Menu Close

Tag: First Amendment

Offending Others: A Constitutionally Protected Right

free speech

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.

— U.S. Constitution, First Amendment

Central to our way of life in the United States is the First Amendment of the Constitution: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceable assembly, and freedom to petition the Government for redress of grievances.

In this post, I want to briefly talk about freedom of speech (or expression).

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts’ website defines and explains free speech this way:

Among other cherished values, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. The U.S. Supreme Court often has struggled to determine what exactly constitutes protected speech. The following are examples of speech, both direct (words) and symbolic (actions), that the Court has decided are either entitled to First Amendment protections, or not.

The First Amendment states, in relevant part, that:

“Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech.”

Freedom of speech includes the right:

  • Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag). West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
  • Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war (“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”). Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
  • To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages. Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
  • To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
  • To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions). Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).
  • To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest). Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).

Freedom of speech does not include the right:

  • To incite imminent lawless action. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969).
  • To make or distribute obscene materials. Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).
  • To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest. United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968).
  • To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
  • Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event. Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
  • Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event. Morse v. Frederick, 551 — U.S. — 398 (2007).

What about “hate” speech? Iowa State University answers the questions, “What is hate speech?” and “Is hate speech protected by the First Amendment?”:

The term “hate speech” is often misunderstood. “Hate speech” doesn’t have a legal definition under U.S. law, just as there is no legal definition for lewd speech, rude speech, unpatriotic speech, or other similar types of speech or expression that people might condemn. The term often refers to speech or expression that the listener believes denigrates, vilifies, humiliates, or demeans a person or persons on the basis of membership or perceived membership in a social group identified by attributes such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other protected status. Speech identified as hate speech may involve epithets and slurs, statements that promote malicious stereotypes, and speech denigrating or vilifying specific groups. Hate speech may also include nonverbal depictions and symbols.

In the United States, hate speech receives substantial protection under the First Amendment, based upon the idea that it is not the proper role of the government to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Instead, the government’s role is to broadly protect individuals’ freedom of speech in an effort to allow for the expression of unpopular and countervailing opinion and encourage robust debate on matters of public concern even when such debate devolves into offensive or hateful speech that causes others to feel grief, anger, or fear.

….

However, it goes without saying that just because there is a First Amendment right to say something, doesn’t mean it should be said.

….

The First Amendment does not protect illegal conduct just because that conduct is motivated by an individual’s beliefs or opinions. Therefore, even though hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, illegal conduct motivated by an individual’s hate for a particular protected group may be regulated by local, state, or federal law, and / or university policies. These laws are sometimes identified as “hate crimes.”

It is important to understand that the First Amendment restricts government from regulating speech (expression), though there are exceptions. The First Amendment does not apply to speech restrictions enacted by businesses and private citizens. Over the years, countless Evangelicals have said that I am violating their right to free speech by not letting them say whatever they want on this site. However, this blog is not connected with the government in any way. It is owned and operated by a private citizen: me. No one has the right to comment on this site unless I permit them to do so.

As a writer, I have the right to say what I want, regardless of whether people agree with me. We do have civil slander and defamation laws, but the bar is high for the prosecution of such offenses. Just because someone says something about you that you don’t like doesn’t mean he is slandering you.

The Ohio Bar has this to say about defamation:

Yes. Individuals, not just the media, can be held liable for defamation if they either publish (libel) or say (slander) something about someone that isn’t true and that person suffers harm as a result. If you defame a private individual, that person would have to be able to prove: 1) that you made a statement, reported as fact, to another person; 2) that the statement was false; 3) that the statement caused damage to that person; and 4) that you were negligent in making that statement. If you defame a public figure (such as a celebrity or member of government, for example), that person will have to prove: 1) that you made a statement to another person, reported as fact; 2) that the statement was false and caused damage; and 3) that you made the statement with actual malice-that is, with knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard as to whether the statement was false or not. 

Remember, however, that you cannot be held liable for voicing your opinion, only for making untrue factual assertions.

Sadly, many people think they have a constitutional right not to be offended. This, however, is not true.

In 2022, Michael Bruce wrote:

Our right to be offensive is increasingly being seen as this pesky, little symptom of the First Amendment that must be either begrudgingly entertained or reluctantly accepted. People will casually write off being offensive as uncouth or unbecoming of a civilized society; they are, however, mistaken. The ones who are annoyed by our right to be offensive are the same ones who are likely to be ignorant of the fact that we are where we are today as result of individuals offending the orthodoxies of their day. They are also likely unaware of the consequences that limiting offensiveness can have.

One might ask themselves whether it’s worth being offensive in today’s era of wokeism, microaggressions, and cancel culture. The answer should be (and always will be) a resounding and resolute yes. Below are three reasons why we must embrace, and continue, our tradition of being offensive. 

First, we owe it to all of those who came before us and who sacrificed so much in the name of giving offense. We owe it to those who were mocked and ridiculed, booed and hissed at, beaten or imprisoned, exiled and ostracized, and hanged or burned at the stake all for simply offending the doctrines and dogmas of their day. Literal blood, sweat, and tears were given by countless generations so we could be where we are today. 

Secondly, giving offense has been the main driver of change over (at least) the last millennium. As pointed out above, our society has gotten to the point it is at today because individuals thumbed their noses at the norms and orthodoxies of their day.

….

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it is imperative that we continue our long tradition of offending contemporary orthodoxies because the only other alternative is clamping down or dismissing speech and expressions that are deemed offensive. The notion that any idea that is legitimately expressed can be silenced or banned on the grounds that it is merely “offensive” is censorship, and as one of our greatest founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, put it, “Censorship is the handmaiden to tyranny.” So, if you are against tyranny, you have to be for offensiveness. 

As was stated at the start, the right to be offensive, which has been affirmed to us as citizens by various Supreme Court cases (RAV v. St. Paul, Texas v. Johnson, Snyder v. Phelps) is increasingly being portrayed as a thorn in the side of modern society; as if the only thing stopping us from achieving an idyllic society is our individual right to give offense. It is time that that misconception comes to an end and we start to view this inalienable right for what it really is: the heart and soul of the First Amendment. 

British writer Charles Hymas wrote earlier this year:

No religion has a right to be exempt from criticism, the security minister has said ahead of a crackdown on extremism.

Tom Tugendhat said no faith had a right not to be challenged amid concerns that some extremists have used intimidation and threats of violence against those perceived to have insulted Islam.

It follows the case of a teacher in Batley, West Yorks, who received death threats after showing pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed during a religious education lesson almost two years ago and has remained in hiding ever since as he fears for his life.

Mr Tugendhat declined to comment on individual cases but he said: “There is absolutely no right for any religion to be offended, if we accepted that then we’d still be Catholic.

“Every religion has the right to be challenged and there is no religion that has the right to be immune from that for any reason at all.”

Speaking on GB News, he added: “Anybody can challenge any article of any faith, it is absolutely fundamental, and there is no right to be immune from that.

“You know very well, because it’s the fundamental tenet of your job as a journalist to have freedom of speech.”

I primarily write about religion (particularly Evangelical Christianity) and politics — two subjects never spoken of in polite company. I know my writing offends some people, but that doesn’t mean I must stop doing so. The offended are free to respond in the comment section (as long as they abide by this site’s comment policy), send me an email or social media message, write a blog post or news article in response to my offensive writing, write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper decrying my writing, or any other constitutionally protected, legal action. The offended have numerous tools at their disposal to rebut my writing. They don’t, however, have any legal grounds to force me to remove something I have written from this site.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

The Right to Protest Applies to Everyone

pro-palestinian protest

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.

— U.S. Constitution, First Amendment

From coast to coast and college to college, students are protesting Israel’s genocidal war against the Palestinian people. Politicians on the left and the right seem ignorant of the First Amendment and its protections of free speech and protest. Many of the protesters are anti-Zionists and not anti-Semites. Just because the protesting students oppose the state of Israel doesn’t mean they are anti-Semites. But, even if they are, it doesn’t matter. The First Amendment protects anti-Zionists and anti-Semites alike, just as it protects those supporting Israel’s murderous actions in Gaza. It seems that far too many Americans, including politicians on both sides of the aisle, think anti-Semitic speech is not constitutionally protected; that people should be arrested and prosecuted for saying anti-Israel slogans.

All speech (on public property) is protected (with a few narrow, specific exceptions), including that of Donald Trump, MAGA nutters, KKK members, and other racists. Evangelical Christians are free to say all sorts of things that decent, thoughtful people find repugnant and offensive. Just because someone’s speech offends you doesn’t mean he or she should be silenced. If a group of people want to protest ____________ on public property, whether you like it or not is irrelevant. That something is offensive is not grounds for arrest and prosecution. One of the reasons the United States is so great is that freedom of speech and protest are sacrosanct. All that college students are currently doing is exercising their Constitutional rights to speak their minds in public. Don’t like it? Tough shit. I personally support the pro-Palestinian protesters. I agree with their point of view. That said, if it were pro-MAGA or pro-Christian people protesting, I would also resolutely support their right to do so. Either the First Amendment applies to all of us, or it doesn’t apply to any of us. When it comes to free speech, ALL of us should be on the same page.

I will soon be sixty-seven years old. I vividly remember the protests and riots in Los Angeles and Detroit. I remember civil rights protests and opposition to the draft and the Vietnam War. These protests forced the end of the Vietnam War and the enactment of the Civil Rights Act. Protests can and do make a difference.

Local, state, and federal governments seem to have learned nothing from the upheaval of the 1960s. Who can forget armed police and National Guard soldiers using force to quell protests, including murdering four students at Kent State? What do we see today? More police and soldiers armed to the teeth, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and physical violence to put an end to pro-Palestinian protests. The difference between 1968 and today? Our police forces have been militarized, stocked with automatic weapons and other tools of war. What possibly could go wrong?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

My Life as a Street Preacher — Part Two

bruce gerencser street preaching crooksville ohio
Bruce Gerencser, street preaching, Crooksville, Ohio — with his son Jaime.

The First Amendment grants U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike freedom of speech and freedom of religion. These two freedoms are very close to the heart of men who preach on the streets. There is no freer piece of property than a public sidewalk. As long as a street preacher isn’t hindering people walking on the sidewalk or crossing the street, he is free to say pretty much anything to people passing by. Unfortunately, many local business owners and police officers are not well versed in what the law does and does not permit when it comes to street preaching. Many business owners wrongly think that if an obnoxious street preacher – an excessive redundancy if there ever was one — is standing in front of their store preaching or handing out tracts, a quick call to the police will remove the annoyance. However, the street preacher is exercising his First Amendment rights on a public sidewalk, and this means his actions are protected by law.

Sometimes, street preachers get in trouble with the law over evangelizing on private property, or preaching in public places that don’t allow preaching or politicking. For example, street preaching is banned near monuments such as the Lincoln and Washington Memorials. Another forbidden venue is Ohio county fairs. Fairs? Aren’t they public events? No. The various county governments rent/lease the fairgrounds to county agricultural boards. This means, technically, that the fairgrounds become private property for the duration of the fair. The same can be said for many street fairs. Years ago, I entered the Perry County Fairgrounds to preach and hand out tracts to fair-goers. I wasn’t there ten minutes before a fair official and two sheriff deputies told me I had to leave. I told them I wouldn’t be leaving. The fairground is public property, I said. Not wanting to make a scene and arrest me, the officers left me alone. I did what Jesus had “called” me to do and then headed home. Several months later, I received a personal letter from the Ohio Attorney General informing me that the fairgrounds were private, not public property, and that any further preaching or handing out of literature on my part would result in my arrest. The next year, I stood outside the fairground entrance and, with Bible held high, preached the gospel. I was watched closely by fair officials and law enforcement, but we had no further conflict.

In the late 1980s, I would take a group of men from the church to help me evangelize at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church Garden Party in Somerset, Ohio. The Garden Party was an annual fundraiser for Holy Trinity featuring food, beer, and gambling. The beer and gambling, according to the IFB preacher Bruce Gerencser, were sins against God, so what better way to let those hell-bound Catholics know the truth than by loudly preaching at them. I would stand across the street — about sixty feet away — from the venue, and from there everyone at the Garden Party could hear my sermon. The men I brought along with me either held Bible verse signs or walked the sidewalks handing out Fellowship Tract League tracts.

One year, two sheriff deputies came up to me and said, Sheriff Dixon says you have to stop doing this and go home. I replied, tell Dan I plan to keep on preaching. If he wants to arrest me, go ahead. Imagine what that will look like on the front page of the Times-Recorder. The officers left and spent the rest of the evening glaring at me from across the street. Later that night, the church’s priest came over to talk to me, asking if I thought I was accomplishing anything by preaching at people. I gave him my spiel about being a God-called preacher, and that I was following in the steps of Jesus, Paul, and the disciples. He smiled, and then said, have a nice evening. As he turned to walk away, he said, By the way, I want to thank you for your stand against abortion. 

Several days after the Garden Party, I had a sit-down with Sheriff Dixon at his office. I made it very clear to him that I intended to continue preaching on Perry County street corners, and that no matter how much his officers harassed me, I was going to continue doing God’s work. Dan, himself, was quite opinionated and bullheaded, so we came to an agreement about my street preaching, with each of us clearly understanding the parameters of what was legal and illegal behavior. (I visited county prisoners on a weekly basis, so Dan knew me in a larger context than just street preaching.)

Over the decade I spent preaching on the streets of southeast Ohio, I had numerous run-ins with law enforcement. I was resolute about going to jail if necessary. No one was going to stop me from preaching the gospel. One weeknight, as I was preaching in front of the Crooksville, Ohio post office, a police car stopped in front me and the officer told me that I had to IMMEDIATELY stop what I was doing. The business owner across the street, the officer said, called to complain, so you have to stop. I looked at him and replied, “No.” NO? the officer responded. “We’ll see about that!” He hopped back into his car and hauled ass down the street. Ten minutes later, the officer returned, got out of his car, and with bowed head and mumbled words, said, the police chief says I have to let you do this. Just do me a favor, don’t be here after dark. I can’t protect you if you are. I replied I won’t be. I’m not stupid (though my behavior suggested otherwise).

Street preachers are, to the man, arrogant assholes who have no regard for others. But, they have a constitutional right to be Assholes for Jesus®. Don Hardman taught me from the get-go that I had to be prepared to go to jail if need be; that many law enforcement officers were ignorant of the law and might wrongly arrest me for preaching on the street. The good news was that there were Christian lawyers who would make sure I was released from jail as soon as possible; that no one had been successfully prosecuted for street preaching. Much like Paul and Peter, I expected to be arrested one day for preaching the gospel. There’s no greater feather in the cap of a street preacher than to be arrested for preaching or handing out tracts. Want to make a name for yourself in the street preaching fraternity? Get arrested and spend time in jail for proclaiming the gospel.

Being questioned or harassed by law enforcement was a sign, at least to me, that I was doing exactly what God want me to do; that if God wanted me to suffer for his name’s sake, so be it. I was already something of a local celebrity, so getting thrown in the pokey would only have increased my celebrity status. Little did I know at the time that, sure I was a celebrity, but locals thought I was a fool. That’s okay too, right? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:10, We are fools for Christ’s sake. Praise Jesus!

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Do Christians Have the Absolute Constitutional Right to Worship God as They Please?

pastor-tony-spell

Last week, I mentioned the refusal of Pastor Tony Spell — pastor of Life Tabernacle Church: The Apostolics of Baton Rouge — to stop holding services, despite being ordered to do so by the governor of Louisiana, and his being charged with violating that order. Since then, Spell has been arrested and charged with assaulting a protester outside of his church. Spell was later released. After his release from what he called “prison,” Spell gave a short speech to fawning congregants who were camped outside of the jail awaiting his triumphant release.

Here’s what Spell had to say:

Video Link

Spell believes the Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. My rights to have church and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ are endowed to me by my Creator, not my district attorney, not my chief of police, and not my governor, John Bel Edwards.

I wonder if the writers and signers of Declaration of the Independence thought that citizens had the unalienable right to hold church services during a pandemic? I wonder if they thought that the right to gather in a building at 11:00 AM on Sunday for church supersedes the rights of other citizens to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness?

Spell thinks he lives in a bubble, one where his actions do not affect others. He is what is called an autonomous man. Give me liberty or give me jail, he cries; all the while his immoral behavior puts his congregants and neighbors in harm’s way.

Spell and other rebellious, anti-government Evangelical pastors refuse to act in the best interest of their churches and their communities at large. Self-centered, egotistical narcissists, the lot of them, all that matters to them is taking a stand for the mythical Jesus.

Evangelicals love pastors who stand against what they wrongly believe are government attacks on their right to worship a dead man. Over the past three years, thanks to President Donald Trump and his merry band of Evangelical cabinet members and advisers, Evangelicals have become emboldened in their stand against government at every level. Sadly, we will see more public displays of rebellion in the days and weeks to come. The Coronavirus is not going away, and states hell-bent on reopening their economies will, several weeks from now, fuel an increase in COVID-19 infections. State governors will then be forced to either obfuscate or deny what is going on in their states or re-institute stay-at-home orders. This will lead, of course, to further rebellious acts by protesting Evangelical preachers. Welcome to Hell.

The First Amendment to U.S. Constitution states:

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.

Spell and his fellow patriot pastors believe that they have an inviolable right to freely practice their religion whenever, however, and wherever they want; that government has no right to limit their religious practice. However, I would ask, is this right absolute? Does the government ever have the right, dare I say responsibility, to limit the free exercise of religion?

Let me be clear. When Spell and other Evangelical preachers read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they read their religion into these documents. These so-called men of God are not pluralists. To the man, they believe the United States is a Christian nation — a people chosen by the Christian God to be a light and blessing to the world. Thus, while these preachers tolerate other religions, agnostics, and atheists, if they had their druthers, Christianity would be the official American religion and the Bible the rule of law.

cat god

Imagine if I were a worshiper of the Kat God, and one of the rituals I practiced was to stand on the sacred sidewalk in front of Evangelical churches, chant prayers to the Almighty Kat, and sacrifice puppies to him. Would Spell be okay with my free exercise of religion? Imagine if an Islamic congregation wanted to build a church right next to Spell’s church. Do you think he would support their free exercise of religion? Imagine any of a number of other scenarios where non-Christians practiced their religions in ways that harmed or offended Spell, his family, and his congregation. Would the good pastor shout, AMEN? I doubt it. Spell wants preferential treatment for his religion, Apostolic Christianity — a sect, by the way, that some Evangelicals consider a cult.

Spell deliberately refuses to acknowledge that government, for the sake of public health, safety, and welfare, has a duty to enact laws that regulate and limit the free exercise of religion — not so much at a personal level, but certainly when people congregate together. Churches are required to follow building and safety codes. Ask any pastor who has built a church building about how complex the laws are for new commercial construction or how strict safety and fire codes are. Spell and Life Tabernacle Church willingly submit to all sorts of government regulations. Refusing to obey these regulations would bring inspections, fines, and prosecution. Why? Because the government has a duty and responsibility to protect its citizens. And that is exactly what the state of Louisiana and local government officials are trying to do when enforcing stay-at-home orders.

Instead of obeying these orders, Spell and other anti-government pastors disobey the teaching of Jesus and the early Christian church. Jesus said that the law of God rested on two Great Commandments: loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. I always taught congregants that loving God required loving your neighbor. Don’t love your neighbor? You don’t love God. It’s clear, at least to me, that Spell doesn’t love his neighbors. If he did, he would abide by the stay-at-home orders. And if Spell doesn’t love his neighbors, it’s fair to ask if he really loves God. It is also far to ask, does his behavior reveal a self-centered man who only cares about self-promotion? You know my answer.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

The Cult of Personal Freedom in the Donald Trump Era

michigan protest

Rabid Trump supporters spilled out into the streets in recent days, protesting stay-at-home orders in their respective states. We saw similar protests years ago from Tea Party members, and in more recent years from white supremacists. What’s the common denominators in these protests?

  • Anti-government sentiments
  • Gun ownership
  • Racism
  • Antisemitism
  • Libertarian politics
  • Anarchism
  • Conservative Christianity
  • Support of Evangelical culture war

I suspect more than a few of these protesters are also anti-vaxxers and homeschoolers. What holds this eclectic group together is that their God-given/natural/Constitutional rights are absolute, and no government — local, state, or federal — has a right to limit their rights.

florida protest

President Trump fueled insurrection over the weekend by tweeting out inflammatory comments to Democratic governors whose states have stay-at-home orders. Like red meat to a pack of dogs, these tweets were just what his devoted followers needed. “Trump is on our side,” protesters thought. Little do they know or care that Trump isn’t on anyone’s side. Trump, a narcissist and pathological liar, doesn’t give a damn about anyone except Donald J. Trump. One only need watch his daily press conferences to see that the president has no empathy for the American people. All that matters political power and financial enrichment.

Trump’s base continues to support him. It’s clear to anyone who is paying attention that there is literally nothing Trump can do to lose the fealty and devotion of his base. Try engaging Trump’s base on social media, and you will quickly learn how angry, vicious, and ignorant they can be — much like the president.

protest in kentucky

President Trump and stay-at-home-order protesters only care about one thing: self. They wrongly believe that their rights supersede the responsibility of government to protect the health, safety, and welfare of those they govern. These so-called patriots are willing to turn to violence to protect what they believe are their inviolable civil rights. In the days or weeks ahead, it would not surprise me if some gun nut defending his “rights” shoots a police officer or other member of law enforcement in “self-defense.” We must not turn a blind-eye to right-wingers who are talking about Second Amendment remedies. These faux-patriots believe that they have a duty and obligation to turn their guns on the government if and when their rights are limited or curtailed. In their addled minds, stay-at-home orders and shutting churches constitute TYRANNY! Of course, it is no such thing. The various restrictions of civil liberties in states across this country are for one thing and one thing alone: to protect the health and safety of state residents.

As I mentioned previously, most of these protesters are likely conservative/Evangelical Christians. You would think they would have heard sermons about selflessness and loving your neighbor as yourself, but evidently not. Their words and actions reveal selfishness found usually only among toddlers. Most of us outgrow our toddler years, learning that we have a duty to love and care for others; that sometimes we must be willing to curtail our personal liberties for the sake of others. This is simply the right thing to do.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Only Christianity Has First Amendment Rights Says Bryan Fischer

bryan fischer

This is the one hundred and seventy-seventh installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism features a clip from Bryan Fischer’s radio program. Fischer is associated with the American Family Association. Fischer makes it clear that ONLY Christianity has First Amendment rights.Enjoy! And then BARF.

Video Link

 

Quote of the Day: The Danger of Constitutional Absolutism by Sam Grover and Andrew L. Seidel

gun control
Cartoon by David Granlund

All of us at the Freedom From Religion Foundation fall somewhere between being fearful and constantly mindful that a disgruntled maniac with an assault weapon could come into our office building and murder us. In our line of work we regularly come up against angry religious extremists who wish death upon us and all others who advocate for the constitutional separation of religion and government. As the recent lone gunman in Las Vegas—who singlehandedly murdered more than 50 people and injured hundreds more—has reminded us, in the United States this type of mass shooting is far more common than it needs to be.

Believe it or not, as a constitutional issue this debate has a lot in common with the attempts to redefine religious freedom.

Data that predates the shootings in Orlando and Las Vegas shows that the United States is home to more mass shooting events than any other country. With only 5 percent of the world’s population, we were home to 31 percent of all mass shootings between 1966 and 2012. And the rate of mass shootings in our country has tripled since 2011, even as the overall rate of gun violence has declined.

There is compelling evidence suggesting that common-sense gun control laws would go a long way toward preventing mass shooting events in the United States. They worked in Australia, which passed a law to remove semi-automatic weapons from civilian possession in 1996, after 35 people died in a mass shooting in Tasmania. In the 18 years before the gun law reforms, there were 13 mass shootings in Australia. In the 11 years after? None. Australia has also enjoyed an accelerated decline in firearm homicides over that same period.

While one could quibble about how best to interpret the complex data coming out of Australia—and gun lobbyists do—the more fundamental question is: “Why not try this in the United States?” Why won’t Congress take steps to ban the sale of assault-style weapons—a step that could dramatically reduce the number of mass shootings? What are the “cons?” Why, instead, do politicians limit themselves to tweeting out their “thoughts and prayers” while taking no action?

The answer to these questions lies in how the “gun rights” lobby has pushed a particular view of the Second Amendment. That transformation is the reason FFRF is talking about this, the reason it’s relevant to state-church separation. “Religious freedom” advocates are currently trying to do to the First Amendment what the gun lobby did to the Second.

In 1977, the National Rifle Association experienced the “Revolt in Cincinnati,” where extreme gun rights advocates took over the NRA and converted it from an organization that primarily advocated for firearm safety education, marksmanship training and recreational shooting into a lobbying powerhouse focused nearly exclusively on Second Amendment advocacy. One excellent summary of this transformation includes this note: “The NRA’s new leadership was dramatic, dogmatic and overtly ideological. For the first time, the organization formally embraced the idea that the sacred Second Amendment was at the heart of its concerns.” Sound familiar?

Since the Revolt in Cincinnati, the gun rights lobby has successfully pushed an absolute right to gun ownership in courts and legislatures, culminating in the 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, which established for the first time a dramatic reimagining of the Second Amendment as creating an individual right to own a gun. This dramatic reimagining is exactly what groups like Liberty Institute are trying to do with the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. They are trying to turn free exercise into an absolute right that must be protected even when it infringes on the rights of others.

To hear those seeking to redefine religious freedom tell it, any action motivated by religion is permissible, no matter what its impact. If they deny an LGBTQ citizen a cake because of sexual orientation, that’s their god-given right. Logically, that means they could deny atheists, Jews or even discriminate on the basis of race, though they would be unlikely to say so out loud.

People can believe whatever they like. They are free to believe the voices they’re hearing are God, that thetans and evil spirits make us sad, or that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. But the right to act on those beliefs is by no means absolute. This is best illustrated with the example that the Supreme Court used more than 130 years ago: human sacrifice.

Hearing a command for human sacrifice is fairly common in the bible and the story of Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac is often held up as a measuring stick for how deep one’s faith should be. But people who, like Abraham, hear God ordering them to kill their children do not have a right to do so. Once someone is committing murder, religious freedom is irrelevant.

Somewhere on the spectrum of religiously motivated action, civil law can step in. That line should be drawn where the rights of others begin. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But if religion mandates picking pockets and breaking legs, it comes under the purview of our secular law. And no belief, no matter how fervent, should change that.

Second Amendment rights are not absolute: You can’t bring your gun on a plane or into a school, felons can’t own them, and some states regulate concealed carry or unlicensed gun sales. (Incidentally, the states that regulate guns more strictly have lower incidents of gun-related homicides.) The reason common-sense, data-driven gun laws cannot make it through Congress is because the idea that Second Amendment rights are absolute has been deliberately foisted on American legislatures and courts.

“Religious freedom” advocates are working to achieve the same sleight of hand with the First Amendment and their claimed right to act on their religious beliefs. It began with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, made a huge gain with the Hobby Lobby case, and is set to be decided by the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop very soon.

The absolutist view of the Second Amendment is killing Americans. To adopt that same absolutist view for the Free Exercise Clause “would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and, in effect, to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances,” as the Supreme Court wrote in 1879.

There is no constitutional right to act out one’s religious beliefs in a manner that infringes on others’ rights, including the right to equal protection under the law. Discrimination in the name of religion is still discrimination. We cannot accept an absolutist interpretation of the Constitution. Instead, we must look at how the First and Second Amendments are being used—and abused—to amass power and to achieve results that range from nonsensical to lethal. (And yes, an absolutist view of the Free Exercise of religion will lead to lethal consequences too).

The political nonresponse to mass shootings in this country has become a tragic pattern, ripe for parody. We cannot continue to accept inaction based on a vague appeal to an absolute constitutional right. At the Freedom From Religion Foundation, we fight every day against political overreach by “religious freedom” advocates, who cloak their discrimination in constitutional language. We must reject their attempts to take a page from the NRA playbook by foisting an absolutist reimagining of the Free Exercise Clause onto the legal landscape. The right to act out one’s religious beliefs must end where the rights of others begins.

— Sam Grover and Andrew L. Seidel, Constitutional Attorneys, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Gun Control and Religious Freedom: How Thinking in Constitutional Absolutes is Killing People

Freedom of Speech is a Two-Way Street

free speech

Guest post by Ian

Glenn Beck and the Dixie Chicks have something in common, though neither wants to admit it.

In 2003, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, said that she was “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” This was said in London, during a concert. Word of this quickly made its way back to the United States and many radio stations pulled The Dixie Chicks from their play lists. Irate people threw away or burned their Dixie Chicks albums.

Maines’ statement resulted in a struggle for the Dixie Chicks, particularly in the country music world, where they were boycotted for several years. They made a video documentary which followed them for three years after the infamous London concert. In the documentary, Maines watched a video of President Bush, in which he said, ”They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out. You know, freedom is a two-way street.” Maines then says, “You’re a dumb fuck.”

Video Link

Last week, Glenn Beck had a guest on his radio show, Brad Thor, and they were talking about a Donald Trump presidency. Here is the transcript; it is long, to provide context.

THOR: BS, BS. Trump does not compromise. Trump has the ability to hire and fire people, to hire contractors, to fire contractors. People who work for Trump can work for him or stop working for him. If he gets into the White House, we have to deal with him.

And I’ll tell you, one of the best examples I have seen of who Trump really is – I have been mistakenly comparing him to a potential Mussolini. And about a week ago, Foreign Affairs did an amazing article about the Caudillos, the strong men of Latin America. And that is who Trump is. He is a Chavez. He is a Peron.

That is the type of guy he is and I guarantee you, Glenn, that during his presidency, during his reign if you will – he is going to petition the American people to allow a temporary suspension of the Constitution so he can help America get back on its feet again.

He is a danger to America and I got to ask you a question and this is serious and this could ring down incredible heat on me because I’m about to suggest something very bad. It is a hypothetical I am going to ask as a thriller writer.

With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as President? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president, his constitutional-granted authority, I should say, as president.

If he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? And I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.

BECK: I would agree with you on that and I don’t think you actually have the voices we’ve been talking about and we’ve been talking about this off-air for a while. I think the voices like ours go away. I don’t think we are allowed – especially if things, and I believe the economy is going to go to crap, even if Jesus was in office. It’s going to naturally reset. It has to.

SiriusXM decided to pull Glenn Beck’s program for the rest of the week and were reviewing his future with the company, saying, “…comments recently made by a guest on the independently produced Glenn Beck Program, in our judgement, may be reasonably construed by some to have been advocating harm against an individual currently running for office, which we cannot and will not condone.”  Beck is being classy and calling Matt Drudge, who broke the story, a “despicable lying scumbag.”  Now, Beck’s spokespeople are crying foul and saying they are being bullied.

So all of that to say this: both made statements that were considered outrageous. The companies who sell their voices had to make a decision. The decision came down to how much risk were these companies willing to take. Obviously, not much. For The Dixie Chicks, people on the left complained that this was a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. For the people on the Beck right (because the Beck right is different from the normal right, or the Palin right or the Cruz right), they are saying that things were taken out of context and everyone but them is a shill for Obama.

I say to them, grow up. This has nothing to do with protected speech, being persecuted or loving President Obama. This had to do with money. Period. The First Amendment stops the government from telling you what to say, not whether private companies can hire and fire you, based on what you say. Both were able to exercise their First Amendment rights and say what they wanted. The Dixie Chicks, or at least Natalie Maines, never had to apologize for what she said and she isn’t in jail. Beck isn’t being carted away by a shadowy government agency for agreeing with Brad Thor. (Thor is backtracking on his statement, too. He said he was talking about a “hypothetical America under a dictator” and not referring to an assassination.)

Glenn Beck has had many years to say whatever he wanted. He makes outrageous claims and has guests who do the same. Now, he is going to pay the price, just like the Dixie Chicks did. They have been allowed to say whatever they want. They just need to remember that other people can say what they want, too. And, people with speak with their wallets as well as their mouths. As George Bush said, “You know, freedom is a two-way street.”

The Wadena, Minnesota  Nativity Scene War

wadena nativity scene

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) asked the city of Wadena, Minnesota to remove a nativity scene from government property. FFRF told the city that such displays are unconstitutional. Adena officials, fearing legal action, removed the nativity scene. As is often the case in these kinds of stories, Wadena-area Christians quickly voiced their outrage over what they consider a satanic, atheist, commie, liberal attack on Christianity. Offended Christians quickly established a Facebook page to voice their disapproval of Wadena City Council’s decision to remove the nativity scene. Local Christians rallied, intent on beating back the godless horde at the city gate, and soon over a thousand nativity displays were erected on private property in Wadena.

Wadena Christians think they have one-upped FFRF and their atheist supporters, but they seem unable to understand that the issue was NEVER nativity scenes on private property. The singular issue was the city of Wadena’s violation of the establishment clause . The courts have repeatedly ruled that it is unconstitutional for government entities to erect nativity scenes on public property. Since the nativity displays are explicitly Christian in nature, their erection on public property is considered government sponsorship of (sectarian) religion. Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians, especially Evangelicals, are woefully ignorant about the First Amendment, the establishment clause, and the separation of church and state. What follows are comments left by Christians on the Wadena Nativity Display Facebook page. (page administrator have deleted hundreds of comments left by atheists in support of the removal of the nativity scene)  I would say enjoy, but I suspect readers of this blog will collectively sigh and shake their heads over the David Barton-esque ignorance displayed in many of the comments.

Each paragraph is a different comment. All spelling and grammar errors in the original.

Well honestly, if you’re an atheist and don’t believe in any of it anyway, then seeing a nativity scene should have no effect on you whatsoever. Any more than seeing a santa & reindeer. Just sayin’… Our country was built on Christian principles, whether you like it or not. What everyone has distorted is the meaning of the words which say ‘freedom OF religion”, not “freedom FROM religion’… I’m so sick of political correctness, and everybody being offended by everything. This kind of crap offends ME! I do notice that everyone (atheists included) have no problem celebrating the holidays, like Christmas and Easter… everyone likes a day off work, eh? Sorry for the rant, but I’m just tired of it…

Kudos to the citizens of Wadena for showing solidarity in your faith and 1st Amendment rights..Your elected officials…not so much. They need to grow a pair and stand up against the threats and bullying tactics of the unpatriotic, unconstitutional “Freedom” from religion liberal hacks. (I thought liberals were supposed to be “tolerant” of other peoples’ beliefs?)

We are a CHRISTIAN Nation. Fight it all you want. it wont change . Stand proud and stand up for the Savior ! he does it for us daily.

We Need to stand for GOD!! I’m tired of all this stuff about how, We as Christians can’t do this and can’t do that and we will offend this person. I have a relationship with CHRIST!!! No one can take that away from me. I do not push my beliefs on anyone, if they have a question, I answer. We are to spread the good news of the Lord.

Why not? You atheists get special treatment because you whine like little babies. If YOU don’t like something…then don’t look at it! Grow up and stop trying to force your NON-BELIEFS on everyone else!

See, Tom..that the lib mentality…rights for JUST them and what they believe in or don’t believe in. They are lonely, sad, bitter people who were never hugged enough as children.

No the atheists dont want to stop people from celebrating Christmas, but they sure do have an agenda. They want their voice to be heard loud and clear and they want us to shut up and be quiet. WELL we have a voice too and we will be heard – just like ALL the atheists who loudly proclaim they dont like “religious” stuff sitting around in public places. Its just bunk. Listen, the Christians will fight and our voices will be heard. We dont care who likes it.

A Nativity Scene is NOT an ENDORSEMENT of RELIGION but of an IDEAL and the SOURCE of an IDEOLOGY NOT A RELIGION! Christianity and being a Christian is NOT a RELIGION, IT is an IDEOLOGY! Catholicism IS a RELIGION, Baptist is a RELIGION!, Pentecostal is a RELIGION! ISALM is a so called RELIGION, The Jewish faith and culture is THE RELIGION on which the tenets of Christan IDEOLOGY is based and all the RELIGIONS based on Christian IDEOLOGY! WAKE UP AMERICA YOU ARE BEING HAD BY COMMUNIST PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL TRASH! (this comment is my favorite)

Twisting words and meanings to suit their own devilish divisive plans! Merry CHRISTmas to ALL

By putting up Nativity Scenes on private property, you’re letting the atheists (and the constitution) win!!! Moving displays of Religious faith from public spaces to private ones is EXACTLY what the atheists are trying to accomplish!!!

Christianity is about a relationship, not a religion, and Christianity is The Freedom from Atheists Foundation! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

You are my heroes Wadena!! I am proud to be an American and a Christian and I applaud your actions!! WWJD

Great job Wadena! God bless your efforts! They removed one display, and gained hundreds. Thank you atheists, for bringing this community together, in Christ’s name!

I am of Christian faith and I think this is wrong for Atheist to make Christians take down something of our belief and faith. We have to watch violence every day from ungodly people so why can’t we support our God?! I will be praying for everyone who was not supportive of the display. God Bless you all!

What holiday is that Youre talking about? my plastic jesus offends you and your lifestyle offends me. No one is forcing jesus on you….but you are forcing me to accept homos…You’re a bigot.

I live in Oregon and can’t attend your events or supporting person. But I believe in you and am a nativity scene lover, Jesus follower. Keep your head up and protect you constitutional rights FREE SPEECH and EXPRESSION.

A big THANK YOU from our family to all those who are holding the line against those who desire to clean our history and life in America from Jesus, the actual cause and center of this season and life. Thanks for helping keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas!

Well done all from me in Australia , They will never take away the christmas spirit and what the foundation of our countries stand for , This PC crap has to stop, I am not a religious person yet I am definitely not offended by this , they are saying it’s atheists but I really think it’s something else, Just saying , Anyway proud of you all xo and Merry Christmas

“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:33 NAB God Bless the town of Wadena for acknowledging that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

I just want to say that I’m proud of y’all for standing up for the Lord and for the holiday. With everything going on, it makes me sad that God is slowly being taken away in our country. Its good to know that there are still people that will stand up for Him. God bless y’all and Merry Christmas!

Somehow Separation of church and State has been misinterpreted through the years. Jefferson meant for it to protect the church from the state or govt interfering in the church’s affairs. In other words- not a state-run church as England and other countries had at the time our forefathers came here to escape this type of persecution. Let’s not let a group like Freedom from Religion become a dictator over our lives!!! Also contact Wallbuilders – David Barton.

God is with you! Stand strong! So wish I could give you a hug! My heart is so heavy for our nation, but you have made my burden a little lighter through your bold faith!

Would to God more people would stand up to the devil this way. We could win this battle if only Christians would take a stand. I would only add this, when you election comes around, I would make this a campaign issue and vote out every city counsel member and the mayor and vote in members that will put it back and stand up to the Freedom from Religion and the ACLU. If people would just stand up, they can’t fight everyone. I find it hard to believe they would waste resources on this lawsuit when they have larger fish to fry. This is called Green Mailing and up until now, it has been mainly used on schools, not small townships. Thank you.

Greetings and Merry Christmas from Missouri!! Just read the story about your city council voting out their Nativity scene, and how the town rallied and put up HUNDREDS of nativity scenes. Listened to one lady’s interview, how she felt the city was trying to “bully” people. I think that describes alot of people’s feelings about having to constantly defend their Christianity, we are nearly bullied into giving in, giving up. Soooo glad you all didn’t do that! Jesus is alive, and his birth is a wonderful thing to celebrate as a family. THANK YOU for standing firm in your faith, may God bless you all richly this season, and always!

Hi! I just heard about what you guys are doing. I am a senior in high school, and I am an active member of the Foreman First Baptist Church, here in Foreman, Arkansas. I think what you are doing is great! It really goes to show how many people still stand for what is morally right. I have a great respect for you all. It’s a bit out of your way, but my family, as well as community, completely and totally, 100% back you up! Keep on keepin’ on!!

We here in wadena Thank you so much. As for those who don’t want nativity scenes up I say what Jesus said long ago forgive them they know not what they do.

I received an email today from a lady named Sharon from Branson, MO. She said: They used to live in Grand Forks, ND. They were so excited that we decided to bring Christ back to Wadena. So glad people took a stand. Guess it is hard to understand how 1 person has so much power to remove the manger scene. God bless those who took a stand.

Time they learn This is my Fathers world and it will always be and someday they will stand before him to answer for their rejection

I don’t necessarily blame those who are grieved but complied to avoid lawsuits. I’m sure the hearts of the council members are rejoicing at what the people did. But those who THREATENED with the lawsuits… oh, don’t get me started!

Just saw your post.. We have a family owned business in Florida,I always put on the sign that is on a main thoroughfare “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON ” or CELEBRATE JESUS..But I have someone in family who is a nonbeliever and really thinks we should advertise more about the business.Instead of JESUS ..Well you just inspired me… to yes.. Put up on the sign”CELEBRATE JESUS..I know there will be some words to me about this.. This has always been my heart..Thank You…

Everyone needs to go to the freedom from religion page and post holiday greetings and Manger scenes on their posts. Let’s spread good cheer!

Absolutely wonderful! I have a small nativity in my living room, but you can be assured, if my town had a problem like that we would build the biggest and brightest nativity all the Scrooges would have a hard time not seeing. Way to stick it to people that have such a thin skin!

I love what you guys are doing! I was so distressed to read about this attack on free speech and freedom of religion in the newspaper. I contacted Alliance Defending Freedom, a wonderful legal group, about the article I read. They got back to me and said that if anyone who LIVES in Wadena would like to contact them about the issue, they could possibly help. I believe this ban is not constitutional and that the intimidation and threat that was made is not right – perhaps they can help. But the proliferation of nativity scenes everywhere in town is a great way to stand up and demonstrate the truth. Awesome!

Telling the squeaky wheels enough’s ENOUGH! If you don’t like it..don’t look. GOD BLESS!

Merry Christmas, Wadena, from Louisiana!! Had to come visit your site after seeing your Facebook post!! LOVE this idea!! Stand strong, fight the good fight, finish the race!! It’s our 1st Amendment right that some interpret wrongly–it’s Freedom OF Religion (the right to practice our Religion–express our Faith) NOT Freedom FROM Religion!!!

God Bless you all! They haven’t taken our Nativity from the Courthouse yet but when and if they do, I hope people in my town will stand up for what is right like you guys have. If it makes Christians happy and doesn’t hurt anyone else, then how can something be offensive? If it were a Menorah that was forced to be taken down then that would be prejudice. Not that I would have any issue at all with a Menorah. As Christians need to be strong now more than ever. Political correctness is killing our country! I support separation of church and state but you lose me at Christmas decorations or any other religion’s holiday decorations.

God bless you Minnisota….remember a vote for Trump will put an end to government suddenly taking everything Christian from the United States….why is it only Christians are being attacked, hmmm?

I’m going to say this… I see a lot of trolls on pages with Christians in it… and best believe they need to stop harassing those who keep to themselves. They need to stop trying to start a war trying to come on here like we are going to stand down our faith. Remember if the Christian crusades never stop the battle, what would they even think we would stop? Amen! Keep going with your faith in Jesus christ.

Thank you, Wadena!! You are taking America back into the hands of God – where our forefathers placed us for the greater good!! May God bless all of you for your great actions!! GOD bless America!

Hey Wadena…this Pillager family stands with you! The world needs Jesus and we are proud of your town taking a stand. This is not the hour in history to back down from adversary. People are dying around us without salvation, this broken world needs Jesus and we love the nativity and all it stands for. God sent as a man to die for our sins to break the bondage of Hell and the grave for our salvation! We’re proud of you! Jesus is coming soon so for the atheists who are fighting against the faith we are praying for you, it’s not too late…
Just a reminder of how our right to religious freedoms as Christians are being squashed by people who have no right to control whether people celebrate their faith. Thank you for reminding us the Reason For The Season.

Wadena, I hope people all over the country follow your example of how to defeat the enemy. Score: Satan 1, Wadena 1000+

Whatever it took. If it was any other religion, it wouldn’t have been an issue. The “freedom from religion” people, by their own admission, only go after Christian issues. They admitted they were afraid of Muslims!

Support from Ireland! It iritates me so much that others want to hijack our Christmas celebrations! They don’t want to give up the holiday; gift giving, partys etc., but they want to cut Christ out of it!

As a pastor and preacher of Gods word …. Amen wadena “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33 KJV

Thank you for standing up to the haters, Wadena. I grew up thinking we all had rights. But I guess my right to celebrate isn’t as important as someone’s who doesn’t want to. smh We need to take our rights back and yours is a good first step.

God used that Atheist Group to being the Good News of Jesus’ Birth to even more People like He used Cyrus to bring His Chosen People back to the Promised Land. Geaux Wadena!

Here’s the issue that people DO NOT understand about the “Separation of Church and State” (simplified version) It DOES NOT mean the state, city, or municipality cannot display a Nativity scene! It means the state cannot establish a Religion! I say display it and quit being wimps! They will not be successful in any tort action, and because the particular group only consists of 4 people just going around pushing their perceived weight on small naive communities! Stand up for your God given rights!

STAND STRONG ! THIS IS WHAT OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS NEED TO HAVE HAPPEN ! …….. KEEP pushing back and don’t give up till you have that display put back up by your town !!! AMERICA was built on BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS not Free phones, hurt feelings, and handouts !

Thank you Wadena for standing up to Christian bullying!! Separation of Church and state means the state can’t make you take down your nativity. Shame on people for complaining. God Bless you Wadena for all your nativities!!

I’m just curious, has any Christian (or Christian group) ever taken an Atheist-Group to court for “Not” displaying a Nativity scene? I doubt it. Can you see the silly hypocrisy in all of this? It’s sad and deeply rooted in something less than love. We need to pray for those who’s minds and hearts are filled with exhausting thoughts of contempt towards those of us who love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are able to display that love freely during this beautiful season of Joy. Please pray also for Peace on Earth.

We have a nativity set up on our property. Way to go Wadena! Stand up for Christ. Christmas is about Christ. Separation of church and state doesn’t mean what these people think it means. They are just bullying Christians, but Jesus died for them and loves them too! Merry Christmas Wadena!

So Atheist can put a display on government property but religious ppl can’t …how f☆ck up is that

Great job! We The People have to stand up and say “enough is enough” for those atheists and others who are trying to keep pushing God and Christians out of our society.

I applaud you for standing up to these bullies who want anything related to Christianity removed from our lives!

I absolutely Love it, the Atheists never are bothered by these Nativities, they just like to cause trouble and hate. Hallelujah that your town has stood up for Religious Freedom, nowhere in the Constitution does it say a state cannot have God. Separation of Church and State is merely a sick interpretation by a proud bunch of men. God will straighten this out one day. Thank you for this.

I’ve said this for years. There should be tens of thousands of nativity scenes put on public land by private citizens. Let’s see how many lawyers, judges, and police it takes to get rid of them all or how many of them really have the resolve and/or desire to enforce really stupid judicial rulings

Great job Wadena! This is what America is about. Tyranny can never take hold if We The People do not allow it. In no way does a public display of an historic event, and the very reason we celebrate Christmas violate the Constitution. I’m proud of you!

Saw the Fox News segment. Why do people have to be like this. I live in Elkhart Indiana where one student made Concord High School take out the live nativity. These people make me sick. Keep putting them up. We have rights that we need to stand for.

End of comments

Bruce Gerencser