THE WINNING ARGUMENT

Just for the moment.  Forget about Trump.  Forget about the Wall.  Forget about the “Caravan.”  The case to make against the Democratic Party to the American public is simple.  It begins with simple questions.

Who has fights to stop prayer in schools?  Who has attacked Christmas?  Who tried to ban Bibles?  Who booed God at their convention?  Who sued to put Christian bakers out of business?  Who sued to force Nuns to violate their beliefs?  Who wants certain Christian doctrine banned as hate speech?  Who is constantly trying to get rid of Crosses and Manger scenes?  Who said the church must evolve?  Who said that religious beliefs must be changed?  Who worked to ban Christian clubs on campus?

The winning argument is plain and simple: The Democratic Party is anti-Christian. 

John Hawkins said, “The GOP often foolishly retreats from social issues. This is a huge mistake in an era when 76% of the country is Christian and most liberals find sincere Christian beliefs to be repellent. We don’t have to preach at anyone, wag our fingers, or turn into legions of Ned Flanders, but we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about our Christian beliefs, stick up for Christians who are under attack, and hammer the Left for its anti-Christian bigotry. Conservatism is a pro-Christian ideology and liberalism is an anti-Christian ideology. We should never be afraid to drive that point home.”

And where do the Democrats turn to get outside help?  Witchcraft.  They did not hold a prayer vigil against Judge Kavanaugh—they had witches conjure up a spell.  I don’t think they believe in witchcraft.  They chose witchcraft for no other reason than it is anti-Christian. And for good measure the witches gave a big donation to Planned Parenthood.  Human sacrifice has always been a part of witchcraft.

Why are we afraid to zero in on this greatest of all arguments against Democrats?  Are we more concerned about appearing unloving than we are about our religious freedom being destroyed?

This mid-term election is solely about the kind of nation you want your family to live in.  Do you want freedom of religion or government openly hostile to your faith?

You need to wake up brother and sister and use our best argument.   Your commitment to Christ should come before your race and gender.  This is not a left-right or conservative-liberal debate.  This is totally a case of…are you pro or anti Christian?   We didn’t make it that way, they did.

This Sunday is the last sermon before the midterms.  Every pulpit should make this point: Your vote can’t get any more moral.  We can’t make a better argument.  The Democrats are at war with Christianity.

A TIME TO STAND


A Time to Stand July 4th 2016,  By Mario Murillo

They had money, education and prestige so why would they sign a letter that promised to turn them into hunted animals for the rest of their lives? Five of them were captured and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.  Two lost their sons in the war; another two had sons captured. Nine died from wounds in battle.

I am talking about the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. They signed it because, while they valued their homes, their businesses and their prestige, they valued liberty even more. But did you know that nearly half of the pastors in America today would not have supported the Declaration of Independence?  Think of it, if it had rested with these modern preachers there would be no United States today.  Wait until you hear why.

This letter has two burning goals.  The first is to clear the air about why I speak out against our president and our congress and the second is to call for a general resistance by the preachers in America to the policies that are destroying the nation.

These 56 were godly, successful, and wise men were driven to an inescapable conclusion and it is urgent that we realize that history is repeating itself.  “When in the Course of human events” The word WHEN is the key word in the opening phrase of the Declaration of Independence. The entire document rests on that single word.  It means that something changed so drastically that they broke with deep connections and long standing traditions.  It means that after agonizing prayer and deliberation their course of action became undeniable and inescapable.

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The Church in America has just had her WHEN moment:

-When the president becomes lawless and the Congress becomes clueless, when unstoppable crime and poverty are the direct result of government gridlock, when the church and law-abiding citizens are targeted by the FBI, the IRS and the NSA for their religious or political beliefs.

-When Americans owe 60 trillion dollars in personal debt which means we are literally living on borrowed time. When the middle class is 25% of what it was in the 1950s, and about to vanish. When even youth, Obama’s last bastion of support have awakened to him and rejected him. 

-When they are calling him out for his disastrous plunge into socialism and removing their medical rights, violating their privacy and stealing their future.

-When our borders are broken down and when the world has become dangerous because our foreign policy is in shambles and when the destruction of the Republic is at hand, then it is time for the Church to intervene and stand with the Bible first and then the Constitution.

Listen to further words from the Declaration: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

This is exactly where we are right now.   Half of all of our pastors would not have supported the Declaration of Independence? How is this possible?  It is possible because a noxious wind of doctrine is blowing through the church that cheapens words like Grace, Honor and Love and engenders complacency.  Many leaders even now openly teach that repentance is unnecessary and that confronting government is never right.

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We have seen this all before. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German pastor and theologian was asked in 1943 how it was possible for the church to sit back and let Hitler seize absolute power.  His answer was very direct; he said “it was the teaching of cheap grace.”

Is it just a coincidence that the same spiritual emphasis that lulled Lutherans to sleep has reappeared at the time when our freedom is in mortal danger?  No it is not a coincidence, it is Satan. For the devil, this doctrine of passivity could not have come at a better time.

Consider what a satanic masterstroke it is to prevent us from doing two things:

1. Provoke us to silence at the very moment that the nation needs to hear righteous voices.              

2. Downplay the need for repentance when repentance is most urgently required.

When asked why pastors don’t speak out Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas said,  “I think one reason is a lot of Christian leaders have the wrong idea about Jesus,” Jeffress replied “They see Jesus as this little, wimpy guy who walked around plucking daisies and eating birdseed and saying nice things, but never doing anything controversial. The fact is, Jesus did confront his culture with truth — and he ended up being crucified because of it.”  “I believe it’s time for pastors to say, you know, I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church. I’m going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.”

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Here are the two portions of scripture that are often misused to silence the church:

 1. Matthew 7: 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

2. Romans 13:1  “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.    2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not terrors to good works, but to evil.”

The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew the Bible better than 90% of our ordained ministers today.  They grappled with the same issues we face today and asked the same questions we ask today.  Twenty four of them were lawyers and jurists and almost half had been to Bible school or seminary.  In the process, they must have confronted those two portions of scripture. They also prayed fervently and believed that they had heard from God.  Years later Benjamin Franklin when they were working on the Constitution reminded them of their daily prayer for wisdom on the Declaration: “In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered.”

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This is what I believe they concluded:

1. Matthew 7: 1   When Jesus condemned judging, he wasn’t at all implying we should never make judgments about anyone. After all, a few verses later, Jesus himself calls certain people “pigs” and “dogs” (Matt 7:6) and “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (7:15). … What Jesus condemns is a critical and judgmental spirit, an unholy sense of superiority. Jesus commanded us to examine ourselves first for the problems we so easily see in others. Only then can we help remove the speck in another’s eye – which, incidentally, assumes that a problem exists and must be confronted.

2. Romans 13:1-2 Many Christians interpret this passage of Scripture to mean that we should offer unquestioning obedience to government, even if it’s an evil and corrupt government.  This is simply not true.  Most people fail to consider verse 3, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.”  Clearly, God is speaking about GOOD government in Romans 13… Because they are a terror to evil works, i.e., crimes.

But these 56 men are also proof of the power of God to help us right now! I am speaking out because I know that we still have time for a miracle.  Here is my 5 declarations to you:

1.  We must rise up as an outspoken unified, cross denominational firewall against the destruction of America. Whether you believe in tongues or not; whether you believe in total immersion baptism or spot removing, regardless of your view of how the world will end we must find common ground at the foot of the Cross.  When it comes to the preservation of our liberty our doctrinal nuances must take a backseat to unified action.

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2. We must not think that telling the truth is unloving.  Paul said, “Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth.”  We must sacrifice short-term acceptance for long-term results.  In the long run, when the nation is spared the masses will see that repentance and prayer saved the day… and that my friend is real love.  Politicians must feel the force of our convictions. We must, in no uncertain terms, remind the denizens on both sides of the aisle of the Washington swamp that they work for us or we will fire them.

3. Let your convictions rule you and not theological trends.  Find your assignment and vow to execute it. Listen to me! Servant of God:your best friend is your destiny and your mortal enemy is the intoxication of prevailing opinion.

4. Preach Bible truth from the pulpit.  Let me put it to you plainly: It all starts with the preaching.  If American preaching returns to the Bible and our sermons are thundered from burning hearts full of the Holy Spirit we have more than a good chance to save America. If preaching stays as is, there is no chance…period. Pastors were dispensing new age goobly gook when they should have been training the people in biblical morality.  This is one big reason that 6 million Christians voted for their pocketbooks instead their convictions. Remember the words of Dr. Jeffress “I’m going to lose church members; I don’t care about building a big church. I’m going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.”

5. Let us pray!  Call that fellow minister that you haven’t spoken to in 20 years.  Meet for prayer, not mystical prayer, not tepid prayer, and not complicated prayer just heart felt prayer.  Pray like those 56 men prayed in Independence Hall.  Pray Psalm 119:126 “It is time for You oh God to act for they have nullified Your law.”

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We will never speak out against the government unless the Holy Spirit prompts us.  And it will never be something we do instead of the Gospel but because of it.  Those who believe we should remain silent will get a lot more silence than they bargained for if we lose our freedom of speech. To say that will never happen is to forget all of the things that have happened in 6 years that we never thought could happen. Moreover, we’ve always had a prophetic calling to warn the nation.

It only seems like we have changed but it is the White House that has changed. It actively opposes the Gospel.  One of the campaign officials even boasted that in winning the election, “we defeated Christianity.” Let me ask you one final question: If not now, at what point will it feel right for the ministers of America to drop their petty disagreements and provide a unified opposition to the destruction of our Constitution, our Judeo Christian traditions, marriage and the future of our children? Many ministers lash out at those who out speak against the president.

This is so strange!  No pastors ever questioned us when were outspoken about the damage that heroin, crack cocaine or gang violence did to inner city neighborhoods.  But now that the government has become the most dangerous gang in the hood and government dependency has become the most addictive drug we supposed to remain silent? However, I am overcome by hope for America and here is why:

It was 1972. I stood in the rain outside Pauley Ballroom on the Berkeley Campus. Inside, Jane Fonda led a loud chorus of obscenities.  A thousand students were cursing God and America. Instinctively, I raised my Bible it pointed it at the hall.  I confessed that one day I would lead a bigger and louder crowd in shouts of praise to God and blessing to America.  That miracle came to pass in vivid detail in less than three years.  1,200 students raised a deafening shout of praise to God and blessing to America and as a part of the larger Jesus Movement it changed the mood of the nation.

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I stand in awe of the towering miracle that is the Declaration of Independence. I weep because I know that I am not worthy of its courage and truth.  It haunts me. It stalks me. It exposes me, and it comforts me. It is the quintessential moral compass of a nation that has lost its way. I feel my knees buckling beneath me in prayer for I feel that evil has touched something precious to Jesus.  This grand document proves God’s amazing ways and that He is waiting in the wings to answer prayer and heal the land.  Admit it!  We don’t know what to do but we know who does know what to do.  If they could, those 56 men would say it with all of their strength: A MIRACLE IS COMING IF WE PRAY AND THEN OBEY.

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P.S.

It would be a thrill for me to hear from those of you who are taking a stand with us against the demise of our nation and believe  ministers should not be silent as America is destroyed.  I value your comments and support.

Hobby Lobby’s religious convictions aren’t for sale

Hobby Lobby’s religious convictions aren’t for sale

Friday, January 10, 2014 6:29pm

ZEPHYRHILLS — The first clue that Hobby Lobby isn’t your typical retail business is a sign at the front door saying the craft store is closed on Sundays “to allow employees time for family and worship.”

Once inside, other clues dot the shelves, from the large selection of religious crosses to the decorations quoting biblical verses. Listen closely and you can hear Christian songs playing in the background.

The faith-based subtleties are backed by conviction. David Green and his family founded Hobby Lobby more than four decades ago with the guiding mission to run the business in a way that brings glory to God. Over the years, Green has donated an estimated $500 million to Christian charities, including Oral Roberts University, of which his son Mart Green is board chairman.

Those beliefs are a footnote to most shoppers, who spend more than $3 billion a year on picture frames, craft supplies and home decor items. Even fewer know the Oklahoma-based chain is at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court dispute over a federal health care law mandate requiring employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs.

Last week, Hobby Lobby opened its second store in the Tampa Bay area, at 7333 Gall Blvd. in Zephyrhills in Pasco County. City Manager Jim Drumm described it as a big deal for the rural city of 15,000, where residents are used to driving a long way to get to top retail brands. A craft store had ranked high on a recent Chamber of Commerce survey asking what goods and services residents wanted in their community. Several singled out Hobby Lobby by name.

“We have a fair number of retirees, and a lot of times when you are retired, you have a lot of time on your hands and want to take up new hobbies,” Drumm said. “People were really happy when Hobby Lobby was announced.”

The store took over a Sweetbay supermarket that closed last year as part of a chainwide contraction that affected 33 underperforming locations. Hobby Lobby co-manager Kevin Ross said shoppers lined up outside before the soft opening on Jan. 31, and more than one customer has remarked that the store is busier than it ever was as Sweetbay. A surprising top seller so far? Yarn.

David Green founded Hobby Lobby out of his Oklahoma City garage in 1970. The son of a preacher, he and his wife, Barbara, started out making decorative frames, then added craft supplies, home decor and holiday decorations. They opened their first store in 1972 and have since expanded to more than 550 locations nationwide. The first Tampa Bay store opened in late 2010 in New Port Richey, another community a long way from the urban core.

Hobby Lobby chooses places where it can rent big-box buildings at an affordable rate. It doesn’t target the corner of Main and Main, like Trader Joe’s, which is opening stores along Fourth Street in St. Petersburg and off Dale Mabry Highway in South Tampa. It also doesn’t need to be across from International Plaza, like the Container Store.

Hobby Lobby usually leases space previously occupied by another retailer. Former supermarkets, hardware stores and Kmarts in mid- to higher-income suburban areas are prime sites, said Justin Greider, vice president of Florida retail brokerage at Jones Lang LaSalle commercial real estate. The space costs 50 to 70 percent of what a new building would cost.

“They are very, very sensitive to the amount of money they can pay in rent,” he said. “They are focused on families with some disposable income who like scrapbooking and decorating, but are price sensitive. They aren’t competing with upper-income stores like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel.”

On average, stores draw from a 10- to 15-mile radius, significantly farther than a 3-mile reach for a grocery store or 5 to 7 miles for a Target. That makes it possible, for instance, to add a store in Carrollwood or Brandon but still attract shoppers from Tampa’s urban core, Greider said.

Hobby Lobby stores can be as large as 90,000 square feet but, more recently, have taken over smaller retail space in order to facilitate growth. By comparison, Michaels and Jo-Ann stores are about 20,000 to 25,000 square feet.

Hobby Lobby has been referred to as a combo Michaels, Kirkland’s and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store on steroids. Stores carry 70,000 products, many of which are made at the company’s manufacturing plant in Oklahoma. By comparison, Michaels, which has twice the number of stores, carries 37,000 items.

Hobby Lobby has been successful in more remote communities like Zephyrhills and New Port Richey, which have limited retail options, real estate officials said. In the case of the newest store, the nearest Michaels is 15 miles away in Wesley Chapel. The nearest Jo-Ann store is 24 miles away in New Tampa.

“If you locate in a more rural area, you tend to have the entire market to yourself,” said David Conn, executive vice president of retail services for CBRE commercial real estate in Tampa. “You’re not splitting the market with other competitors, and it’s unlikely a competitor will go there.”

Closing on Sundays, while welcomed by many employees and believers, comes at a price, he said. Competitors are open daily and have longer hours. Hobby Lobby operates 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week — a total of 66 hours, while Michaels is typically open 81 hours a week. To stay competitive, Hobby Lobby needs less expensive rent in areas with likely shoppers.

“It all comes down to the bottom line,” Conn said. “They are running a business. They aren’t selling Bibles.”

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Hobby Lobby has earned a reputation as a strong, solid retailer, particularly among government and real estate officials who have dealings with the company. The chain carries no long-term debt and starts its full-time hourly workers at 90 percent above the federal minimum wage — about $14 an hour — compared to other retailers that start at minimum wage. David Green, who owns the entire business with his wife and three children, was ranked 246th on Forbes’ list of world billionaires in 2013, with a net worth of $4.5 billion.

The family’s religious beliefs run companywide. The chain employs chaplains to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of its employees, who come from all faiths, a company spokesman said. Gruesome or bloody Halloween decorations are strictly prohibited.

Though not as widely known as Truett Cathy and his family from Chick-fil-A (another business closed on Sundays), the Greens are big names in Christian circles. Last week, Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, one of the sons, appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network to talk about his family’s collection of 40,000 biblical documents and artifacts, which is said to be the largest private compilation of its kind in the world. Items from the Green Collection have been on display in St. Peter’s Square and Vatican City and are part of a traveling exhibit called “Passages,” currently in Colorado Springs. Eventually, the Greens plan to open a museum for their collection in Washington, D.C.

It hasn’t been without controversy. A few months ago, Hobby Lobby officials apologized after complaints that the stores didn’t carry Jewish merchandise. As a result, the company said it would sell some items at stores near large Jewish populations in New York and New Jersey before Hanukkah.

In September 2012, Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit against the federal government opposing a requirement that it provide the “morning-after pill” and “week-after pill” for free under its insurance plan. Compliance, the family said, would violate its religious beliefs.

Hobby Lobby won on an appeal but in October joined the government in asking the Supreme Court to take up the case. The court agreed in November and is expected to issue a ruling by June.

More than 90 lawsuits have been filed by nonprofit and for-profit groups nationwide against the Health and Human Services mandate involving contraceptives. Hobby Lobby is the only non-Catholic-owned business to sue and, so far, its case is just one of two headed to the Supreme Court.

Officials at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Washington, D.C., law firm that is representing Hobby Lobby for free, said a court victory would prevent the Greens from having to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.

“They hold their religious convictions closely. They are very sincere in that,” said Becket Fund spokeswoman Emily Hardman. “They just want to operate their business the way they have been.”

War on Contraception? No, an Attack on Religion.

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War on Contraception? No, an Attack on Religion.

By Ramesh Ponnuru Dec 1, 2013 8:01 AM PT

From reading the New York Times, you might think that religious conservatives had started a culture war over whether company health-insurance plans should cover contraception. What’s at issue in two cases the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear, the Times editorializes, is “the assertion by private businesses and their owners of an unprecedented right to impose the owners’ religious views on workers who do not share them.”

That way of looking at the issue will be persuasive if your memory does not extend back two years. Up until 2012, no federal law or regulation required employers to cover contraception (or drugs that may cause abortion, which one of the cases involves). If 2011 was marked by a widespread crisis of employers’ imposing their views on contraception on employees, nobody talked about it.

Ramesh Ponnuru

About Ramesh Ponnuru»

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, where he has covered national politics for 18 years.

 

What’s actually new here is the Obama administration’s 2012 regulation requiring almost all employers to cover contraception, sterilization and drugs that may cause abortion. It issued that regulation under authority given in the Obamacare legislation.

The regulation runs afoul of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a Clinton-era law. That act says that the government may impose a substantial burden on the exercise of religious belief only if it’s the least restrictive way to advance a compelling governmental interest. The act further says that no later law should be read to trump this protection unless it explicitly says it’s doing that. The Affordable Care Act has no such language.

Is a marginal increase in access to contraception a compelling interest, and is levying steep fines on employers who refuse to provide it for religious reasons the least burdensome way to further it? It seems doubtful.

Supporters of the regulation are resorting, as Jessica Valenti does at the Nation, to the slippery-slope argument: What if your boss is a Jehovah’s Witness and he doesn’t want to cover blood transfusions? Again, though, it has been legal for employers in most places to make this decision for most of American history. Ever heard of anyone going without a transfusion for this reason? The problem is wholly hypothetical.

A lot of people, especially liberals, think that contraceptive coverage was a powerful campaign issue for the Democrats last year, contrary evidence notwithstanding. If that’s right, then liberals ought to have some success in getting Congress to pass the law with an explicit override of protections for religious dissenters. Until Congress takes such action, the courts should apply the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Valenti also argues that opposition to the regulation “is not about religious freedom, it’s about sexism, and a fear of women’s sexuality.” It’s a free country, and people are entitled to adopt her cartoonish views of people who disagree with her. But our statutory right to act on our religious beliefs does not depend on what Valenti thinks of them. Thank — goodness.

(Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor at National Review. Follow him on Twitter @RameshPonnuru)

Hobby Lobby Wins Yet Another Victory Against Obama

Court: Gov’t Must Halt Enforcement of Sterilization-Contraception-Abortifacient Mandate Against Hobby Lobby

June 28, 2013 – 6:14 PM

By Michael W. Chapman
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Hobby Lobby(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(CNSNews.com) – Following on yesterday’s 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Hobby Lobby can continue its lawsuit against the Obama administration’s contraception mandate on religious grounds, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ruled today that the federal government must halt all enforcement of the mandate (and related financial penalties) against the Christian-based company.

Hobby Lobby and sister company Mardel are suing the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, arguing that to force the company to pay for health insurance that must offer abortion-inducing drugs, as well as sterilization and contraception, is a violation of its religious liberty.

In his order issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton said the “court concludes plaintiffs [Hobby Lobby] have made a sufficient showing to warrant the issuance of a temporary restraining order in the circumstances existing here.”

“Accordingly, the defendants [Sebelius and HHS], their agents, officers, and employees are temporarily ENJOINED and RESTRAINED from any effort to apply or enforce, as to plaintiffs, the substantive requirements imposed” by the mandate,” said the judge’s order.

Sebelius, ObamaHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama (AP Photo)

In a press release, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Hobby Lobby, said, “Today, for the first time, a federal court has ordered the government not to enforce the HHS abortion-drug mandate against Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The ruling comes just one day after a dramatic 168-page opinion from the en banc 10th Circuit recognizing that business owners have religious liberty rights.   This was the first definitive federal appellate ruling against the HHS mandate.”

“Hobby Lobby and the Green family faced the terrible choice of violating their faith or paying massive fines starting this Monday morning,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel with the Becket Fund.  “We are delighted that both the 10th Circuit and the district court have spared them from this unjust burden on their religious freedom.”

“In its landmark opinion yesterday, the 10th Circuit majority found that ‘no one’ – not even the government – ‘disputes the sincerity of Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs,’” reads the press release.   “The court ruled that denying them the protection of federal law just because they are a profit-making business ‘would conflict with the Supreme Court’s free exercise precedent.’”

Further proceedings in the case are scheduled for July 19, 2013, in Oklahoma City.

Hobby Lobby Wins!

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Big Hobby Lobby Victory on HHS Mandate in Tenth Circuit—Part 1

By  Ed Whelan
June 27, 2013 4:12 PM

By a vote of 5 to 3, the en banc Tenth Circuit today reversed the district judge’s ruling (which I criticized here) that denied Hobby Lobby’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the HHS mandate that would require it to provide its employees insurance coverage for abortifacients.

The five judges in the majority agree that Hobby Lobby (and Mardel, owned by the same family) had demonstrated a likelihood of success on their claim under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and had satisfied the irreparable-harm prong of the preliminary-injunction standard. Four of the five judges would resolve the remaining two factors (balance of equities and public interest) in Hobby Lobby’s favor, while the fifth would remand the case to the district court for evaluation of those two factors. Because that fifth vote is controlling, the Tenth Circuit is remanding the case to the district court.

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The ruling represents a major victory for the straightforward proposition that for-profit corporations have rights under RFRA. (My law-review essay on the general proposition that the HHS mandate violates RFRA is here.)

For those keeping score at home: The majority opinion is authored by Bush 43 appointee Timothy Tymkovich and is joined by three other Republican appointees and an Obama appointee, Robert Bacharach (who is the fifth judge referred to above).

The opinions are over 160 pages. I’ll do a supplemental post when I’ve reviewed them.

As Obama continues his war on Christians, the Church stands her ground.

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Cardinal Dolan: Obamacare Still Forces Americans to Provide ‘Illicit Coverage,’ Even for Their

Children.

4:29 PM, FEB 7, 2013 • BY JOHN MCCORMACK
 Last week, the Obama administration rolled out what it calls an “accommodation” for religious institutions subjected to the Obamacare mandate that forces American employers to provide, and individuals to purchase, health insurance that covers contraception, sterilizations, and the abortion drug ella.

The announcement was hailed as a “compromise” by the Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets. But in a statement released today, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, explains why the so-called compromise hardly does anything to protect religious liberty:

The Administration’s proposal maintains its inaccurate distinction among religious ministries. It appears to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education, and Catholic charities. HHS offers what it calls an “accommodation,” rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our Church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches. And finally, it seems to take away something that we had previously—the ability of an exempt employer (such as a diocese) to extend its coverage to the employees of a ministry outside the exemption.

Second, United for Religious Freedom explained that the religious ministries not deemed “religious employers” would suffer the severe consequence of “be[ing] forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions.” After Friday, it appears that the government would require all employees in our “accommodated” ministries to have the illicit coverage—they may not opt out, nor even opt out for their children—under a separate policy. In part because of gaps in the proposed regulations, it is still unclear how directly these separate policies would be funded by objecting ministries, and what precise role those ministries would have in arranging for these separate policies. Thus, there remains the possibility that ministries may yet be forced to fund and facilitate such morally illicit activities. Here, too, we will continue to analyze the proposal and to advocate for changes to the final rule that reflect these concerns.

Third, the bishops explained that the “HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values.” This includes employers sponsoring and subsidizing the coverage, insurers writing it, and beneficiaries paying individual premiums for it. Friday’s action confirms that HHS has no intention to provide any exemption or accommodation at all to this “third class.” In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath. We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.

Because the stakes are so high, we will not cease from our effort to assure that healthcare for all does not mean freedom for few. Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the Administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage. We remain eager for the Administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions—we will affirm any genuine progress that is made, and we will redouble our efforts to overcome obstacles or setbacks. Thus, we welcome and will take seriously the Administration’s invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all.  At the same time, we will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York February 7, 2013

Opinion: Why the Hobby Lobby Hubbub Matters

Opinion: Why the Hobby Lobby Hubbub Matters

Halee Gray Scott

BY HALEE GRAY SCOTT
JANUARY 7, 2013
Dr. Halee Gray Scott is an author, scholar, and researcher. Her research and teaching focuses on theology, spiritual formation, and leadership. Her articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Real Clear Religion, Cooks and Culture, Her.Meneutics, Kyria, Gifted For Leadership, and Outcomes. She blogs at hgscott.com.
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Can the government require Christians to observe business practice that compromises their faith practice?

“This is the way the world ends,” wrote American-English poet T.S. Eliot, “not with a bang, but a whimper.” Buried somewhere in the top news stories of the day—“U.S. Marine Pens Response to Gun Control Bill,” “Cat Arrested at Brazil Prison,” “Father of India Gang Rape Victim Reveals His Daughter’s Name,” “Candlelight Vigil Planned in Boulder for Slain Bull Elk”—you might have read about Hobby Lobby.

No? That’s not surprising, since many of the major networks have remained largely silent on the issue. Yet, this “whimper” of a story might be one of the most significant legislative decisions in our time. Lest you think I overstate my claim, let’s take a look at Hobby Lobby’s case and what’s actually at stake.
WHAT’S AT STAKE IN THIS CASE IS WHETHER OR NOT THE GOVERNMENT CAN FORCE PRIVATE BUSINESS OWNERS TO ACT AGAINST THEIR RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS.

As of today, the Green family, the evangelical Christian owners of Hobby Lobby Creative Centers and Mardel Christian Bookstores, potentially owes the federal government $21.3 million in fines for defying the HHS mandate that requires all companies to provide insurance coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, including “the morning after pill” and “the week after pill.” According to the Greens, since these drugs interfere with implantation in the womb, they destroy human life in the earliest stage of development.

In September, the Greens filed a lawsuit against the federal government, stating, “These abortion-causing drugs go against our faith … we simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.” In addition to the lawsuit, they requested an injunction to defer the $1.3 million (approximately $100 for every employee) daily penalty while their case made its way through the courts.

On November 19, Judge Joe Heaton in Oklahoma denied the company an injunction, stating that Hobby Lobby and Mardel “are not religious organizations” according to the definition proposed in the mandate, but are secular, for-profit businesses that employs and serves both Christians and non-Christians. The company appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit of Appeals in Denver, and a panel of three judges denied the appeal for similar reasons. They then took their request to the Supreme Court, where Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer also denied the request, stating it was not “indisputably clear” that the case met the requirements for an emergency injunction.
“TODAY, THE GOVERNMENT HAS TRIED TO REINTERPRET THE FIRST AMENDMENT FROM FREEDOM TO PRACTICE YOUR RELIGION, TO A MORE NARROW FREEDOM TO WORSHIP…” -RICK WARREN

The HHS mandate allows religious exemption if the organization meets the following criteria: (1) its primary purpose is to promote religious values; (2) primarily employs persons of the same religion; (3) primarily serves persons of the same religion; and (4) is a nonprofit organization under specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code.

The underlying merits of the HHS mandate is not what’s at stake—that has yet to be determined. What’s at stake in this case is whether or not the government can force private business owners to act against their religious convictions.

If a privately owned company is paying for health care, should the federal government have a say in what is covered? There are three reasons why Christians and non-Christians alike should be concerned about the ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.

First, the religious exemption proposed in the HHS mandate is so narrow that the vast majority of faith-based organizations—including Catholic hospitals, charities, colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations—fail to meet the criteria. In a post for Libertyblog, Dan Smyth argues that in order to avoid a breach of our first amendment rights, we must adhere to what the Founders would have understood to be a “religious” organization. “According to Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), the most widely used dictionary at the Constitution’s ratification, the Founders understood religious employers to be simply “employers who, in any way, are disposed to religious duties or teach religion.”

Further, Johnson defines “religious” as “pious; disposed to the duties of religion” and “teaching religion,” with “to teach” taking such definitions as “to instruct; to inform” and “to deliver any doctrine or art, or words to be learned.”

Since the Greens are devoutly religious people who close their stores on Sundays, play Christian music in their stores, and sell some religious-themed items, they would be classified as “religious” according to the understanding of the Founding Fathers. Redefining what is a “religious” organization results in a breach of First Amendment rights.

Second, some critics claim, “No employers in the private sector have the legal right to force their employees to obey their employer’s religious beliefs.” The Greens do not oppose their employees using emergency contraception, they just oppose paying for it. The Greens don’t oppose birth control or even oppose their employees’ right to use emergency contraceptives like “the morning after pill”—they simply don’t want to implicate themselves in what they believe is morally wrong.

To force them to comply with this mandate interferes with the Green family’s right to practice their religion. As Rick Warren said, “Today, the government has tried to reinterpret the First Amendment from freedom to PRACTICE your religion, to a more narrow freedom to worship, which would limit your freedom to the hour a week you are at a house of worship.”

Third, some will say that in the grand scheme of things, the cost of this legislative ruling is fairly low—it hardly matters. Whether the Greens eventually cave to the federal government or whether they pay all the way to their financial grave, it is, after all, just a single company. And besides, some may say, the matter of emergency contraceptives is morally ambiguous anyway. But in most cases, freedoms have not been lost or won overnight. As James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” said, “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not one agrees with the Greens convictions or not. You don’t have to be Christian to understand that this ruling is potentially a watershed moment in our nation’s history. If we, as a free republic, don’t stand now for the freedoms afforded us in our Constitution, who will be next?

Tragic letter from The Hobby Lobby CEO: results of personal freedoms slipping away

Tragic letter from The Hobby Lobby CEO: results of personal freedoms slipping away

January 3, 2013 

The Hobby Lobby CEO (left) and his wife

The Hobby Lobby CEO (left) and his wife
This letter is a very sad example of what happens when our personal freedoms and liberties are taken away. America wasn’t built on this, readers, and we absolutely must share this to show people the impact the Obama administration is having on every-day Americans.

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God‘s word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government health care mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

So, Hobby Lobby – and my family – are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American – and no American business – should have to make.

The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.

Since you will not see this covered in any of the liberal media, pass this on to all your contacts.

Sincerely,
David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

 

Hobby Lobby will won’t offer morning-after pill

good-soldier-Christ-Jesus-300x247

This blog is trying to keep you aware.  Awareness is not fear.  Keeping someone aware is not being negative.  Today there is an important development on how Christian Businesses will respond to Obamacare.  There is a lot at stake here.  It could mean an important victory, a single step in the right direction to preserve freedom in America.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion.  Obamacare forces employers to provide morning after pill contraception even when is against their religion.  Hence, Obamacare clearly violates both the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

That Hobby Lobby is suing the Federal Government is not news what is news is their decision to disobey a law that violates their religious freedom while the matter is being handled in the courts.

Read on.  -Mario

Attorney: Hobby Lobby to defy morning-after pill insurance requirement while lawsuit’s pending.

Atty: Hobby Lobby won’t offer morning-after pill

ASSOCIATED PRESS | Dec 27, 2012 6:12 PM CST in

An attorney for Hobby Lobby Stores said Thursday that the arts and crafts chain plans to defy a federal mandate requiring it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill, despite risking potential fines of up to $1.3 million per day.

Hobby Lobby and religious book-seller Mardel Inc., which are owned by the same conservative Christian family, are suing to block part of the federal health care law that requires employee health-care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception pills.

The companies claim the mandate violates the religious beliefs of their owners. They say the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman’s womb.

On Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied the companies’ request for an injunction while their lawsuit is pending, saying the stores failed to satisfy the demanding legal standard for blocking the requirement on an emergency basis. She said the companies may still challenge the regulations in the lower courts.

Kyle Duncan, who is representing Hobby Lobby on behalf of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement posted on the group’s website Thursday that Hobby Lobby doesn’t intend to offer its employees insurance that would cover the drug while its lawsuit is pending.

“The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees,” Duncan said. “To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”

In ruling against the companies last month, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton said churches and other religious organizations have been granted constitutional protection from the birth-control provisions but that “Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations.”