A Stand for Religious Liberty at God and Country Rally

February 23, 2012

Kelly Shackelford God and Country Rally Athens TXOn a cold and wet morning this past Saturday, hundreds of Texans packed the Lakewood Church of the Nazarene in Tyler, TX to take a stand for religious freedom and to educate and encourage pastors and their congregations to stay informed about important issue of faith.  Local pastors and state and national leaders, including Liberty Institute’s President Kelly Shackelford, laid out how our religious liberty is under assault.  The first amendment has rarely been attacked so openly and overtly like what we are seeing today. Just a few recent examples include: (1) the Obama administration’s HHS mandating that Catholic institutions and other religious organizations must provide abortifacents and birth control in violation of their own teachings and conscience, (2)  the Obama administration challenging the right of churches to hire their own pastors and employees based on their religious beliefs at the U.S. Supreme Court,  and (3) liberal activist groups like the ACLU trying to tear down crosses at our veteran’s memorials around the country.

Here is a video with some of the highlights from the rally:

The genesis of the God and Country movement in fact started here in Texas last December when an atheist group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation demanded that a Nativity scene in Athens be removed from the court house lawn.  In an inspiring show of support for religious freedom and the true meaning of the first amendment, thousands of people gathered in Athens on December 17, 2011 to stand against the ever growing attacks on Christians and people of faith.  As a result, the first amendment prevailed and the Nativity scene was not removed.

If there ever was a time, the time is now for people of faith to take a stand and for pastors to lead their congregations in engaging in the important issues of faith going on in our culture.

One of the most important ways they can do that is to inform and encourage people of faith to vote.  As we are in primary election season, it is important for churches to know that they can register their members to vote, to pass out and encourage their members to use our voters guides, and for pastors to know that they can speak out on important issues like religious liberty as they feel lead to from the Lord.

As witnessed in the God and Country Rally, we are excited that people are starting to wake up and see what is at stake. We look forward to continuing to be part of the fight to reclaim and defend our religious freedoms, and it certainly will be one of our top priorities as we head into the next legislative session.


Rally for “God and Country” this Saturday

February 14, 2012

In case you haven’t noticed, your religious freedoms are under attack. From the Obama administration’s HHS mandating that Catholic institutions and other religious organizations must provide abortifacents and birth control in violation of their own teachings and consciences to liberal groups like the ACLU trying to tear down crosses at our veteran’s memorials around the country, the very foundations of our first amendment are under assault. Here in Texas last December, an atheist group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation demanded that a Nativity scene in Athens be removed from the court house lawn.

God and country rally

In an inspiring show of support for religious freedom and the true meaning of the first amendment, thousands of people gathered in Athens on December 17, 2011 to stand against the ever growing attacks on Christians and people of faith.  Building on that rally, the “God and Country” movement is:

Calling all Christian Leaders, regardless of faith, and conservatives throughout America to harness our voices in a network of alliances to reclaim our First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and the “free exercise” of our religion.

The kick-off event is the God and Country Rally this Saturday in Tyler. See the details here:

God And Country Rally

 Doors Open 9:00 A.M. CST

February 18, 2012 · 10:00 A.M. CST

Lakeview Church of the Nazarene

10818 Spur 248 · Tyler, Texas

No Charge

 Seating is limited to 500 capacity

 RSVP at God-Country.org

Liberty Institute’s President and CEO, Kelly Shackelford, will address the rally along with other Christian leaders and pastors from across the state. To quote Dr. Nathan Lorick, a founding pastor of the movement, “This is a time when Christian Leaders should stand up for Christianity in America by becoming active in the pulpit while speaking with their congregations about protecting their first amendment rights.”  We encourage people to attend the event to learn about the significant rights that Churches and Pastors have to stand up for truth and to educate and engage their congregations on the importance of voting.

It’s time to take a stand to reclaim and defend our religious freedoms.  If you will not, who will?


Liberty Institute arguing “Candy Cane Case”: Implications for First Amendment Rights of 41 Million School Children and Parents

May 18, 2011

On Monday, May 23, all seventeen judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, will hear oral arguments in a case that will determine whether elementary school children have First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. Such en banc hearings are rare and for cases of national impact.

Morgan v. Plano Independent School District, known nationwide as the “candy cane” case, involves several students who were denied their free speech rights and who were discriminated against because their speech was religious in nature, including a young boy who was singled out and banned from handing out candy cane pens with a religious message at his class “winter” party, a little girl who was threatened for handing out tickets after school to a religious play, and an entire class of kids who were forbidden from writing “Merry Christmas” on holiday cards to American troops serving overseas. On appeal, the government officials are now arguing that elementary students are too young to have First Amendment rights.

“This case will impact every current and future elementary student in the nation,” said Kelly Shackelford, Esq., president and CEO of Liberty Institute. “Everyone who is a parent or grandparent or just cares about the future of this country should be concerned. If this court rules that elementary students have no First Amendment rights, then neither students nor their parents will have any recourse against religious discrimination, like occurred in this case. It would be a massive shift of power away from citizens and families to the government.”

Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General under President Bush (who will also represent the U.S. House of Representatives in its effort to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act), and former Solicitor General Kenneth Starr, now president of Baylor University, will assist Liberty Institute in arguing for the students. Judge Starr stated, “For over a half century the courts have held that children have constitutional rights.”

The arguments by the government officials are so troubling that eight groups of diverse political views have filed briefs in support of the students, including conservative groups as well as the ACLU.

View full press release.


Protect the Texas State Board of Education From ACLU and Texas Freedom Network, Oppose SB 1348 on Senate Floor Today: Call Your Senator Now!

April 28, 2011

Texas State Board of Education in jeopardy. SB 1348, by Democrat Senator Leticia Van De Putte, is on the Senate Floor Calendar today and could be up for a vote. SB 1348 requires you to be a university faculty member and have a Ph.D. in education or a “terminal degree” to be on an expert review team regarding K-12 curriculum changes by the TX SBOE, like the History/Social Studies standards.

Who supports this bill – both the ACLU and the Texas Freedom Network.

The Texas Freedom Network wants to abolish the Texas SBOE and transfer its responsibilities to the unelected TEA, nullify the social studies standards passed in 2010, and is working against the conformation of Gail Lowe for Chair of the SBOE.

Please call your Texas Senator and ask them to oppose SB 1348. Click here to find your State Senator: http://capwiz.com/libertyinstitute/dbq/officials/. You can download our Texas Legislative Guide with all of Texas’ elected officials contact information at http://legislativeguide.libertyinstitute.org/. All Senators can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard at 512.463.4630

You’ll recall that the elected SBOE saved from elimination the following: Christmas, the Liberty Bell, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and used their current operating procedures to ensure accurate teaching about religious freedom in the First Amendment of the Constitution. The elected SBOE also ensured that public school students would learn about the U.S. Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and the key concept of American Exceptionalism.

To get the facts on the History standards, visit http://juststatethefacts.com/

For some history on the issue, please watch this video:


Houston Chronicle, Liberals “Crying” Over Another Loss at State Board of Education

September 28, 2010

Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express News Editorial Board and Austin liberals, face it, you’re not mainstream and you don’t speak for “mainstream” Texans.  That’s why your narrow views continue to get rejected by a majority of Texans through their elected representatives at the Texas State Board of Education.

The recent passage of the resolution on “Balanced Treatment of Religious Groups” in textbooks, seeking to prevent discrimination against religion, was another stinging loss suffered by the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and yes, the Texas Freedom Network.  This is the latest example of how these groups are completely out of touch with the beliefs and concerns of Texans.

These three groups were all heavily against the passage of a simple, yet detailed resolution that has the goal of teaching accurate information about all religions, and eliminating the Pro-Islam/anti-Christian bias that the author and others show evidence of, in such resolution.

By the way, the resolution talked about textbooks approved for use starting in 1999-2003, and some of those textbooks may still be being used in Texas classrooms today.  Why?  Because SBOE rules do not allow for resolutions on textbooks that are supposed to be the ones being used in classrooms.   So you can’t criticize current books, so the criticism was based on the most recent flawed books that could be discussed, as well as textbooks used in other states.  And if the resolution could have included such criticism, there’s strong evidence of problems in our current textbooks as well.  Not even employees at TEA know for sure, though, if these 1999-2003 textbooks have been completely removed. 

The Houston Chronicle could not wait to pile on and join the losing side and accuse the SBOE of engaging in politics and claiming the SBOE effort was not supported by facts.  Yet the Houston Chronicle itself did not supply facts to support it’s own claim.  The Houston Chronicle relied on politics themselves to support their position, relying on the flawed report of the extreme liberal group, Texas Freedom Network, and then pointing to the election results of the presenter of the resolution, Randy Rives.  Why not just produce a link to the resolution with the details and facts that back up the claim?

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/7220827.html

Shouldn’t all this be irrelevant?  Facts are facts and if Randy Rives and others show facts and detail to support their conclusion that a pro-Islam/anti-Christian bias exists in Texas textbooks, it shouldn’t matter what election he was involved in.  But since the Houston Chronicle brought up Rives’ election history, why didn’t they bring up the fact that he was the president of his local school board, Ector County I.S.D. in the Odessa area?  I guess that would make it look like he knows a thing or two about education.

Here’s link to the resolution. Antidiscrimination Resolution

And if the Houston Chronicle was so interested in facts, why didn’t they cite to a professor or educator who testified against the resolution at the hearing last week?  Because no such professor or educator presented such testimony.  In fact almost every person and group who testified, testified in favor of the resolution, except for the ACLU, AUSCS, and TFN.

And why didn’t the Houston Chronicle tell you that Texas Freedom Network is a liberal group which has no expertise in education matters?  They spent time telling you that the Board members who supported this resolution were “conservative”, so where’s the equal treatment?  How do we know that Texas Freedom Network is liberal, you may ask? 

Let me just say this, Texas Freedom Network was founded by Cecile Richards, who is the current president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a former deputy chief of staff for Nancy Pelosi. 

Need I say more?

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/7220827.html

And wait until you read the super spin in the San Antonio Express News op-ed by Veronica Flores-Paniagua.  Be careful when reading, you might get dizzy.  There are even less facts in this bizarre hit piece.  According to Flores-Paniagua, Texas should “tolerate” inaccurate and biased information in textbooks.  I disagree.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/columnists/veronica_flores_paniagua/sboes_message_of_intolerance_is_un-christian_103905029.html

Click here to see how Flores-Paniagua was concerned about bias and accuracy when it helped her beat up conservative SBOE members and prop up liberal SBOE members.  This article by her is also flawed as it fails to mention that the LULAC was already listed specifically in the social studies standards, and the vote in question was calling for them to be added an additional time. http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/politics/demographic_projections_make_fallacy_of_sboe_direction_clear_94638214.html


Social Studies Update: Professor Wants Neil Armstrong & Alexander Graham Bell Out, Pro-Abortion Group (NOW) In

April 22, 2010

Click here for link to update social studies standards released last week as voted on and approved, 10-5 (10 Republicans v. 5 Democrats), by the Texas State Board of Education. http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=3643

Click here for a link to Professor Jesus F. de la Teja’s review and recommendations for the SBOE, on the social studies standards.  He recommends removing Neil Armstrong, Alexander Graham Bell, and the Texas Rangers by name, completely.  He also recommends removing Columbus from one section.  De la Teja Review Current Social Studies TEKS[1]

Click here to see what the Houston Chronicle’s “Sci-Guy” has to say about removing Neil Armstrong.  http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2009/09/neil_armstrong_isnt_worthy_of_texas_textbooks.html

Even Burnt Orange Report thinks removing Neil Armstrong is outrageous.  Excerpt from Burnt orange report article.”Why? Because apparently, the first man to walk on the moon isn’t … wait for it… a scientist. So though he’s perhaps history’s most famous spaceman, and though NASA’s home in Houston has been a huge boon to Texas, we’d better wipe him out of the history books. Except for one key detail: Armstrong actually is a scientist. SciGuy points out that Armstrong received aerospace engineering degrees from Purdue and USC, and taught science at the University of Cincinnati. Sounds like a scientist to me.”

PRESS STATEMENT:

Austin, Texas-Last week, the Texas State Board of Education released its updated social studies standards as voted on in its last meeting.  After review, Liberty Institute released the following statement: “Liberty Institute applauds the State Board of Education (SBOE) for their hard work and strong dedication to the students of Texas, and especially for maintaining the integrity and timetable of the curriculum standards review process, which includes five public hearings and over a year of work that began in early 2009 and will conclude in May 2010 with a final public hearing and final vote”, said Jonathan Saenz, Director of Legislative Affairs, Liberty Institute.

“We are, however, concerned that a small vocal minority is now pressuring the SBOE to throw out these standards and begin the process anew to push a political agenda.”

” The public deserves to know that it was an unelected review panel (made up mostly of teacher-educrats), and not SBOE members, who tried to remove Christmas, the Liberty Bell, Daniel Boone, Albert Einstein, George Patton,  and others from the standards and Independence Day and Thomas Edison were to be diminished, when this process began in 2009.”  This is the type of review committee that the opposition now wants to send the social studies standards back to, and start over.

  The public also should know that it was a Texas professor, Jesus F. de la Teja, who proposed removing Alexander Graham Bell and Neil Armstrong completely and Columbus partially, from the social studies standards, while asking for the National Organization of Women (NOW) to be added.  This is surely not the common sense direction to go for the education of our children.  Thankfully, the SBOE has corrected the missteps of others, “, said Saenz.  Professor de la Teja criticized the SBOE at a Mexican American Legislative Caucus press conference, last month.  

To help clear up public misrepresentations about the social studies standards, Liberty Institute has compiled a condensed list of approved social studies standards for study.  Among those:

  • Historical Figures:  Neil Armstrong, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Columbus (voted back into standards, previously removed by unelected review committees (Columbus/Edison-partial).
  • Tejano leaders:  Juan N. Seguin, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Jose Antonio Navarro, others.
  • Alamo Heroes: All 189 heroes who died at Alamo. including contributions of Texians and Tejanos
  • Important Concepts:   “American Exceptionalism”    
  • Contributions of Founding Fathers: John Hancock, John Jay, John Witherspoon, others
  • Thomas Jefferson: contribution of his political philosophy (he’s covered in four different sections)
  • Religious Heritage:  impact of religion and Judeo-Christian legal tradition on America.
  • Landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases: Brown v. Bd of Education, Sweat v. Painter, Hernandez v. Texas, Roe v. Wade, Tinker v. Des Moines, Miranda v. Arizona. 
  • Cultural/Notable Leaders: Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, James A. Baker III, Hillary Clinton, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sam Walton, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E. B. Dubois, Irma Rangel, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Estee Lauder, Harriet Tubman, Todd Beamer, Mary Kay Ash, Roy Benavidez, John “Danny” Olivas, Henry B. Gonzalez, Jonas Salk, Hector P. Garcia, Carmen Loma Garza, Vernon J. Baker, Michael Dell, George Washington Carver, Michael DeBakey… Groups: LULAC, Black Panthers, NAACP, NRA, Moral Majority, Heritage Foundation.
  • BC/AD:  SBOE members approved correct dating system, some teachers tried to change it to BCE/CE.

Media Contact: Jennifer Grisham, 202.297.1290 / 972.941.4453, jgrisham@libertyinstitute.org.

Or call our Austin, Texas office at 512-478-2220.

EMAIL US AT: legislative@libertyinstitute.org if you want to testify at the May 19th State Board of Education hearing in Austin.  We can help prepare you for this meeting


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