Volume 5 - Number 12


Church State Council News
Full Calendar Features

Festival of Religious Freedom
Government Relations Day

2011 will be a year of significant events for religious liberty, with abundant opportunities for your participation. In September, the nation will commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. With controversies over the building of mosques around the country, it is clear that Americans are rethinking their commitment to religious freedom. How much freedom do we really want, and how inclusive do we really want to be? Do we want to extend freedom to Muslims, especially since their countries deny Christians religious freedom? This brings to mind what every parent has repeated endlessly to their kids: “two wrongs don’t make a right.” In any event, this is a wonderful time to lift the banner of truth and religious freedom! Please join us!

Festival of Religious Freedom  – Sunday, September 4, 2011.  Sunday afternoon, at the State Capitol in Sacramento, thousands will gather to celebrate religious freedom. Plan now to be part of it. 
More details  will be posted in the near future at www.churchstate.org.

Government Relations Day – Monday, May 16, 2011.  Representatives from many Adventist churches will gather in Sacramento for a day of training and visiting legislative offices to discuss significant religious freedom issues. For more information and to register, please call the Church State Council office: 916-446-2552. Please make sure that someone represents your church!

EvangelismExecutive Director Alan J. Reinach, Esq., has developed a three part mini evangelistic series:  “The Coming Economic Collapse? A Biblical Perspective.” It is designed to introduce a general audience to Bible prophecy, and to the seriousness of the times we are living in. It is intended to generate interest in further Bible study.

March 4 – 6 – Orangevale Seventh-day Adventist Church [Sacramento area]

April 19—21 – Bronx, New York Seventh-day Adventist Church

June [dates to be announced] Honolulu Central Seventh day Adventist Church

Additional summer and fall dates are available. 

Featured Article:
Festival of Religious Freedom to
Comemorate Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

by Alan Reinach, Esq.

Sacramento in late summer is sunny and warm. Maybe a bit too warm. On the last Sunday afternoon of the unofficial summer season, Labor Day weekend, that is, the North American Religious Liberty Association will sponsor the first ever Festival of Religious Freedom to be held in the continental United States. It will be on the west steps of the State Capitol.  Several thousand people are expected to attend.

Festivals of Religious Freedom were conceived by Dr. John Graz, who wears several distinguished “hats,” including Secretary General of the International Religious Freedom Association, and director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the General Conference. Festivals are designed to bring public officials and faith leaders together with the public to thank God and government for the gift of religious freedom, and to spotlight the need for increasingly eternal vigilance in defense of liberty.

“There couldn’t be a better time for a Festival,” says Alan J. Reinach, Esq., director of the Church State Council, the Adventist Church’s religious liberty arm in the Pacific Union. “One week before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the news media will be all over the subject of what religious freedom means ten years later, with much public suspicion of Muslims. Americans are unsure whether we want religious freedom to include Muslims or not, or how much religious freedom we are comfortable with.”

Ed Fargusson, Government Relations Director for the Church State Council, sees the Festival as a time to reassert the church’s local leadership on religious freedom issues. “We have built strong bridges to interfaith and government leaders in the past, and this Festival will provide a golden opportunity to strengthen those bridges, not only at the state level, but in each local community.”

The Festival is a tool for pastors and local church leaders to reach out into their own communities, and build coalitionally in support of religious freedom. “We want to include as many churches and communities as possible,” says Alan Reinach, “across both denominational and ethnic lines. We hope the Festival will be seized upon as an opportunity for people of all nationalities and religions to publicly declare their desire to live in peace with others of differing faiths, and share the blessings of liberty together, in one nation, e pluribus unum style. Churches and communities will be able to participate with music, testimonies, short presentations, food or literature booths, etc. ”

Elder Ricardo Graham, Pacific Union Conference president, sees the evangelistic potential of the event: “we cannot reap where we do not sow.  By extending a hand of friendship in all of our communities, and showing respect for the rights of others, we can model the attitude of Jesus and develop new friendships we hope will last for all eternity.”

In the News

Church Taps Leslie as Adventist Point Per son in Washington, D.C.

9 Feb 2011, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States Bettina Krause/PARL/ANN
Staff Veteran attorney and business leader Dwayne Leslie will serve as the Seventh-day Adventist Church's voice in Washington, D.C., following a vote taken yesterday by the world church's Executive Committee. As associate director for the world church's department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) and director of Legislative Affairs, Leslie will represent the world church and its concerns on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and among Washington's diplomatic community. Leslie replaces attorney James Standish, who served in the department for eight years. One of his first goals, Leslie said, is to "expand the relationships that James has established, and to build on the great job he's done in representing the church." During a career spanning both the corporate and legal worlds, Leslie has focused on legislative and healthcare issues and has represented a diverse range of clients, from biotechnology companies to media organizations. Leslie said he will draw inspiration in his new role from the activism of the early Adventist Church which, despite its small size, frequently spoke publically on issues of temperance, freedom of conscience and human rights.  READ MORE

Adventist religious liberty advocate recognized with First Freedom Award

John Graz, who directs the Adventist world church's department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL), will receive the National First Freedom Award. . . Graz, who since 1995 has helmed the International Religious Liberty Association, was noted for his non-sectarian work, extensive writings and a series of world festivals of religious freedom.

Appeal to Indonesia to Protect Religious Freedom

On Tuesday, three churches in Temanggung, Central Java, were attacked by a mob of extremist Islamists after a court judge sentenced a Christian man, Antonius Bawengan, to five years in prison for blaspheming against Islam. The extremists were angry that the sentence was too lenient and went on the rampage, burning two churches and damaging a third, attacking the police outside the courthouse, vandalizing cars, and demanding the death penalty for blasphemy charges READ MORE

Discrimination Charges Soar in Down Economy

Six Hawaii inmates in private prisons in Arizona are suing the state of Hawaii and the prison operator for allegedly violating their constitutional rights by denying them free exercise of their native Hawaiian religious practices. Inmates Richard Kapela Davis, Michael Hughes, Damien Kaahu, Robert A. Holbron, James Kane III and Ellington Keawe say the staffs at Saguaro and Red Rock correctional centers, both in Eloy, Ariz., have consistently denied written requests to practice their religion, to establish a sacred place in the prison yard and to have access to a spiritual adviser and sacred items. READ MORE

Religious Liberty Blogs

Religious Liberty is Not Ecumenical!

This past Monday evening, I gave a lecture on the topic of: “Religious Intolerance in America.” It was part of a local effort to develop a Jewish Adventist congregation, Beth Shalom Seventh-day Adventist. Such congregations are growing around the world, both in number and size.

I observed that underlying all forms of intolerance, especially religious intolerance, is an “us and them” attitude. We tend to identify ourselves according to our ethnic, national and religious backgrounds, and to separate ourselves from others who are different. Such separation is a necessary predicate to intolerance.

Religious Liberty is . . .

The western regional office for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, where I work, is conducting its constituency session this year, and in preparation, each department was asked to prepare a descriptive page for our magazine. Last time around our page began with the heading “Religious Liberty Is…” It’s 4:00 a.m. on a Friday morning, and guess what! Tossing and turning in bed, all I could think about was revising our description of religious liberty for this year’s distribution. And then I thought about you, our NARLA members and blog readers. When we post blogs inspired by the events of the day, we may give a narrow or distorted view as to what religious liberty really is. Some may conclude that NARLA is very conservative politically, others may be convinced that we are off the reservation liberals.  READ MORE

Is Islam an "Enemy" of Christianity?

A lunchtime conversation after church set my mind in gear. Our discussion of the construction of what has become in the popular imagination “the Ground Zero Mosque” led to the question: “Isn’t Islam the enemy of Christianity? “ My first instinct was to place this in historic context. If it were not for the Sultan, I pointed out, there would be no Protestants today. The Holy Roman Empire would have wiped out the Protestant world. Whenever the armies of the Emperor threatened the Protestant Princes, the Sultan would launch a new assault on the gates of Vienna, or some other European incursion, and the Empire would have to delay punishing the heretical upstart in the midst of Europe to deal with a more important foe – the Turkish Sultan.  READ MORE

Quotable Quotes

"Kings and magistrates are to rule temporal affairs by the swords of their temporal kingdoms, and bishops and ministers are to rule spiritual affairs by the Word and Spirit of God, the sword of Christ's spiritual kingdom, and not to intermeddle one with another's authority, office, and function. . . .  It is not only unmerciful but unnatural and abominable, yes monstrous, for one Christian to vex and destroy another for difference and questions of religion."  Religious  Peace of a Plea for Liberty of Conscience," a petition to King James I. Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States (New York: Harper, 1950), vol. 1, p. 113

"The principle of church-state separation may sometimes be inconvenient or costly to one side or the other. But there is one great thing about tha wall:  It works for both sides."  Chicago Tribune, Editorial, June 11, 1985