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
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
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