Tag Archive for: Joe Kennedy

Religious Liberty Had Major Court, Legislative Wins In 2023

  • Religious Americans had several major legislative and legal victories in 2023.
  • The Supreme Court’s June decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis secured a victory for a Christian wedding photographer, and Jake Warner, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said he believes it will help Christian baker Jack Phillip’s case, as well.
  • The government can’t force anyone to express messages that goes against their beliefs and because we appealed Jack Phillip’s case to the Colorado Supreme Court before 303 Creative was decided the state Supreme Court will be the first to be able to apply that decision in Jack’s current case,” Jake Warner, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Advocates for faith won several major victories this year through the legislature and the court, despite a growing hostility toward religious communities.

There were several examples of anti-religious sentiment over the past year, some of which included an FBI-drafted memo targeting traditional Catholics as “potential domestic terrorists” and the University of West Virginia’s transgender training labeling Christians as oppressors. However, 2023 also boasted several victories for religious Americans in schools, the workplace and the pro-life movement.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Christian web designer Lorie Smith, who sued the state of Colorado over a law that would have compelled her to create wedding websites for same-sex couples in violation of her religious beliefs. In a 6-3 ruling, the justices wrote that “tolerance, not coercion, is our Nation’s answer” and that all Americans, including religious ones, should be able to freely express their beliefs as they see fit and “not as the government demands.”

As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Attorney General Jason Miyares of Virginia agreed to settle a lawsuit in November with Christian wedding photographer Bob Updegrove, who sued in September 2020 over a similar state law that would have prevented him from promoting his belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

The case will also likely have a significant effect on another religious case that has been going on for a decade involving Christian baker Jack Phillips, who initially won at the Supreme Court in 2018 after he refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Phillips was sued again in 2021 for refusing to bake a cake for a gender transition party, and his attorney previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he believed Smith’s case would be key to defending free speech for religious Americans in Phillip’s lawsuit.

“The government can’t force anyone to express messages that goes against their beliefs and because we appealed Jack’s case to the Colorado Supreme Court before 303 Creative was decided the state Supreme Court will be the first to be able to apply that decision in Jack’s current case,” Jake Warner, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom and Phillips’ attorney, told the DCNF.

The Colorado Supreme Court announced in October that it would hear Phillip’s case next year.

In March, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina agreed to settle with the Christian pro-life groups Cities4Life and Global Impact Ministries after several members were arrested in 2020 for praying and counseling women outside an abortion clinic. The county agreed to pay the plaintiffs $20,000 for damages, attorney fees and any costs incurred by the pro-life groups, as well as acknowledge that the groups have the right to “peaceful advocacy on public sidewalks and public streets.”

“The courts have upheld religious freedom in several important court cases recently,” Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, told the DCNF. “This is very encouraging and it affirms our First Amendment rights.”

Schools also saw improvements in religious freedom this year. Texas lawmakers passed a bill in May allowing schools to hire chaplains for the position of school counselors.

The bill was signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in June and went into effect on Sept. 1, according to KXAN, an NBC affiliate.

In June, the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approved the first taxpayer-funded religious charter school in a 3-2 decision. The online school will be run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa.

The proposal was supported by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, who previously told the DCNF that “those dollars should flow wherever a parent, a school district, a charter wants to set up.” The state’s Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond, however, responded to the decision by filing a lawsuit in October, claiming that the charter violates state and federal Constitutions.

Coach Joe Kennedy, who won a lawsuit at the Supreme Court in 2022 after being fired for his public demonstrations of faith during football games, was rehired by Bremerton School District and prayed on the field for the first time since 2015 after the season-opening game in September.

Kennedy resigned from his position later that month, noting that an out-of-state family member’s health was declining and that he wished to move full-time into advocating for religious freedom.

“I believe I can best continue to advocate for constitutional freedom and religious liberty by working from outside the school system so that is what I will do,” Kennedy wrote.

Del Turco said that though she was pleased with the progress made in 2023, there are still serious areas of concern for the year ahead.

“Threats to religious freedom in the private sector are concerning. We’ve seen several instances in which Christian or conservative organizations and individuals have had their bank accounts or credit cards closed without any explanation,” she said. “This is something to keep an eye on. Someone’s religious beliefs should not get them blacklisted from financial institutions in a free society. When the mainstream media goes out of its way to mock and slander someone like Speaker Mike Johnson, who by all accounts is a decent human being and effective political leader, it seems to signal growing intolerance of faithful Christian leaders.”




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Democrats Move to Criminalize Criticism of Islam

In FrontPage today I explain how lumping together violence with “hateful rhetoric” is a call to destroy the freedom of speech:


December 17, 2015 ought henceforth to be a date which will live in infamy, as that was the day that some of the leading Democrats in the House of Representatives came out in favor of the destruction of the First Amendment. Sponsored by among others, Muslim Congressmen Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, as well as Eleanor Holmes Norton, Loretta Sanchez, Charles Rangel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Kennedy, Al Green, Judy Chu, Debbie Dingell, Niki Tsongas, John Conyers, José Serrano, Hank Johnson, and many others, House Resolution 569 condemns “violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States.” The Resolution has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

That’s right: “violence, bigotry and hateful rhetoric.” The implications of those five words will fly by most people who read them, and the mainstream media, of course, will do nothing to elucidate them. But what H. Res. 569 does is conflate violence — attacks on innocent civilians, which have no justification under any circumstances – with “bigotry” and “hateful rhetoric,” which are identified on the basis of subjective judgments. The inclusion of condemnations of “bigotry” and “hateful rhetoric” in this Resolution, while appearing to be high-minded, take on an ominous character when one recalls the fact that for years, Ellison, Carson, and his allies (including groups such as the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR) have been smearing any and all honest examination of how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to incite hatred and violence as “bigotry” and “hateful rhetoric.” This Resolution is using the specter of violence against Muslims to try to quash legitimate research into the motives and goals of those who have vowed to destroy us, which will have the effect of allowing the jihad to advance unimpeded and unopposed.

That’s not what this H. Res. 569 would do, you say? It’s just about condemning “hate speech,” not free speech? That kind of sloppy reasoning may pass for thought on most campuses today, but there is really no excuse for it. Take, for example, the wife of Paris jihad murderer Samy Amimour – please. It was recently revealed that she happily boasted about his role in the murder of 130 Paris infidels: “I encouraged my husband to leave in order to terrorize the people of France who have so much blood on their hands […] I’m so proud of my husband and to boast about his virtue, ah la la, I am so happy.” Proud wifey added: “As long as you continue to offend Islam and Muslims, you will be potential targets, and not just cops and Jews but everyone.”

Now Samy Amimour’s wife sounds as if she would be very happy with H. Res. 569, and its sponsors would no doubt gladly avow that we should stop offending Islam and Muslims – that is, cut out the “bigotry” and “hateful rhetoric.” If we are going to be “potential targets” even if we’re not “cops” or “Jews,” as long as we “continue to offend Islam and Muslims,” then the obvious solution, according to the Western intelligentsia, is to stop doing anything that might offend Islam and Muslims – oh, and stop being cops and Jews. Barack “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” says it. Hillary “We’re going to have that filmmaker arrested” Clinton says it. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, certain that anyone who speaks honestly about Islam and jihad is a continuing danger to the Church, says it.

And it should be easy. What offends Islam and Muslims? It ought to be a simple matter to cross those things off our list, right? Making a few sacrifices for the sake of our future of glorious diversity should be a no-brainer for every millennial, and everyone of every age who is concerned about “hate,” right? So let’s see. Drawing Muhammad – that’s right out. And of course, Christmas celebrations, officially banned this year in three Muslim countries and frowned upon (at best) in many others, will have to go as well. Alcohol and pork? Not in public, at least. Conversion from Islam to Christianity? No more of that. Building churches? Come on, you’ve got to be more multicultural!

Everyone agrees. The leaders of free societies are eagerly lining up to relinquish those freedoms. The glorious diversity of our multicultural future demands it. And that future will be grand indeed, a gorgeous mosaic, as everyone assures us, once those horrible “Islamophobes” are forcibly silenced. Everyone will applaud that. Most won’t even remember, once the jihad agenda becomes clear and undeniable to everyone in the U.S. on a daily basis and no one is able to say a single thing about it, that there used to be some people around who tried to warn them.


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