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Video: ‘The Foundry’—School Choice Celebrated at D.C. Rally

Citizen Link - Fri, 01/31/2014 - 15:36

by Karen Jeffers

A rally held Wednesday at the Friendship Public Charter School in Washington D.C. celebrated the 4th annual School Choice Week.

Watch the video here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about The Heritage Foundation.

 

Inseparable

Citizen Link - Fri, 01/31/2014 - 01:02

Groups Claim Religious Freedom Act Violates Constitution

Citizen Link - Thu, 01/30/2014 - 17:17

Secular groups filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court this week claiming a decades-old religious freedom act violates the Constitution.

Passed by lawmakers in 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) prevents other laws from infringing on the free exercise of religion.

Filed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation and others, the brief claims that RFRA “endangers the vulnerable — who otherwise would be protected by the neutral, generally applicable laws of this country.”

The challengers want the Court to review the law in view of pro-life lawsuits challenging the Health and Human Services mandate. Obamacare requires most for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations to offer potential abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans.

More than 90 suits against the mandate are in play.

The Supreme Court will hear two cases challenging the mandate on March 25: Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The Christian-owned businesses could be shut down by the administration because of their beliefs. The high court is expected to rule in June.

John Malcolm, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said business owners should be allowed to exercise their faith.

“A lot of corporations — whether they are halal butchers, kosher butchers, or companies that are created to produce and distribute religious literature — operate not just to put money in their pockets, but also to serve a higher being according to their deeply held religious beliefs,” Malcolm told CitizenLink. “They have a strong RFRA claim.”

He said it’s unlikely the court will rule against RFRA.

“It is a virtual certainty that the Supreme Court will not accept the invitation by this interest group to declare RFRA unconstitutional or to even entertain that argument.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the brief filed with the Supreme Court in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, et al.

Learn more about RFRA.

Federal Court Upholds California Gay-Therapy Ban

Citizen Link - Thu, 01/30/2014 - 17:11

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a law making it illegal for California minors to receive counseling for unwanted same-sex attractions.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1172 into law two years ago. The legislation bans sexual-orientation change effort (SOCE) counseling for anyone under 18.

“Legislators and judges in the state of California have essentially barged into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people,” said Liberty Council Chairman Mat Staver. “(They have) told them that their confusion … is normal and they should pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex attractions and behavior, regardless of whether those minors desire their religious beliefs to trump their unwanted attractions.”

Liberty Counsel will now petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The legal group has filed two similar suits in New Jersey, which has also banned SOCE therapy. Similar legislation has been introduced in Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Virginia and Washington.

“We won’t give up,” Staver explained. “We will continue fighting to protect these young people from homosexual activists and tyrannical politicians for as long as it takes.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Pickup v. Brown.

Read the order issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ohio: ‘How the Common Core Destroys Minds and Souls’

Citizen Link - Thu, 01/30/2014 - 16:56

CitizenLink is proud to work with Citizens for Community Values and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.   

by Citizens for Community Values

Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College delivers a lecture on ”The Story-Killers: A Common Sense Case Against Common Core.”

Watch the video here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Citizens for Community Values.

 

Stoplight: Inseparable

Citizen Link - Thu, 01/30/2014 - 16:33



Some things cannot be separated — no matter how much the government wants to.

Thanks for sharing Stoplight® with your friends.

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House Passes Bill that Would Ban Federal Funding of Abortion

Citizen Link - Wed, 01/29/2014 - 17:54

The U.S. House on Tuesday passed a bill that would permanently ban taxpayer funding for abortion.

Reps. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey and Dan Lipinski, a Democrat from Illinois, introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act last year.

The legislation now heads to the Senate.

“It’s rare Congress comes to an agreement on the issue of abortion,” said U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Illinois. “But ensuring no taxpayer dollars go to fund abortions has enjoyed bipartisan support ever since the Honorable Henry Hyde introduced his amendment.”

Passed by Congress in 1977, the Hyde Amendment ensures that abortion is not covered in the comprehensive health care services provided by the federal government. Obamacare, however, has separate funding streams that are not covered.

“Vast majorities of Americans oppose using taxpayer funds to pay for abortion, and this bill ensures this policy becomes permanent and government-wide, including in the president’s health care law,” Hultgren said. “All life should be protected, from conception to natural death, and forcing someone to pay for a procedure they oppose on moral grounds violates their freedom of conscience. Regardless of your views on the issue, everyone can agree that no one should be forced to pay for someone else’s abortion.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the bill, HR 7.

 

California: Plan Afoot to Target Nonprofits

Citizen Link - Wed, 01/29/2014 - 17:51

CitizenLink is proud to work with the California Family Alliance and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.   

by Lori Arnold

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
— Joseph Heller, author, “Catch-22”

Last week, Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1529, an innocuous-looking measure dealing with the dissolution of nonprofit corporations.

According to the language in AB 1529, the bill is designed to streamline the process of nonprofits wishing to dissolve.

Under current law, the Secretary of State oversees the formation of all nonprofits and ensures they adhere to their stated mission. The Franchise Tax Board is tasked with monitoring the state tax-exempt status of a nonprofit corporation to ensure that its tax-exempt status still applies, while the state Attorney General regulates the charitable funds and assets of nonprofits and “has broad legal and statutory authority to commence enforcement actions against charitable organizations and trusts.”

Combined, the three departments “play a crucial role in ensuring that the nonprofit corporations of California are adequately protecting the public’s trust.” Statewide, there are 144,000 nonprofit corporations that provide a variety of programs and services in areas as diverse as education, recreation, health care, legal, job training and housing. Churches are also registered as nonprofits.

On its face, streamlining government is a practice to be lauded and one that we generally endorse, but in this case it behooves us to read between the lines. In his summary for the bill, Pérez said the intent of AB 1529 is to create an efficient process to dissolve nonprofits to “the extent that this process is consistent with other sections of law.”

There is legitimate concern that the underlying intent of the law is not to make it easier for nonprofits to dissolve, but rather to make it easier for government to dissolve nonprofits that it deems violate the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

If this is true, AB 1529 makes Senate Bill (SB) 323—the punitive tax measure that would yank the nonprofit status for all fundraising income of youth charities that prohibit homosexuals from their rolls—look like a gnat on an elephant.

If AB 1529 indeed turns out to be a “thought police” measure, it would endanger every nonprofit in the state that embraces conservative causes that contradict the progressive movement, with California’s liberal left serving as judge and jury.

Paranoid? Unreasonable? Overreaching?

Just consider SB 323, which just a few years ago we could never have imagined as a possibility. Originally introduced last year, SB 323 sits in the Assembly inactive file and could be resurrected at any moment. It has already passed one Senate committee, the Senate floor and four Assembly committees. It needs only a successful vote on the Assembly floor to advance to the governor’s desk. Unlike SB 323, which requires a two-thirds floor vote for passage because it involves taxes, AB 1529 only requires a simple majority.

More evidence of the slippery slope emerged last week when a private networking group of conservative Hollywood insiders called Friends of Abe revealed it has been targeted by the IRS, which has dragged its feet on the group’s 501c3 application for nearly three years—and counting.

Officials with Friends of Abe said the IRS inappropriately sought access to a secure and private portion of its website that contained a list of its members, a request the group declined. Although some of its members are more high profile— Gary Sinise, Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight and Dennis Miller—most remain private out of fear they will be blacklisted in the progressive-dominated Hollywood. The membership of Friends of Abe is estimated at 1,500.

What’s more, the government also questioned the motives behind the group’s events and singled out a speech by former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, The New York Times reported.

The latest revelation comes after a series of similar high-profile cases emerged last year, when Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations were also targeted by the IRS.

Such governmental power subverts American freedoms ensconced in the U.S. Constitution. We have already seen the rights of conscience eroded across the country as tyrannical state and federal governments have mandated laws that violate personal religious belief regarding views on abortion and homosexuality. Bakers from Oregon, a photographer from New Mexico and a church in Hawaii – despite their own personal religious beliefs – have all been ordered to accommodate the desires of same-sex couples. Numerous Catholic hospitals and adoption agencies have closed their doors rather than perform abortions or place children in same-sex households and pharmacists in some states must fill prescriptions for abortifacients or face termination.

If the current intent of AB 1529 is really only to assist nonprofits, the danger still remains. As we have seen time and time again, California’s legislative leadership have a penchant for incremental changes that favor their special interests, ultimately intending to legally silence those who disagree.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the California Family Alliance.

 

Analysts: President Disregards Religious Freedom in State of the Union

Citizen Link - Wed, 01/29/2014 - 17:48

President Obama delivered the State of the Union Address Tuesday — and policy experts are questioning his claims. Among them: that the new health care law is “fixing” a broken health care system.

He also touched on topics including higher education, minimum wage and retirement.

Janice Shaw Crouse, with Concerned Women for America (CWA), said Obama, overall, relied on “rhetoric rather than facts.”

“This speech was particularly important because he is perilously close to being a lame duck already,” Crouse wrote in a blog for The American Spectator. “He needed to be positive and find ways to seem bipartisan and conciliatory.”

Obama touted his Affordable Care Act, claiming that more than 9 million have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid.

The Office of House Speaker John Boehner released a statement after the speech underscoring the truth: “Millions of Americans lost the health plans they liked and could afford under Obamacare, and now face higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs.”

It also highlights the fact that at least 4.7 million Americans received cancellation notices last fall.

Obama also claimed that those who oppose the health care law have not offered comprehensive alternatives.

Robert Moffit, senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Policy Innovation, called the president’s assertion “flatly false.”

“Opposition to the law is, and has been, opposition to coercion, control and the denial of persons the right to get the coverage they want rather than the coverage that federal officials say we must have, ” Moffit wrote in The Foundry. “The debate should focus on the issues the American people find most important, such as having affordable options and keeping the health plan and the doctor one wants.”

Crouse took issue with the president’s lack of concern for those forced to comply with the Health and Human Services mandate. The Obamacare provision requires most businesses and nonprofits to offer potential abortion-inducing drugs in employee health plans.

Businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, and nonprofits, such as Little Sisters of the Poor, are among those who could be shut down by the government — because of their beliefs.

More than 90 suits are in play against the mandate.

“If the President truly desires to ‘make Washington work better’ and if he really wants to ‘rebuild the trust of the people,’ he should lay down his pen and pick up his phone to call members of Congress,” Crouse wrote. “He should give respect to the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religious liberty for those who disagree with him, including GOP members of Congress.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Watch the president’s State of the Union Address.

Watch the 2014 Republican Address the Nation by House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

 

 

The Conestoga Story

Citizen Link - Wed, 01/29/2014 - 01:05

CitizenLink Report: Not Religious Enough?

Citizen Link - Tue, 01/28/2014 - 17:55



An up-close and personal look at a family-owned cabinet maker and a group of nuns who work with people at the end of life — both of whom could be shut down by the administration because of their beliefs.

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Indiana House Approves Weaker Version of Marriage Amendment

Citizen Link - Tue, 01/28/2014 - 17:19

The Indiana House voted Monday evening to change the language of a proposed marriage amendment. If they had passed the original language, Indianans most likely would have had the chance to vote on the issue in November.

Monday’s move could delay the final vote for two years. Changing the wording “resets the clock,” meaning it would have to pass this session of the Legislature and the next before it would go to the vote of the people.

It’s still possible for the Senate to reverse the amended language. If so, the amendment would head right back to the House.

Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, said he and his group were “disappointed” when they heard the news.

“Clearly this is a setback,” Smith told CitizenLink. “We are going to go back to the Senate and fight to restore the language.”

The House voted 52-43 to remove the second sentence of the proposed amendment. The first sentence of the amendment defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It remains.

“The second sentence prohibits any look-alikes, like civil unions or domestic partnership” said CitizenLink Manager of Special Projects John Paulton.

An Indiana statute defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. A state marriage amendment would protect state judges from claiming that the law violates the Constitution.

“The opponents of the amendment know that if it goes on the ballot in 2014, the people of Indiana are very likely to support natural marriage,” Paulton explained. “That would upend the aura of inevitability that they are trying to create regarding same-sex marriage — which is why they are desperate to stop a 2014 vote.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read “Take Action: Indiana Lawmakers to Consider Marriage Amendment — Again.”

Watch Ryan T. Anderson testify in favor of the Indiana Marriage Amendment.

Take Action: Fifty Briefs to Be Filed on Behalf of Hobby Lobby HHS Mandate Case

Citizen Link - Tue, 01/28/2014 - 17:01

Members of Congress, scholars and nearly two-dozen states are among those urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect Hobby Lobby from a government mandate. It requires the Evangelical-owed chain to offer potential abortion-inducing drugs in employee health care plans.

The high court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on March 25. If the court rules against the company, fines could reach more than $1 million a day. Hobby Lobby CEO David Green has said he would shut down the company before he would violate his beliefs.

“This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution,” he said. “Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.”

More than 50 briefs will be filed in the high court by midnight tonight. The briefs are from members of Congress; a group of 20 states; legal scholars; women’s groups; doctors; and a remarkably broad collection of religious groups.

Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby, called this an important fight for Americans’ religious freedom.

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens.”

Take Action for Religious Freedom
Urge Obama to stop the HHS mandate requiring businesses to provide contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs to their employee health plans.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
View a list of all the briefs filed in support of Hobby Lobby.

Read the complaint in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.

Read the Supreme Court order granting the case.

 

North Carolina: Family Group Urges State to Appeal Ultrasound Ruling

Citizen Link - Tue, 01/28/2014 - 16:57

CitizenLink is proud to work with the North Carolina Family Policy Council and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.   

by Alysse ElHage

In an announcement celebrated by abortion advocates, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Saturday that he does not support an appeal of a federal judge’s decision last week that struck down the ultrasound requirement in North Carolina’s Woman’s Right to Know Act (WRTK).

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles ruled on Jan.17 that the provision — which requires abortion providers to display and describe ultrasound images to all women seeking abortions — violates the First Amendment rights of abortion providers and abortion-minded women. In a statement  issued directly to the media on Jan.  25, Gov. McCrory said, “The heart of the [WRTK] remains intact, and patients will still receive access to important information and ample time needed to make decisions. After extensive review, I do not believe costly and drawn out litigation should be continued concerning only one provision that was not upheld by the court.”

North Carolina Family Policy Council president, John L. Rustin, expressed serious disappointment at the governor’s announcement.

“We respectfully disagree with Gov. McCrory about the importance of the ultrasound provision, which lies at the heart of the Woman’s Right to Know Act,” Rustin said. “The ultrasound requirement helps to ensure that women considering abortion in North Carolina are provided with accurate visual and descriptive information about their unborn child through an ultrasound — information they need before making a life-altering decision that cannot be undone. As a critical part of this informed consent law, the ultrasound requirement deserves to be vigorously defended by the state, and we encourage Gov. McCrory to reconsider his position and urge the Attorney General to immediately appeal Judge Eagles’ ruling.”

The decision regarding an appeal currently sits with Attorney General Roy Cooper, who has been defending the provision on behalf of the State. Should the Attorney General opt against an appeal, leaders of the North Carolina House and Senate could invoke their authority to hire outside legal counsel to defend the ultrasound provision by appealing Judge Eagles’ ruling to the higher courts. Last year, the General Assembly enacted legislation  that gives the House and Senate leadership the right to jointly defend state statutes and constitutional provisions that are challenged in court. In a response posted on his Twitter account on January 25, N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) expressed his support for an appeal. “I disagree with [the] Governor’s position on [the] Woman’s Right to Know,” Tillis said. “It’s an important law that saves lives, and the ruling should be appealed.” Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) has previously indicated that he also supports an appeal.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, three states (in addition to N.C.) have ultrasound requirements for abortion similar to North Carolina’s, including Texas. When abortion advocacy groups challenged the Texas law, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld it as constitutional, ruling in January 2012 that, “the provision of sonograms and the fetal heartbeat are routine measures in pregnancy medicine today.” As North Carolina’s leaders mull an appeal of the district court’s ruling, they would be wise to consider what the Fifth Circuit said about informed consent laws in its decision to uphold Texas’ ultrasound requirement: “The point of informed consent laws is to allow the patient to evaluate her condition and render her best decision under difficult circumstances. Denying her up to date medical information is more of an abuse to her ability to decide than providing the information.”

Requiring abortion providers to display and describe ultrasound images to every woman considering abortion is key to ensuring these women have the information they need to give fully informed consent about an invasive medical procedure that will end the life of her unborn child and is likely to have long-term negative repercussions on her life. By striking the ultrasound requirement, Judge Eagles’ ruling denies the women of North Carolina the information they need to make a fully informed decision about abortion, and it should not be allowed to stand.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

 

Choosing Between Worldviews

Citizen Link - Tue, 01/28/2014 - 01:05

Experts: Grammys Bring an Opportunity to Compare Worldviews

Citizen Link - Mon, 01/27/2014 - 19:05

It’s not unusual for the Grammys to glorify sex, drugs and debauchery. If you watched Sunday’s show, you were encouraged to get stoned and to “stay up all night to get lucky.”

Nothing new, really — for Hollywood.

But the show also featured a rapper telling the nation — through song — that we need to redefine marriage. During an instrumental break, 33 couples, some of whom were same-sex, exchanged rings. Queen Latifah officiated. And then Madonna showed up singing “Open Your Heart.”

Focus on the Family marriage and culture experts say this presents an opportunity to discuss the differences between a pop culture worldview and a Christian worldview.

“Worldview really answers the question: What is right; what is good; what is praiseworthy?” said Adam Holz, senior associate editor for PluggedIn.com. “Increasingly, the music world is offering a different view than we would offer as Christians.”

And that makes it a prime opportunity to have that conversation.

“It’s an issue that we’re seeing more and more,” Holz explained. “We wish that we didn’t have to discuss that issue with young people today, but they’re hearing about it. What’s changing is that, for decades, those of us who have watched pop music have seen the whole sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll cliché get worked out in various ways. Now we’re seeing more and more high-profile artists really get on the gay marriage bandwagon.”

Glenn Stanton, director for Family Formation Studies at Focus, called the Grammys marriage ceremony a “stunt.”

“It’s such a confused irony, because we’re expected to believe that same-sex marriage is just like any other marriage,” he said. “But people don’t go on TV, to some big event, and get married.

“You have Hollywood falling all over themselves to support anything other than male-female, married-for-life, raising-their-own-children marriage,” Stanton explained. “This is an indication to tell you same-sex marriage is altogether different than marriage. They had the heterosexual marriages in there to show that these are the ‘same things.’ But still, the heterosexual marriages on the Grammys were not serious marriages. Who honestly thinks that?”

The marriage ceremony, he said, was “just goofy — plain goofy,” and shows a lack of seriousness about marriage.

“They’re serious about being provocative,” he explained, “and they’re serious about turning everything that matters about family on its head.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read “What’s a Christian Worldview?”

Breaking News: Indiana House Votes to Amend Marriage Amendment

Citizen Link - Mon, 01/27/2014 - 19:00

(Editor’s note: Visit CitizenLink.com on Tuesday for a detailed story about today’s vote.)

The Indiana House voted 52-43 today to pass a modified version of a proposed marriage amendment.

If they had passed the original language, the people of Indiana almost certainly would have gotten to vote on the issue this fall. Changing the wording resets the clock, meaning it would have to pass again in the next session of the Legislature. There’s still a chance the Senate could reverse the change, but then it heads right back to the House.

The first sentence of the amendment defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It remains, but the next sentence was removed. The second sentence prohibits  civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Marriage has not been redefined in Indiana. The approval of a marriage amendment would mean that state judges would be unable to say that state law is unconstitutional.

“Make no mistake, those who voted to amend the bill today were voting to kill any chance of putting this on the ballot in 2014 – no matter how they vote on final passage,” said CitizenLink Manager of Special Projects John Paulton. “The people of Indiana need to hold their legislators accountable for this anti-marriage vote.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read “Take Action: Indiana Lawmakers to Consider Marriage Amendment — Again.”

Legal Group: Lawsuit Against ‘In God We Trust’ Should be Thrown Out

Citizen Link - Mon, 01/27/2014 - 18:54

A Christian legal firm filed a brief with a federal court in support of “In God We Trust” on U.S. coins and currency.

Last year, a group filed suit against the federal government claiming the use of the national motto on money violates the Constitution. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the brief with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s political agenda,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Rory Gray. “Courts have repeatedly ruled that the national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ is constitutional and can be used on U.S. currency, and that is the correct conclusion. In addition to the fact that numerous courts have already rejected the lawsuit’s claims, those bringing this suit can’t do so simply because they are offended by a historical phrase.”

ADF’s brief explains the government’s use of tax dollars to create coins and currency is “a secular government function” that does not further any religious ends.

“The emotional response of offended atheists does not amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “This lawsuit is based on a deep misunderstanding of the First Amendment. It should be dismissed.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Newdow v. United States of America.

Read ADF’s brief.

 

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