Comm 33: The Question We Get Asked the Most
Good morning to our treasured church leaders in America! Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful, and that you’re savoring every day of this holiday time. Joan here, and thinking of you. Our coalition of four gets constantly asked if it is really true that there is free legal help available for religious freedom attacks. Yes, yes, and yes. Free; yes. Available; yes. True; yes. Coalition member Brad Dacus is the Founder and President of one of our nation’s best; the Pacific Justice Institute. He’s written a piece for you here that we think will be helpful so that you truly feel welcomed to call them and seek legal advice if you need to. They’re a pro bono firm, meaning they exist to serve you if you are challenged in exercising your freedom of religion. Though the Bible tells us to try to stay out of the courts, sometimes we’re brought there by another’s initiation. So you may need help and that’s what Brad is there for. Here’s Brad’s message to you: Supreme Court to consider church land-use case wherein a California city deemed a church not “fun” and “vibrant”. Can a city reject a church that’s not “fun” enough? Well, a city in Northern California prevented a church from using its own building because it didn’t meet the city’s downtown requirements for entertainment. New Harvest Christian Fellowship had been serving the community of Salinas, CA for more than 25 years. To accommodate their growing congregation, the church purchased a larger facility across the street in 2018. Thrilled to continue ministering to the local community, the church was instead met with sharp restrictions and unequal treatment by the city because they deemed the church as not “fun” or “vibrant” for the downtown area. The church contacted Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) and PJI filed suit pointing to the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which PJI has successfully litigated for many years. Not only did the city allow multiple theaters in the same area as New Harvest, without similar restrictions, but it even allowed funeral homes and nursing homes in its supposedly “fun” and “vibrant” downtown! After an arduous battle, in March 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Salinas violated federal law in its unreasonable restrictions upon New Harvest Christian Fellowship. Unfortunately, the church is still unable to use the facility because the City of Salinas refused to accept the Ninth Circuit’s rebuke and appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The city argued that federal courts in other parts of the country are more “deferential” to local government decision-making that restricts church locations or operations. The Supreme Court turns away more than 99 percent of all cases that are appealed to it. But the New Harvest case has caught their attention, and the Supreme Court asked PJI to file a response to the city’s petition for review of the case. While this does not yet guarantee the Supreme Court will take up our case, it does mean one or more of the Justices are keenly interested and want to hear more. This definitely elevates the profile of the case and increases the likelihood that the Court could ultimately make this a landmark case. PJI will continue to fight until New Harvest Christian Fellowship receives the treatment and protections it legally deserves. For over two decades, Pacific Justice Institute has provided free legal assistance and representation to people in desperate need of help as it relates to their religious freedom, parental rights, the sanctity of human life, and other civil liberties. With 27 offices in 20 different states, PJI is uniquely ensuring that groups and individuals like New Harvest Christian Fellowship are not left on the side of the road. Not only that, PJI has dozens of free resources to equip and empower churches, parents, students, and businesses to know their rights to live out their faith and to be a voice to advance religious freedom. This is in addition to the more than 115 cases PJI presently has in litigation! Learn more about the work of PJI by signing up for PJI’s weekly newsletter, “The Legal Insider” at PJI.org. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello everyone! I’m so thankful for Brad Dacus and Pacific Justice — there is no doubt that far too many pastors and Faith leaders have bought into lies about their public engagement. Brad’s team and their expertise should give great confidence to pastor leaders in our nation to not let people who hate the very idea of our God-given freedoms define our involvement. Brad’s work is highlighted even more in this national environment we find ourselves in. There is a determined and aggressive left just as committed to their agenda as we are to a Godly agenda. I speak to pastors in various states every day and while everyone is disappointed in the fall elections, it is crystal clear the church and pastors must re-emerge as the primary influencers in a society gone mad. I believe our nation is poised for that re-emergence as people look for answers to the craziness they witness that they never imagined. Our team did 132 signature meetings in 24 states in 2022, working to expand our reach and to identify those pastors in each of those states who want our help in re-taking their community, state and the nation for the Lord. Truth will win and as we say, Faith Wins…we are excited to be in a position to encourage, inspire and activate those pastors to do just that. God Bless and Merry Christmas! Chad ___________________________________________________________ Hello wonderful pastors, Kielle here, and praying for you all during such a time of calling being placed on many of our lives. Are you experiencing this? Heightened satanic attack, but our mighty Lord drawing you near and asking you to boldly, fearlessly speak His truth…to your congregations, your communities and beyond. We all in the Church Finds Its Voice Coalition and our Standing With Coalition are praying constantly that the Lord will fill you with every ounce of holy endowment to do just that, and we all have your back! Don’t be shy in reaching out to utilize us as resources. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:18-20 We stand with you and are praying for you! -Joan, Brad, Chad and Kielle Your Church Finds Its Voice Leadership *Please share and forward on to your networks! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “Sermon Showcase: A Recommendation of America’s Best Historical Sermons for Your Consideration This Month.” This new resource is the addition of remarkable, historical sermons that Wallbuilders hosts on their website. Each month, we’ll be showcasing 4 sermons from the Wallbuilders archives that are historically significant and also relevant to current political and cultural events. Here is November’s Sermon Showcase:
Joseph Dow, An Historical Address Delivered at Hampton…In Commemoration of the Settlement of That Town (1838) -- https://wallbuilders.com/sermon-christmas-1838/
Joy to the Shepherds. A Simple Christmas Sermon (1841) -- https://wallbuilders.com/sermon-christmas-1841/
Samuel Thayer Spear, The Law-Abiding Conscience and the Higher Law Conscience; with Remarks on the Fugitive Slave Question (1850) -- https://wallbuilders.com/sermon-fugitive-slave-bill-1850/
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Pro-bono Law Firm Contact List
All Archived Past Church Finds Its Voice Comms (see link below)
Contact Us: www.churchfindsitsvoice.com Chad Connelly President, Faith Wins Chad@ChadConnelly.com To read more about Church Do’s and Don’ts and for an expanded list of resources and contacts to call for help, please visit: http://faithwins.us/resources/ Brad Dacus President, Pacific Justice Institute Prez@PJI.org Joan Holt Lindsey Founder and President, Lindsey Communications Info@LindseyCommunications.com Kielle C. Horton President, the Lindsey Foundation Kielle@theLindseyFoundation.com **Click here for past, archived Church Finds Its Voice Comms.