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 Threats to Silence God's Voice!

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Female Number of posts : 147
Location : Ohio
Registration date : 2008-01-27

Character Profile
Name: Sis. Du Wright
Church Attendance: Never Misses a Church Service
Outside Occupation: Researcher

PostSubject: Threats to Silence God's Voice!   Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:44 pm

[b]Land of the FREE? Attacks on First Amendment freedoms threaten to silence God’s voice.
An Investigative Report by Jennifer LeClaire

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment

The First Amendment is unmistakably clear, yet the onslaught against these freedoms has heightened. Free speech and free exercise of religion are targets for liberals, extreme Islamists, homosexuals, and politically correct people in general. It goes against the grain of what the United States of America stands for and, barring reforming voices willing to stand up for

the First Amendment, we could lose its provisions and the freedom that goes with them.

“For decades we have been watching the precious religious liberties and freedoms our founding forefathers gave their blood to protect being eroded,” says Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the truth. “Truth can prevail when it is presented, but the reason prayer was removed from schools and abortion was legalized is because truth wasn’t presented. We have to wake up.”

Attacks on Free Speech Escalating
The ADF often goes head to head with the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, on First Amendment issues. The ADF won a victory against the ACLU’s push to have a painting of Jesus removed from the Slidell city courthouse in New Orleans. Other battles are still brewing. Consider Erica Corder, a high school valedictorian from Colorado. The school district forced her to publicly apologize for declaring her Christian faith and sharing the Gospel message in her graduation speech. In fact, Lewis-Palmer High School refused to give its valedictorian a diploma until she did.

On a different front, pro-life demonstrators in Kansas City, Mo. still await justice. They were arrested three years ago for carrying signs depicting an aborted unborn child. Meanwhile, Susan Mendelson filed suit against a Long Island town for standing in the way of her Gospel-preaching efforts. The Jews for Jesus member was recently ticketed for proselytizing and handing out religious materials in a public park. Police escorted her off the property. And in Florida, two Gideon International members, Anthony Mirto and Ernest Simpson, were arrested earlier this year for handing out Bibles on a public sidewalk. When the judge dismissed the trespassing charges, authorities filed new charges under an ordinance that bans people from being within 500 feet of school property. The arresting officer verbally assaulted the men, who suffered wrist injuries, according to police filings. Not last and not least, two 70-plus-year-old grandmas were arrested in Philadelphia for spreading the Gospel. Under a hate crimes law there, they faced up to 47 years in jail.

“Organizations like the ACLU are using the constitution as a weapon against the expression of religion,” says John Armor, legal counsel to the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), a non-partisan organization in Alexandria, Va. that aims to protect the fundamental rights and liberties of Americans. The ACRU is the ideological opposite of the ACLU. “The founders intended that government should not be in the business of promoting one religion over the other,” Armor continues, “not that the government should be hostile to the idea of religion.”

The attacks against free speech aren’t all centered on religion, though. The Vermont Supreme Court recently ruled that a reporter cannot refuse to testify about what he or she witnesses at a public meeting if it’s relevant to issues in a civil lawsuit. In another example, Avery Doninger is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to overturn 2008 class office election results, alleging school officials unconstitutionally denied her candidacy because she exercised her free speech rights to complain on her blog. And WCBC, a radio station in Maryland, recently filed suit against an Allegany County Board of Education member for denying its First Amendment rights. County schools refuse to give the station access to press boxes at sports events because the station aired negative stories about the board.

“Freedom of expression is never safe, never secure, and is always in the process of being made safe and secure,” says John Seigenthaler, founder of First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, an organization whose mission is to create a national discussion, dialogue and debate about First Amendment values. “When the country is fearful, uncertain, and insecure – in times of war – rights of expression are most at risk. Freedom of expression in times like this is in jeopardy,” adds Seigenthaler, who is also a former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He served 43 years as an award-winning reporter and was the founding editorial director of USA Today.

Polarizing Political Motivations
First Amendment watchdogs agree with Seigenthaler’s take. In times of war, free speech comes under greater attack. Beyond the individual assaults, however, there are broad movements in political, religious and secular humanistic realms against First Amendment rights, or at least their interpretations.

Although news headlines are peppered with stories about the Fairness Doctrine and the Hate Crimes Bill, less is known about potentially limiting legislation such as Project Fair Play. Even fewer may realize PBS is a liberal mouthpiece, as Robert Knight puts it. Knight is the director of the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Alexandria, Va.-based Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group. And fewer still may understand how Islamic extremists are using the First Amendment against law-abiding citizens, according to Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of The American Center for Democracy (ACD), an organization that monitors and exposes the enemies of freedom and their modus operandi, and explores practical ways to counteract their methods.

The Fairness Doctrine has caused a heated debate across the nation. The theory behind the Fairness Doctrine, put in place in the 1940s when there were relatively few radio and television stations compared to today, was that media outlets should offer people the full spectrum of news and opinion. The Fairness Doctrine revival has set off a fierce battle between conservatives and liberals who hope to silence conservative talk radio. According to Dr. Craig Smith, founder of the Center for First Amendment Studies at California State University, Long Beach, “The Democrats weren’t in control of Congress for years – and they blamed conservative commentators in the media. Now they want to try to restrict those conservative commentators and chill their free speech by reimposing a Fairness Doctrine.”

Next up is the Hate Crimes Bill. The bill passed through the Senate at the end of September. At the time of this writing it was waiting for approval from the House of Representatives. The Hate Crimes Bill would commission a separate federal criminal prosecution for state offenses tried under its provisions. If convicted, an offender could face life in prison. The bill has serious implications for Christians. In October of 2004, 11 Christians with Repent America, an evangelistic organization based in Philadelphia, were arrested while ministering the Gospel on the city’s streets during a publicly-funded celebration of homosexuality called “OutFest.” The District Attorney charged them under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law, known as “Ethnic Intimidation.” These charges were later dismissed; however, if the Christians had been convicted, they each would have faced up to 47 years in prison and $90,000 in fines. While pastors were concerned about the Hate Crimes Bill, many don’t know about Project Fair Play. “Project Fair Play, a program of Barry Lynn’s Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, is seeking informants to monitor churches for evidence that pastors are engaging in political speech,” Knight explains.

Meanwhile, Muslim organizations are using the First Amendment against the U.S. democracy to silence the voices of Islamic critics and to gain a platform at American Universities. Rosie O’Donnell may believe, as she has stated under her First Amendment rights that, “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like the United States.” But she won’t get sued for it. Pro-Muslim groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, though, are known to file libel lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages against people whose free speech they perceive as a threat to their agenda. “We have to enforce the First Amendment,” says Elhred. “The government is too scared to upset the Muslim population in the oil fields. It’s outrageous. We are living in a free county and we must fight for free speech.”

Radical Islamic extremists enjoy the free speech America offers. Take Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent, controversial speech at New York City’s Columbia University. The Iranian President’s visit to Columbia University demonstrates the profound stupidity and naiveté on the part of American academia. So says Canadian moralist Tristan Emmanuel, president of the ECP Centre of Canada – the Canadian equivalent of the Moral Majority – who believes that liberalism has betrayed the trust of America. “Ahmadinejad used the occasion to turn all the questions on their head and accused America of terrorism – he also scored points with several in the audience. Only an idiot can interpret this publicity stunt as a victory for American free-speech values,” Emmanuel says. “This event had nothing to do with free speech – Ahmadinejad already has and continues to exercise free speech daily. He doesn’t need American lackies for that. Furthermore, the First Amendment doesn’t necessarily even apply to non-Americans. But even so, if ‘Free Speech’ was the issue, why the double standard? What about the free speech rights of The Minutemen and others who’ve been denied the right to a forum or podium at Columbia and other universities because their views were ‘politically incorrect’?”

Standing Up and Speaking Out
Elhred, for one, is waiting for Americans to fight. But what are we fighting for? Well, America. What would America look like if these anti-First Amendment issues gain ground in the land? A Third World country where you believe and practice whatever the government tells you to, according to Judge Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court judge and founder of the Montgomery, Ala.-based Foundation for Moral Law, a non-profit organization that litigates and educates people about religious liberties under the First Amendment.

“People are too proud to pray to the God that made us. They open Congress with Hindu prayer. The President of the United States rededicates a mosque to a false god. Where are we going? We are going to tyranny,” Moore says. “Tyranny is the other end of liberty and freedom. Tyranny is when government tells you everything you can do and believe, think and act. They have no right to do that. Our country was not founded on that basis.” Freedom fighters like Moore are issuing a wake up call to the Body of Christ. Although most people are aware of the culture wars in the U.S., the ADF’s Johnson notes, they are largely apathetic until a hand grenade detonates in their backyard. Often, it’s too late by that time. Regardless of vocation or station, Johnson recommends some practical steps every citizen can take to prevent further erosion of the First Amendment and ungodly culture changes.

“You’ve got to be armed with information because people perish for lack of knowledge,” Johnson says. “Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper and articulate the issues and the truth on matters going on in your area. Form a community impact committee in your church. Gather like-minded people that have caught the vision, who understand the threat and who want to do something about it. Combined, these efforts can make a huge impact on the culture. If more people would get involved we would see the tide turn.” [/b]
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