Stand Up and Be Counted
June 1, 2005
Dear Friends of Freedom:
Someone once said that if you aren’t angry about the injustice in this world, it’s because you aren’t paying attention. The sad truth is that much of the injustice in not meted out by thugs, but rather it is done in a perfectly respectable manner by the pillars of society. Whether it is the doctor involved in the routine killing of healthy babies in their mother’s womb, the executive who fires good men and women for no crime other than obeying the Ten Commandments, or the Member of Congress who takes financial contributions from the tobacco industry that is killing millions of people a year, there is sometimes so much evil in this world that we might be forgiven for wanting to give up.
But we can’t give up. There is something inside each one of us that cries out for justice, and we ignore that voice at the peril of our soul. And we have to do more than cry out – we need to act. If you haven’t already, I want to invite you to become a member of the North American Religious Liberty Association. The time for sitting on the sidelines in silence has passed. This is a time for good men and women everywhere to stand up and be counted. Join us at www.religiousliberty.info and take a stand for what we know is right.
IN THIS ISSUE
1) Victory at the U.S. Supreme Court
2) Senator Enzi Needs to Move the Workplace Religious Freedom Act Forward
3) Concern over Drop in Demands on the Tobacco Industry
4) Religious Liberty Conference at Andrews University
The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act. The name is a bit of a mouthful, but what it does is very simple:
First, it ensures that the religious freedom of prisoners is respected as much as is possible without creating security risks, dangerous conditions, and other similarly severe problems.
Second, it ensures churches and other houses of worship cannot arbitrarily be refused permission to build in a community, or use their building for their ministry.
You would think that everyone would support these protections, but that isn’t the case. One on side, some government officials resent the protections for religious freedom. On the other, some lawyers pressing for an extreme interpretation of the separation of church and state argue that treating religion differently than anything else is unconstitutional (they seem to forget that the Constitution itself provides special protection for religion).
Not surprisingly, your religious liberty team was active in getting the law passed back in 2000, and has been active in defending the law against its enemies. The good news is that this work has paid off. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected the challenges to the law in the recently decided case of Cutter v. Wilkinson.
This is important for two reasons. First, it means that prison ministries groups and prisoners who give their lives to Christ will have as much religious freedom as conditions allow. Second, it is a stinging rejection of an extremist interpretation of the separation of church and state that, if successful, would have made all efforts to accommodate religious practices unconstitutional. In short, the decision is very encouraging, and reminds us that great things can be accomplished if we work hard every step of the way.
Interesting, in coming to its decision, the Supreme Court relied in part on a religious liberty case that the Adventist Church litigated at Supreme Court back in 1987. Part of the team litigating that case was Alan Reinach, who is currently President of NARLA-West.
The Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA) is alive and well, thanks in a large part to those of you who sent letters of support. Currently it is in a Senate Committee chaired by Senator Enzi of Wyoming. Senator Enzi needs to schedule a hearing on WRFA and a vote so the bill can move forward from the committee to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
We need every single supporter of religious liberty in Wyoming to write or call Senator Enzi and encourage him to do the right thing. Every single letter and every single call counts. You can send a letter from www.religiousliberty.info or you call Senator Enzi’s office here in Washington at (202) 224-3424 to voice your support. For those unfamiliar with this vital bill, www.religiousliberty.info has all the background information you need.
Please pass this message onto anyone you know in Wyoming. We need Senator Enzi to move this bill forward – too many good men and women are being fired for no crime other than following God. It’s time to put our religious liberty talk into religious liberty action!
Advocates for public health are expressing concern over the dramatic reduction in the Government’s demands in litigation with the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry for decades knew their product was addictive and deadly, and did all they could to hide this from the public. Millions of Americans, and tens of millions of people worldwide died agonizing early deaths as a result.
While justice for those people is not possible, the current litigation aims at ensuring the tobacco provides funds to independent entities to engage in the kind of multi-billion dollar campaign necessary to counteract the tobacco industry’s marketing efforts. The tobacco industry spends over $34 BILLION a year advertising in the U.S. alone – much of it aimed at kids. Experts have urged the Government seek $120 billion from the tobacco companies for a multi-year anti-smoking campaign. Recently the administration of the U.S. Department of Justice reduced the amount they are asking for to just $10 billion.
Of course $10 billion is a lot of money, until you compare it with the $34 billion the tobacco industry is spending every single year. Will $10 billion help? Sure it will. But over ten years, the tobacco industry will outspend that amount 34 to 1. No wonder kids continue to start smoking – with $34 billion a year, you can do a lot to influence the decisions of insecure, vulnerable kids.
From June 26-27, 2005, Andrews University is holding a religious liberty conference in conjunction with Seeds Plus. For a full schedule of events, and steps to register, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been a big summer for me on a personal level. My wife earned her PhD at the University of Maryland this month, and I reached the ripe old age of 40 last week. In a couple of weeks I will join 70,000 or so Seventh-day Adventists in St. Louis for the General Conference Session. These are exiting times, with much ahead of us. The challenge is large, but our resolve is strong. If you haven’t already, why don’t you join us at www.religiousliberty.info and together we’ll work to advance the cause of truth and religious liberty.
May God bless you,
These religious liberty newsflashes and legislative e.lerts are published by the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Department of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty, www.churchstate.org.
Subscribe to Liberty: a Magazine of Religious Liberty, at www.libertymagazine.org
Readers are urged to join the North American Religious Liberty Association, and do your part to uphold the banner of truth and religious liberty, at www.religiousliberty.info.
Contributions to support the work of NARLA can also be made at www.religiousliberty.info.