Current Issues - Religious Liberty

 

ALCAP recently produced a 33-minute video interview with Tommy Littleton, a local evangelist who attended the Birmingham City Council meeting the night "The City of Birmingham Non-Discrimination Ordinance" was passed. Tommy has experience working with HIV and AIDS patients in New York City and has a great deal of knowledge about the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) that is pushing for acceptance of homosexuality in our society and culture. I encourage you to make the time to watch this YouTube video in its entirety. Churches and pastors must get ready for the assault on religious freedom that has already begun.



                                                                                                                                                     

The World View in 5 Minutes

Wednesday, October 5th, in the year of our Lord, 2016.
By Adam McManus
Joe Godfrey, Executive Director of Alabama Citizens Action Program, spoke to The World View about the suspension of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore who dared to affirm traditional marriage in the face of the Obergefell Supreme Court decision last June.

“I am not surprised by the suspension of Judge Moore, but I’m very disappointed because I feel that it was an attack on religious liberty in America. I admire Judge Moore for his stance -- that marriage is between one man and one woman – because, in this case particularly, he was standing on constitutional law.”

Godfrey is hopeful that Chief Justice Moore will be exonerated and restored to his former position by his former colleagues.

“It is my hope that the Alabama ​State ​Supreme Court will overturn the decision of the Court of the Judiciary. But my sense of the likelihood of that happening is based on the fact that in the past the court has demonstrated that it is a very conservative court, and very careful to adhere to the state constitution and the Constitution of the United States. I believe that it’s very possible they could overturn the Court of Judiciary’s decision.”

If the Alabama Supreme Court fails to restore Judge Moore, he will remain suspended without pay through January, 2019, the remainder of his term.

Click here for the audio and click LISTEN NOW to hear the interview. (5 minutes and 15 seconds into the interview)
                                                                                                  

Obama's LGBT Executive Order Endangers Religious Liberty

July 21, 2014

President Obama signed an executive order Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – ignoring the pleas of Christian and other faith leaders to include an exemption for religious organizations.

“Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government – the government of the people, by the people and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer,” the president told a gathering in the White House.

The executive order would prevent Christian and other religious organizations with federal contracts from requiring workers to adhere to the tenets of their religious beliefs. Christianity Today reports the order could impact religious non-profits such as World Vision, World Relief and Catholic Charities.

Click here to read the rest of the article.
                                                                                                 
The following article entitled, "Is That Legal?" was taken from the ivotevalues.org website. It provides pertinent information concerning what churches and pastors can and cannot do in order to maintain a local church's tax-exempt status. Click here for the brochure "Is That Legal?"

Is That Legal?

Good question! Many are confused about what is and what is not legal given the IRS restrictions on political activity by tax-exempt organizations. While it is impossible to lay out a definitive list of do’s and don’ts since the IRS interprets what is and isn't legal, the resource below is offered for general guidelines:

CHURCHES MAY DO THE FOLLOWING:

  • Sermons on moral and social issues and civic involvement
  • Educate on political process and political/social/legislative issues
  • Distribution of candidate surveys and incumbent voting records (avoid editorial opinions and make sure they cover a wide range of issues)
  • Encourage members to voice their opinions in favor or in opposition to certain legislation.*
  • Discuss biblical instruction pertaining to moral and cultural issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.
  • Support or oppose judicial, department, or cabinet appointments
  • Support or oppose other political appointments of non-elected officials
  • Use of church facilities by political candidates (as long as all other candidates are allowed or invited)
  • Petition drives supporting or opposing legislation
  • Support or oppose legislation unrelated to the church organization.*
  • Engage in voter registration activities that avoid promoting any one candidate or particular political party.
  • Support or oppose legislation that directly relates to the organization.**

CHURCHES MAY NOT DO THE FOLLOWING:

  • Endorsing or opposing political candidates
  • Contributions to Political Action Committees
  • Church bulletin editorial where the pastor or staff member endorses or opposes a candidate
  • Campaigning for candidates
  • Fundraising for candidates
  • Granting use of name to support a political candidate
  • Support or oppose judicial candidates
  • In-kind and independent expenditures for or against political candidates
  • Contributions to political candidates

PASTORS MAY DO THE FOLLOWING:

  • Preach on moral and social issues and encourage civic involvement.
  • Engage in voter registration activities that avoid promoting any one candidate or particular political party.
  • Distribute educational materials to voters (such as voter guides), but only those that do not favor a particular candidate or party and that cover a wide range of issues.
  • Conduct candidate or issues forums where each duly qualified candidate invited and provided an equal opportunity to address the congregation.
  • Invite candidates or elected officials to speak at church services. Churches that allow only one candidate or a single party’s candidate to speak can be seen as favoring that candidate or party. No candidate should be prohibited from addressing a church if others running for the same office have been allowed to speak. Exempt from this are candidates or public figures who may speak at a church, but they must refrain from speaking about their candidacy.

PASTORS MAY NOT DO THE FOLLOWING:

  • Endorse candidates on behalf of the church.
  • Use church funds or services (such as mailing lists or office equipment) to contribute directly to candidates or political committees.
  • Permit the distribution of material on church premises that favors any one candidate or political party.
  • Use church funds to pay fees for political events.
  • Allow candidates to solicit funds while speaking in a church.
  • Set up a political committee that would contribute funds directly to political candidates.

*Churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations may support or oppose legislation so long as such activity comprises an insubstantial part of the overall operation. 501(c)(4) organizations may support or oppose legislation without any limitations.

**A church or any other 501(c)(3) organization may without limitation support or oppose legislation that directly affects the organizational structure and operation. For example, a church may without limitation oppose legislation attempting to repeal the tax exempt status of the church.

Adapted from resources provided by:

Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice; www.aclj.org.

Mathew D. Staver, Liberty Council; www.lc.org.

Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
                                                                                         

FIRST-PERSON: Convoluted reasoning

by Jeff Iorg
Date: May 26, 2015

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP) -- A very successful political consultant in the Bay Area, who has helped elect a number of local officials, was arrested and charged with multiple counts of child pornography earlier this month. At his arraignment, the evidence presented reportedly included some particularly heinous depictions of sexual acts involving children.

The political fallout has been dramatic and immediate. Former clients, particularly those now in office, have rushed to outdo themselves with denials of any and all relationship with their former confidant. He is radioactive -- political death to anyone associated with him.

While his purported actions are deplorable, watching politicians scramble to find the moral high ground on this issue has been frustrating at best, comical at worst. They are applying a double standard to his behavior which reveals the convoluted reasoning prevalent in making and enforcing laws these days.

In light of current reasoning, what legal defense should this alleged pedophile mount? How about these familiar sounding arguments: "My sexual orientation makes me a protected class citizen; therefore, expressing it is my civil right. My sexual orientation is an inborn trait; therefore expressing it is my natural right. My sexual orientation cannot be regulated by the state; what happens in private is my business, not anyone else's."

Most people would scoff at these fallacious arguments. They would cite children's lack of maturity for consenting to sexual activity, their need to be protected from exploitive adults, the physical harm of sexual activity to children, and the illegality of such behavior in our culture. They would be right on all counts. These cultural mores and laws, however, are based on the foundation of Judeo-Christian moral authority, upon which so much of our legal system rests (or at least rested in the past).

This moral foundation has been rejected in our culture. The new moral standard is whatever is culturally popular -- and then made legal by legislative action or court decisions. We now define morality by what is legal and legality by what is popular. Polling has replaced principled discernment in national decision-making.

The conviction that sexual activity involving children is wrong is not based on cultural disdain for it, but on timeless moral standards. Political leaders can't have it both ways. They should not change some laws to reflect current cultural mores and then claim some kind of moral authority to uphold other laws when it's politically expedient.

Governing by principle based on unchanging moral convictions -- not popular opinion -- is essential for democracy to survive. Let's hope we figure this out again before it's too late.
                                                                                                         

Same-sex marriage now legal in Alabama

by Neisha Roberts/The Alabama Baptist, posted Monday, February 09, 2015

MONTGOMERY Ala. (BP) -- What once read "bride and groom" on Alabama marriage licenses now reads "spouse and spouse."

Gay "marriage" was made legal Feb. 9 after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta did not issue an extended stay request from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange's office over a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade.

The state waited in anticipation to see if the U.S. Supreme Court would step in to extend the stay, but the waiting ended in disappointment for those supportive of biblical marriage.

The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions voted unanimously at its Feb. 6 meeting to "express moral outrage, intense grief and strong disagreement over court rulings that have set our culture in a direction against the biblical definition of marriage" in its Resolution on Reaffirmation of Biblical Marriage. See related story.

Rick Lance, ABSBOM executive director, said in a video statement (click here) released Feb. 4, "Now more than ever we need to commit ourselves to praying for spiritual and moral awakening in our land. In the course of history Christians have often been at their best when they were opposed by government and culture."

The ABSBOM encouraged all churches to be wise about preparing their bylaws and policies and released a Christian Response Task Force report designed to "help autonomous Baptist churches think through vital issues and formulate their own internal policies."

The report listed options a Baptist church may use to "protect its biblical values" including a potential marriage statement: "We believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, following biblical principles (Gen. 2:19–24, Lev. 18:22, Matt. 19:4–6, Rom. 1:18–27, Eph. 5:22–33, Heb. 13:4). We believe that God sanctions only the union in marriage of a man to a woman. Therefore, this church recognizes only a wedding compatible with those standards."

The report concluded with a call for God's people to be "salt and light transforming the culture while not being conformed to (it)."

"Let us be true to our Lord and His Word while showing compassion and care to those for whom He died. Let us speak and practice the truth in love to the glory of the Lord and to the health of His Church" the report said.

Also on the morning of Feb. 6 about 70 people gathered to pray on the steps of Alabama's State House in Montgomery.

Organized by Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP), speakers included Dan Ireland, ALCAP executive director emeritus; Mark Gidley, pastor of Faith Worship Center, Glencoe; and Mike Jackson, director of the office of leadership and church health at ABSBOM. State Rep. Allen Farley closed in prayer. Joe Godfrey, ALCAP executive director, hosted the event and introduced each speaker.

Godfrey said prior to the event, "This is not a matter of political debate ... this is truly an issue that addresses the very heart of God. His love for mankind is expressed through His designs for marriage and family. No matter the whims of public opinion ... God's Word does not change."

Click here to read the rest of the article.
                                                                                       

The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage

Dr. Joe Godfrey, Executive Director of ALCAP
October 30, 2014

I had the opportunity to attend a conference October 27-29, 2014 in Nashville, TN that was hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The conference title was, “The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage,” and it provided pastors and denominational leaders with a great deal of information and resource material that will help Christians deal with this issue in their churches and communities.

Click here to watch the videos of the various sessions.
                                                                                            

5 Myths About Homosexuality

by David Allen on October 20, 2014

Click here to read an article by Dr. David Allen, Five Myths about Homosexuality.

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