NOM BLOG

Category Archives: Free Speech

I Stand Sunday

istandsunday2

Christians across America are joining I Stand Sunday this weekend, November 2, 2014, as speakers from across the nation gather at Grace Community Church in Houston, Texas to focus on the freedom to live out our faith free of government intrusion or monitoring.

We will stand with pastors and churches in Houston, Texas who have been unduly intimidated by the city's Mayor in demanding they hand over private church communication.

Watch the free, live simulcast above beginning at 6:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. ET on Sunday (program duration is approx. 90 minutes), or the rebroadcast at 8:10PM CT/9:10 p.m. ET.

Remember to stand for religious freedom online as well by using the hashtag #IStandSunday.

Twitter Glitch or Taking Sides?

After pastors in Houston dared to exercise their first amendment rights to speak out against same-sex marriage laws, they were issued subpoenas by the city. In response, a faith-based organization launched a petition, demanding that the city end its bullying against those who were doing nothing more than acting on their rights to free speech and freedom of religion (see the First Amendment).

To spread the word, the hashtag #HoustonWeHaveAProblem was launched, which was met with a less than desirable response from Twitter.

Individuals responded with tweets to let everyone know the issue and @FaithDrivenConsumer called on others to help lift the block:

On Tuesday, in an email to the Daily Signal, a Twitter spokesman for Twitter explained:

“The URL HoustonProblem.com was mistakenly flagged as spam last week, by an outside organization that tracks spam sources. We quickly restored access and apologize for the error.”

Coincidence? You may remember that Twitter users encountered similar blocks while trying to utilize the hashtag #IStandWithPhil to petition for Phil Robertson's right to express his beliefs on the traditional Christian view of marriage and family. An executive director at Faith Driven Consumer, Matthew Faraci, admitted to The Daily Signal that while it is possible that both campaigns were blocked due to “technical reasons,” it looks suspicious.

We saw this during #IStandWithPhil, this happened to [former Arkansas] Gov. Mike Huckabee, and we know this also happened to [actor] Kirk Cameron, so fundamentally, someone needs to ask the question: Why is there a repeated pattern of behavior here?

Once Twitter fixed the “technical problem,”  the hashtag went back to leading people to the petition, which has now received over 10,000 signatures. Faraci suggested that it is possible that in blocking the petition, Twitter made the petition supporters more passionate and determined to get it signed. In addition, Faraci believes that the public deserves (and needs) more transparency from Twitter and other social media giants.

In an era where transparency is the expectation, we encourage Twitter and other social media sites to be very open about how this whole process works in order to reassure the public that there is fair and equal treatment for people of all perspectives.

Twitter has not responded to any follow-up questions regarding the number of websites it normally flags as spam on a daily basis.  Faraci made an excellent point in asking:

Has a similar effort from an opposing viewpoint been blocked? We challenge you to find such an example.

If Twitter wants to take sides, they should understand the issue at stake. The “Houston Problem” wasn’t a case of bickering political parties: it was an assault on freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Twitter's entire existence is built on the assumption of free speech and should take a hard look at those “technical issues.”

Volokh on Coeur d'Alene Ordinance: "Inconsistent with the Free Speech Clause and the Idaho RFRA"

UCLA Law Professor and Washington Post blogger Eugene Volokh has posted an analysis of the controversy surrounding the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

If you haven't heard about the outrageous case, click here for more information.

The basic situation is this, as explained by Alliance Defending Freedom, one of whose allied attorneys will be representing the couple that runs the chapel:

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Silenced

As ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco notes, "Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly."

Volokh, in his piece, seems to agree with ADF that "he city is on seriously flawed legal ground." He writes:

The First Amendment protects the right to speak the words in a wedding ceremony — words that have deep meaning to many officiants as well as to the parties — and the right to refrain from speaking the words. A system which secures the right to spread religious and moral messages inherent in the wedding vows must also guarantee the right not to convey those messages (including the message of approval of the wedding inherent in the act of officiating at it) in contexts that the officiant thinks unholy and immoral rather than sacred and right.

187643976We hope and pray that the Knapps are successful in their lawsuit. But the fact that such a lawsuit is needed at all is a sobering reminder of why we must continue to fight to roll back the damaging and unconstitutional imposition of same-sex 'marriage' that has been forced on so many States' citizens by ideologically-driven and unconscionable judges playing to a powerful special interest group.

More than the definition of marriage is at stake: the fundamental contours of our democratic republic, such as the right to self-determination and the rights of religion, speech, and assembly imbricated in the First Amendment, are also at risk of being radically redefined.

WATCH LIVE: Values Voter Summit 2014

The Values Voter Summit is just days away! The annual Summit—which provides a forum to inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong—will be held from Sept. 26-28 in Washington D.C.

If you're not able to attend, you can watch the live feed all weekend right from your home or office.

Friday, Sept. 26 Live Feed:

Saturday, Sept. 27 Live Feed:

VVS copy

New Study Suggests It's Better to Leave Religion Off Your Résumé

Do you list your involvement with religious organizations on your résumé?  You may want to cease revealing your religious affiliation on your résumé, a new study by the Southern Sociology Society suggests.  The study found that applicants whose résumés included faith affiliations were 26 percent less likely to be contacted by employers.

PapersThe Southern Sociology Society researchers sent out 3,200 fake résumés, one a control group of résumés without any religious affiliations and one group of résumés with various religious affiliations indicated by membership in a religious organization in college.

The study suggested that in order to improve their résumés, applicants refrain from publicly displaying their religious affiliations.

Natalie Wyman at The Family Foundation writes:

What does this say about our society? Citizens are advised to hide their religious beliefs so it will be easier to get a job. Shouldn’t we be advising employers to stop discriminating against applicants just because of their religious beliefs? The First Amendment of the Constitution clearly lays out this fundamental right to freedom of religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” So why does the study suggest that Americans need to restrict their free exercise of religion in order to get a job?

Unfortunately, religious discrimination in the workplace has been escalating in recent years. Studies like this one exemplify the need for more protections for religious liberty in our state and in our country. The purpose of religious liberty is not that everyone must hide their faith for fear of offending others; rather, everyone should be allowed to express their faith in public without fear of being punished.

So much for diversity.

Marriage, Marketing, and Intimidation

Over at The Public Discourse, Doug Mainwaring has written a fantastic article about the tactics that marriage redefiners increasingly embrace, and how marriage supporters must fight back against substance-lacking intimidation and personal attacks.

Advocates of same-sex marriage have aggressively used the media, political correctness, and manipulation to push their agenda on the American people, Mainwaring wrote.  He also explored a relatively unknown far-left 1990 manifesto that outlined tactics for marriage redefiners.  Doug Mainwaring

Mainwaring especially stressed that we must not be afraid to act on behalf of the truth of marriage.

Political correctness, Mainwaring wrote, has allowed marriage redefiners to silence and shame those who disagree with them.  Political correctness is the left's favorite tool but also their Achilles heel:

No tactic of the powers opposing Judeo-Christian mores has proven more effective than political correctness. Why? Non-adherents are threatened with social isolation and anaclitic depression. Thus, the peer pressure that dominates middle schools, high schools, and college campuses retains all its horrifying power to intimidate American adults, causing multitudes to suppress free inquiry and redirect their behaviors.

[...]

But the processes that have led to the surprising success of the radical left are also its Achilles heel. Consent that is manufactured is not real. Proponents of same-sex marriage haven’t won in the arena of ideas—they have won through manipulation.

The moral high ground the radical left seems to enjoy is extremely fragile, because its popular support has been fabricated. The left’s only hope of retaining this support is to continue to suppress free speech and religion. They cannot risk the proclamation of truth—whether it be the truth of the Gospel, the truth of natural law, or even simple common sense.

But the ground won by the radical left can be regained. If we are as disciplined and focused as the proponents of same-sex marriage, we can not only retake this ground, we can also pave new inroads. We must not despair; we should regroup and prepare to wage the battle in a new and different way.

Mainwaring encouraged marriage supporters to boldly, courageously speak up for the truth.  We know we have the truth, he wrote, and we must proclaim this truth in our communities.  We have the opportunity to stop the left from controlling the narrative:

The only way to fight the powerful marketing and intimidation behind same-sex marriage is for each of us to bravely stand up in our local communities, confronting the bullying, silencing tactics of out-of-touch judges, legislators, corporate cronies, and media collaborators.

Stand up for social positions that you know in your gut to be true. Don’t allow yourself to be silenced by political correctness. Stand up for marriage. Stand up for life. Stand up for the right of children to be born and to have both a mom and a dad. You have truth on your side. You are right, and they are wrong, so do not be afraid.

Men and women rise up to supplant the career politicians and media types who now dominate the national narrative. We can no longer remain silent. We need solid legislators, journalists, and activists to step up to the plate and start filling positions at every level of government—local, state, and national—and filling the blogosphere, the airwaves, and the opinion pages with authentically pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-liberty views. We need to wrest the narrative away from the radical left.

Mainwaring is one of many speakers who will be featured at the March for Marriage on June 19As a gay man who is opposed to same-sex marriage, Mainwaring brings a unique and important perspective to the marriage debate.

Why Academic Freedom Matters (Now More Than Ever)

On May 19, the Intercollegiate Review published a brilliant essay authored by Robert P. George, NOM's founding Chairman.

The essay is adapted from George's new book, Conscience and Its Enemies: Exposing the Dogmas of Secular Liberalism.  It explores why academic freedom is necessary:

College-StudentPerhaps it is worth pausing to ask why we care—or should care—so much about intellectual freedom in the academy. Why ought we be concerned about the rights of an administrator who is fired for stating her moral views by a university that says it is morally neutral and nonsectarian, or the freedom of an assistant professor who is denied tenure because he would not toe the party line at such a university? Why should we care about students who are punished with a bad grade for having the temerity to state views that are out of line with those of the course instructor? What is it about intellectual or academic freedom that makes it worth worrying about—and worth fighting for?

[...]

I have already mentioned that some partisans of academic freedom misguidedly depict truth as an enemy of freedom. They appeal to, or presuppose, a species of relativism or subjectivism or radical skepticism in defending freedom of inquiry. Now, it is certainly true that one reason for respecting academic freedom is that people can be mistaken about what they regard—even securely regard—as true. Indeed, even unanimity of belief does not guarantee its correctness. But I think that the possibility of error is not the primary or most powerful reason for honoring academic freedom and protecting it even in areas where we are secure in our knowledge of the truth.

The stronger and deeper reason is that freedom is the condition of our fuller appropriation of the truth. I use the term appropriation because knowledge and truth have their value for human beings precisely as fulfillment of capacities for understanding and judgment. The liberal arts liberate the human spirit because knowledge of truth—attained by the exercise of our rational faculties—is intrinsically and not merely instrumentally valuable. “Useful knowledge” is, of course, all to the good. It is wonderful when human knowledge can serve other human goods, such as health, as in the biomedical sciences, or economic efficiency and growth, or the constructing of great buildings and bridges, or any of a million other worthy purposes. But even “useful knowledge” is often more than instrumentally valuable, and a great deal of knowledge that wouldn’t qualify as “useful” in the instrumental sense is intrinsically and profoundly enriching and liberating. This is why we honor—and should honor even more highly than we currently do in our institutions of higher learning—excellence in the humanities and pure science (social and natural).

Knowledge that elevates and enriches—knowledge that liberates the human spirit—cannot be merely notional. It must be appropriated. It is not—it cannot be—a matter of affirming or even believing correct propositions. The knowledge that elevates and liberates is knowledge not only that something is the case but also why and how it is the case. Typically such knowledge does more than settle something in one’s mind; it opens new avenues of exploration. Its payoff includes new sets of questions, new lines of inquiry.

Let us return, then, to the question of why we should respect freedom even where truth is known securely. It is because freedom—freedom to inquire, freedom to assent or withhold assent as one’s best judgment dictates—is a condition of the personal appropriation of the truth by the human subject, the human person for the sake of whom, for the flourishing of whom, for the liberation of whom, knowledge of truth is intrinsically valuable. And it is intrinsically valuable not in some abstract sense but precisely as an aspect of the well-being and fulfillment of human beings—rational creatures whose flourishing consists in part in intellectual inquiry, understanding, and judgment and in the practice of the virtues that make possible excellence in the intellectual question.

The freedom we must defend is freedom for the practice of these virtues. It is freedom for excellence, the freedom that enables us to master ourselves. It is a freedom that, far from being negated by rigorous standards of scholarship, demands them. It is not the freedom of “if it feels good, do it”; it is, rather, the freedom of self-transcendence, the freedom from slavery to self.

Read the rest of Robert George's essay here.

Repression: A Very, Very Dangerous Thing

Two national voices from opposite sides of the spectrum related the same opinion in the wake of the Sam Bradford draft photo uproar: “Shouldn’t you also be teaching people who are gay to be open and understanding of people?"

Newt Gingrich and Stephen A. Smith, a self-described liberal, both expressed that the wave of recriminations against people speaking out against the televised kiss demonstrates an incredible intolerance on the part of the gay community.

Newt GingrichAs was reported on TruthRevolt.org yesterday:

On CNN's Crossfire, co-host Newt Gingrich pushed back against recent recriminations against people speaking out against Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on ESPN after he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams.

Gingrich debated co-host Van Jones and former NFL player Jamal Anderson over the NFL fining and suspending Miami Dolphins linebacker Don Jones for Tweeting out "Horrible" after the televised kiss.  Former NFL running back Derrick Ward received death threats after he went further in condemning the gay PDA he and his kids saw during the televised draft.

Gingrich:  “You guys talk about how you want to be inclusive, except of course, if somebody tweets this, then having a death threat or ‘let’s send them off to sensitivity training.’ It strikes me, that’s repression, that’s not inclusive.”

Anderson:  “Is it repression to try to teach them to be understanding and open to other people, especially when you talk about people they have not been exposed to?”

Gingrich:  “Shouldn’t you also be teaching people who are gay to be open and understanding of people?"

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, a self-described liberal, echoed Gingrich's sentiments yesterday when he said, "People should have the freedom to not want to be associated with that or not want that in their face. Smith also said, 'I think it’s a very, very dangerous thing when people see something and they have a problem with what they’re seeing and they express themselves, and ultimately they’re fined.'"

Did This Councilman Really Just Tell Millions of New Yorkers They're Unwelcome There? Yes. Yes He Did.

We've shared with you before this insightful article by Ryan Anderson at Heritage about the recent resignation of Brendan Eich from Mozilla. In it, Ryan remarked:

The debate over the meaning and purpose of marriage will continue. We should conduct it in a civil manner. Bullies may win for a while, but theirs is a scorched-earth policy. They poison democratic discourse and fray the bonds on which democracy itself ultimately depends.

Even those who disagree with each other about morally charged issues of public policy need to be able to live together.

Councilman Daniel DrommBut lest we think that Eich's ouster is an outlier, a rare case, consider this more recent news out of New York City. Via the Huffington Post, a gay city councilman is quoted as protesting the entrance of an unwanted new presence into his city. From his remarks here, who might you guess he's talking about?

"We don’t need bigots coming to New York City," Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is openly gay, told HuffPost. "They are not welcome here unless they can embrace all of New York's diverse community, including the LGBT community."

What radical group could provoke such a fiery response and merit being slurred as "bigots", you ask? Well, unbelievable as it may seem... Chick-fil-A. And yet the company hardly seems like it should be so unwelcome to a sane observer.

Of course, the reason for Dromm's intolerance of the company is that its CEO personally values biblical beliefs about marriage as solely being the union of one man and one woman.

Chick-fil-A, NYC

But what's most horrifying in Dromm's remarks is his final say on the matter. You would think that maybe his first statement of unwelcomeness was a knee-jerk and misinformed reaction. What if he were told that Chick-fil-A's CEO has repeatedly said that he has no intention of bringing the company into the political debate surrounding the issue of marriage?

From HuffPost [emphasis added]:

... Dromm, the city councilman, said there was no place for Chick-fil-A in New York, even if it remains out of the political fray.

“We don’t need bigoted people even keeping their opinions to themselves,” he said. “They need to wake up and see reality.”

Not only is the sleight of "bigot," directed toward those who hold marriage to be the union of a man and a woman, completely unfair, mean-spirited, and wide of the mark. More than that: here we have the most compelling proof one could want of Ryan Anderson's assertion that the gay rights community is engaged in a "scorched earth" policy of bigotry and intolerance.

It is a "thought policy" regime in the making, and if anyone thinks a lesson was learned with the Mozilla controversy, he or she needs only consider this later story to realize that Eich's treatment was only a template for the radical homosexual lobby's plans for the future. For now, it's chilling enough to know that an elected city councilman in New York has just told millions of his fellow residents that they are unwelcome there simply on account of their pro-marriage values.

Hollywood's "New Blacklist"

HollywoodIn case you missed it, at National Review Online on December 23rd, John O'Sullivan wrote of "The New Blacklist" in Hollywood, giving a name to the elephant in the room to which the Duck Dynasty dust-up has called attention.

O'Sullivan explains:

[W]hat GLAAD has been operating is a classic blacklist operation.

Its object is not to persuade those who disagree with it over the morality of same-sex relationships to change their minds. Nor is it principally intended to prevent such views being expressed publicly (though that is one of its purposes). Its main purpose is to drive those who hold such views out of their professions and to deprive them of their livelihoods unless they recant, promise not to offend in future, and remain within the boundaries of acceptable opinion laid down by the blacklist operators. And if that is done, it should make anyone think twice or three times before using his freedom of speech to express similar views.

Read the rest here.

Quack On! Share a Flier to Support Phil Robertson

For those interested in sharing a flier to encourage others to support Phil Robertson and the right to share our beliefs in the public square, feel free to download one here. Whether you're at work or school, your place of worship or simply around town, these fliers are a great way to spread support for the Robertson family and let the executives at A&E know that the majority of Americans stand with Phil.

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 5.42.00 PM

If you haven't signed the petition to support Phil, please do so here.

[A]ll good with God and the Bible when it suits their agenda and business needs, but…

The backlash against the cable channel home of “Duck Dynasty” A & E continues with fire hose pace and pressure.

Phil RobertsonWhile probably not the most recent given the torrent of criticism against the network, here’s yet another take on the inconsistency of A&E’s action against Phil Robertson.

Richie Laxton on the Tea Party Nation website writes.

My Thoughts on A&E Suspending Phil Robertson...

Aside from the silliness of A&E putting Phil Robertson in time out like he's a mis-behaving 5 year old, I find this whole thing rather curious. Phil recently released his book "Happy, Happy, Happy" and he didn't hold back on a lot of controversial topics including matters the Bible addresses as sin. A&E network chiefs had no qualms then. Perhaps they assumed Southern Rednecks don’t read books and D. C. to New York elites won’t touch anything with ‘camo’ on it. But, when Pa-Paw Phil answers a question from a GQ reporter bluntly and in accordance to his Biblical beliefs, even quoting verses from the New Testament, suddenly A&E gets weak in the knees. This is glaring inconsistency on their part. Certainly they have a right as a business to do what they feel is best for their brand, Nevertheless, they knew full and well who and what the Robertson clan was all about when they signed them up.

In Phil's book, he made it clear that they told A&E execs that prayer, Bible and Christian points of view were going to be part of the show. A&E agreed to those terms and even ceded much creative control to the family regarding the series. Now this???

So, I have to conclude that A&E is all good with God and the Bible when it suits their agenda and business needs. But, when it doesn't, put a Lady GaGa meat dress on the Christians and open the lion cages. Typical, elitist, media hypocrisy in a wretched guise they fraudulently label as 'tolerance.'

Love him or hate him, at least Phil was consistent; A&E wasn't. However, after looking at A&E's Facebook page, they are the ones who are getting bit the hardest.

Prager: "In the name of tolerance, the left is eroding liberty in America."

Writing in Human Events, author and radio host Dennis Prager observes that "'Tolerance' Now Means Government-Coerced Celebration."

Tolerance

Prager gives the opinion in reference to the recent Colorado court decision that compels a Christian baker to provide wedding cakes to same-sex 'marriage' ceremonies and other such events which he objects to on religious grounds.

Prager makes many salient arguments for why this ruling is poorly reasoned, as well as dangerous in its implications for the future. For instance, he observes:

[The baker] is not discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation. He readily sells to people he knows to be gay. What he is unwilling to do is to participate in an event that he opposes for legitimate religious reasons. Until, at the most, 10 years ago, no one would have imagined that a person could be forced to provide goods or services for a same-sex wedding.

Read his entire piece today.

Hundreds of Thousands Rally for Marriage in Taiwan

On Saturday, between 200,000 and 300,000 citizens turned out to protest a bill that would delete the reference to "man and woman" from the civil law defining marriage in Taiwan (known as "Civil Law 972").

Pictures from the event are remarkable:

Taiwan Rally2

According to LifeSiteNews.com:

President of the Control Yuan party, Wang Chien-shien, marched with the protesters, saying that while he has “respect and support all homosexual people,” he fears that amending the marriage laws will “affect the healthy marriage system and healthy families, which are the foundations of a stable country,” reported The China Post.

The ruling Kuomintang party (KMT) urged in a Nov. 29 press conference for a postponement in the review of the amendment.

"The KMT do not oppose gays or lesbians and we want to treat them legally and protect their human rights as well. But we need to be more careful when it comes to our traditional virtues that concern our families," said KMT spokesperson Lin Te-fu, reported Want China Times.

Taiwan Rally

[IMAGES SRC]

The coalition to oppose the bill amending Civil Law 972 has already been formed, and over half-a-million signatures have been collected. [Read more here.]

Crisis Magazine - The Persecution of Christians

ChristianityIn the aptly named Crisis Magazine, Stephen Beale has begun to chronicle the persecution of Christians as they take public stands through their businesses against the redefinition of marriage.  NOM has chronicled many of these for you, but the article is a timely reminder of the growing threat to our free exercise of religion as marriage is redefined.  Beale quotes, Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of The Thomas Moore Law Center:

These cases represent a new battlefield in the clash between the freedoms of Christians and the “radical homosexual agenda”…Despite their relatively small numbers, radical homosexuals wield enormous power. They dominate our cultural elite, Hollywood, television, the mainstream news media, public schools, academia, and a significant portion of the judiciary…As a result of their power, homosexual activists are able to intimidate and silence opposition.

Read more here.