Friday, May 29, 2009

New Federal Lawsuit Challenging Prop 8

As you may have heard, immediately after our victory in the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8, a new lawsuit – this time in federal court – was filed claiming that Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. While the case is based on highly questionable grounds (there is no federal right to same-sex marriage under the U.S. Constitution), it does benefit from two high-powered attorneys: Ted Olson and David Boies. Olson is a Republican and former lawyer for George Bush; Boies is a Democrat and former lawyer for Al Gore.  We are treating this case seriously. 

In order to make sure that Prop 8 and the will of the people is fully defended, we are immediately filing a motion to intervene in the litigation, just as we did in the California Supreme Court.  Without our intervention, the entire legal defense of Prop 8 in the federal court will fall upon the California Attorney General, a troubling prospect since he has stated firmly that he believes that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and should be invalidated. We are optimistic that the federal court will allow us to intervene and provide a legal defense for Prop 8.  An initial hearing in this case will be held in July.

We will keep you informed as this dangerous case unfolds.  If you wish to contribute to the legal defense of Prop 8, please donate here to the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund.  Your gift is tax deductible as allowed by law.  Thank you for your loyal and continued support for traditional marriage.


Andy Pugno
General Counsel,

Redoubling Our Commitment to Defend Marriage

On Tuesday – less than three months after Kenneth W. Starr and I appeared in the California Supreme Court on behalf of our Campaign to defend Prop 8 – the Court finally issued its decision… all 185 pages of it!

By a 6 to 1 vote, a nearly-unanimous majority of the Supreme Court upheld the vote of the people by which Prop 8 was passed into law to protect traditional marriage in our State Constitution.  You canread the decision here as it appears on the Court’s website.

While there were no real surprises in the decision, and it looks very much like we anticipated after seeing how the Court was leaning at the March hearing, I wanted to take a moment to share a few important thoughts with you:

First, it is important to pause and fully appreciate the enormous odds we overcame in this case.  We, the people, were up against all the major national gay rights organizations, the State Attorney General, numerous cities and counties, labor unions, law professors, legislators, corporations with deep pockets --- basically the entire political establishment ---- as well as literally hundreds of lawyers working hard to overturn Prop 8.  Under those conditions it is even more amazing that we ultimately prevailed in winning this case to uphold the will of the voters.  We have much to be thankful for.

Second, the Court’s decision to continue recognizing those same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses prior to the passage of Prop 8 should be kept in perspective.  Remember that a large number of the marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples were for out-of-state residents travelling to California --- which will not be recognized anyway in the vast majority of their home states.  Moreover, if California goes as Massachusetts did after legalizing gay marriage, a substantial portion of the still-recognized gay marriages will be dissolved by divorce within a few years.  In the end, only a tiny number of gay marriages will continue to be recognized.  What really matters is that the vast majority of what was at stake in this case --- the right of the voters to amend the state constitution to restore traditional marriage going forward --- ultimately proved to be a complete victory for us!

Last, even as we celebrated our victory for the more than 7 million voters who approved Prop 8 at the polls, our opponents were already announcing today their intention to bring another measure to reverse Prop 8 in a future election, and to conduct a grassroots campaign in the mean time to change the hearts and minds of California voters to favor gay marriage.  Also, we just learned that another challenge (this time in federal court) has been filed against Prop 8.  In other words, although today was a major victory of epic proportions, the war is not over.  We must remain committed to defending traditional marriage on every front. 

Thank you again for everything you have done to help us protect marriage in California.  This great decision upholding the will of the voters should be encouragement to us all, to stay in the fight and redouble our commitment to defend marriage. 


Andy Pugno
Chief Legal Counsel

California Supreme Court Upholds Proposition 8!

Our hard work has paid off – the California Supreme Court just upheld Proposition 8! Marriage in California has been validated by our highest Court as being only between a man and a woman. Our prayers have been answered!

We owe a great debt of gratitude to you and our army of supporters. Without your help, this victory could not have been possible. You gave generously of your time and resources, and this victory is yours!

We also owe a great debt of gratitude to our outstanding attorneys who worked tirelessly preparing our briefs and argument before the California Supreme Court. Kenneth W. Starr and Andrew Pugno were our lead attorneys, and organized a strong contingent of attorneys who worked with them behind the scenes. They did a masterful job.

The Court’s decision is very long and complex. We will be analyzing it throughout the day and reacting publicly via a press conference at noon and likely dozens of interviews thereafter.  Andrew Pugno will be writing a detailed analysis of the opinion, which we will get to you as soon as possible.

Now we must turn our attention to protecting this victory. We can expect angry protests by homosexual activists, just as they protested the people’s vote last November. Take heart that this activity actually backfires for them. Support for gay marriage has declined since the election, and support for traditional marriage increased, partly because of the protests the gay community has launched.

Still, we must move forward into a new phase of this battle. Our opponents have vowed to qualify a new measure to the 2010 ballot to overturn Prop 8. is moving forward with efforts to fund education and outreach to citizens on the importance of traditional marriage. We begin this effort from scratch and must raise several million dollars to get our message out.

Your contributions sustained us during this long, hard fight to win approval of Proposition 8. We’re in a new phase now and ask for your continued support. Please click here to make a contribution to the Action Fund to preserve our Prop 8 victory.

Again, thank you for your work. You’ve won a great victory!


Ron Prentice, Chairman

Church of Scotland abandons Bible - allows gay pastor

LONDON - The Church of Scotland has approved the appointment of an openly homosexual minister - the latest case of tensions over sexuality to prompt division in the Anglican Communion.


The church's ruling body voted Saturday by 326 to 267 to support the appointment of the Rev. Scott Rennie, 37, who was previously married to a woman and is now in a relationship with a man.


Rennie was first appointed as a minister 10 years ago, but has faced opposition from some critics since he moved to a church in Aberdeen, Scotland, last year.


The case threatens to divide Scottish religious leaders and follows tensions within the worldwide 77 million-member Anglican Communion. About 900 elders and ministers took part in a debate on Rennie's case, but many chose to abstain from casting a vote.


Anglicans have conducted lengthy debate over sexuality issues since the Episcopal Church - the Anglican body in the U.S. - consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.


Rennie said he believed religious conservatives were behind attempts to oust him from his post. "The same talk was about when women were ordained and I think that argument suits those that don't want any change," he told Britain's Sky News television on Saturday.


Following the vote to back Rennie, Scotland's Equality and Human Rights Commission said the Church of Scotland had proven itself to be "a modern church for a modern Scotland."


Protesters had lobbied the Kirk - the Church of Scotland's ruling executive - over Rennie's case, saying his appointment was not consistent with the teachings of the Bible.


"We are absolutely opposed to that on the basis of what God has to say about homosexuality in the Bible," one opponent, Pastor Jack Bell of the Zion Baptist Church in Glasgow, Scotland, said.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

When conscience is criminalized

Usually May is the time of the year when students are fitted for the cap and gown, count their credits, pay their school bill and plan the parties. With a firm handshake and a costly piece of paper, they will start their lives in the real world.
That won't be true for Julea Ward, who used to be a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University until she was kicked out for her religious beliefs.


Ms. Ward was enrolled in a graduate program at the school and as part of her education was required to enroll in a counseling practicum. In that practicum, she was assigned a case involving a homosexual who needed help. Ms. Ward did not feel that she could affirm the student's homosexual lifestyle because of her Christian beliefs, so she asked her supervisor what she should do. His advice was to refer the student to a counselor who had no qualms with affirming homosexual behavior. That is what she did, and it was all done before she saw the student. There was no counseling that took place between the two, there was no confrontation between the two, and there was no condemnation of homosexuality -- just an honest confession of her deeply held religious belief. But the story doesn't end there.
Julea was summoned to appear before a disciplinary hearing and told that if she wanted to continue on with her graduate program, she would have to submit to a "remediation" program so that she could see "the error of her ways." She refused to be forced into a re-education program designed to convert her from biblical faith, and as a result, she was kicked out of school. There's your tolerance.
Now, remember, Julea didn't demand that the student be denied help, she didn't get in his face and tell him he's condemned to hell, she didn't even roll her eyes and give a general impression of disgust. She simply told the truth, obeyed what her supervisor told her to do, and carried on with her life.
Does it scare you that the people overseeing her program weren't content with the fact that she acted properly and with integrity? Does is scare you that they wanted her to change not just her actions, but her religious beliefs?
If you have a child in a publicly funded college or university, this should make all kinds of alarms go off in your head. Any parent who takes their faith life seriously, no matter what brand, should be very concerned.
Publicly funded colleges and universities, and even private schools, used to pride themselves on being open forums, encouraging diversity of beliefs and philosophies. They still think that is what they are, but the truth is becoming clear: they are open to some ideas, as long as they are not from an evangelical Christian worldview, and as long as you don't practice what you preach.
Now the government is getting into the act of criminalizing your Christian conscience. Two pieces of legislation heading for Congress are sure to be used to turn what used to be religious principles into a crime. The administration is moving to repeal the "conscience clause" that protects healthcare workers from performing procedures that violate their beliefs, and protects faith-based healthcare facilities (think Catholic hospitals) from being sued for not performing abortions and the like. If the conscience clause is overturned, following your faith-informed conscience will no longer be constitutionally protected, and may well become a criminal act.
The second piece of legislation that attacks Christian faith is the so-called "hate speech" rule (H.R. 1913 / S. 909). Under this proposed law, cloaked in the guise of "protection," it is possible to see courts prosecuting any people of faith from speaking out against homosexuality, abortion, fetal stem-cell experimentation, and a host of other issues not deemed politically correct.
Maybe we need to change our national motto from "In God We Trust" to "Trust in God at Your Own Peril."

Why Do Christians Worship God? Part I

by Phil Weingart

In the world of Christian apologetics, the question “Why do Christians worship God,” comes up usually as a challenge from scornful atheists who view God as a narcissistic megalomaniac who demands attention to feed his weak ego. Of course, their idea is anthropomorphic (it assigns human characteristics to God) and therefore invalid. However, discounting the unwarranted scorn, it’s a fair question, and one that I’ve had difficulty answering in the past, other than to say “Because God says to do it.” So, I examined that part of my life a bit more carefully, and developed a more robust answer.

There are actually several reasons why we worship, all arising out of different parts of our relationship to God. Since our relationship to God changes as we mature, our reasons for worshiping change over time as well. The categories I’ve discovered are:

  • Natural worship, or the natural response to God as creator;
  • Instructional worship, or the required response to God as parent;
  • Battle worship, or the necessary response to God as liberator;
  • Intimate worship, or the voluntary response to God as intimate companion.

The first and last are natural responses of the individual, and are not commanded by God; the second and third are commanded by God, but for our benefit, not His.

Today I’m going to describe Natural Worship. I’ll follow up in the coming days with separate installments explaining what I mean by each of the other three terms.

Natural worship: the response to God as creator

A little after 3 PM on January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 took off from Laguardia airport in New York only to fly through a flock of geese, rendering both engines mostly inoperable. Without enough lift to stay aloft in the wake of the freak incident, pilot Chesley Sullenberger turned the plane around, determined that he would not make it back to Laguardia, and after checking unsuccessfully for alternative runways on which to land, laid the plane gently onto the Hudson River in one piece, at a point within easy reach of three major docks. Because of his level-headedness, preparation, and flying skill, 155 people were rescued unharmed who could easily have been involved in a fatal crash. The nation responded by making “Sully” a hero for a few weeks, and properly so.

Why is it, do you suppose, that we all automatically praise excellent performance, as we did Captain Sullenberger’s? This is clearly a human characteristic, not a cultural trait; every culture on the planet has some form of recognition for jobs done well, as they count jobs done well, and for the people who do them. It’s so much a part of us that we never wonder about it. Of course we praise those who do well. Doesn’t everybody? This is as natural a part of being human as are eating and sleeping.

Every one of us has experienced the same feeling while looking at a sunset, or at a vista of enormous mountains, or at a storm on the horizon over the ocean. The power of nature is awesome, and the recognition of it is a common human theme, a stock topic for poetry and song. I submit to you that this is the same impulse as the impulse to praise those who have done well; we recognize what is excellent, and we respond by first feeling, then expressing its excellence. The only question is, whom or what are we praising?

Praising nature itself is like praising a remarkable feat itself without knowing who performed it. When we see something remarkable take place, we naturally want to know who, what, and why. While the feat is remarkable, it’s the person who performed it that deserves the praise. And by the same token, Scientific Materialists speak of praising the excellence of nature as an end in itself, but the Christian does them one better; the Materialist can feel awe at the creation, but the Christian feeling the same awe knows Whom to commend. It’s great to enjoy a work of inspired engineering; how much better, to enjoy close friendship with the Engineer?

I’ve been taught at various Christian meetings that praise is commanded, with reference to the Psalms, vis: “Praise God in His sanctuary! Praise Him in the power of His creation!” (Psalm 150) I think the ministers who teach this are misreading the Psalms. This is no more a command to praise than a dinner bell is a command to eat. This sort of praise is not commanded because it does not have to be. It’s a natural response. When one sees greatness, one praises it.

The only part of natural worship that requires anything approaching a command is the exhortation to notice. Allow me to illustrate: I find that I enjoy road trips, driving excursions that require me to drive on the interstate highways in the US, particularly on clear days when the traffic is not too heavy. I enjoy it because it’s an occasion where I get to view the horizon. During ordinary days when I’m not driving, my focus is on a computer screen, on my lawn, on cooking utensils, and so forth; it takes a special occasion, like a road trip, to force me to look at the horizon and remember the exquisite world I live in. In the same manner, the Psalmist encourages us to look up and notice; and once we notice, praise comes naturally.

What I’m calling “natural worship” progresses as the Christian gains maturity. It begins by recognition of nature, but as the Christian grows, his or her awareness of God’s acts grows as well, and praise naturally follows. Thus Christians with a little more experience will find themselves praising God because, for example, a check arrived in the mail at a moment when it was particularly needed. The natural response to good fortune (”sweet!”) converts into gratitude (”Thanks, Jesus”), and with gratitude comes recognition of God’s sovereignty (”God is amazing.”) And then, as the Christian matures even more and this sort of interaction becomes the norm, comes a sort of intimacy with God that I will discuss later in this series as intimate worship. Natural worship grows in proportion the Christian’s awareness of the work of God in his or her ordinary life; it never needs to be commanded.

It appears that this sort of praise is designed into us for the purpose of identifying and recognizing God. If that’s true, then atheists’ questions on the order of “If God exists, where is He?” are at least partially answered by nature.

We can infer from the design, from the natural impulse to praise and from the naturally-occurring objects that evoke praise, that God recognized that we humans would be plagued by what I call the “Fish Problem.” The “Fish Problem” arises when one considers how difficult it would be to explain to a fish in the ocean that there exists such a thing as an ocean. The fish has a problem understanding (suspending such obvious problems as language and intelligence, of course) not because it cannot see the ocean, but because it has never experienced anything but the ocean. There’s no background against which the ocean appears in the foreground. By the same token, humans cannot see God in our universe because there’s no part of the universe that is not an active, ongoing work of God. God is never the foreground in our universe because everywhere, God Himself is the background. It’s not that God is nature (that would be Pantheism,) nor is it that God started nature and then stepped away (that would be Deism,) but it’s more that God wearsnature, like a glove on His hand (this is an analogy; God is not a spatial being). Every event in nature that is not touched by human will is an act of God in some sense.

Thus, the literally correct answer to “Where is God?” is “Where isn’t God?” But because we have this foreground/background problem, God designed into us and into our world both the impulse to worship naturally, and the natural object of that worship; looking up, noticing, and offering praise to the creator of what we see is a natural response, as natural as eating or sleeping. So the correct answer to the atheist who asks “Where is God?” should be, “Look up and take notice,” because the atheist is someone who has somehow lost the natural ability to wonder at the immensity of nature and praise Whomever made it.