her with oil, and to pray for healing. The Lord graciously answered our
prayers, and Christa has been pain free ever since! We solicit your continued
prayers for this ministry. We are tempted to be overwhelmed, at times, with the
needs of those facing religious discrimination problems, and requiring legal
assistance, but we are trusting God day by day for His blessing, wisdom and
In the News
The following is a review of a
recent article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy circulated by
Ron Prentice, director of ProtectMarriage.com, the California based
organization working to preserve traditional marriage.
In our continued effort to preserve and protect
traditional marriage, we have set out to show the damaging effect of homosexual
marriage and the consequences to society should it evolve into an accepted
cultural norm. And while the consequences of gay marriage can be summed
up in easy-to-understand short “snippets” – children will be taught in public
school that a “marriage” between two “mommies” is on par with a marriage
between a mother and father; that individuals, small businesses and religious
organizations could be sued for refusing to provide services to gay couples on
the grounds of discrimination; that licensed professionals are in jeopardy of
losing their license for exercising their religious objections – the facts of
traditional marriage warrant a more thorough examination, particularly in light
of same-sex marriage supporters’ assertion that the issue is only about
fairness and equality under the law.
One of the more interesting papers on the
constitutional basis for traditional marriage is from the Harvard
Journal of Law & Public Policy. It is important to
understand that this article looks at the institution of marriage from a purely
legal standpoint, but it raises and confirms several key points that
On the one side are those who want to legally redefine the word marriage in
such a way as to make the gender of the couple irrelevant, or put another way,
to create a genderless union. On the other side are those who consider
the legal issue in a much broader sense and want to preserve the definition of
marriage between a man and a woman as central to the institution of
marriage. The author acknowledges that marriage is much more than just a word
to be redefined. Rather, it is a vital social institution which “affects
individuals profoundly” and comprises “meanings and norms that teach, form and
transform individuals, supplying identities, purposes, practices and projects.”
The meaning of the institution of marriage, then, becomes part of the societal
good, and those societal goods lead to the perpetuation of the institution
itself. If we abandon the institution of marriage – and redefining it
requires that we abandon it – we lose the societal good that goes along with
What are some of the societal goods that only a marriage between a man and
- It provides the only environment for a child to know and be raised by
his or her biological parents;
It lays the foundation for child-rearing that results in optimal
outcomes for the child, and as a result, society;
It provides the only modeling for a male transformation into our
society’s valued husband/father role and a female’s transformation into the
role of wife/mother; and
It is a pre-political institution that has passed the test of time and
elevated the common good, unlike the untested experiment of homosexual
These are examples of social goods that have been valued throughout time which
homosexual marriage, by definition, simply cannot provide. And the fact is that
society cannot have a social institution that is called “marriage” be defined
simultaneously as between a man and a woman and between any two
consenting adults. When the meaning of the institution is fractured, the
societal good received from that institution is reduced.
As the Harvard article so compellingly states: “A lifestyle without
institutional context is like Monopoly money. It resembles true currency,
but lacks the essential shared meaning that provides its value.”
California “Con Con” Likely
Even the most laid back Californians suspect
something is seriously amiss with state governance. Those who are paying attention know the state’s budget
deficit is not simply the result of the current economic situation, but is
payback time for years of deferred budgetary reality. So it should come as no surprise that polling indicates very
strong support for anticipated ballot measures to would authorize a
In an editorial supporting such a convention, the
L.A. Times identified various structural impediments to good governance. These
include the super-majority requirement for budget approval; safe electoral
districts that encourage the election of extreme partisans in each party; and
the dominant influence of both corporations and labor unions, especially those
representing state employees such as the prison guards and teachers unions.
Constitutional conventions [“con cons”] are
inherently risky. Everything is up for grabs. Con cons subject even the most
fundamental rights to the democratic process, with no guarantee that our most
basic rights will continue to be respected.
We are beginning to hear concerns about how a con
con may impact religious freedom. This is a good news/bad news scenario. There
are both risks and opportunities. To understand them, we must first take stock
of existing constitutional norms.
The constitutional protection for the free exercise
of religion is in a state of almost complete disrepair. The problem is not with the existing
I, § 4 of the California Constitution reads, in pertinent part:
exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are
guaranteed. This liberty of
conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious or inconsistent with the
peace and safety of the State.
The problem is with the California Supreme Court.
While declaring it does not know what this language means, the court insists it
does not mean what it says. What the text says is that religious activity is
protected until and unless it seeks to justify acts that are licentious or
implicate peace and safety concerns.
The court has been influenced by the U.S. Supreme
Court which reduced the First Amendment’s free exercise clause to a virtual
dead letter in the infamous peyote case in 1990. The result is that religious
freedom is no longer protected as a fundamental right either by the U.S. or
The good news, then, is that a con con would give
us the opportunity to improve a currently dismal situation. The bad news is
that a con con could ratify the status quo, and permanently reduce the status
of religious freedom.
When and if the time comes for a con con, the
active involvement of those who care about religious freedom will make all the
difference. Eternal vigilance remains the price of liberty. The best way to
stay informed, and to become actively involved is through your religious
liberty membership organization, the North American Religious Liberty
Association. You can join on the web, at: www.religiousliberty.info.
Resources You Can Use
Order CDds of conference: Marriage, Homosexuality and the Church.
If you can’t make it to Andrews
University for this historic conference discussing, in part, the religious
liberty and public policy implications of same-sex marriage, you can still
listen in to what the lawyers, theologians, and experts have to say. Obtain CDs
Sign up for Liberty Express
Liberty Express is the
monthly online newsletter of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA)
Liberty Express utilizes the most reputable religious, political,
journalistic and historical sources in its endeavor to make sense of current
domestic and foreign policy trends in the United States and the world. Read
The rest of this is the “read more”
Far more than just a source for news and information, it is an
educational and spiritual resource seeking to defend religious freedom as an eternal
God-given principle at a time when other forces, spiritual and profane, are
systematically challenging it.
We believe in freedom of religion, not freedom from religion or freedom
to enforce religion, particularly acts of worship. This means upholding both
the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment to a high
constitutional standard against powerful forces. Using this standard,
government neutrality means that religion and religious institutions must be
allowed to thrive freely, but without its official endorsement.
The First Amendment, in part, states that “Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof…” Today, some seek to reinterpret the no Establishment provision
separating Church and State in ways that would require government to
financially support their institutions and enforce their dogmas so as to solve
the moral ills of the nation. Others seek to marginalize the Free Exercise of
Religion in favor of placing a higher level of protection on lifestyles
destructive to the traditional moral fabric of society. Both are extremely
harmful to our constitutional health.
We believe the Nation’s Founders anticipated this tension. That is why they created
an internal check and balance within the very wording of the First Amendment in
order to prevent the Country from being overrun by either extreme in the great
church-state debate (a puritanical vs. godless society). Remove this balancing
safeguard and our nation’s constitutional guarantees will be lost, and with it
our civil and religious freedoms.
“The religious zealot and the theocrat frighten us in part because we
understand only too well their basic impulse. No less frightening is the totalitarian
atheist who aspires to a society in which the exercise of religion has no
— Sandra Day O’Connor
The focus and credibility of Liberty Express reflects Greg
Hamilton’s education and professional backgrounds in communications, journalism,
religion and philosophy, and church-state constitutional law and history. He
believes that careful evaluation of the current shift in the balance of power
between church and state in America is central to understanding today's
religious, political, and constitutional trends both here and abroad.