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Maine: Lacrosse coach loses job for criticizing Islam

Freedom of speech, you say? Increasingly not, in the United States: those who dare notice jihad violence and Islamic supremacism are vilified, marginalized, and defamed. When Scott Lees was fired, was truth a criterion? Apparently not. “Facebook post on Muslims costs Fryeburg coach his job,” by Daymond Steer, Conway Daily Sun, March 24, 2015 (thanks to all who sent this in):

FRYEBURG – After four years at the helm of Fryeburg Academy’s boys lacrosse team, Scott Lees of Conway said he was forced by academy officials to resign as head coach after sharing on Facebook an open letter to President Barack Obama that was unflattering to Muslims.

The letter, written by “An American Citizen,” was about Obama’s speech given in Cairo in 2009. In that speech and in another made last month, the president said Islam has long been a part of American history.

In the first part of the letter, it wonders whether anyone has have ever seen a Muslim hospital or heard a Muslim orchestra. The writer goes on to charge that Muslims “are still the largest traffickers in human slavery,” that they were allied with Adolf Hitler in World War II and that they were either pleased with or silent on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The writer adds that the Barbary pirates were Muslims.

“I just thought it was an interesting article,” said Lees, who added he’s a politically minded independent conservative. “I thought it was an interesting letter to President Obama and his current administration who are not paying attention to Israel and focusing on Iran.”

Lees, 48, shared the letter on his personal Facebook page on March 17. Two days later, he was handing in his resignation as Fryeburg Academy’s lacrosse coach. He said that although he was supposed to meet with Head of Schools Erin Mayo and Dean Charlie Tryder on March 19, Athletic Director Sue Thurston told him a decision to fire him had already been made.

According to Lees, a property manager who is married and has two children, said he did not want a firing to go on his record. He asked Thurston if they would consider a letter of resignation.

“I’ve never been fired in my life,” said Lees, who also coaches hockey locally. “I’ve been coaching kids since 1992.”

Mayo said the season will start on time. She said Thurston is looking for coaches and Thurston will provide updates as they become available.

“We’ve got a great team,” said Mayo.

The decision on an interim coach could be made as soon as today, Thurston said.

Regarding the letter that led to his departure as coach, Lees said a friend had emailed it to him, and he posted it to see what people would say. Lees — who has since removed it from his Facebook page — said he did not comment on the letter online and that he meant no disrespect to anyone.

Lees said the post didn’t get much response. No students “liked” the post though it was liked by four adults, one of whom commented on it. “It’s not like it went viral,” said Lees. “It’s not like everyone and their brother saw it.”

But according to Mayo Fryeburg Academy has “a number” of Muslim students as well as students of numerous other faiths.

“We prize each young person we enroll as an individual, and we prize the diversity that they bring,” said Mayo, who pointed to the school’s mission statement, which says that “the Academy believes that a strong school community provides the best conditions for learning and growth. Therefore, we strive to create a supportive school environment that promotes respect, tolerance, and cooperation, and prepares students for responsible citizenship.”

Mayo said the school’s teachers, coaches and other staff need to live up to the mission statement.

Lees said he is not a bigot. In fact, he said that two years ago he invited a former Fryeburg student from New York City named Mohammed Islam to stay at his house for nine days. At the time, Islam had a court date in the area for a minor offense.

“If I had a problem with people who are Muslim, then why would I have allowed a Muslim to stay in my home?” asked Lees.

In a phone interview, Islam, who now attends Drexel University in Pennsylvania, confirmed that his former coach had opened his home to him.

“I never saw him as a bigot,” said Islam, who played under Lees for three years.

When asked of the posting, Islam said he spoke to Lees about it. He didn’t think it should have cost Lees his coaching job. Islam said Lees seems to take issue with Obama’s handling of the Middle East.

“I don’t agree with Scott’s opinion, but that doesn’t make him a bigot,” said Islam….

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The Quest for True Equality

During the past two weeks Americans have lost their minds regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that was passed and signed into law by Indiana governor, Mike Pence. My readers know I do not support homosexual marriage or the homosexual agenda of being legally protected as a class based on their sexual preferences.

My purpose with this column is to bring some sanity to the debate swirling around the issue of religious freedom. I want to remove all emotion from the debate and discuss the facts.

The bill in question was Indiana Senate Bill 101, titled the “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.” Pence signed the bill into law and all hell broke loose. Opponents said the bill would allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals; supporters said it would protect business owners from doing things that would put them at odds with their religious beliefs.

The bill was three pages long and never mentioned the words homosexual or gay; thus the homosexual community went out seeking a problem where none existed.

The homosexual community is masterful at PR. When you don’t have public support for your position, many times a good PR campaign can usually do the trick. As I have written many times in previous columns, Republicans are horrible when it comes to PR and communications, even when they are right on the issue.

Gov. Pence in particular and Republicans in general showed total incompetence in dealing with this issue. They should have anticipated this type of reaction from the radical left. This was so obvious that even Stevie Wonder could have seen this coming.

Nineteen other states have passed similar laws, with several others considering the same. So you mean to tell me that almost half of America believes in discrimination? I don’t think so!

This whole debate has absolutely nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with forcing Americans to accept the homosexual lifestyle and their intolerant agenda. Homosexuals don’t deserve special treatment because of their sexual preferences; but they do deserve equal treatment because of their humanity.

They would argue how could I, as a Black man who has experienced discrimination, support the discrimination that they suffer because of their sexual preferences? Their plight, according to them, is the Civil Rights of our day. STOP right there!

I find it extremely offensive for homosexuals to attempt to equate the two. Blacks fought for rights that were already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution granted us citizenship, equality, and the right to vote; the Constitution just wasn’t being enforced. Thus, the need for civil disobedience, political and legal action.

There is no such accommodation for homosexuality, NONE. That’s what this fight is all about. They want to be “legally” codified as a protected class strictly based on their sexual preferences and gender identity.

Now, let’s assume for this discussion that you are a Christian and that you believe homosexuality is a sin, thus is wrong. Homosexuals would argue, and rightfully so, sin is sin. How is homosexuality any different than lying, adultery, murder, cheating, stealing, etc.? Great question. I have an answer that homosexuals don’t want to deal with.

Name me one state in the U.S. where they are trying to legalize lying, adultery, murder, cheating, or stealing? Homosexuality is the only sin that people are trying to codify as legally and morally permissible. Can someone please reconcile this for me?

Homosexuals have been successful at getting many courts to recognize them as a protected class even though there is no legal basis to recognize someone based on their sexual preferences. It takes a lot of legal creativity to create a protected class out of nothing.

I find it quite interesting that, as a heterosexual Black male, that I would not be allowed to join a lesbian group or sit on the board of a homosexual chamber of commerce (yes, they do exist). Is this not also hateful, bigoted, and discriminatory?

Why is it necessary for everyone to know your sexual preferences? If I go to my workplace and tell women that I am heterosexual and like women; I will be rushed down to the HR department and possibly fired. But, if I go to the same workplace and announce that I am homosexual, they close early and the CEO buys a big cake and we celebrate my courage for stating my sexual preference publically (i.e. would be N.F.Ler., Michael Sam)

Courage is stating that you are homosexual in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Courage is sitting at a Woolworth lunch counter and knowing that you are going to get the hell beat out of you because you are Black.

On a homosexual’s worst day, they have nothing to fear in America; on their worst day, nothing they go through can ever compare to what Blacks went through from slavery until the present. We didn’t get sold into slavery because we were homosexual; homosexuals never get pulled over by police because they are homosexual; homosexuals never get shot by police because they are homosexual; they don’t get denied bank loans because they are homosexual. So please dispense with the odious comparisons.

Blacks never sought special recognition as a class, we simply wanted recognition.

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Obama’s Attacks on Religion in America

Americans tend to take the liberties spelled out in the Bill of Rights for granted. This is especially true of freedom of religion in which the First Amendment protects “the free exercise thereof” while at the same time prohibiting “an establishment of religion” to ensure that neither a state nor the federal government can stipulate a specific religion as the “official” one.

The earliest Americans came here to avoid persecution for their beliefs and created a nation in which tolerance of other faiths was an established virtue.

All of the major religions of the world condemn homosexuality and prohibit same-sex marriage. While homosexuality has gained a measure of tolerance in America many if not most Americans do not accept same-sex marriage as a “right” that can be found in the U.S. Constitution.

In the March 9 edition of the National Review, one news item noted that “The sheer brazenness of President Obama’s dissembling on gay marriage—confirmed by David Axelrod in a new book—might gall even the most hard-bitten of cynics.”

“Obama, Axelrod writes, ‘was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first presidential campaign, even as (he) publicly said he only supported civil unions, not full marriages’, but he could not admit as much for fear of losing black churchgoers. Thus it was confirmed that the ‘change’ candidate had fallen back on a ‘sacred’ religious belief he claimed to be representing, in furtherance of a policy that he now openly describes as a ‘civil right.’ There is a word for this sort of conduct. But it is not ‘hope’.”

The word is “liar”, but after six years of Obama, anyone paying any attention knows that he lies routinely and constantly no matter what the topic may be.

He lied repeatedly to secure support for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare. Passed into law by Democratic Party votes—no Republicans voted for it—the so-called contraceptive mandate has created many problems for Christians and others who are pro-life. In a similar fashion, many people of faith oppose same-sex marriage.

Cover - Religious Freedom in AmericaA new book, “Religious Freedom in America: Constitutional Roots and Contemporary Challenges”, edited by Allen D. Hertzke of the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage, calls religion “an exceedingly messy area of constitutional law…because the boundaries of religion, state, and society are complex and ever shifting.”

For most Americans there is no shift in their view of marriage as a sacred rite exclusively between a man and woman. One can read the Old and New Testaments from start to finish and find no justification for same-sex marriage. From its earliest days civilization throughout the world has never deemed same-sex marriage lawful, but Americans are being told by its courts that the Constitution does.

The Founders who wrote the Constitution would be astonished to learn this.

As Mary Nussbaum wrote in the Summer 2009 edition of Dissent, “Government plays a key role in all three aspects of marriage. It confers and administers benefits. It seems, at least, to operate as an agent of recognition or the granting of dignity. And it forms alliances with religious bodies.”

“Clergy are always among those entitled to perform legally binding marriages. Religions may refuse to marry people who are eligible for state marriage and they may also agree to marry people who are ineligible for state marriage. But much of the officially sanctioned marrying currently done in the United States is done on religious premises by religious personnel. What they are solemnizing (when there is a license granted by the state) is, however, not only a religious ritual, but also a public rite of passage, the entry into a privileged civic status.” (Emphasis added)

When the Defense of Marriage Act was being debated, Sen. Richard Byrd (D-WVA) said:

“[T]hroughout the annals of human experience, in dozens of civilizations and cultures of varying value systems, humanity has discovered that the permanent relationship between men and women is a keystone to the stability, strength, and health of human society—a relationship worthy of legal recognition and judicial protection.” (Emphasis added)

That is what’s at stake. Homosexuals have been offered “civil unions” granting them access to the government benefits that “marriage” provides, but they have regarded this as stigmatizing and degrading. They have insisted that society change and, for most who hold a strong religious faith, that is impossible for the reasons stated by Sen. Byrd.

AA - catholic-weddingMs. Nussbaum concludes saying, “The future of marriage looks, in one way, a lot like its past. People will continue to unite, form families, have children, and, sometimes, split up. What the Constitution dictates, however, is that whatever the state decides to do in this area will be done on a basis of equality. Government cannot exclude any group of citizens from the civil benefits or the expressive dignities of marriage without a compelling public interest.”

So, the 14th Amendment that guarantees the “equal protection of the law” will encompass the demand that citizens of the same sex can marry even if religions and those who see this as a threat to a well-ordered society disagree.

Religions in America, many of whom administer charities, maintain colleges and universities, and serve people of all faiths have encountered a world of problems following the passage of ObamaCare. They are also being challenged in schools and academia, and being told that any form of public prayer is unacceptable.

Here are just a few examples:

  • In 2006, Boston’s Catholic Charities shut down its historical adoption program after the State of Massachusetts refused their “conscience accommodation” in its licensing requirements. The same year, Morristown, New York began prosecuting Amish home-builders for code violations.
  • In 2009, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission ruled that Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina violated discrimination laws by not offering birth control in its health plan coverage. A family court in Laconia, New Hampshire ordered a Christian mother to stop home schooling her daughter because she “appeared to reflect her mother’s rigidity on questions of faith.”
  • In 2010, the Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C., shut down its foster care program because of mandates that violated church teaching. The following year three Illinois diocese adoption and foster care programs were shut down.
  • In 2011 Alabama law made it illegal for churches to serve undocumented immigrants, including baptisms, hearing confessions, anointing the sick, giving marriage counseling and providing Sunday school, Bible studies, or even providing Alcoholics Anonymous a place to meet.
  • In 2012 through 2014, facing huge fines for violating religious principles, more than 300 religious institutions and businesses filed lawsuits against the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate.

As Hertzke noted, “A key measure of a free society, in sum, is the extent to which people are not forced to choose between sacred duties and citizenship privileges or obligations. This is what makes religious freedom foundational to the American constitutional order.”

In 1993 Congress seemed to have agreed. It passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which states that “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a restrictive means of furthering” a “compelling government interest.” It was signed into law by President Clinton. Four years later, the Supreme Court struck down its core in Boerne v. Flores. It ruled that RFRA was unconstitutional when applied to state and local governments, but upheld it when applied to the federal government.

Issues such as ObamaCare’s contraception mandate and same-sex marriage raise vital questions about individual religious faith and the government’s right to determine societal standards.

The question of whether religion in America is losing the battle for historical and traditional moral standards is one that affects people of faith and the society as a whole.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

RELATED ARTICLE: Obama’s military: Navy chaplain forced to fight for his career because of Christian beliefs

VIDEO: Those Who ‘Stand with the Prophet’ Deny Media Access to Free Speech Conference in Garland, TX

STAND WITH MOHAMMED CONFERENCEThis is a video analysis bringing the viewer with us as we examine why we were denied access to the Stand With The Prophet Conference in Garland, TX.

The SoundVision Foundation along with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) deny Jesse Watters of Fox News, The United West, Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon, Christian Post and ‘certain’ individuals who purchased tickets in advance, access to this open to the public event.

Watch how the Muslim representatives from CAIR lie and mock the media as they try in vain to gain access to the event. The Islamists at this conference showed great insensitivity to free speech and inclusion.

The question that arises is: Why were the Muslims denying access and what were they trying to hide?

We make this comment because the ‘selected’ media allowed entry were escorted out of the conference after only 20 minutes and were forced to sign a consent form they would not audio or video tape the speakers inside.

CAIR if you haven’t heard was recently designated a ‘Terrorist Organization’ by the United Arab Emirates.

Layered on these outrages was the venue itself. The Culwell Center is a taxpayer funded building. As a taxpayer funded building the Muslim group was in clear violation of the Culwell Centers Regulation 1.04 articulating the public can not be denied access to this or any event held there.

The purpose of the event was the Strategic Launch of a Communication Center For Muslims. Perhaps it was details of this Strategic Communication Center For Muslims they wanted to keep secret from American non-Muslims.

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Freedom OF Religion, Not Freedom FROM Religion

The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution do not abandon religion, they embrace it. They do not, however, require that Americans believe in God, nor punish them for failing to do so.

Central to the liberties enshrined in these documents is the belief that they come from a higher power and America exists because of that belief. Without it there would have been no America. There are those among us who insist that, as a nation, we abandon faith in God and, if we do, America will cease to be a power for good in the world.

First-Amendment-Religious-Freedom-610x400When Thomas Jefferson presented the Declaration to those who would pledge their lives and their sacred honor to achieve independence from England John Adams asked that it include the words “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” after the phrase “all men are created equal” and Benjamin Franklin agreed, suggesting that “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” be added as well.” In their 2004 book, “Under God” by Toby Mac and Michael Tait, said “The changes demonstrated Congress’s strong reliance upon God—as delegates added the words “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions.”

Aware of the dangers inherent in a state religion, the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” followed by freedom of speech, the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance.” There is no state religion in America, but reflecting the values that created it, its leaders have always acknowledged a greater power than government, the belief in God.

There would be no America if the Pilgrims who established Plymouth, Massachusetts had not left England in the quest for their right to worship as they wished, reflecting the Protestant Reformation. Another early settlement, Jamestown, was a business venture by investors to obtain wealth. Jamestown failed and Plymouth is with us today.

I am not a religious person per se, but I do believe in God. Always have and always will. I don’t insist that anyone else has to and neither do our founding documents. They do, however, acknowledge God and sought His protection to create a new nation; a republic with clearly stated protections for all its citizens.

There are, however, those who insist that any reference to God be removed from public documents and recognition. The leader among them is the Freedom From Religion Foundation and their most recent lawsuit is against the U.S. Treasury Department claiming they are discriminating against non-believers by including the phrase “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency. Their claim is that the government is prohibited from endorsing religion over non-religion.

“In God We Trust” on U.S. coins was first approved by Congress during the Civil War in 1864. In 1956, Congress passed a resolution to recognize the words officially as the national motto, replacing the de facto phrase, “E Pluribus Unum” and it has appeared on U.S. currency since 1957.

The Foundation’s intention is to make any acknowledgement of God illegal by any public institution. If that is true, then we might was well tear up the Declaration and Constitution. Atheists are not content to not believe in God, they insist that everyone else not believe as well. That is a form of tyranny we must not permit to exist in America.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation specializes in lawsuits to advance what it calls the separation of church and state, but this principle is enshrined in the Constitution along with the right to freely exercise one’s faith. Its lawsuits are designed to destroy religion in America. In 2012 the Foundation had total contributions of $2,726,316. Nearly 90% was devoted to its attack on the freedom of religion.

In 2013, the Huffington Post reported that in the past six years the Foundation’s paid membership had increased 130 percent. It was estimated at “nearly 20,000” members. Its co-president, Laurie Gaylor, said that recent high-profile legal victories had increased the foundation’s popularity.

There is still strong support in Congress for the freedom of religion. In 1993 it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act aimed at preventing laws that substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion. It was signed into law by President Clinton. In 1997 the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional if applied to states, ruling that it was not a proper exercise of Congress’s enforcement power. It does, however, still apply to the federal government. In response, some states passed their own religious freedom restoration acts.

The Act was recently cited by the Supreme Court that ruled that closely held companies may be exempted from a government requirement to include contraceptives in employee health insurance coverage if it contravenes their belief in the sanctity of life.

There are millions more Americans who belong to various religious faiths and who believe that America must protect their right to exercise their faith. A relatively small Freedom From Religion Foundation will continue to use the courts to impose their atheistic views on any public institution. They must be resisted if America is to remain a citadel to the world as a place where people of faith can live together and exercise the tolerance that the atheists will not.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sen. McConnell: DISCLOSE Act is “Crude Intimidation Tactic”

Some in the Senate seem to think that there’s too much free speech in our politics and want to silence their opponents. For the third time in four years, Senate Democrats have trotted out a version of their Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act. The bill may be couched in soothing, good government terms, but it would be a hard punch to free speech.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has relentlessly opposed efforts to limit political speech and in the Washington Examiner defends the First Amendment from this latest assault [emphasis mine]:

As a longtime First Amendment hawk, I have sought to raise the alarm in real time on these multiplying assaults on the First Amendment, from a proposed executive order that would have required applicants for government contracts to disclose their political leanings before they could get a contract, to the significant, targeted harassment of conservative groups that we now know to have taken place at the IRS.

In my view, it is absolutely essential for the integrity of our politics and the health of our democracy that we not grow complacent in the face of these increasingly brazen attacks on free speech — that we recognize them when we see them and call them out for what they are in plain English.

That was my goal this week in publicly testifying against the Democrats’ latest effort to stifle speech. Despite the many other urgent crises we face at the moment, I thought it important to make my way to a hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and speak out against Washington Democrats’ latest iteration of the so-called Disclose Act, because silence on this issue is not an option.

The Disclose Act has become something of a preoccupation for Washington Democrats. Its stated purpose is the forced disclosure of donors to political causes, but the truth is, it’s little more than a crude intimidation tactic masquerading as good government.

Attempts at forced disclosure were used in the past to squelch free speech, as McConnell explains:

Back in the 1950s, the state of Alabama tried to get its hands on the donor list of the NAACP. The Supreme Court correctly ruled against forced disclosure then because it knew that if people had reason to fear that their names and reputations would be attacked because of the causes they support, then they would be far less likely to support them. They knew disclosure would have a chilling effect on free association and free speech.

Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs made similar points in a letter to Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) on the Senate Rules Committee. The clear purpose of the bill, Josten wrote, “is to upend irretrievably core First Amendment political speech protections” by “chilling the political speech of the business community and others engaged in the political process.” At the same time it is “blatantly political and ultimately unconstitutional legislation that detracts from much more significant efforts to solve challenges confronting America.”

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue put it succinctly last year, “If you don’t like what someone is saying, argue with them (but do it politely). Don’t try to silence them.” First Amendment defenders like Senator McConnell understand how important that principle is for our country.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is by photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg.

Judgement Day: Pro-Israel Z-Street trial “Will Force the IRS to Open its Books”

In the August 2013 New English Review (NER) we interviewed Lori Lowenthal Marcus, national correspondent for The Jewish Press and co-founder of Z Street- the Zionist antidote to anti-Israel J Street.  It was about the July 19, 2013 hearing held before Judge Ketanji Brown of the DC Federal  Court in the matter of Z Street v IRS. The case had been filed in the Eastern District in Pennsylvania and then transferred  to the DC Federal court as this was a federal government matter. The original Z Street matter was based on a First Amendment issue, “viewpoint discrimination”. In our NER interview article we noted what the basis of the original filing was about:

news release by Z STREET, issued  just prior to the DC court proceeding cited the June 24, 2013 House Ways and Means release of acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel’s responses to a letter from Ranking  Member, Sander Levin (D-MI). Z STREET’s supplementary filing revealed that there were no “progressive” groups scrutinized by the IRS “Touch and Go” Group (TAG) in Washington, DC. Instead due diligence of the IRS documents revealed that Z STREET was the sole subject by the TAG review because of “Israel-connected” views of the group in its original 501 (c ) (3) application.   

We further noted the contretemps at the July 19, 2013 DC federal court hearing:

Alana Goodman of The Washington Free Beacon who attended the DC Federal Court hearing noted in her report the IRS argument and the reaction of Judge Brown:

The government argued in court on Friday that Z STREET should resolve its tax-exempt status, which is still in limbo, before any policy questions can be addressed.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson seemed skeptical of the argument, saying that the government appeared to be mischaracterizing the remedy that Z Street was seeking.

“That’s not what they want,” Judge Jackson snapped at one point.

Z STREET said the government was misrepresenting its position.

“We’re not seeking tax-exempt status in this case. We are seeking an untainted process,” said Counsel Jerome Marcus. “What is the policy that the IRS has been following since 2010, and is that process constitutional?”

Is the Z Street case against the IRS evidence of bureaucratic ineptitude or something else? If discovery is granted by the DC Court ruling we may find who and why an unconstitutional act of viewpoint discrimination was perpetrated against STREET.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reported Judge Katanji Brown ruling effectively granting discovery to Z Street, “IRS Judgment Day: The un-talkative agency comes under scrutiny from a federal judge”:

In August 2010, Z Street sued the IRS on grounds that the position amounts to viewpoint discrimination and violates the First Amendment. The IRS responded by claiming special protections, including the Anti-Injunction Act, a law written to protect the IRS from litigation that could interfere with its ability to collect revenue.

But Washington, D.C. federal district Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act has not been interpreted by the courts as preventing constitutional claims. In its attempt to “thwart” the action, she wrote in denying the IRS motion to dismiss, the IRS tries to “transform a lawsuit that clearly challenges the constitutionality of the process . . . into a dispute over tax liability.”

The IRS also tried to duck out under the sovereign immunity doctrine, which was designed to deter lawsuits against the feds. But that claim fails, Judge Jackson writes, because the Administrative Procedures Act “waives sovereign immunity with respect to suits for nonmonetary damages that allege wrongful action by an agency or its officers or employees, and the instant lawsuit fits precisely those criteria.”

This ruling will force the IRS to open its books on the procedures it used and decisions it made reviewing Z Street’s tax-exempt application, procedures it has tried to keep shrouded. As the case proceeds, Z Street’s attorneys can seek depositions from many who have been part of the larger attempt to sit on similar applications by other conservative groups.

It will be fascinating to see which names— Lois Lerner, former head of IRS tax-exempt scrutiny?—show up in the internal email traffic. The Administration may have a harder time evading accountability now that a judge will be supervising the testimony.

In our NER interview with Ms. Marcus, we asked her what the best outcome that might emerge with Judge Ketanji’s ruling.  Here is the exchange:

Gordon:  What do you believe would be the best outcome of the D.C. Federal Court after its review of the various filings in terms of handing down a ruling in this case?

Marcus:  Naturally, I think the court should sign the proposed Order that we submitted and provide us with access to what is called discovery. Meaning we are permitted to seek information about how the IRS set about creating this policy, who formulated it, who approved it, who knew about it, who had to apply it, to whom was it applied. That is what we need to find out in order to learn how the IRS came to create policies that are not just inappropriate, not just mismanagement, but which constitute violations of the U.S. Constitution. We need to find out because unless we do, there are going to be greater and greater restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

Way to go Judge Brown.  Now the IRS has no shield against discovery by Z Street. This could an interesting turn of events vis a vis the original viewpoint discrimination issue raised in the Z Street Federal court filling.  Whatever names emerge on the BOTL emails might cause  a flood of filings from other possible social welfare filers. As baseball great Yogi Berra might opine, “It ain’t over till it’s over”.  Congratulations to Lori Lowenthal Marcus and her counsel, her husband Jerome, for undertaking this landmark case for Z Street and all Americans. Let’s see how the IRS counsel  responds  to Judge Brown’s ruling.

As a Z Street board member this federal court ruling has justified the four year wait for justice to be done in the matter. To paraphrase Justice Brandeis Judge Brown’s ruling is good “disinfectant”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Religious freedom under attack at Florida’s military bases

I am dedicated to the First Amendment. The First Amendment reads:

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.

There is a reason the First Amendment begins with and is anchored by the “free exercise” of religion. America was founded as and remains a Judeo-Christian nation. The Armed Forces are a bastion of Judeo-Christian values, a tradition that pre-dates the founding of the United States of America. The absolute need for a military chaplaincy was understood and promoted by General George Washington. Military chaplains were authorized by the Second Continental Congress, at Washington’s insistence, on July 29, 1775, thereby predating the Declaration of Independence by one year. Chaplains have been the center of support and succor for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, the Coast Guard and their families as they deal with the pressures of war fighting, prolonged absences and duty to the nation.

Florida is home to twenty-one military bases and facilities, including the headquarters of the US Central Command at MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL.

Religious freedom is under attack within our military as demonstrated in the video below courtesy of the Thomas More Law Center. In the video members of the US Armed Forces speak out about the culture of fear and intimidation in the US military that is forcing Christian soldiers to hide their faith in Florida and elsewhere.

TMLC states, “This is happening despite the fact that, since its inception, America has been considered a Christian Nation. The overwhelming percentage of the men and women who currently serve in our Armed Forces are Christian. And an overwhelming percentage of those who have died in defense of our country were Christian.”

The attacks on Christianity in the military have caused the Bible to be banned from military hospitalschaplains to be deemed non-essentialprayer to be banned from military funerals and soldiers to be dismissed for voicing their Christian beliefs about homosexual marriage. For a more exhaustive list of attacks on the religious freedom prepared by the Family Research Council of Christians click here.

“The attack on the religious freedom of Christians in the military is a warning for us all of what is coming if we do not stop it now,” warns TMLC.

TMLC asks, “If you are a member of the Armed Forces in Florida and believe that your right to religious freedom as a Christian has been violated click here to complete the legal help request form or call the Thomas More Law Center at 734-827-2001.”

EDITORS NOTE: The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity and Watchdog Wire have begun an effort to raise awareness about and protect the First Amendment using the #IAM1A project. To learn more about #IAM1A click here.

ABOUT THE THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER:

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.  The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

Rubio introduces legislation to limit powers of IRS

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today filed an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from abusing its powers to violate first amendment rights. Rubio will introduce identical legislation, the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination & Protection Act of 2013, in the Senate tomorrow. The legislation, introduced today in the House by Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), provides for mandatory termination and criminal liability for Internal Revenue Service employees who willfully violate the constitutional rights of a taxpayer. The need for the legislation is demonstrated by current reports of the IRS deliberately targeting conservative organizations, and it expressly states that political speech and political expression are protected rights.

The legislation reads in part, “Whoever being an employee of the Internal Revenue Service, engages, during the performance of that employee’s official duties, in an act or omission described in section 1203(b) of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 shall be fined under this 8 title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.’’

“A government organization like the IRS discriminating against political organizations is an outrageous abuse of power, and the American people have every right to demand answers and accountability,” said Rubio. “Those responsible individuals should face all appropriate punishment available under current law, and all organizations and individuals who engage in political speech and expression should be protected against this kind of discriminatory behavior in the future. I commend Congressman Turner for championing this legislation in the House and hope our colleagues will join us in providing protections to deter this kind of governmental abuse from happening again.”

Earlier, Rubio sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to demand the resignation of the current IRS Commissioner. “The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

To view the legislation, click here.

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 13, 2013

The Honorable Jack Lew 
Secretary 
U.S. Department of the Treasury 
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.

The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.

The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.

Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

Senator Avella “offended” at Muslim Parade in NYC

NY State Senator Avella

On Sunday, September 23, 2012 not far from Ground Zero where terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11, American Muslims were filmed calling for the end of freedom of speech and praising suicide bombings. These comments come just days after American Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three others, two former Navy SEALS, were murdered in Benghazi.

Democrat New York State Senator Tony Avello came face-to-face with Muslim speakers attacking America and he did something which few people have the courage to do. He left in protest.

After listening to several Muslim speakers condemning America and calling for an end to freedom of speech, Senator Avella got up from his seat as a VIP Marshall of the 27th Annual New York Muslim Day Parade and left the stage. Over one thousand Muslims in the audience and the large group of New York City Muslim community leaders appeared shocked that the Senator would walk off the stage just before it was his time to speak.

It appears Senator Avella had enough of the verbal attacks against America by “moderate” American Muslim dignitaries, which he afterwards characterized as “offensive”.

While these American Muslim speakers have the First Amendment right to condemn America, Senator Avella also has the right to exit the stage. New York Senator Avella took a very public stand on the freedom of speech issue just 12 days after the 11th Anniversary of 9/11.

Watch this video of two of the speakers at the 27th Annual New York Muslim Day Parade. The first calls for blasphemy laws and the second, an American Muslim woman, praises suicide bombings. Note Senator Avella leaving the stage and then captured on video saying he was “offended” by the remarks of these speakers:

Senator Tony Avella began his public career over 20 years ago as an aide to New York City Council Member Peter Vallone, Sr. Senator Avella later served as an aide to Mayors Koch and Dinkins and as Chief of Staff to the late State Senator Leonard Stavisky and to State Senator Toby Stavisky.

UPDATE:

Imam Shahbaz Chisti Sahib from the Coney Island Brooklyn Mosque and the Marshall of Muslim Day Parade 2012 leads crowd in Nazi Style salute Sunday, September 23, 2012 in New York, NY: