“Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that….of liberty to worship our
Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our
experience to be its best support.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
At Advocates, we are blessed to continue the work that our Founding Fathers supported and promoted—the protection of our First Amendment liberty to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And now, with your help, we must defend that right we cherish.
We told you last month about the unprecedented amount of new cases streaming into our office in just the past few months. In the last 90 days, we have provided legal representation to Christians and churches right here in California and as far away as New Jersey. A few of those cases are summarized in this newsletter.
Right now, I want to be very transparent with you because we need your help in order to fund the important work that lies ahead.
Jen Bursch and I have personally committed our professional legal services to Advocates free of charge because of our passion and desire to protect the religious liberty of our children and future generations.
The other attorneys at Advocates are paid very modest wages for the time they work on cases. With student loans, the wages from Advocates do not go very far, but it is a labor of love and passion that drives their motivation. Like Jen and I, our associate attorneys support their families through their work in our private law practice handling corporate/business, land use, and estate planning for businesses, churches, and individuals alike.
I hope this helps you understand our unbridled and collective dedication to this cause of liberty. And, I hope it gives you confidence that the financial support you provide to Advocates is not lost in overinflated salaries.
I would like to ask you to consider making a financial contribution to Advocates so that we can continue to fund our lawyers and legal staff. Would you consider making a special gift of $150, which is the normal cost of a ticket to Justice, our annual fundraising gala, which is normally held in each year in the fall?
We made a strategic decision to skip this year’s Justice because of the costs associated with the celebration and with hopes that our loyal supporters will contribute at least the same amount of money they would have contributed if we held Justice 2013. By doing so, 100% of the donations will go directly to the legal defense and protection of like-minded Christians.
We believe that the influx of cases coming our way is a sign of the times and demonstrates the existence of a pervasive anti-Christian hostility in our culture today. We will stand in defense of these followers of Christ and will seek to set strategic legal precedent!
As we shared with you last month, it is our goal to raise $60,000 in new donations before the end of January. We are very grateful for the gifts that have already begun to come in, but we still have quite a ways to go to reach our goal and we need your help to do so. These cases are current and ongoing, and we need your gifts now as more and more people keep reaching out to us for help in protecting their right to live out their faith in their daily lives…Praise the Lord!
Resolution of some of these new cases have only required about one full day’s work, which included performing legal research and preparing an extensive letter-brief that detailed the applicable constitutional liberties to the appropriate officials. We thank God for these many quick victories!
Others, though, are not resolved so quickly, and we spend weeks, months and years in our legal preparation, strategy, briefings, filings with the Court, and representation of our clients—all at no cost to them. It is only by the grace of God and the faithfulness of you, our supporters, that we can continue in this work—particularly at this time, with so many new cases and matters coming into our office.
If 400 of our supporters would give a gift of $150 or more to our ministry, we would meet our fundraising goal, and we would be able to immediately put the full amount of those gifts towards ongoing and new cases for the protection of religious liberty.
We thank all of you who have already donated towards our goal—what a blessing you are to us! And, we thank you all in advance for whatever you can contribute towards our cause this month—if you can give $150, $50, or $25—every dollar contributed goes toward the work God is doing through this ministry!
If you aren’t in a position to give right now, would you pray for us, our attorneys, and our cases and clients? We know that prayer works, and we continually ask God for his guidance when taking on new cases and for provision and wisdom as we design legal strategies for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Thank you, God bless you, and Merry Christmas!
In His Service,
Wondering what some of these new cases we’ve taken on are about? Here is a sampling of what we’ve been working on…
This is exactly what Little Oaks School required of its employees. Little Oaks School is a Christian school owned by Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, California. Two former employees brought a lawsuit for discrimination because they were not willing to sign a statement of faith or get a pastoral reference. Essentially, their lawyers argue that a Christian school does not have the right to require that its employees be Christian.
This case presents a question very similar to the cases challenging ObamaCare’s abortion mandates: Does a private corporation have a First Amendment right to religious liberty based upon the religious views of its private owners? And in our case, does a private Christian school have a First Amendment right to religious liberty where the sole owner of the entity is a church? We believe it does, and that is why we agreed to defend the Christian church and school.
Charter school removes all material from coursework that makes positive references to Christianity
We recently sent a letter to Julian Charter School because a parent contacted us and informed us that the charter school was removing all resources and curriculum that could be deemed to be influenced by Christian publishers or other Christian organizations. The charter school is actually a public homeschool program that allows parents to have significant flexibility and discretion in the content of their children’s curriculum.
However, the program recently began stripping resources from the parents that appeared to express a Christian worldview. But this is precisely why parents choose to homeschool in many cases—to teach their children from a Christian worldview.
We are in communication with the charter school following another extensive legal opinion wherein we explained that the charter school has no right to discriminate based upon a Christian worldview. We even explained that it would not even be unconstitutional for a public school to use public funds to purchase Bibles when those Bibles are used as curriculum.
Bible Club told to substitute the word “higher power” for “God”!
We recently sent a lengthy “instructional letter” citing numerous cases and laws to the Terra Cotta Middle School in Lake Elsinore, California on behalf of five students involved in the Bible club, Student Venture. The students submitted a flyer for school approval as required for all student groups and organizations. Here’s what it said:
“Why should I believe in God? Ever thought about it? So have we.
Join us every Monday…”
The flyer was rejected because the students used the word “God” in the flyer. The group was told they needed to substitute the word “God” for “higher power.” We informed the school district that the Principal’s “higher power” revision amounted to viewpoint discrimination and was unconstitutional.
Our letter was written with the intent to educate school officials with a proper understanding of the First Amendment wherein we explained that the religious content or viewpoint cannot be a basis for rejecting the work of students. We are presently communicating with the school district’s attorneys with the hope that this matter can be resolved without going to court.
Can a teacher tell a student what to believe?
Recently, a mother and her son came to us because of hostility the child, Jet, had received from his teacher at school. Jet’s assignment was to read a non-fiction book and bring it to class. He read and brought in the Bible, and set it on his desk. As the teacher passed Jet’s desk, he picked up the Bible and mocked Jet’s choice of book. He said that the Bible is a fictional piece of work, and then proceeded to ask the rest of the class if they believed the Bible is non-fiction. A wonderful and ironic thing happened—all but two of the students raised their hands. Yet, this still did not deter the teacher from telling these seventh graders that he believed the Bible to be fiction.
We stepped in and sent an extensive demand letter explaining the law to the school district that clearly prohibits teachers, as public officials, from expressing hostility toward Christianity or a Christian worldview. In a meeting following our letter, the teacher and school district apologized and represented that they would follow the law in the future.
The pendulum has swung so far in the wrong direction in public schools that some teachers fail to remain neutral and actually express hostility and disapproval of Christianity. Our children are in a battleground every day in the public school system and we must push the pendulum back into the opposite direction.
Should clergy have the right to live their faith through their work?
For the past 24 years, the Clergy Network has provided services for people getting married, including officiating the wedding or referring a screened officiant to do so. One soon-to-be newlywed approached the husband and wife team, not revealing that she was in a lesbian relationship. Our clients, who are seminary trained and ordained ministers, had a conflict on the date of this wedding, so they referred the couple to another trusted officiant in their network – a male Hispanic; but that wasn’t acceptable to them—they said they specifically wanted a female officiant and expressly stated they did not want a “Hispanic.”
The woman filed an administrative complaint against our clients with the assistance of the ACLU. Our clients were pulled into the County Clerk’s office and told that the County Clerk was going to have an administrative hearing to determine if their license would be pulled, essentially removing them from the work that they love and have done for almost a quarter of a century.
Advocates agreed to defend the Clergy Network and we prevailed at the administrative hearing! The County Clerk’s office agreed with our defense, rejecting the complaint of the woman and the ACLU!
Should a student have the right to free speech at school?
After hearing about a new California law that allows students to choose their gender and choose what bathrooms they want to use, 8th grader Caylin went to school early one day to distribute fliers to inform her fellow classmates. The principal told her she couldn’t do this, and that she would face consequences if any students or parents complained.
We intervened to protect this child’s constitutionally protected freedom of speech and were preparing to file for a temporary restraining order in federal court, but the school relented in advance and agreed to allow Caylin to resume her distribution of fliers. That same week, we received phone calls from two other students and provided similar assistance so that they could continue distributing their fliers as well.
Do you know of any Christians who can use our help to defend our precious liberties? Contact us at email@example.com or call us at 888-588-6888.
A final word from Advocates’ Leaders:
“As these legal assaults on Christianity abound, we know that the root cause of this conflict is the evil unleashed in the spiritual realm. We also know that God has called us to stand in defense of the many Christians doing great work in the spread of the Gospel and also in defense of those Christians that are mere victims to arbitrary anti-Christian bigotry by persons in authority. Please stand with us and bring positive change to law and culture.” – Robert Tyler, General Counsel
“One of my greatest desires in my work is to debunk the myth of a ‘separation of church and state’ – which is never mentioned in our Constitution. Too often, I hear of Christians who are denied their liberties because of this false belief. We are promised freedom OF religion in this nation…not freedom FROM religion. Advocates has a strong position to effect real change in the lives of Christians and to reclaim the God-given freedoms we were promised by our Founding Fathers.” – Jennifer Bursch, Associate General Counsel