Volume 5 - Number 12



Giving Thanks

November is the time when Americans take the opportunity to recall what we’re thankful for. Those of us who can still put a holiday banquet meal on the table ought to especially give thanks, but also, to pray for those who cannot. Our church’s newly elected General Conference leadership is emphasizing revival and reformation, and I give thanks for them. I hope your prayer revival will include praying for our increasingly long list of Adventists who have lost their jobs because they do not work on Sabbath.

Yet, we give thanks for those who are still working. I met with Luis, yesterday, who is back to working full time, thanks to the counsel and advocacy of the Church State Council on his behalf. I also sent in settlement papers on behalf of Teresa, who lost her job in the food production industry, because of her Sabbath observance. We were able to reach a good settlement of her claims.

We still enjoy a large measure of religious liberty in America, and do well to give thanks. Thankfully, not all of our politicians are confused about the separation of church and state. Meanwhile, in this newsletter is a link to a wonderful article about The Supreme Court and Religious Liberty, which we hope everyone will read.

Please, as you are giving thanks, also do your part to preserve the freedom we enjoy, and join the North American Religious Liberty Association, www.religiousliberty.info.

Featured Article: The Supreme Court and Religious Liberty

by Allen Hertzke


In the News

An Inconvenient Truth:  More Religious Freedom Means Less Religious Conflict

Many Americans would be happy to wake up tomorrow, and discover an Islamic center was not going to be built near Ground Zero and that they would not have to hear of another pastor planning to burn Qurans. The decisions would be popular, justified in part by a desire to preserve public order and to reduce potential violence.  But if they were coerced they also would be dangerous. READ MORE

China's Ban on Lausanne Delegates Called 'Gross Violation' of Rights

WASHINGTON (BP)--The Chinese government's refusal to allow Christians to participate in the Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization was a "gross violation of the rights guaranteed to them by their country's constitution as well as the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights," Southern Baptist religious freedom specialist Richard Land said. READ MORE

7th Circuit:  Illinois Moment-of-Silence Law is Constitutional

CHICAGO — A federal appeals court ruled late last week that the Illinois law requiring a moment of silence in public schools is constitutional because it doesn’t specify prayer. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 15 ruled that legislators who supported the bill said the moment of reflection had a secular and practical purpose in settling down students at the start of the school day. The three-judge panel also determined that the law was “not unconstitutionally vague in all of its operations.” READ MORE

Church State Council News

California State Chaplains

The budget crisis in California is not over and the word around the Capitol is that it will return in February and be twice as bad as it was in November. One fallout may be the chaplains who are employed at various state institutions such as prisons, hospitals, and veteran’s homes. If those positions are eliminated to balance the budget, it could also negatively impact the volunteer religious programs at these facilities. With staffing low, there we are already learning of groups being denied admittance. We are working with the State Advisory Committee on Institutional Religion to try to avert this. About 30 of these chaplain positions are scheduled to expire in November so we need to act quickly.

Bill Screening System

The Church State Council uses a system for screening proposed legislation called State Net. We have recently gone through training on the updates to their system and will be joining with the North American Division for more training and a review of our processes so we can more effectively watch for legislation that might impact religious freedom.


Change at the Top

Barry Bussey and James Standish are trading places. Barry will be taking on the role of representing the Seventh-day Adventist Church to the United Nations both in New York and Geneva, Switzerland. James will be returning to his former role representing the Adventist Church in Washington, D.C. We pray for both of them as they transition to these new roles.

False Reports About a Message from the Pope to President Obama

We are receiving many inquiries about an alleged secret message from Pope Benedict to President Obama concerning Sunday laws. This rumor is inaccurate.

The e-mail containing this sensational claim, states the report comes from our religious liberty leader in Italy, Dora Bognandi. When we contacted Ms. Bognandi, she stated she has no knowledge of the report and that it is not based on fact.

I do not have to tell you how important it is for us as a people to be very wary of sensational reports. The rapidity at which they are sent around and their acceptance only cause us all to lose credibility. We must be careful. The evil one is the author of confusion, mixing only enough truth with error to make it plausible. The long-term effect of rumors like this is disillusionment.

Religious Liberty Blogs

The Debate Over What Faith Sustained the 33 Miners Causes a DUst Up Amongst Christians-An Adventist Connections

David Mills writing for First Things noted the differences amongst Christians in their reporting on the Chilean miner story. An illustration of the differences that still divide serious Christians, from contrasting stories on the 33 Chilean miners trapped so long underground. From the (Southern) Baptist Press: When the mine collapsed, three of the miners — including. . .  READ MORE


Quotable Quotes

Freedom of religion, as the Founding Fathers saw it, was not just the right to associate oneself with a certain denomination but the right to disassociate, without penalty.  Belief or nonbelief was a matter of individual choice--a right underwritten in the basic charter of the nation's liberties.  Norman Cousins, Saturday Review (December 1980)

In the Relationship of government to religion, there was a solid ring of conviction that tied the Founding Fathers to each other.  The government was not to take upon itself the responsibility to determine the religion of its people. . . This necessarily meant that guarantees of religious freedom must apply to believers and nonbelievers alike.  The right of an individual to worship in his own way or not to worship at all was part of the protection of a free society.  In God we Trust: The Religious Beliefs and Ideas of the American Founding Fathers (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1958), p. 13