Religious Liberty Platform Resolution

April 20, 2012

Attention all grassroots supporters of Religious Liberty.  Party Platforms are going to be written as the parties prepare for the State (and National) conventions this year.  Many Senate District/County conventions are going on this Saturday, April, 21st.  Look online or call your county headquarters for meeting details.  This means you have a great opportunity to take a stand for religious liberty (and other important issues) by submitting a resolution to your party’s platform at your local convention.

A resolution is a statement of principle that is voted on at a political convention.

To be eligible to participate, you must sign an affidavit stating your Party affiliation for the May 29 Primary. By claiming party affiliation at the Senate District/County convention you will not be able to vote in another party’s Primary or Run-off election.You may present as many resolutions as you like, but remember to make 12 copies to give to the Platform Committee members.

Below is a suggested resolution on Religious Liberty:

WHEREAS, religious liberty is our most fundamental constitutional freedom; and

WHEREAS, the First Amendment of the Constitution protects the free exercise of religion from government interference; and

WHEREAS, government at all levels is growing increasingly hostile to the free exercise of religion, and is trampling on our religious liberty in the courts, legislature, and through executive fiat; and

WHEREAS, a state religious liberty constitutional amendment provides the best guarantee of lasting protection for our citizens’ religious liberties from an activist court, overreaching legislature, or government bureaucracy; and

WHEREAS, thirty (30) states have state constitutional protection prohibiting a government agency from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion; now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, that we call upon the Texas Legislature to safeguard our constitutional right of religious liberty by passing a state constitutional amendment that prohibits any government agency from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion.

Be it further resolved, that a copy of this resolution be sent to the ___________ Senatorial/County Convention Resolutions Committee from Precinct # ___ of the __________County  ______________ Party, with the recommendation that it be passed and sent to the State Convention Platform Committee of the ___________Party of Texas.

Download a PDF version of the proposed resolution.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


“Under God” License Plate Now Available

April 2, 2012

One State Under God Texas license plateThe “One State Under God” license plate, which features a picture of Calvary Hill, is now available for order online from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. A portion of the proceeds will go to a nonprofit ministry in East Texas that supports outreach to at-risk children.  You can order the license plate here.

While some extreme liberal activist groups, like Texas Freedom Network, were in favor of banning the plates and allowing the government to exclude a person’s private choice to express their strongly held religious beliefs, these groups are simply out of the mainstream of Texas values. The phrase “One State Under God” was almost unanimously passed by the Texas Legislature and added to the Texas Pledge in 2007.  The purchase and design of a specialty license plate is a private decision and a private endeavor that merely passes through the DMV as one of many private or public arrangements that Texas participates in with the public. In this debate on the “Under God” license plate, the left simply continues to show part of its true agenda is to attack private choices of free expression and speech, especially when they are expressions of a strongly held religious belief, particularly Christianity.

Liberty Institute testified in favor of the “One State Under God” license plate, which passed the Texas DMV board in December of last year. See our press release from last December here.


Texas Rally for Religious Freedom -Tomorrow – Texas Capitol-South Entrance!

March 22, 2012

Please stand with us and make your voice heard for Religous Liberty!  Tomorrow, noon, Texas Capitol South Entrance, just along 11th street, we’ll be speaking at one of the many Religious Freedom rallies being held across the country to push back against the Obama Administration’s effort to force religious entities to violate their conscience through Obamacare provisions by having the government force private religious entities to pay for health measure that violate their conscience.  Let me say that again, the government is forcing private religions to violate their religious beliefs and pay for acts that violate their religious beliefs.  I thought these people wanted the government and religion to be separate.  The double standard could not be more obvious.

Let’s also be clear, women have access to abortifacients and birth control at nearly every corner drug store often at a low cost. Access is not the issue.  The issue is that some people have such an entitlement mentality that they think that the government should force you to violate your own religious beliefs with your own private money and pay for their choices.  If Planned Parenthood is so vital to women like they claim, than why aren’t the Hollywood liberals and Lance Armstrong giving more of their private money directly to Planned Parenthood?  If PP is so important than they should be able to survive off private donations.  If not, than their value has been oversold, as we’ve known for many years.

If the government can force religions to pay for free devices on a life and death issue that forces the religious entities to violate their own beliefs, than the religious freedom protection we have in the U.S. Constitution is meaningless and we will all be defenseless against the federal government.

Is personal responsibilty being taught in government schools anymore?  Apparently not enough, if at all.

Stand with Us tomorrow for Religious Liberty!  http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/377925832232013/


Texas Joins Lawsuit Against Obamacare’s Abortifacient and Contraception Mandate

February 28, 2012

The State of Texas has joined in the lawsuit against Obamacare’s mandate for contraception and abortifacient drug coverage.  Texas now joins Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina in the fight for religious liberty.

Liberty Institute’s supports the state’s stand on this important issue:

“We are in full agreement with the actions taken by the State of Texas in its efforts to dismantle Obamacare,” said Jonathan Saenz, Director of Legislative Affairs with the Liberty Institute. “On behalf of all religious organizations, we want to add our voice to the outcry taking place throughout Texas and the nation by sending a message to the President that we are well aware and not naive to his ever-growing and deceptive ploys that continue to violate religious beliefs protected by the First Amendment.”

Contact other state Attorney Generals and ask that your state get involved

Check out Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott discussing the lawsuit here.


Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance-Thank The Texas State Board of Education!!

January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr. holds a prominent place in the Texas History and Social Studies curriculum standards.  That’s correct, MLK is one of the most discussed and studied persons in our Texas curriculum standards passed in 2010, under the leadership of conservative Republicans.  I have long been an admirer of Dr. King, so I am proud that our state is showing such support for an incredible man.

In 2010( and part of 2009) the Texas State Board of Education had numerous public hearings, votes, discussions, meetings, etc. to decide on a final product for statewide History and Social Studies teaching for K-12 public school children in Texas.  Conservatives led the way and eventually 2/3rds of the elected SBOE members, all Republicans, voted in favor of a final product that is expected to stay in place for around ten years.

You heard a lot of celebrating from our side in 2010, because of the teaching on American Exceptionalism, the focus on teaching the U.S. Constitution and religious liberty, the Founding Fathers, and also praise for a large increase in diversity of persons included, across the board (race, ethnicity, gender, etc.)

But you also heard incorrect and exaggerated complaints from the left, the media, Bill White and numerous others who didn’t have their facts straight on this issue.  That’s why we set up the website, www.juststatethefacts.com

So we encourage you to be proud that our Texas Social Studies standards highlight one of the most important figures in American history and that Texas students have the “I Have A Dream” speech and “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” as part of our curriculum standards for public school children.

And be proud that it was a conservative group of Texas State Board of Education members that made it happen.


Texans Rally in Athens, Say “Don’t Mess with Christmas”

December 21, 2011

Athens_Tx_Nativity_Rally_Henderson_CountyThis past Saturday, an estimated 5,000 Texans rallied to support the Nativity Scene at the Henderson County Courthouse in Athens, Tx. The Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation, who has a history of attacking religious freedom around the country, had sent a letter to county officials stating that the religious display on the courthouse lawn should be removed from county property.  On Saturday, with law and history on their side, 5,000 Texans stood for true religious freedom and sent the clear message: “Don’t Mess with Christmas in Texas.”

The rally was filled with moving music and speech as Pastors from all around the area united in support of the Nativity scene.  Pastor Nathan Lorick of  First Baptist Church of Malakoff, encouraged the crowd to no longer stand as the silent majority and challenged everyone to recognize that “the truth of the Bible was not a mere afterthought but instead a foundational basis on which we live.”

Please check out some great pictures and video from the rally below:

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*Special thanks to our local conservative and tea party friends for proving the pictures and video

 


War on Christmas comes to Henderson County

December 16, 2011

Athens_Tx_Nativity_Henderson_CountyIf Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sounds familiar to you, it’s likely because they are the same atheist group currently behind the attacks on the Tenth Mountain Division’s Big Mountain Jesus statue in Whitefish, Montana, the veterans memorial, that Liberty Institute is defending. They are also the same group that earlier this year filed suit against Governor Perry and the Houston Prayer rally and lost.  It seems FFRF is also investing much of their energy into waging war on Christmas, with the latest attack taking place in Athens, Texas in Henderson County.

In Henderson County, FFRF sent a demand letter to county officials demanding that they remove a nativity scence from the courthouse square. The County correctly responded to FFRF that the nativity scene was constitutional under established U.S. Supreme Court precedent.  The group also made known their plans to post a sign reading “At this Season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL.” The banner goes on to state that religion is a “myth and superstition.” Fortunately, local pastors and Christians are taking a stand against the false claims by FFRF and will be holding a rally at the courthouse this Saturday, December 17, 2011.

Pastor Nathan Lorick of First Baptist Church in Malakoff, a neighboring town to Athens stated in a recent article that “The point that I’m standing on is that we are seeing persecution on Christianity on the rise in America and I think there’s some great examples of that even recently, one being what we are going through,” he said. “Christianity for far too long has been the silent majority. We need to stand up and speak up in love, but with conviction. We believe enough in our God and we believe enough in our faith that we need to take a stand for what we believe in.”

Pastor Lorick, who will be officiating the rally on Saturday, really hit the nail on the head.  As we have seen with our stand on the “Under God” license plate, unless Christians stand up for their rights, the left will continue to try to chip away at our religious freedom piece by piece.  We applaud the folks from Henderson County and from across the state that will be standing up for religious freedom this Saturday.

Update: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has put out a statement offering support to the Henderson County Judge over the challenge to the Courthouse Nativity Scene.  See the statement here.


“Under God” License Plate Debate Continues

December 15, 2011

Update 2: Here is video of the debate on CNN

Update 1:  Today’s (12-16) CNN interview has been moved up to 12:00 p.m. Be sure to tune in.

This morning on KTRH 740 in Houston, Liberty Institute’s Director of Legislative Affairs, Jonathan Saenz, debated Kathy Miller, President of the extreme liberal group Texas Freedom Network, on the recent “One State under God” license plate that was passed last week by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board.  The Texas Freedom Network and other liberal groups had launched an unsuccessful campaign to defeat the plate.

You can listen to the exchange below:

Be sure to catch Jonathan and Mrs. Miller live on CNN tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. debating this issue again.  It should be an interesting debate so be sure to tune in.

In a related story, an opinion piece in the LA Times actually argues we should ban all specialty license plates and even states that “states might want to consider banning bumper stickers…”  I thought the left was for free speech?  In this debate on the “Under God” license plate, the left really continues to show part of its true agenda is to attack our private choices of free expression and speech, especially when they are expressions of a strongly held religious belief, particularly Christianity.


“Under God” License Plate Is Mainstream Texas, Period

December 9, 2011

Texas_Flag One State under God

The “One State under God” plate is a reflection of Texas voters and Texas values, as well as Texas’ support for the private religious speech of all in this state.  A purchase and design of a specialty license plate is, after all, a private decision and a private endeavor that merely passes through the DMV as one of many private/public arrangements that Texas participates in with the public.  Approval of the “One State Under God” specialty plate is not controversial, as some media are now trying to spin the story (see the Statesman story and Fort Worth Star-Telegram story).

In the state of Texas, the phrase “One State under God” is, in fact, decidedly noncontroversial and widely supported.  The phrase was added to the pledge to the Texas Flag in 2007 by the Texas Legislature (HB 1034) and supported by Liberty Institute, with only one elected official voting against it.  The vote in the Texas Senate was unanimous.  In the Texas House, the vote was almost unanimous, with Democrat Donna Howard being the only Texas House member to vote against the phrase.

In 2010, the fifth circuit federal court of appeals upheld the phrase “One State under God” in the Texas pledge as constitutional, after it was challenged by a couple from Dallas.  Liberty Institute was also a part of this victory.

Further, the appearance of one or more crosses on a specialty license plate is not controversial.  The following specialty license plates are available in Texas with one or more crosses: El Paso Mission Valley, University of St. Thomas, and Southwestern University.  The University of Mary Hardin Baylor uses a church graphic for its specialty plate.  There over 130 specialty license plates in Texas that can be purchased by a private individual with a wide variety of messages and symbols.  I don’t remember any stories being written or any so-called “controversy” when those plates were approved.

What is controversial is how common place it has become for some activist groups to target and attack individuals and elected officials based on their personal religious beliefs, particularly Christians.  Texas Freedom Network is one group engaged in this type of behavior and they don’t even hide it, as their mission statement says they “counter the religious right.”  It’s also controversial that the media seems to give these types of groups a pass, because I guess us Christians should just turn the other cheek.

The reality is, the phrase “One State under God” is not controversial for Texas, at all.

The “Under God” plate is a reflection of Texas voters and Texas values, period.  An issue does not become “controversial” just because extreme liberal groups like Texas Freedom Network and Americans United for Separation of Church and State once again choose to attack a person’s private choice to express their strongly held religious beliefs, particularly Christianity, and see this as an opportunity to create division along political lines. These extreme liberal activist groups continue to lose at the legislature, state boards, and the ballot box, and the latest stinging loss over the “Under God” plate is just the most recent example of how out of touch they are with the mainstream and with Texas & American values in general.

See Liberty Institute’s press release on the Texas DMV passing the “One State under God” plate from yesterday here.


“Under God” License Plate Prevails In Texas (Updated)

December 8, 2011

One State Under God Texas license plate

This morning, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) board, voted (4-3) to approve a new specialty license plate with the phrase “One State Under God” and a graphic with three crosses.  The new plate is used to support youth outreach to at risk children, through a private entity. This is not the first specialty license plate in Texas to include “God” or a cross.  Specialty license plates are already available in Texas with the following phrases: “God Bless Texas”, “God Bless America”, and “One Nation Under God”(on behalf of the Catholic Knights of Columbus group).  Specialty license plates are also available in Texas with one or more crosses: El Paso Mission Valley, University of St. Thomas, and Southwestern University.  The University of Mary Hardin Baylor uses a church graphic for its specialty plate.  There over 130 specialty license plates in Texas that can be purchased by a private individual with a wide variety of messages and symbols.

The phrase “one state under God” is not controversial for Texas.  The phrase was added to the pledge to the Texas Flag in 2007 by the Texas Legislature (HB 1034), with only one elected official voting against it.  The vote in the Texas Senate was unanimous.  In the Texas House, the vote was almost unanimous, with Democrat Donna Howard being the only Texas House member to vote against the phrase “one state under God”.

In 2010, the fifth circuit federal court of appeals upheld the phrase “one state under God” in the Texas pledge as constitutional, after it was challenged by a couple from Dallas.

Leading up to the board meeting, some activist groups that claim to support religious freedom and free speech mounted an online effort to defeat the “Under God” plate.

“The DMV’s vote is a victory for religious freedom and free speech.  Private speech, protected by the First Amendment, should not be subjected to second class treatment.  The four members of the DMV board made the right decision. Anyone who opposed this plate either doesn’t know the law or has no respect for the First Amendment,” said Jonathan Saenz, Attorney & Director of Legislative Affair for Liberty Institute.  Mr. Saenz testified before the DMV board in favor of the new plate.

The National Council of Jewish Women testified against the plate.  There was no other opposition at the meeting from the public.


Vote Today on “One State Under God” Texas Specialty License Plate

December 8, 2011

At TX DMV hearing and vote on specialty license plate with phrase “One State Under God” and three crosses. Federal court has already upheld “One State Under God” in Texas Pledge and there are already several specialty license plates that have crosses and churches as part of their graphics. So they should be a simple vote. But we’ll be testifying to give DMV some good insight on making the right decision.


Houston, TX: VA Bans Mentions of God at Veterans Funerals: Liberty Institute Fights Against Religious Hostility in Court

July 1, 2011

Click here for the full press release. http://libertyinstitute.org/current_cases.php?category=6&article=220

HOUSTON, Texas, June 28, 2011 — Today, Liberty Institute, on behalf of the Veterans of Foreign Wars District 4, The American Legion Post 586, and the National Memorial Ladies, returned to federal court with new allegations of religious hostility and unlawful censorship by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its director of the Houston National Cemetery. Last month, Liberty Institute successfully represented Houston pastor Scott Rainey in the same federal court after Houston VA officials tried to prevent him from praying in Jesus’ name at a Memorial Day ceremony.

“The hostile and discriminatory actions by the Veterans Affairs officials in Houston are outrageous, unconstitutional and must stop,” said Jeff Mateer, Esq., general counsel of Liberty Institute. “Government officials who engage in religious discrimination against citizens are breaking the law. Sadly, this seems to be a pattern of behavior at the Houston VA National Cemetery.”

Today, Liberty Institute amended its original lawsuit that states the Department of Veterans Affairs and its Director of the Houston National Cemetery, Arleen Ocasio, are engaging in religious viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, by adding new incidents of religious hostility including:….


Urgent: Call Texas House Now To Protect Religious Freedom! Vote is Today!

May 12, 2011

10:00 p.m. Religious Freedom Protection Final Vote Tomorrow, 2/3rds Support Needed! Bill did passed by 79-45, numerous members not present. HJR 135 will need 100 votes on final vote tomorrow, for 2/3rds majority because it is a constitutional amendment. The ACLU opposes HJR 135.

7:00 p.m.  Still waiting on ruling for point of order.  Deadline to pass this bill is 11:59 p.m., tonight.

3:45 p.m.  Still waiting on a ruling on the point of order.

3:15 p.m.  HJR 135 is update for debate and VOTE!  Point of order has been called.  Decision coming.

After hours of debate yesterday, the Texas House will vote TODAY on HJR 135, the constitutional amendment affirming religious freedom!

A state religious freedom constitutional amendment provides the best guarantee of lasting protection for citizens’ religious liberties in Texas from an overreaching legislature, government bureaucracy, or court. HJR 135 must pass by a 2/3rds majority because it is a constitutional amendment. This amendment would enshrine in our state constitution strong religious freedom protection for many years to come!  This is the last day for a vote!

Please call your Texas House member today and ask him or her to follow Rep. Larry Phillips, the author of the bill, and vote for HJR 135! Please make sure your Representative votes for this important bill! 

Visit our blog for updates throughout the day.


Protect Your Right to Religious Freedom! Ask Texas House To Support HJR 135

May 10, 2011

HJR 135 provides specific protection for religious freedom in the Texas Constitution, and is scheduled for a vote by the full Texas House tomorrow!  Religious freedom is one of our most foundational freedoms, but today this historical right to freely exercise religious faith is under increasing attack by government.

In Texas, school students were told they couldn’t write “Merry Christmas” to our troops in Iraq, they couldn’t say words like G-O-D, and officials have actually tried to ban crosses and a rosary as gang symbols.  A Texas city even passed an ordinance to effectively ban a religious ministry from the city limits. Across the country we see even more erosion of religious freedom against people of all faiths.

A state religious freedom constitutional amendment provides the best guarantee of lasting protection for citizens’ religious liberties in Texas from an overreaching legislature, government bureaucracy, or court. HJR 135 must pass by a 2/3rds majority because it is a constitutional amendment. This amendment would enshrine in our state constitution strong religious freedom protection for many years to come!

Call your Texas House member today and ask him or her to vote for HJR 135! 


Weekly Legislative Update Video with special guests Abby Johnson and Carol Everett

April 1, 2011

Weekly Legislative update video from the Texas Capitol.


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