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Celebrating 12 Years – Serving Courageous Christians In Their Fight For Religious Liberty

in Blog, Cases, Newsletters 0 Comments
“Who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions…”
Hebrews 11:33 (ESV)

Dear Friends,

Since our founding 12 years ago, thousands of courageous Christians have partnered with Advocates for Faith & Freedom in the fight for religious liberties and to end the tyranny against Christianity. You may remember a few of our cases from over the years where, through God’s blessings, your faithful prayers and generous financial support, we have been victorious for His kingdom!

Pearlie Jenkins and Healing Hearts Outreach Ministry took on the Memphis Housing Authority!  Standing for free assembly and exercise of religion in 2007 when her Bible study was banned from her retirement home, Pearlie contacted Advocates.  Just 3 days after our complaint was sent, the MHA not only decided to permit the Bible study, they also adopted a policy protecting the religious liberties of all the residents!

High School student Chad Farnan “stood up for Jesus” against his teacher and the entire Capistrano Valley Unified School District!  In 2007, Chad exposed his teacher’s frequent hostility in the classroom towards religion and in particular, Christianity—once telling his students that, “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”  With the help of Advocates’ attorneys, in the first case of this type, a Federal Court initially found that some of the teacher’s comments of violated the Establishment Clause!

With a desire to bring “spiritual revival to a depressed area,” Lake Elsinore Christian Center and Pastor Jim Hilbrant fought City Hall…and won!  When City officials denied the church a building permit, they sought our help in the first-ever case of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). In 2007, after a seven-year battle that was pending at the U.S.  Supreme Court, the City of Lake Elsinore settled, paying the church $1,205,000, in a precedent-setting victory for religious land use protection for churches all across the nation!

In 2008, Superior Court employee Mindy Barlow and her group’s six-year-long, lunch-time Bible study meetings were suddenly no longer allowed, while other groups were still permitted, so she contacted Advocates to file a complaint on her behalf.  Ms. Barlow “just wanted the judicial system to… apply the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.”  The Superior Court’s Administration agreed to settle, permitting Ms. Barlow and the Bible study group to resume their access to the free exercise of religion in the courthouse facilities!

In December 2013, two brave first-graders won the war on Christmas by fighting against religious bullying and intimidation in their schools! 

Little Isaiah Martinez was not allowed to share a Christmas legend with his classmates about a candy-maker who created candy canes to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ
.  His West Covina school teacher told him, “Jesus isn’t allowed in school.” After we filed a Federal Lawsuit, the School District agreed to craft a new district policy that accommodates religious liberties at all of its campuses!

That same month, Brynn Williams’ Temecula Valley school teacher prevented her from completing her class assignment to share her family’s Christmas tradition.  As she began describing the Bethlehem Star from atop her family’s Christmas tree, before she could quote John 3:16, her teacher interrupted with, “Stop right there! Go take your seat!” She later explained, in front of the entire class, that talking about the Bible or sharing its verses was not allowed in school. After receiving Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s demand letter, asking for an apology, the School District agreed to allow Brynn to complete her speech in her class and provide First Amendment training to its staff!

We are honored to have partnered with these inspiring Christian soldiers who have stood in the gap with us in the fight to protect and defend religious liberty across our nation. Because of your support, we have been able to represent all of these individuals without charge!

Advocates for Faith & Freedom has grown over the years and we now have eight Christian attorneys! Through their hard work, time and sacrifice, Advocates for Faith & Freedom is making a difference in our laws and culture!

But there is more work to do! We ask for your continued prayers and are thankful for your tax-deductible support for three important, precedent-setting court cases that we are litigating today:

  • The Scharpen Foundation v. CA Attorney General – defending free speech and the sanctity of life. We had a victory at our hearing in State Superior Court – October 30, 2017!
  • Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v. the County of Riverside – defending their religious land use rights. We are awaiting Riverside County Superior Court Judge’s decision by
    November 9, 2017.
  • Chino Valley Unified School District v. Freedom From Religion Foundation – defending the right to ceremonial prayer before school board meetings under the Establishment Clause. The judge will hear our oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal on November 8, 2017.

We are grateful for your ongoing support of our vital ministry. Through God’s blessings, your continued prayers and your tax-deductible gifts, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will continue to be a strong Christian voice for justice in the courts!

  In His Service,
 Robert Tyler
General Counsel


Your Prayers Made All the Difference!

in Abortion, Advocates in Action, Blog, Cases 1 Comment
“Cast your burden upon the LORD, and he will sustain you
and uphold you;
he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 AMP
Your Prayers Made All The Difference!

On Wednesday, October 18, Advocates for Faith & Freedom attorneys, Bob Tyler and Nada Higuera, gave their final arguments on the Scharpen Foundation case, challenging the California law that requires pro-life clinics to advertise for abortion clinics.Your prayers were felt as attorney Higuera, who just gave birth to a healthy daughter last month, presented a well-researched and convincing case that we are optimistic resonated with the judge.

Judge Gloria Trask assured us she will issue her ruling by November 21 and we will let you know as soon as we hear. This will be Judge Trask’s last case, as following a 40-year career, she will be retiring.

We were grateful for the many pro-life supporters who filled the courtroom seats in theRiverside County Superior Court, including such well-behaved children, they even received a compliment from the judge!

And thank you to our faithful supporters at home! From the final preparations to the start of the hearing, to the closing arguments, your prayers made all the difference!

If you haven’t already done so, please LIKE us on Facebook and Share our posts. 

Your tax-deductible donations are what allows us to continue to fight these important cases!

We Got Another Big Victory for Life & Free Speech!

in Abortion, Advocates in Action, Blog, Cases, Free Speech 0 Comments

You may recall we are representing the Scharpen Foundation in challenging AB775 the Reproductive FACT Act where we filed a lawsuit in both federal and state courts. The California statute requires pro-life pregnancy centers that are Christian-based in just about all cases, to provide women the contact information for where they can get free and low- cost abortions.

After arguing for three hours in the Superior Court in Riverside County on April 6, 2017, the California State Attorney General’s motion to dismiss our case was just denied this last week!

According to the judge, this law “forces the clinic to point the way to the abortion clinic.”

In her ruling, Judge Gloria Trask wrote that “the required notification is compelled speech which on its face violates freedom of speech protected by Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution.”

With funding raised by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, Tyler & Bursch’s lawyers strategically filed the lawsuit in state court because the California State Constitution is supposed to provide greater free speech protection than the First Amendment.

Ms. Nada Higuera, our staff attorney who argued the case, said that “Judge Trask explains that because free speech is involved under the State Constitution, the Court must strictly scrutinize whether the legislation is lawful. After scrutinizing the law, the judge agreed with our analysis that the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech.”

Freedom of expression on public issues should be protected at the highest level.  Therefore, this law should be analyzed using strict scrutiny. The ruling warned that the state’s “ability to impress free citizens into State service in this political dispute cannot be absolute; it must be limited.”

In her ruling, the judge explained that this state-compelled speech “is not merely the transmittal of neutral information.” She agreed with our attorneys that this is not just calorie counting or a health hazard warning on smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. This issue – which is “contentious and raises issues that are religious, cultural, political and legal” – is about the more than four decades-long dispute over abortion.

          The Reproductive FACT Act compels the clinic to “speak words with which it profoundly disagrees” and “places too heavy a burden upon the liberty of free thought.”         

Given the language in the ruling, Tyler & Bursch’s General Counsel Robert Tyler is confident that “while this ruling is not the final judgment, this interim ruling foreshadows what will be the judge’s final decision. She makes her opinion known that the law is unconstitutional.”

   Our next hearing is set for July 21, 2017, where the court will give direction on how our case should proceed – whether the case will actually have a trial or whether it should be simply decided by briefing.

Concurrently, we also represent Livingwell Medical Clinic in federal court. This statute was previously upheld in that case as not violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution before a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit. That case is pending a determination from the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether the High Court will take up our case. Our two-front strategy gives us the ability to win in either federal or state court.

Although it appears that victory is at hand in state court, we would not be able to do any of this without the generous financial support from friends like you. Won’t you please consider donating just $25, $100, $200 or more so we can continue fighting for religious liberties in the courts?

While Advocates for Faith & Freedom depends on our supporters for the funds to fight these important cases, we first and foremost thank you for your continued prayers.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and your donations

They Sued Chino Valley Unified for Freedom of Religion! Really?

in Blog, Cases, Newsletters 1 Comment

We filed a major brief on April 26, 2017 in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal in our defense of Chino Valley Unified School District and its longstanding policy that allows an opening prayer before its public school board meetings.

The School District became the target of a federal lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an aggressive, anti-religion organization Read More

Christian Vindicated – WIN in the Ninth Circuit!

in Blog, Cases, Free Speech, Newsletters, Ninth Circuit 0 Comments

I have great news to share with you regarding a case that many of you have followed and supported for many years!

On January 11th, three federal  appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit  issued a final ruling in favor of our  client,  Mark  Mackey, who was arrested back in 2011 for reading the  Bible aloud  in  front of the  California Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet. Read More

Christian Vindicated! Ninth Circuit Finds Arrest Unlawful by CHP Officer

in Advocates in Action, Blog, Cases, Free Speech 5 Comments

Pasadena, CA. Today, three federal appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit issued a final ruling in favor of a Christian man, Mark Mackey, who was arrested for reading the Bible aloud in front of the California Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet, CA in 2011. Read the ruling here.

The CHP Officer, Darren Meyers, erroneously cited Mr. Mackey for violating a state law that forbids the interference with an open business through obstruction and intimidation. The Ninth Circuit rebuked the officer’s fabricated claims in his police report:

Upon arrival, Meyer encountered Mackey reading his bible aloud in a dirt patch, neither obstructing nor intimidating anyone in line. Meyer avers that Mackey was “yelling at the people waiting in line,” “that there was obvious verbal confrontation between the group of men and the people standing in line,” and that the “confrontation was heated and nearing a physical state.” That version of events is completely belied by video and audio footage which does not reveal any confrontations whatsoever, and merely shows Mackey reading the bible aloud somewhat apart from people standing in line.

View the video of the arrest. This story was widely covered by Fox News and many other news outlets shortly after the arrest: Fox News Video.

Representing Mr. Mackey, Advocates for Faith & Freedom filed a federal lawsuit for unlawful arrest arguing the officer had no basis or probable cause to arrest Mr. Mackey. Mr. Mackey offered to dismiss his suit if the CHP simply admitted the arrest was unlawful and agreed to properly instruct its officers. The CHP rejected that offer and Mr. Mackey was instead criminally prosecuted in California state court in the County of Riverside.

View our previous press release that outlines the facts and charges.

However, Mr. Mackey prevailed in the criminal prosecution and was found not guilty of the charges. Thereafter, Mr. Mackey’s federal case continued ending up in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal.

Robert Tyler, who argued in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Mr. Mackey, stated, “An innocent man exercising his religious liberty and free speech was criminally prosecuted based on erroneous claims put forth by a false and deceitful police report. It appears to me that the arrest and prosecution of my client was politically motivated because they did not agree with my client’s speech. But that is exactly why our founders created the First Amendment – to protect even disagreeable speech. Today’s decision renews my hope in the justice system.”

Mark Mackey stated, “Justice still prevails. I am excited that our country is going in the right direction.”

Co-counsel and volunteer criminal defense attorney Nic Cocis commented, “It is refreshing to know that our system still works. The video evidence clearly contradicted the claims of the officer, but it took our appeal to the Ninth Circuit before justice could be realized. The officer and the CHP should be held accountable for their disregard of constitutional liberties.”

NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, Case No. 15-55186

Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts. You can visit our website at www.faith-freedom.com.

Email info@faith-freedom.com to receive press releases. Also, join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our progress in this case and others.