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‘Not guilty’ verdict for North Ireland pastor who criticised Islam

Pastor James McConnell

Pastor James McConnell

A Northern Ireland pastor has today been found not guilty of using “grossly offensive” words during a sermon made available online.

Pastor James McConnell was on trial for comments he made about Islam. Speaking today, he made clear that he was standing against Islam as a belief, rather than individual Muslims.

Giving his decision, District Judge Liam McNally said the courts should be cautious of clamping down on speech – even if some found it “contemptible”.

Free expression

The National Secular Society said that while it ‘strongly disagreed’ with McConnell’s words, the ruling was a “welcome reassertion of the fundamental right to freedom of expression”.

McConnell was being prosecuted under the 2003 Communications Act for saying in a sermon: “Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell”.

Speaking after the result, McConnell said that he loved Muslims, but he was against “their theology and their beliefs”. READ MORE

UK City Councilman Seeking Crackdown on Street Preachers: It Is ‘Improper’ to ‘Talk About Morality’

UK: Manchester Councillor Pat Karney in the U.K. is seeking to crack down on street preachers, buskers and those who engage in commerce in the public streets says that preachers are wrong to talk about morality in the open air and to make their hearers feel “insecure” with their preaching.

When asked him to clarify whether the city council plans to place restrictions on street preachers as part of his goal to reduce public “nuisances.”

The Christian Institute sent a warning to the council and plan to support the street preachers’ right to address people in public spaces.

The letter says: “The Christian Institute has long supported the rights of street preachers and has funded several legal cases where local authorities or police have unlawfully interfered with those rights.”

Karney intends to silence ‘noisy’ street preachers or those who may provoke members of the public.

And said they would target street preachers who authorities feel project their voice too much or discuss issues that some members of the public may find offensive.

“Preachers do have a right to be out on the streets, but I do not think it right if they are talking about morality,” he stated. “Some talk about race or sexual orientation and that is not proper at all.”

“They’re perfectly entitled to talk about Jesus and the word of God, but not to make anyone feel insecure or threatened,” Karney stated.

While the Christian Institute has not received a written response to its correspondence, and concerned by Karney’s press statement.

“We are still no clearer about whether restrictions will be applied to street preachers in Manchester and remain concerned about potential police action,” it said in a statement. “Councillor Karney has not provided any legal grounds for this crackdown, and runs the risk of legal action being taken if the free speech rights of street preachers are interfered with.”

The article reports several street preachers have been arrested in the UK in recent years over the content of their speech. Read full report

Concerned for your freedom of speech?

Are you concerned for your rights and freedoms? As the decline of free speech in Europe continues, will Americans also feel the affects of this global trend, or is it already upon us subtly creeping in? Many say it has already begun. And used as the new verbal weapon, will the word ‘tolerance’ and our laws be used against you? Will suppressing free speech be an avenue to spread and grow hatred?

Brooke Goldstein, director of the Lawfare Project and the Children’s Rights Institute, joins Erick Stakelbeck to discuss the growing movement against free speech in the West and how the United Nations is helping indoctrinate Palestinian schoolchildren in anti-Semitic hate.


 

OIC Blames Free Speech for “Islamophobia” in West

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L), Secretary-General of the OIC Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (2nd L), Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (3rd L) and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton (4th L) participate in the OIC conference on "Building on the Consensus" in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 15, 2011. (State Department photo)

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L), Secretary-General of the OIC Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (2nd L), Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (3rd L) and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton (4th L) participate in the OIC conference on “Building on the Consensus” in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 15, 2011. (State Department photo)

We believe this is something to keep your eye on. Be aware, it may ultimately affect you and may be a means to further endanger Christians. Countries involved are known to persecute Christians.

The common thread that binds the entire document together is the OIC’s repeated insistence that the main culprit responsible for “the institutionalization of Islamophobia” in Western countries is freedom of speech.

 

Supreme Court to consider religious prayer at government meetings

Supreme-Court

WASHINGTON — In a case that could determine restrictions on expressions of faith in the public square, the Supreme Court on Wednesday (Nov. 6) will consider religious prayers that convene government meetings.

At issue in Greece v. Galloway is whether such invocations pass constitutional muster, even when government officials are not purposefully proselytizing or discriminating.

Can a town council, for example, open its meetings with prayers invoking Jesus Christ, as happened repeatedly in the town of Greece, N.Y.?

“There’s a whole lot at stake here,” said Ira Lupu, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in the First Amendment’s religion clauses.

“This case is about first principles: whether the government of a town, acting through its town board, can advance a particular brand of Christianity or any other faith,” said Lupu.

On the other side of the question, Jeff Mateer of the Texas-based Liberty Institute invokes free speech rights and hopes the court will reason that government has no business parsing the words of those who wish to pray in a public forum.

“The government can’t tell people what to pray,” said Mateer, who argues that invocations are constitutional as long as government leaders are neutral in selecting who may offer an opening prayer. Of course the prayers offered in Greece were Christian, he said. “The people in the community are Christians.”

For those who side with the town of Greece, the justices’ decision could mean the protection or erosion of a cherished religious right.

“Americans today should be free as the Founders were to pray,” said David A. Cortman of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Arizona-based Christian law firm that represents the town.

“In fact, the Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.”

The town in upstate New York used to open its town council meetings with a moment of silence. But starting in 1999, a “chaplain of the month” was invited to offer a prayer. Two-thirds of those prayers offered in the course of a decade invoked “Jesus” or “the Holy Spirit,” and pastors also asked those present to pray with them and recite the Lord’s Prayer.

Read more a the Washington Post

Victory: Elementary School Kids Can Bring Bibles to School

holy-bible-864x319

The ACLJ helped a mother and her elementary school son who wanted to bring his Bible to school.

In September 2013 the ACLJ was contacted by a mother whose son is a fifth-grader in the Los Angeles School Unified District. Her son was told by his teacher that he could not read his Bible or bring it to school. The mother talked to the teacher and discovered that this policy came from the school principal. The mother then contacted the ACLJ and received important information concerning her son’s rights to freely exercise his religion. Soon after this, the mother set up a meeting with the principal and gave him the ALCJ’s information. After realizing that the school’s policy was unconstitutional, the principal allowed the student to bring his Bible to school and read it outside of class time.

The ACLJ continues to help students and their parents protect their free speech and religious rights in school. This is yet another victory for religious freedom.

ACLJ

Trial Begins for Christians Arrested for Reading Bible Outside California DMV

MURRIETA, Calif. – The criminal trial for three men who were arrested for reading the Bible aloud outside of a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office began on Monday.

The incident occurred in February 2011 when Pastor Brett Coronado, Mark Mackey and Edward Florez, Jr. went to the DMV in Hemet early one morning to evangelize those who were waiting for the facility to open. As they stood on the public sidewalk, Mackey began to read out loud from the Bible.

However, soon after, he was approached by a security officer at the DMV, who asked him to move elsewhere. The men then asserted that they had a First Amendment right to stand on the sidewalk, and Mackey continued to read from the Scriptures.

Approximately 10 minutes later, a California patrol officer arrived on the scene, grabbed Mackey’s Bible, and put him in handcuffs. He informed the men that they could not “preach to a captive audience.”

“This is what America is coming to,” Mackey began to call out, holding his hands behind his back.

“You can preach on your own property,” said the officer.

“What law was he breaking?” Coronado and Florez asked.

“Were you preaching too?” the officer responded.

As the men continued to inquire as to why Mackey’s activities were considered unlawful, another officer put them both in handcuffs, citing them for “impeding an open business.”

“Any person who intentionally interferes with any lawful business carried on by the employees of a public agency open to the public, by obstructing or intimidating those attempting to carry on business, or those persons there to transact business with the public agency . . . is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 90 days, or by a fine of up to four hundred dollars ($400), or by both that imprisonment and fine,” the law states.

“He’s creating an intimidating situation for people who simply want to get their driver’s licenses renewed,” attorney Dan Conaway told reporters. “He does not have the right to intimidate others and force them to listen, and impede their ability to do normal daily business activities, such as go to the DMV.”

But Advocates for Faith and Freedom, the Christian legal organization that is representing the men, states that the DMV was closed at the time of arrest and that California law does not prohibit speaking to a “captive audience.” Attorney Robert Tyler contends that the Christians were simply engaging in the free exercise of religion.

“These men were exercising their First Amendment right of free speech,” he outlined. “They were simply sharing their faith on public property, and we will defend their constitutional right to do so.”

The organization soon filed a lawsuit against California Highway Patrol, and Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach responded by charging the men with trespassing for failing to obtain a permit to conduct a “demonstration or gathering in or upon any state buildings or grounds.”

“This prosecution amounts to nothing more than retaliation for our filing a federal lawsuit,” Tyler stated.

He asserts that the trespassing statute is inapplicable as the men were not demonstrating and were not holding a gathering.

The official trial for the Christians began on Monday and is expected to continue throughout the week.

Jesus said,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28)

Source

Christian Legal Group Combats ACLU Attempt to End Bible Distribution in Kentucky Schools

bible-read-child

Source

Kentucky: A nationally-recognized Christian legal organization has sent a letter to school districts throughout the state of Kentucky in an effort to combat an attempt by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to end the distribution of Gideons Bibles in public schools.

William Sharp of the ACLU had sent a three-page letter to 174 Kentucky school districts in April to address an alleged “widespread and persistent practice in Kentucky’s public elementary schools” of permitting the distribution of Gideons Bibles to students. Sharps stated that some parents had expressed opposition to Gideons International’s efforts, which have been sanctioned for a number of years by school officials.

“This practice violates both federal and state constitutional guarantees barring governmental endorsement of religion, and it also impermissibly encroaches upon parents’ prerogative to direct the religious upbringing of their children,” the letter asserted.

“By allowing an outside group to distribute sectarian materials directly to public elementary school students during school hours, school officials create the impression that the school endorses those religious views which subjects the students to ‘subtle coercive pressure’ to accept the proffered religious materials.”

The organization advised that it was conducting a statewide investigation into the issue and that it had submitted Open Records Act requests to examine school policies regarding the distribution of religious materials.

However, the national Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) disagrees with the ACLU’s contention that Gideon International’s practices are unlawful, and has therefore sent a counter letter to the same school districts throughout Kentucky.

“We write to correct several misrepresentations made in the ACLU’s letter and to inform you that allowing religious community groups, like the Gideons, to distribute literature at tables in the school hallways or by the entrances and exits on an equal basis with their secular counterparts fully complies with the Establishment Clause,” wrote a coalition of nine ADF attorneys last week. “Indeed, banning only religious community groups from distributing literature at public schools is clearly forbidden by the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.”

The organization then laid out case law from the Sixth and Fourth Circuits, which it states upheld the right to distribute religious literature in educational environments where secular material is permitted. It also advised district superintendents to reject the arguments made by the ACLU.

“Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said ADF staff counsel Rory Gray. “That’s why the schools frequently allow a wide array of groups to distribute literature of various sorts to students. Singling out the Gideons while allowing other groups to distribute literature would be clearly unconstitutional.”

“Kentucky schools should not allow the ACLU to brow beat them into a constitutional violation,” added senior attorney Jeremy Tedesco. “The First Amendment does not allow religious speech to be singled out for discrimination.”

As previously reported, a school district in Jackson, Kentucky caved to demands to remove the Ten Commandments from its walls this past April after a prominent atheist group urged officials to “ensure that children are learning in a secular environment.”

“The display of religious materials, such as a painting of a religious figure or a copy of the Ten Commandments, in a public school violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the establishment or endorsement of religion by a public agency,” the Kentucky Board of Education conceded in a statement. “A school or district that displays copies of the Ten Commandments without the inclusion of other historical documents and not as part of a historical/comparative display is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

However, some note that the first textbook used in America even before its founding, The New England Primer, was largely focused on the Scriptures, and was brought to the nation by the Puritans. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.

In Adam’s fall, we sinned all,” it read, in teaching children the alphabet, using Adam as an example of the letter A.

Thy life to mend, this Book attend,” it continued for the letter B, referring to the Scriptures. “My Book and heart shall never part.”

Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come,” read another section. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

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