Governor Greg Abbott of Texas Defends the First Amendment

From the office of the governor:

Governor Greg Abbott today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling:

“The Supreme Court has abandoned its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and has become an unelected nine-member legislature. Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the States.

“Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage.

“The Texas Constitution guarantees that ‘[n]o human authority ought, in any case whatsoever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion.’ The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion; and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, combined with the newly enacted Pastor Protection Act, provide robust legal protections to Texans whose faith commands them to adhere to the traditional understanding of marriage.

“As I have done in the past, I will continue to defend the religious liberties of all Texans—including those whose conscience dictates that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman. Later today, I will be issuing a directive to state agencies instructing them to prioritize the protection of Texans’ religious liberties.”

Dear Lord, expedite our move to Texas, please…


We Now Live in Sodom…

I must write. I can’t help it. I see the travesty that has just come down from the U.S. Supreme Court and I’m grieved. SCOTUS has taken something that God has given to us, marriage, and turned it into something profane before the LORD. Just as Lot was grieved over the actions of his fellow citizens of Sodom, so too, should we be grieved at what SCOTUS has done today.

As Isaiah said:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

It is tragic that our country has completely turned its back on God and His word. Tragic in the sense that now an authoritative body has declared to those men and women in our country that struggle with the sin of homosexuality, “do what is right in your own eyes.”

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Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court

I wasn’t planning on writing on this topic because so many have done so. If you have lived in a vacuum, then you don’t know about Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Hobby Lobby is fighting for religious freedom that affects everyone, even the atheists. What is at the core of this case is the freedom to live, work and act in this country with the freedom of conscience. In other words, does the government have a right to bind our consciences for purposes of advancing their agendas?

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Valedictorian Prevented from Giving Thanks to God

Apparently some lawyers got a hold of  Valedictorian Kyle Gearwar speech and edited it before he could give it. The Fair Haven Union High School (in Vermont) graduate was told he could not make any references to God in his speech. This is another violation of a Christians right to Free Speech and exercise of religion are not allowed because we don’t want to offend anyone. Here is his full speech with the editor’s of the Rutland Herald noting where he had to stop.

Good Evening parents, graduates, faculty and staff, administrators, families and students of Fair Haven Union High School. Thank you for coming tonight to witness this truly awesome event. I thought I would begin this speech with a little formality, but trust me I will not speak like this for the whole five minutes.

I would just like to take a moment to recognize this class of graduates. This is one of the most intelligent and competitive classes this school has ever witnessed graduate. We have students going into prestigious colleges and occupations, athletes that are at the top of their games and have won state recognition, all state band musicians, poetry wizards, and many others who succeed and excel in various activities. I can’t even describe the potential of this group of individuals. It is impossible to imagine what each student will accomplish and we can look forward to these people leading and becoming the backbone of this country. This is one of the greatest classes that Fair Haven has produced and I am proud to be, not only their Valedictorian but also their classmate.
I would like to say my thank yous now. I would like to begin by thanking this school and the faculty, staff and administration. It has been a great four years and I thank you for preparing me for college and the life ahead of me. Each of you has left your mark on me and I will forever remember what you have taught me academically and all the life lessons. I would also like to thank Mr. Richard Luzer. I spent probably half my high school career in that library with you and it was well worth the time and discussion. You are a wise man Mr. Luzer and Fair haven is lucky to have you.

Next I want to thank my church and Youth Group, Pastor Rob and Pastor Dan, my youth leaders Mr. Lew and Mrs. Ronna, Mike Hall and all those that have mentored me for the last ten years of my life. The guidance you have given me in scripture is phenomenal and the mentoring and love you have shown me can not be reciprocated. Everything you do is for God and for others and I can not thank you enough. And to my Youth Group I want to say that you are my core. I look forward every week to seeing you all and though we go through difficult times, they will always get better eventually.

Finally I would like to thank my mom and dad and brother. I am not just saying this, I mean it with the upmost respect and love, you are the greatest parents and family I could ever ask for. I guess I can be a little forgetful but you’ve always been there to help me and raise me to be successful and I hope I have made you proud. Mom, thank you for all the hard work you’ve put into my post-secondary school education and I am truly thankful for the things you’ve done so I’m ready for college. Thanks for all the free animal mounts as well. I hope you let me take some to put in my dorm room. Dad, thank you for trusting me even when you have no reason too. I am so grateful that I have a father with so much intelligence and knowledge. Trav, you are an awesome brother and probably one of my best friends as well. I wish you the best of luck in the rest of your high school career and onward. I want to thank all my family members here tonight as well for everything you have done to make my life enjoyable to live.
I come before you tonight, ill prepared. I have spent the last week diligently praying and writing my speech for you tonight. I sought the message that would deliver a feeling of sorrow, but end with great victory. Sadly the latter part is not the case. My original speech has been cut, redone, and eventually trashed because of my references to the Bible, Jesus, and a better life. Today my letter to you was revised by some lawyers and attorneys who crossed out the concluding half of my speech. They said that the school can not endorse or allow me to speak about religion and how it has changed my life. I have dealt with the minor changes to my story that they have proposed, but in the end I could not throw it out. It saddens me that it had to come to this and I do not wish to read it on these circumstances because I know that Mr. Blanchard, Mr. Doucette and the school are at the mercy of the law if I follow through on this. It saddens me even more that the founding fathers created the first amendment, but today Congress has changed it to exclude those that they do not want to speak and defiled the principles on which this country was built on. I would also like to add that I am not trying to cause a problem or direct attention to myself, but I have always dreamed of speaking about God in front of my school as the Valedictorian. This was the message God gave to me and I am not allowed to share it with you even though it my testimony, the most important change my life has ever experienced, and the one thing that I stand for no matter what.

Today my valedictorian speech remains unfinished. I am submitting to those who have authority over me by not reading the half of my speech that has caused issues. I respect the administration for the decisions they have made and thank them anyways for the opportunity to speak.

Editor’s Note: The section of Kyle’s speech that he was prevented from reading at graduation begins below:

I thank God for everything He has done for me and the strength He has given me to resist the urge to defy the command the school has given me. Again thank you for coming tonight and Congratulations to the 2011 Fair Haven Union High School Graduates.

Now I would like to share a story, actually the testimony of my life, to show you what I have gone through and how I got here. Some of you may be offended with this story but this is what I feel God has laid on my heart and is a message this school needs to hear. I have grown up a in a Christian home all my life thanks to my amazing parents, but as many of these people can vouch for, I do not always act like I am Born Again. Thankfully, Jesus said I am not perfect and God forgives me for every sin I commit. My testimony is this. For the last few weeks I was lost in anger and depression. I kept it hidden quite well from most though. I was so burdened with grief and angst that I couldn’t focus on my life or those around me. Finally it all broke loose and I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I lashed out in anger at some of my best friends and cried for hours on end. I was so broken that I call a friend and mentor of mine who went through some of the same issues as I have. I begged him to get rid of this hate I had for myself and those that had done me wrong. He reminded me of the song that includes these words, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his beautiful face, and the cares of this world will grow strangely dim.” The following day I picked up a book by a pastor out of Texas. He talks about letting go of the past and looking for the future God has for those who seek him. The reason I acted the way I have for so long was because I harbored this extreme dislike for myself and held onto the things people have said and done to me. But as soon as I gave this to God and let him fight my battles my entire life has changed. I don’t dwell on the past. I have peace and can finally enjoy every moment God has given me, good or bad. I wouldn’t be standing before you without the blessings God has given me through my tough situations. He is the reason I am the man I am today, made new through Jesus death on the cross.

I have my own unique issues and problems, but they can include others like substance abuse, relationship problems, anger, pride, or depression. The way to escape this is through submitting to God. I can’t get through all my difficulties in my own strength, but with God I can, and there are many people in this world whose lives have changed because of Him. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, they are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future.” I needed to let go of the things that I wasn’t proud of and give my life to the One who created me. God knew me before I was born and wanted a relationship with me from that very day. And trust me it was well worth the effort to submit to God and not let the world get the best of me.

Now I can live in freedom from sin.
Now I can look at each new day with a smile.
Now I can face each trouble and problem with a glad heart.
Now I can live with God and not try to barely survive without Him.

Again thank you for coming tonight and Congratulations to the 2011 Fair Haven Union High School Graduates.

Hattip: Andy Webb

Pastor Asked Not to Pray In Jesus Name

Good for him! Pastor Ron Baity of Winston-Salem Berean Baptist Church was told his prayers were not welcome at the North Carolina State Legislature because he invoked the name of Christ in his prayers. He was told that by doing so, he might offend some of the members of the legislature.

He did so anyway, and I’m glad. To offer a prayer without the name of Christ is nothing more than to babble some religious, man-made utterings. Without Christ’s name, the prayer is NOT heard. Pastor Baity stood for righteousness sake even if it cost him the opportunity to pray for the legislature during the rest of the week of his tenure. Here is part of the story.

“I got fired,” said Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He had been invited to lead prayer for an entire week but his tenure was cut short when he refused to remove the name Jesus from his invocation.

Baity’s troubles began during the week of May 31. He said a House clerk asked to see his prayer. The invocation including prayers for our military, state lawmakers and a petition to God asking him to bless North Carolina.”

“When I handed it to the lady, I watched her eyes and they immediately went right to the bottom of the page and the word Jesus,” he told FOX News Radio. “She said ‘We would prefer that you not use the name Jesus. We have some people here that can be offended.’”

Just imagine if a Muslim was invited to pray before the North Carolina Legislature and asked not to use Allah’s name. Imagine what the end result of that would be. Why, then, is it OK for the State Legislature to ask to have the name of Christ removed from a Christians prayer? It is not. That violates the very tenants of a Christian’s faith in order to mandate a false, man-made religion which is sanctioned by the state. Another violation of the First Amendment.

Let’s be clear. There are several principles that have to be stated here. First, there is no other name by which we can pray because to do so, is to ignore the Mediator given to us by God. To try and enter into His presence without the blood of Christ, is Babel all over again.

Secondly, Pastor Baity’s First Amendment rights were violated because he was told his services were not needed since he was a believer in Jesus. He would be accepted if he would remove the name of Christ, but the state has no right to do so. If they are going to invite anyone at all to pray before the Legislature, they have no right to dictate to them how to pray or by who’s name.

Third, by doing what they did, the North Carolina State Legislature has mandated a religion, one based on the absence of Jesus. Anyone can pray, just so long as they do not do so in Jesus name. This too is a violation of the First Amendment.

They have the option of either ceasing all prayers, which they have effectively done by excluding the name of Christ, or they can allow those Christians to who pray there, to pray as their conscience dictates.

I’ve written on this issue here and here.