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A RAY OF LIGHT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

Lord, we pray Americans, particularly in government, would embrace our first freedom — religious liberty.

Did you notice a ray of light recently for religious liberty — America’s first freedom? The stormy context in which it shined was alarming, but the sunbeam was there nonetheless.

Here’s the theme that was (or should have been) loud and clear: State hostility to religious groups is unacceptable. In fact, it’s illegal.

Now the sad part is how urgent and necessary it is right now to buttress that principle within our nation. It means state agents are disregarding or even preemptively warring with people of faith whom they view as obstacles to their preferred objectives. But thankfully there are individuals in places of authority taking a stand for our nation’s fundamental principles.

We need to pray for them!

In this case, a federal court in New York put its foot down. Actually, that same court — the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York — spurred action undergirding that point in two cases back to back this month.

The first featured a long-serving Christian adoption provider that is in a battle for its survival. New York’s Office of Children and Family Services began an effort in 2018 to coerce New Hope Family Services into abandoning its deeply held religious beliefs about marriage. When New Hope resisted, the state agents decided they would terminate the ministry’s adoption work.

With its back against the wall, New Hope, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, was forced to fight back against the Empire State in court.

ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks earlier this month said, “Government officials have no business forcing faith-based providers to choose between speaking messages about marriage that contradict their religious convictions and closing their doors.”

He added, “The need for adoption services in New York, whether public or private, is huge, and New Hope’s faith-guided services do not coerce anyone and do nothing to interfere with other adoption providers who have different beliefs about family and the best interests of children.”

Thankfully, in early October a federal judge delivered a key win for New Hope when she granted the ministry a preliminary injunction against the state’s demands. U.S. District Judge Mae D’Agostino wrote that she had found evidence that the state’s actions were fueled by “some animosity” and “some hostility.”

That case is not over, but it is a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, another case seems to have been diffused early — at least for now. But it is alarming because it involves the chief executives of New York and New York City directly. And it’s notable that the targeting here is not of evangelical Christians, but Orthodox Jews.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio recently implemented a highly restrictive lockdown plan to combat COVID-19 in NYC neighborhoods predominantly inhabited by Orthodox Jews.

Cuomo admitted to rabbis, “This is not a highly nuanced, sophisticated response. This is a fear-driven response, you know. This is not a policy being written by a scalpel; this is a policy being cut by a hatchet.”

But — whether intentional or not —  that “hatchet” seemed specifically targeted at the Jewish residents while other similarly situated communities were spared.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty — a hero in the recent Little Sisters of the Poor victory — took up the case of students at an Orthodox Jewish girls’ school that, despite following all COVID-19 safety protocols, was shut down by the new orders.

Becket’s summary of the case highlights, “On October 6 – just before three important Jewish holy days – Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that shut impending Jewish celebrations down, claiming that mildly elevated rates of positive coronavirus tests justified extraordinary emergency powers, while at the same time admitting that those elevated rates ‘would be a safe zone’ in many other states.”

Becket also pointed out that this is not the first instance of the state treating this faith community differently. It notes:

Unfortunately, the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City has been singled out by the government as the scapegoats for COVID-19 spread since the beginning of the pandemic. In April of 2020, Mayor de Blasio dispersed a Jewish funeral and then threatened them with law enforcement. During the subsequent summer while Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio praised nearby mass protests, Jewish families were ousted from Brooklyn parks by the New York Police Department acting at the behest of the Mayor.

Thankfully, quickly after the federal district court took up Becket’s case, the state relented.

But these episodes and others have not been without pain. They are sowing distrust about government intentions toward certain faith groups and elevating concerns about just how deeply rooted such hostility may be.

Let’s praise God for individuals standing up for our fundamental liberty to practice faith freely. And let’s pray that hearts and minds would recognize just how treacherous a path it is to turn a blind eye to that first freedom.

 

Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.s public policy arena. He reflects on faith, technology, and the public square at FTPolicy.com. Picture Credit: Getty Images.

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14 Replies to “A RAY OF LIGHT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY”

  1. Father God,
    Thank You for each drip of victory for Truth that You allow us to see. Let the Church be united and that we can take back USA and help these radical left who have been blinded with hope from a dead person like Karl Marx. Karl Marx can not even safe himself, how can he save the earth with green new deal or socialist medicine etc. Father-God, I’m sorry if I sounded mocking Karl Marx. Please help those people who are blinded by Karl Marx plan for socialism including Bernie Sanders, Alexandria O-Cortez to see what is Truth in Jesus so that they can use their energy to do what is right to glorify Your Name. In Jesus name. Amen.

    Amen! 5
  2. Father, we also lift up those standing against the forced vaxxxx as expression of religious freedom in the workplace. We pray for You chosen not to cave to pressure, and we pray for resources to fight the battle as lawfare and since we know that ‘The Lord, the Lord will fight the battle, remain calm’ EX 14:14, we ask You make a way, give us Your joy, knowing You will not leave nor forsake us when we stand for You in Jesus name. Amen

    Amen! 5
  3. Father, Triune God, might, immortal, invincible, omnipotent, hear our prayers. Thank you for your servant Aaron Mercer who has written this informative article. Impress on Your people the importance of being informed. I had no idea about the victory won for the New Hope Family Services. Thank You for working through attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom to protect this service from persecution by evil powers. In Jesus precious name I rebuke those powers who push against Your Word to inject into society desired acceptance of their moral choices. Lord, protect, have mercy and protect our religious freedom to its fullest as intended by our Constitution.

    Convict civic leaders in all our towns and communities of their responsibility to uphold religious liberty.
    Turn their hearts to repentance and a desire to be forgiven for their motives to deny and show preference in their administration in towns, cities across our nation.

    I pray Lord, against the unfair treatment of the Jewish worshippers in New York City. Be their comfort, and through it all show them Jesus as their Savior for those who do not yet know Him as promised Savior of the world.

    Bless especially, prosper, and protect Alliance Defending Freedom. Make them strong to fight on for Your Church, and its freedom in our society and across the world. I rebuke the powers of darkness that would
    tie and tether Your Church and the Gospel message in the Name of Lord of Lord, and King of Kings, Jesus Christ.

    Thank You, Lord, for You are with us. We love you. Amen

    Amen! 23
  4. Lord in so many areas of this country the enemy seems to be winning. I pray that our eyes would be open to the travesty that is going on. To consider religion a non-essential is a plan straight from Satan’s handbook. Lord I pray that you will open wide the churches that follow your heart and you will, shut down every evil that comes against your church. you have said the gate of hell will not prevail against your church. speak up for the church the body of Christ that we will go Victorious into battle knowing that this battle isn’t in our hands but yours. Come Lord Jesus defend your church let your light shine once again in the dark places. May your kingdom come to all those who do not know you and plan to thwart your will. May your spirit bring radical salvations to those who stand against you. May your love and your voice capture the heart of those who wish you harm. Do with them as you did with Paul, strike them down so they may raise up into your spirit and you’re calling. Amen and amen

    Amen! 22
    1. Amen, Lord I thank You for exposing Big Eva as a root issue of what has been coming from many in the pulpit of the American church, we knew something was off, but now we know roots of marxism have crept in.

      https://youtu.be/cF3lRgV4FTE

      Allow Your prodigal to repent for the chasm & division & harm they have caused to Your bride.
      We are Yours, may we submit nothing less than our all & all to the Lords6of Jesus Christ. Amen

      Amen! 2
  5. The FalseChrist wants you to believe you must sin; but the real JesusChrist says [“go and sin no more”]: “You can walk without SIN!” the Gnostic [where the FalseChrist doctrine may have originated] said, Jesus was a spirit and didn’t have a real physical body, presumably meaning, no one with a physical body can walk sinless [In plain English, Jesus didn’t come in the flesh], but that is what Jesus died for, “IT IS FINISHED.” Here on earth you can reach the HIGH CALLING, and Overcome and eat from the Tree of Life in Revelation 2:7 and never have to die. WAKE UP! Jesus didn’t die so you could keep sinning, and until the Church is without Sport or Wrinkle, which is We NO LONGER SIN, Jesus may be restrained from returning. What does this mean? They don’t sin in heaven: Matt 6:
    10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth ASV

    Amen! 3
  6. Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus, We know that your word is true and right and honorable. And we know the devil will use any tool or fool at his disposal in attempts to silence your Will. We praise you for efforts to highlight bureaucratic animosity to faith-held beliefs and for challenges to be firm, steadfast, bold and successful. May these successful efforts and results continue and may bureaucrats finally understand that the U.S Constitution and Declaration of Independence were documents founded on Your Word for the benefit of all people. You reign supreme and we humbly ask for continued guidance to bring Glory to Your Son, Jesus, Christ! Amen

    Amen! 22
    1. We see the beginnings of Marxism creeping into the American pulpit in this short video.

      https://youtu.be/cF3lRgV4FTE

      Wolves in sheep clothing are creeping in, using Romans 13, just as what was used in Germany to allow a tyrannical govt to get away with murder.
      When we trade liberties for freedom we deserve neither. We pray for those under the shepherding of these wolves. May Jesus be glorified in All we do. Amen

      Amen! 1
  7. Lord give us a strong conviction to stand with our brothers and sisters, the Jewish people; wherever they are being persecuted in the world, but especially in the United States. These are the people of Your first covenant and we lift them up and pray for peace and favor in their communities. May each and every one of them see the light of Yeshua. Lord I pray that the light of Your countenance would shine upon them now and that they would win every court case and that they would experience complete and decisive victory! That they would plunder their enemies and leave them bankrupt by Your favor. Lord God please let us see a shift in the government over New York. May a new group of governmental authorities be put in place that favor Jews and Christians and stand up for religious liberty, law and order, our right to assemble for worship and for the police. Thank you for your strong right arm of justice. Give your people victory over those who would destroy us as in Esther’s day we pray in Jesus’ name!!

    Amen! 30
    1. Our dear Heavenly Father,
      Thank you for Marianna’s prayer on concern for the Jewish people. We praise you, Lord that Jews have found a secure home in the States and that their freedoms have been upheld generally. Dear Lord, I pray they will not be driven from the US/NY but welcomed and treated well.
      However, dear Lord, I believe you are calling your chosen to make Aliyah to their homeland in Israel. I pray that the Jewish population in NY would not feel too comfortable here that they miss their homeland’s call to be settled in their land. God, provide protection for your people and may they find and know you as their Saviour from sin, evil, and destruction.
      We bless you, Father, and lift you high. You are our refuge and shield amidst confusion. We honor you as our shepherd and follow willingly each day to see your kingdom invade more of our earth! Praise to You!! Amen

      Amen! 20
    2. Amen and Amen✝️Let it be so Lord Jesus
      Restore our freedoms gifted to this great nation🇺🇸 By you—God of all creation
      THANKYOU God for this light of justice In a very dark place Where evil officials rule

      Amen! 14

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