Faith & Freedom

Nativity Scenes

Religion in the Public Square

Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee vs. City of Santa Monica

Every December for 60 years, Christian Nativity scene displays occupied a section of the pristine Palisades Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. For half that time, a consortium of local area churches and the police union volunteered to install the life-sized displays. Exhibiting the Nativity scenes grew to become a cherished community tradition. But in recent years, a campaign to disrupt the tradition has been waged. And this year, atheist groups finally got what they wanted when the city agreed to put an end to the tradition. Bah, humbug!

Nativity-Scene[1]

Yes, there is a war on Christmas. The City’s decision to cave under pressure brought by people who lack tolerance and disdain tradition violated the Committee’s First Amendment right to free speech. Freedom X has sued the city to reverse its decision and to restore the tradition.

If you have information concerning a threat to religious freedom or free speech in your community, contact Freedom X.

More information about this lawsuit:

•    Santa Monica to ban private, unattended displays at park
•    Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee Website
•    Complaint

Jews for Jesus

Christian Evangelism

Jews for Jesus vs. City of Los Angeles

Jews for Jesus has been around since the 1960s. Its volunteer missionaries peaceably distribute their religious handouts as part of an outreach campaign designed to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Their efforts are protected by the First Amendment. As the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear, private religious speech, far from being a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression.

Jews-for-Jesus[1]
In May 2006, Cyril Gordon and a team of volunteers were out on a tract passing expedition, as the missionary work is called. As in years past, they stood in a public area located outside the Israeli Independence Festival held each year at a park in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles distributing tracts. Although the Jews for Jesus missionaries were not inside the festival grounds, festival officials had Gordon arrested for trespass. Gordon was booked into the Van Nuys jail, where he was deprived of his liberty.

Freedom X was contacted to represent Gordon and to appear with him in court. But when they arrived at the courtroom, the matter was strangely missing on the docket. They then sought an explanation at the city attorney’s office and were advised that the charges had been dropped!

Gordon had not just lost his freedom by being incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, he faced the added indignity of having to retain counsel for a court appearance no one bothered to tell him had been cancelled!

Together with Jews for Jesus national counsel, the American Liberties Institute, Freedom X sued the City of Los Angeles for violating Gordon’s First Amendment rights and for falsely imprisoning him. After more than a year of litigating, the City entered into a financial settlement with Gordon and Jews for Jesus and were ordered by the court to allow Jews for Jesus to resume their practice of distributing tracts outside the festival.

Gordon’s fate should not happen to anyone in the United States. The First Amendment was expressly adopted to keep government away from the free exercise of one’s faith.

If you have information concerning a threat to religious freedom in your community, contact Freedom X.
More information about this lawsuit:
http://www.christianpost.com/news/los-angeles-ordered-to-respect-jews-for-jesus-free-speech-26730/

Student Speech

Student Speech

It has been “the unmistakable holding” of the Supreme Court for over 50 years that First Amendment rights are available to students in America’s public school systems. The Court has stated that neither students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the school house gate.

Student-Speech1[1]

Tiffany Amador attended high school in Merced, California. Her mother, Anna, raised her to believe in the sanctity of life. At a church function, Tiffany was given a pro-life t-shirt depicting a growing fetus in two sequential photograph frames. A third frame was simply dark. Under the sequence of pictures were the words “growing…growing…gone.” When Tiffany arrived at school one day, she was ordered by school administrators to replace her shirt with clothing the school deemed less offensive.

Public school officials are just that: public officials. The First Amendment protects students like Tiffany from official action that attempts to censor their legitimate political speech. Freedom X represented Tiffany in a case that was satisfactorily settled and her rights were vindicated. Watch their Fox News appearance.

Freedom X was there again when students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California, were ordered to remove their American flag designed clothing on May 5 so as not to offend Mexican students celebrating Cinco de Mayo that day.

Student-Speech2[1]
In the case of Dariano vs. Morgan Hill Unified School District, a federal judge in San Francisco rejected the students’ claims their First Amendment rights were violate. The case is currently on appeal before the 9th Circuit.

Mr. Becker appeared on Fox News to explain the case.

If you have information concerning a threat to free speech in your community, contact Freedom X.

More information about this lawsuit:
Fox News Story 1
Fox News Story 2
New York Daily News Story
FREE SPEECH VICTORY FOR SILENCED PRO-LIFE CALIF. STUDENT: JUDGMENT ENDS LAWSUIT AGAINST K-8 SCHOOL
San Francisco Examiner Story

Arabic Christian Perspective

Christian Evangelism

Arabic Christian Perspective vs. City of Dearborn

George Saieg was born and raised in Sudan, a country where persecution of Christians by Muslims has divided the nation. The founder and director of Arabic Christian Perspective (ACP) and Ministry to Muslims, Saieg’s lifelong experiences with Islam inspired him to reach Muslims with the truth of the Gospel. In 2006, George was ordained as a pastor by Calvary Chapel.

Christian-Evangelism

Each year, Saieg and fellow missionaries visit Dearborn, Michigan, during the celebration of the annual Arab International Festival held there. Their goal is to exercise their First Amendment right to hand out religious tracts in a public area near the festival. Saieg and others have been targeted by Muslims angered at their presence as well as by police officials who seem to believe that Christians do not have the same right of free speech in Dearborn as Muslims.

Islamic law provides for severe penalties, including death, for converting to Christianity. Such attention is naturally undesirable to anyone wishing to hear Saieg’s message. That is why Saieg and the other missionaries sought not to participate within the festival itself, but to evangelize on public streets near the festival. Police had a different idea. They forced Saieg to stand in a “free speech zone” intended to make it impossible for him to reach out to anyone who might be willing to accept a flyer and discuss the Christian gospel.

Freedom X recruited the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) based in nearby Ann Arbor to remind the City of Dearborn that Christian speech is just as protected under the First Amendment as any other speech. In 200*, Freedom X and the TMLC filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in Detroit on Saieg’s behalf seeking the restoration of his right to hand out Christian literature and engage in his evangelical mission within the public streets of Dearborn.

As is the case quite often, the trial judge rejected Saieg’s argument that government engaged in the unconstitutional censorship of his legitimate right to pass out tracts on public streets located outside the perimeter of city permitted events. But the trial judge’s decision did not survive appeal and was reversed, allowing Saieg and other Christian missionaries to exercise their First Amendment rights in Dearborn and elsewhere.

If you have information concerning a threat to religious freedom or free speech in your community, contact Freedom X.

More information about this lawsuit:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,534301,00.html
http://www.jihadwatch.org/2009/06/michigan-judge-says-arab-christian-group-cant-roam-freely-and-give-out-literature-at-arab-festival.html
http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2009/06/muslim-festival-dearborn-lawsuit-to-fight-islamic-supremacism.html
http://www.onenewsnow.com/legal-courts/2009/06/19/christians-barred-from-sidewalk-handouts-at-arab-festival

Horowitz vs. County of Los Angeles

Religion in the Public Square

Horowitz vs. County of Los Angeles

Since 1923, motorists driving along the Hollywood Freeway through the Cahuenga Pass have observed a 32-foot-high steel cross jutting out of the rugged Hollywood Hills terrain. Just across the freeway sits the famous Hollywood Bowl amphitheater with its distinctive scallop-shaped acoustical shell. Seated in the upper bleachers at a Bowl event on a starry night, one can spot the cross over the shell off into the distance.

Horowitz

For 50 years, the image of the shell, the cross and the starry night told a part of the Los Angeles story within the artistic composition of the county’s official government seal. In 2006, that image drew controversy when the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the county unless it was removed.

Hundreds of Los Angeles residents crammed the county auditorium to protest the removal of the image. A petition drive was initiated. But nothing could budge Los Angeles’ elected officials from their decision to redraw history.

This story is not unique to Los Angeles. It has been replayed and continues to be replayed throughout America. In fact, large organizations staffed with armies of lawyers are canvassing the nation in search of tiny cross symbols and references to our religious heritage for the purpose of neutralizing religion’s force in our lives.

Freedom X was not content to stand idly by as the county surrendered to the ACLU’s demands. It joined forces with Dr. John Eastman, the founder of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and one of the nation’s top constitutional scholars, and Manny Klausner, co-founder of the Reason Foundation and the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Individual Rights Foundation, to fight back.

If you have information concerning a threat to religious freedom in your community, contact Freedom X.

More information about this lawsuit:

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/04/local/me-cross4

http://www.samohi.smmusd.org/about/news/031905.pdf