Around the Institute: What’s Happening at First Liberty

May 26, 2023
Around the Institute | First Liberty Institute

A weekly roundup of important headlines and exciting things happening at First Liberty.

He’s Back! Coach Kennedy’s First Day at Bremerton High School

This week, First Liberty client Coach Joe Kennedy returned to Bremerton High School for his first day as an assistant football coach. After our landmark U.S. Supreme Court victory last year that restored his right to pray, Coach Joe is ready to begin a new season, both on and off the field. Please continue to pray for Coach!

Coach Joe Kennedy First Day

First Liberty Attorney on Trinity Broadcasting Network

First Liberty Associate Counsel Holly Randall recently appeared on Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Centerpoint. She was interviewed regarding school censorship of religion, including the challenges that many students face when they express their religious views or pray during their graduation speeches. Watch below:

Visiting Historic New Jersey Churches

First Liberty represents the Mendham Methodist Church and the Zion Lutheran Church Long Valley. We’re fighting for them in federal court because they are wrongfully being excluded from a grant program the state created to preserve and restore historic landmarks.

While houses of worship have been precluded from benefiting from the program, buildings that operate for exclusive functions and private purposes—such as the Morristown Community Theater, the Madison Masonic Lodge, the Woman’s Club of Morristown, and even a local restaurant—continue to receive public funds.

One of our attorneys visited there recently and we wanted to share some photos with you: 

CRCD Scholar Serves in Prison Ministry

Stephen O. Presley, Senior Fellow at First Liberty’s Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy, shares his recent experience ministering in the Texas prison system, where he spoke to hundreds of men serving life sentences about religious liberty:

“Last week, I had the opportunity to teach a bible course in the Texas prison system. The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry takes the gospel into the darkest of places of the Texas prison system and offers a bachelor’s degree program which educates men and women that are serving long-term prison sentences. Once they graduate the inmates are sent out as Field Ministers throughout the Texas prison system to serve the rest of the prison population.

“Despite the prison setting, it was a joyful occasion as the men were engaged in the course and eager to learn the bible. The course, Biblical Redemption and the Christian Hope, is an undergraduate course that walked the men through the story of the Bible. It encouraged them to see how all the covenants work together as they proclaim the good work of Christ. At the end of the week several students remarked that the class helped them see the big picture of God’s good work of salvation.

“I am grateful for the time I shared with the students and the chance to see their faith strengthened through studying the scriptures. These kinds of programs help remind us of the essential role that religious convictions, peoples, and institutions play in cultivating free and flourishing communities even in prison!”

Men Prayer Prison | First Liberty Institute
*Photo courtesy of Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry

When Government Censors Religious Views, It Violates First Amendment

First Liberty Counsel Ryan Gardner wrote an op-ed for The Daily Signal discussing a case in the state of Washington, where a state law restricts counselors from discussing their religious views:

“The government shouldn’t prevent Americans from expressing their religious beliefs. But that’s exactly what the state of Washington is trying to do.

Brian Tingley is a licensed marriage and family counselor. For the past 20 years, Tingley’s deeply held religious beliefs have been the source of the guidance he offers his clients, who come to him voluntarily.

Washington state, however, wants to intervene in these private conversations and rewrite Tingley’s beliefs by telling him what he can and cannot say. State legislators passed a law that restricts counselors from helping people who are wrestling with gender dysphoria.”

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