First Liberty Institute squares off against legal groups trying to shut down prayer, and remove religious imagery and other expressions of faith across the nation
On the night of February 17, the council chamber of a small American city was packed to standing-room-only capacity. The crowd was tense. Their city’s tradition of beginning every council meeting with prayer was under attack. The out-of-towner sternly warned that the city was violating the Constitution. What would the council decide?
The verdict: No compromise. The city would not cave in to the bully tactics of the secularists. And, as the mayor publicly acknowledged, the council was given confidence through the legal guidance of First Liberty Institute. Prayer would continue before city council meetings.
This scene is only one example of growing rebellion against the “big bad wolves” who threaten to use lawsuits to blow down the heritage of religious freedom ingrained in American society. And increasingly, cities and towns across America seek First Liberty Institute’s steady hand to guide and advise them in securing their religious rights.
THIS LAND IS OUR LAND
The targets of such intimidation are cities, towns, and schools across our nation. They are under constant threat of lawsuits from anti-religion legal bullies. Powerful, well-funded organizations such as the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and others are trying to intimidate American citizens and cleanse our nation of its religious heritage.
Their threats include challenges to:
All the targeted expressions are part of America’s heritage—woven into our cultural and social fabric by decades and even centuries of Americans who worked, sacrificed, risked, lived and died in communities where these expressions were, and are, a vital element. Those trying to tear them out, singling them out just because these expressions are religious, insult the history of the communities they are attacking. This is not a defense of freedom of religion, but a discriminatory attack on religion and America’s heritage.
Our Founding Fathers would cringe. They would recoil if they could see the intimidation tactics these anti-religion bullies are using to try to silence our nation’s expression of faith. But those who carefully crafted our First Amendment freedom would also be proud to see concerned Americans like you stand with us against these anti-religion attacks.
STANDING UP FOR AMERICANS
Through the ongoing support of friends like you, First Liberty Institute has been able to assist towns, schools, and citizens in other vulnerable locations in protecting their religious liberty rights. Recent work includes helping:
PROTECTING ONE CITY COUNCIL’S 25-YEAR TRADITION
Which brings us to the scene that began this article. Earlier this month, First Liberty Institute came to the aid of the City of Nacogdoches, Texas—known as “the oldest city in Texas”—which had received a complaint from a non-resident about the city’s 25-year tradition of beginning its city council meeting with prayer.
“When the city council received a threat from an outsider,” First Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Mike Berry said, “they were justifiably concerned that their tradition of opening city council meetings with an invocation might be stopped.”
But when the city reached out to First Liberty Institute for counsel, we were able to help them create an invocation policy.
“We met with the city council and answered their questions regarding the constitutionality of invocation policies—including questions about the May 2014 Supreme Court case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, which held that invocations before government meetings are constitutionally permissible,” Berry continued. (First Liberty Institute filed an amicus brief in that major Supreme Court victory for religious freedom.)
“We drafted an invocation policy for them to review,” he said. “The Mayor motioned that the Council adopt the policy, and last week, in a standing-room-only meeting, the Council unanimously voted in favor of adopting the policy we drafted. The Mayor publicly acknowledged First Liberty Institute’s role in guiding them through this legal minefield, and thanked us in front of all present.”
Because of First Liberty Institute’s expert legal advice, the City of Nacogdoches can now stand with confidence knowing that the Constitution supports their historic practice of opening city council meetings with prayer—and this right is now memorialized in the writing of the city’s invocation policy.
HELP LIBERTY INSTITUTE PROTECT AND RESTORE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY FOR ALL
Simply put, our nation’s religious heritage and traditions matter, and First Liberty Institute never backs down in our efforts to protect public religious expression of faith—including, among others:
The law is on the side of religious freedom, and that’s why First Liberty Institute wants to help localities fight back and win with our legal assistance. Thank you for your gift today to help support this crucial effort, and please continue to pray with us as we fight the counter-efforts of anti-faith organizations that want remove public religious expression across America.
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.FirstLiberty.org.