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Category : Issues: Personal Freedom & Liberty

Texas City Stands up to Atheists Over Prayers at Government Meetings

Texas City Stands up to Atheists Over Prayers at Government Meetings

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) appears to be losing its intimidating touch as it goes about its business of trying to stop people from praying and expressing their faith in public. The atheist group’s latest attack has come against the city council of League City, Texas, which has included prayer by local clergy in its regular government meetings since the early 1960s.

In a July 15 letter to Mayor Tim Paulissen and the League City Council, the FFRF went through its customary paces in attempting to browbeat the city fathers into submission. Appealing to the First Amendment’s supposed “separation of state and church,” the godless group’s staff attorney, Elizabeth Cavell, called the city’s tradition of allowing both local residents and government officials to open the meetings in prayer of “dubious legality,” insisting that such prayers are “unnecessary, inappropriate, and divisive.”

Cavell advised that while government officials “are free to pray privately or to worship on their own time in their own way,” they “do not need to worship on taxpayers’ time.” Cavell complained that inviting council members and locals to offer invocations at the government meetings “is coercive and beyond the authority of any government.”

While citing a selection of court cases to buttress the FFRF’s case against public prayer, Cavell conceded that there is no clear precedent for her group to demand that the city end its tradition, since courts have issued conflicting opinions that make the legal landscape on the issue “unstable.” The only warning she could muster was that prayer at government meetings “continues to be litigated, divisive, and problematic for local governments across the nation precisely because of this instability.”

She dubiously suggested that the “best course” for the city would be “to halt the prayers. If you wish to pray prior to the meeting, do so on your own time in your own way — do not make it part of the secular business of your local government.”

As it happened, Mayor Paulissen and the city council appeared to be disinclined to follow the FFRF’s self-serving advice. Paulissen told the Houston Chronicle that he and the other city fathers had no plans to drop the 52-year tradition of opening council meetings with an invocation.

“The city has been doing this since 1962, and nobody has ever complained, to my knowledge,” Paulissen said. He added that “it’s not just my stance. I have the full support of those on the city council, too.”

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Vulgar Blimp Chris Christie Finds Liberty a “Dangerous Idea.”

On the eve of a House vote Wednesday on his amendment to curb the National Security Agency’s daily dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted, “Washington’s elites fear liberty. They fear you.” On Thursday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (shown) demonstrated just how eager he is to join the Washington elite.

Speaking at the Republican Governors Conference in Aspen, Colorado, Christie delivered what Aaron Blake at the Washington Post described as a “clear broadside” against Republicans of a libertarian bent, including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, expected to be competing with Christie for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Asked whether he meant to include Paul in that call for caution, Christie said, “You can name any one of them that’s engaged in this. I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation…. I’m very nervous about the direction this is moving in.”

One of the things making Christie nervous is the battle for privacy rights against what some see as a flagrant overreach by the federal government in the kind of surveillance conducted by the NSA in the name of national security. “I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” Christie said. “And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”

By citing both September 10 and September 12 of the year 2001, Christie has September 11 surrounded, perhaps with the thought of capturing it as his issue for 2016. By doing so he would be picking up the mantle of fallen presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, who campaigned so hard on that tragic event in the 2008 campaign that Joe Biden suggested every sentence from the former New York mayor contained only three things: “a noun, a verb and 9/11.”

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Military Censors Christian Chaplain, Atheists Call for Punishment (Obama’s Gay Military)

A Christian chaplain in the military is being officially censored for engaging in free speech, and anti-Christian activists are demanding he be punished.

Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes is a Christian chaplain currently serving in the U.S. Air Force. He is stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. As an ordained clergyman whose duties are to provide religious instruction and spiritual counseling, he has a page on the base’s website called “Chaplain’s Corner.”

Reyes recently wrote an essay entitled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II.” This common saying is attributed to a Catholic priest in World War II, made famous when President Dwight D. Eisenhower said during a 1954 speech: “I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in oåçur daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the foxholes.”

As reported by Fox News’s Todd Starnes, when Reyes referenced this famous line in his essay, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) contacted the base commander, Col. Brian Duffy, demanding he take action on Reyes’s “anti-secular diatribe.”

MRFF’s letter says that by Reyes’s “use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members.” They accuse him of violating military regulations.

My legal research on this issue uncovered no regulation prohibiting Reyes’ speech, which looks like expression protected by the free speech and religious freedom provisions of the First Amendment. Military leaders did not respond to Fox’s inquiries asking the Air Force to identify any such rules.

Nonetheless, only five hours after MRFF’s complaint, the essay was removed from the website. Duffy has profusely apologized to MRFF for not stopping this religious leader from sharing religious thoughts.

But this response—which again appears to be a violation of Reyes’s First Amendment rights—is insufficient for MRFF. They said, “Faith based hate, is hate all the same,” and, “Lt. Col. Reyes must be appropriately punished.” (Emphasis added).

So MRFF is saying that the coercive power of government must be used to punish a military officer, who is also an ordained Christian minister, for making ordinary religious references consistent with his faith.

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council—one of the leaders of a new religious liberty coalition for the military—responded, “A chaplain has been censored for expressing his beliefs about the role of faith in the lives of service members… Why do we have chaplains if they aren’t allowed to fulfill that purpose?”

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NYC Restaurant Evicts Christian Church Over “Homosexual Stance”

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A popular New York City barbecue restaurant that came under fire for renting space to a Christian church, has evicted the congregation because of a sermon about same-sex attraction, the pastor told Fox News.

Freddy Wyatt, the pastor of The Gallery Church, said they had been renting space in a restaurant to hold their worship services for several months. That agreement was cancelled after local residents barraged the restaurant with complaints.

“There was backlash from the neighborhood toward the restaurant for hosting a Christian church in their space,” he told Fox News.

Wyatt declined to name the restaurant because they did not “want to throw them under the bus.”

“We want to maintain good relationships with the people in our neighborhood,” he said.

However, Fox News has learned the church had been renting space from Hill Country Barbecue, a popular eatery in Manhattan. Owners of the restaurant did not return calls seeking comment.

Wyatt said the trouble started when they began promoting a sermon series about sexuality.

“This particular sermon series struck a nerve in the neighborhood,” he said. “There was an enormous amount of backlash. We don’t know specifically what that was. The restaurant said if it had only been a couple of phone calls it would have been one thing – but it was more than that.”

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Judge halts lawsuits seeking to block Detroit bankruptcy (Detroit Officially Bankrupt Now)

A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday suspended pending lawsuits in state courts that are challenging Detroit’s bankruptcy filing.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said there is nothing in the 10th Amendment, which guides state vs. federal jurisdiction, that bars federal jurisdiction in this case. He said his court will be the exclusive venue for any legal action regarding the bankruptcy.

Detroit’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr—a bankruptcy expert appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year to oversee Detroit’s finances—has said the federal bankruptcy filing is necessary to get the city out from under some $18 billion in liabilities.

But the city’s employee unions argued the bankruptcy is an end-run around the state constitution, which protects their pension benefits. The unions backed a series of lawsuits filed in Michigan courts to block the bankruptcy. Last week, Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina ruled the bankruptcy filing unconstitutional, but a state appeals court put her ruling on hold, and Orr argued the federal court should make that stay indefinite.

The emergency manager said bankruptcy is a federal matter. A bankruptcy filing normally puts all other litigation on hold, but Orr’s office asked the judge to extend that automatic stay to cover him and state officials, including the governor. Orr’s attorneys acknowledged the request was unusual, but said “recent events”—the lawsuits in state court—made it necessary.

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Poll: 85% support right for religious to refuse to work for gay wedding

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A heartening poll by Rasmussen shows 85 percent of Americans believe Christian wedding photographers have the right to refuse to service a gay wedding. In a country that increasingly forgets the value of free speech, it’s surprisingly refreshing to see a strong majority in the right column.

The same applies, of course, to wedding cake bakers. Hopefully the memo reaches David Mullins and Charlie Craig, who have enlisted the help of the ACLU to sue a Denver, CO bakery for allegedly refusing a cake for their wedding. “The complaint seeks to force Masterpiece Cakeshop to “cease and desist” the practice of refusing wedding cakes for gay couples, and to tell the public that their business is open to everyone,” reports FOX News. “If [the defendant] loses the case and refuses to comply with the order, he would face fines of $500 per case and up to a year in jail, his attorney said.”

If the Mullins-Craig case is successful, it will do a huge disservice to the gay rights movement. A lot of supporters have come on board under the banner of, “It doesn’t affect anyone else, so why should we stop them?” Well, if and when lawsuits arise, it does affect someone else, and not just in a vague “changing the definition of marriage” way. A year in jail is nothing to sweep under the rug.

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White House scrambles to defeat bill to defund NSA program

The White House took the rare step of releasing a statement opposing an amendment to a House bill Tuesday night, taking aim at a measure that would shut down significant parts of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities.

In the statement, White House spokesman Jay Carney accused Republican lawmakers of trying to “hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools” and said the “blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process.”

The House is preparing to vote on an amendment, written by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that would cut off funds to the NSA if it collects data on individuals who are not under investigation — a move that would effectively shut down the sweeping Internet and phone data collection programs that have been revealed in news reports.

After hearing that the amendment would be given a vote as part of the Defense Appropriations bill Tuesday afternoon, the White House scrambled to try to defeat it. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander headed up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a question and answer session with lawmakers in a classified, members-only briefing.

“We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a seasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation,” Carney said.

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Move over NSA, here comes the Obamacare Big Brother database!

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Published on: July 21, 2013

Obamacare train wreck

Would you trust thousands of low-level Federal bureaucrats and contractors with one-touch access to your private financial and medical information? Under Obamacare you won’t have any choice.

As the Obamacare train-wreck begins to gather steam, there is increasing concern in Congress over something called the Federal Data Services Hub. The Data Hub is a comprehensive database of personal information being established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement the federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. The purpose of the Data Hub, according to a June 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, is to provide “electronic, near real-time access to federal data” and “access to state and third party data sources needed to verify consumer-eligibility information.” In these days of secret domestic surveillance by the intelligence community, rogue IRS officials and state tax agencies using private information for political purposes, and police electronically logging every license plate that passes by, the idea of the centralized Data Hub is making lawmakers and citizens nervous.

They certainly should be; the potential for abuse is enormous. The massive, centralized database will include comprehensive personal information such as income and financial data, family size, citizenship and immigration status, incarceration status, social security numbers, and private health information. It will compile dossiers based on information obtained from the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, the Social Security Administration, state Medicaid databases, and for some reason the Peace Corps. The Data Hub will provide web-based, one-stop shopping for prying into people’s personal affairs.

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Barack Obama, the Quintessential Liberal Fascist

“They fear that the development and building of People’s (community) Organizations is the building of a vast power group which may fall prey to a fascistic demagogue who will seize leadership and control and turn an organization into a Frankenstein’s monster against democracy.”
– Saul Alinsky responding to his critics, Reveille for Radicals; p. 199
When Saul Alinsky began building his community-organization movement in 1930s Chicago, observers were watching Alinsky with one eye, while with the other eye observing the building of communist and fascist movements in Europe. It wasn’t hard then to see in Alinsky’s programs at home, elements of the people’s revolution from Russia, as well as some of the same “in your face” tactics being employed by Hitler’s Brownshirts.

 

What Alinsky’s critics saw was the burgeoning of a national movement, the carefully manipulated construction of people’s organizations, which all had two elements in common: (1) a collectivist creed, which denied the existence of personal responsibility; and (2) an amoral dogma, in which all means were justified by an imaginary utopian end.
While most modern Americans remember well Hitler’s Holocaust and the Cold War waged by a solid U.S.S.R., many of these same Americans have swallowed some false history regarding the movements that spawned such widespread, horrendous results. In what may be regarded as the most triumphant propaganda victory of our time, fascism has been scrubbed of all its Marxist roots, while communism has been scrubbed of its millions of callous murders.
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How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

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Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company’s own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.

The documents show that:

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;

• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;

• Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data Intercept Unit to “understand” potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;

• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;

• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a “team sport”.

The latest NSA revelations further expose the tensions between Silicon Valley and the Obama administration. All the major tech firms are lobbying the government to allow them to disclose more fully the extent and nature of their co-operation with the NSA to meet their customers’ privacy concerns. Privately, tech executives are at pains to distance themselves from claims of collaboration and teamwork given by the NSA documents, and insist the process is driven by legal compulsion.

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SHOCK POLL: 60 Percent of Hispanics Back Border Security, Interior Enforcement BEFORE Amnesty!

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Amnesty-pushing politicians who insist that putting strong border security measures and interior enforcement before legalization for illegal aliens will anger Hispanic voters, were completely undermined by a new poll.

This poll shows that a majority of registered Hispanic voters believe any immigration legislation that becomes law should deal with border security and interior immigration law enforcement before legalization of America’s at least 11 million illegal aliens begins.

Among all Hispanics, six in ten, 60%, support granting legal status to those already here only when the 90% goal is reached; 32% oppose,” GOP pollster John McLaughlin’s group said in a release. “Among Hispanic voters, 60% support, 34% oppose.”

The “90% goal” McLaughlin’s group is referencing is the target of ending 90 percent of current illegal immigration through border security and interior enforcement.

The McLaughlin poll also found that Hispanics oppose giving illegal aliens access to federal benefits, including Obamacare, “while they are going through the legalization process and before the 90% goal is reached” at a 56 to 40 percent margin. The registered Hispanic voters polled also considered “immigration reform” the lowest priority of four issues when asked whether immigration, the economy, education, or health care is most important to them.

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Time to Throw Out “Second Best” GOP RHINO Senators

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Published on: July 10, 2013

Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi is a loyal Republican, a decent guy, and generally a good senator. He also needs to retire from the Senate because he is not good enough, and I don’t care if that makes him sad.

The New York Times probably thought it was helping him recently when it ran how Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz is planning to challenge him in the 2014 Republican primary. The Times hailed him as “a studious, low-key legislator who worked well with Senator Edward M. Kennedy,” and Enzi probably thinks that’s a compliment.

For that reason alone he needs to go.

He needs to go because we can do better. It’s not about Mike Enzi or any other Republican politician. It’s about winning this war against progressivism, and if you aren’t leading the fight then bow out and make room for someone who will.

Liz Cheney will. The seat would hardly be at risk – the Wyoming GOP primary is better known as the Wyoming general election – so we can take the chance to do better. After all, Liz Cheney has something Enzi doesn’t – a taste for political combat.

She wants to win. Not to “compromise,” not to “work together,” not sit around singing “Kumbayah” with the liberals. She wants to win.

Enzi wants to be a sober, serious legislator working with his liberal friends across the aisle to make a better country. Except there are no friends across the aisle, and the liberals do not want to make this a better country. Liberals want to ruthlessly acquire and maintain power and control over every aspect of our lives, and anyone who does not see and understand that and who can’t commit to destroying their hideous plans for our country needs to get out the way for a true conservative warrior.

The Times, perhaps again thinking it was helping, noted that Enzi “avoids political talk shows because, he says, their goal is to get guests to ‘beat up on their colleagues.’”

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CLANCY: Burn your Obamacare card A nationwide ‘draft resistance’ could defeat compulsory coverage

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Let’s all burn our “Obamacare” cards.

Last week, the Obama administration was forced by industry pressure to delay the health care law’s employer mandate. It’s a sign the time is ripe for Americans to rise up and exert popular pressure to delay the law’s other major mandate: the one on them as individuals.

Starting six months from now, the individual mandate will take effect. Most Americans will be required to show proof of “acceptable” insurance coverage, as defined by Washington — in effect, a health care draft card.

Like compulsory military service, the health care draft will conscript private citizens to carry out a national goal dictated by Washington, and the burden will fall especially hard on young people.

Why a “draft”? Supposedly, it’s to help the uninsured, but this makes little sense. There are less coercive, less expensive ways to help the uninsured — for example, by reducing distorting subsidies and red tape.

With the new system’s top-down, centralized approach, there will be higher costs, longer wait times, and incentives for doctors and hospitals to scrimp on care. The “health care draft” is unjust, unnecessary and harmful to our health.

It also happens to be the system’s linchpin. Without premium payments by millions of young adults under 40, Obamacare can’t work. Younger Americans make up the bulk of the uninsured today because health insurance simply costs too much relative to their needs. If they don’t obey the mandate, premiums will be higher than expected in the new government “exchanges,” people will be driven away, and a vicious cycle will set in, ending in the scheme’s failure.

This suggests an opportunity. If all of us, especially millennials, were to become health care draft resisters, we could hasten Obamacare’s inevitable collapse and pave the way for a patient-centered system.

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Outrage at airport: TSA taps decorated, disabled Marine for extra scrutiny

A retired, disabled U.S. Marine in full dress and donned with numerous medals was flagged by federal security agents at a California airport for wearing “too much metal,” and pulled to the side for additional scrutiny — even asked to lift his arms, despite an injury that made doing so impossible.

“What does a uniform and heroism represent if our own citizens — in this case, employees of the TSA and security personnel — have not regard for them?” said Patricia Martin, the former Marine’s travel partner, Fox News reported.

Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz was injured in 2004 from a bomb in Iraq. He can’t lift his arm above his head, MilitaryTimes.com reported.

He was en route to the California state Capitol building for a ceremony to honor him as veteran of the year in his legislative district and wearing full uniform for the occasion, when he was stopped by Sacramento International Airport security officials for “too much metal,” Fox News reported.

Transportation Security Administration officials asked that he lift his head for a full-body scan — but he couldn’t.

“My right arm doesn’t work,” he told security scanners, Fox News reported. “It’s a lot of hassle for me to do that.

Ms. Martin vowed to write to Veterans Affairs to express her outrage.

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Real Americans Don’t Trust the Government

“Question Authority” was a dominant political theme in the ’60s and 70s We’re talking about the 1760s and the 1770s, of course — the American Revolution. Well, sure, the 1960s and the 1970s, too. But our country was founded on the idea “Question Authority” while opposing the King of England in the 1760s and 1770s.

Over this July 4th long weekend, we are called to remember how good cheeseburgers and hot dogs taste when grilled outdoors in the backyard. Oh, wait. That’s not it. Don’t tell me; it will come to me! Hearty cheers to the family Grill Master, always. But there is more to July 4th than potato salad, chips, and sizzling hamburgers.

The Fourth of July — more than any other holiday — is supposed to be a celebration. From the very first July 4th celebration in 1776, it was meant to be a party. Our Founding Fathers wanted it that way, and said so explicitly. Unlike any other holiday, it was established to be a community-wide blast celebrating America’s independence and creation as a new nation.

But what is the real meaning of America? Should you love and trust your government? Should you respect our leaders? Not “do you”. Should you? An enormous cultural divide has developed, from ignorance of American history, on whether it is right or wrong to trust our governments (local, state, and national) in the United States of America.

Many who imagine themselves to be conservative equate loving America with loving our government. If you love your country, you have to love and trust our government leaders, they subconsciously assume. They are offended by talk of not trusting our leaders and bureaucracies.

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