The Slow Death of Religious Liberty

The Supreme Court refused to hear a case in which the State of Washington changed its pharmacy referral rules for the sole purpose of forcing a handful of pharmacists to carry the “morning after” pill in violation of their religious and moral belief that life begins at conception. Pharmacist referral on the basis of conscience is legal in all 49 other states, and this practice is supported by the American Pharmacists Association and more than 30 other medical and pharmacy associations. In addition, the trial court record contained voluminous evidence that the specific intent of the State was to target “religiously-motivated conduct.” Read more

FACT Report: July 20, 2016

Justice Ginsburg Does It Again, Without Consequence (July 20, 2016)

Two years ago Justice Ginsburg said she believed that America was ready for same-sex “marriage.” She made those statements prior to her deliberations on and vote to constitutionally mandate same-sex “marriage.”

Many complained that she should have recused herself from that case based on the Code of Judicial Conduct, but nothing happened. Now she’s made comments about Donald Trump and his campaign in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. As before, nothing will happen because what Court has jurisdiction over the Supreme Court justices?

Their lack of accountability is breathtaking, as is the fact that Congress will do nothing to try to alter the situation though they have the power to do so. Perhaps before voting on congressional candidates, it would be wise to find out where the candidates stand on reigning in our Supreme Court.

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When Legislators Behave Badly—What Should Be Done?

Twenty-two different people have told the Attorney General that Republican State Representative Jeremy Durham engaged in various kinds of sexual innuendo and relations with them. He has suspended his campaign but has chosen not to resign. What should be done?

Sounds like a question with an easy answer, but it’s not as easy as it looks. Here are some of my thoughts based on twenty-two years in state politics, which included the “pleasure” of serving in office when legislative colleagues were indicted and the “pleasure” of holding a “trial” to expel a colleague only to be sued in federal court for doing so. But before I share those thoughts, let me be clear; I’m not defending Rep. Durham or the conduct he’s been accused of or whatever conduct he has actually engaged in. In fact, given everything, if I were him, I would resign, but that’s not where we are.

Should the Legislature remove him?

This is a bit tricky because to say “no” is to risk being accused of winking at the behavior of which Rep. Durham’s been accused or condoning his behavior. But I would say in this particular case, “Go slowly because the precedent you set could prove problematic.”

Politics can be a dirty business. Power is a great temptation. People will say all kinds of things about others, particularly when not under oath, in order to remove them from power or ascend to a place of power. Accusations do not always prove to be actualities.

Until yesterday, when Rep. Durham admitted that he made some of the statements he was accused of, the Legislature had only unsworn allegations to go on. Of course, it’s fine if the Legislature wants to make its own determinations of guilt and innocence based on unsworn “he said, she said” allegations and denials, but the members may find themselves spending more time on expulsion proceedings than on legislative matters if they start down that path.

Rep. Durham’s admission would ameliorate the potential precedent for incessant “witch-hunts,” but current legislators have a practical issue to consider. While removing Rep. Durham from office now would make a “statement,” the Legislature is adjourned until next January. If the voters don’t re-elect him on August 4th, then should the Legislature be called back into session for some unforeseen reason, his primary opponent would take office anyway. Removing him now will not affect his ability to take office in January if the voters should re-elect him. And that leads to a final consideration.

Were Rep. Durham’s term not at an end as a practical matter, then the Legislature would need to pursue what the investigation has uncovered. But voters start going to the polls today, and they can serve as their own jury. After all, the power of that office in our system of civil government belongs to them. And that brings up my final observation.

One of my associates shared with me a recent commentary in which the author said we have the kind of politicians and laws we have because we, as a people, allow it. If that’s true, and it largely is, then all I can say is “Ouch! Who is going to hold us accountable?”

We can begin to hold ourselves accountable by voting wisely this election cycle. We hope will help you do that.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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FACT Report: July 13, 2016

Don’t Worry. God is Pleased (July 13, 2016)

State of the country got you down? Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in heaven and He does whatever He pleases.” That means what is going on in our country is pleasing to God in one sense – an ultimate sense – His purposes are being accomplished.

That doesn’t mean things aren’t bad, but history shows us that many “bad” things were just God acting to bring about something better.

For example, the tabernacle on which God descended gave way to the Temple which God destroyed when He came to dwell in us! Perhaps God is now removing what has been good to bring about something better.

Whatever the case, we need to remember that our hope is not in what we see going on around us but in Him who sees all that is going on around us.

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Is Optimism Eating at You, Too?

Conservative Christians have every reason to be down and pessimistic, but I need to confess something—I have this nagging sense of optimism that just won’t go away.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the reasons for the sense of gloom and doom. Every day the media is filled with stories that can provoke those feelings. However, I won’t take my allotment of words in this space to recount those stories; I’d rather tell you why optimism keeps nagging at me.

The simple answer is because the Word of God won’t let me come to any other conclusion.

Is God Pleased With What’s Going On?

Before you say “no” to that question, consider Psalm 115:3. However, to appreciate that verse you have to read the preceding verse. It’s like the statements I hear and read periodically in connection with the work I do: “Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?”

Can you hear the taunt now? Today it might be said this way: “You Christians lost! There is no God to save you or to stand in our way. We’re moving on and, if you get in the way, we’re running over you.”

That’s why I get excited about verse 3. It begins with “but,” a wonderful, hope-infusing, “but!”

“But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.”

In other words, what is going on in our country and in our world is pleasing to God in one sense, an ultimate sense—the only sense in which things really matter. His purposes are being accomplished.

If nothing is outside the sovereignty of God, and nothing is, and if God does what He pleases, then I have reason to hope. As Nebuchadnezzar said, “He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?

And if the Word of God is true, and it is, then I also know that God’s purposes cannot be anything other than good and right and just.

Is The Bad Stuff Not Really Bad?

But what about all the bad stuff that is currently going on? Am I just some blind, optimistic fool? Great question!

What’s going on right now is bad; our very form of government is being dismantled by the Supreme Court and corrupt politicians. But I realized I needed to step back and look at the overarching story Scripture tells from the 30,000 foot level.

When I did that, I realized that God often takes what is good at some point in history and then alters it or even tears it down in order to bring out of that which was good something even better. Let me give you just two examples.

God gave the pattern for the tabernacle to mirror a heavenly reality, and then God came down and His glory settled upon it. Incredible. God eventually did away with it, but He brought forth something more glorious, the Temple, where His glory again descended. And then He destroys the Temple, which was horrifying to those accustomed to the structures and systems of that day, to do something even more incredible; He takes up residence in those who believe in Him!

God gave the law. And as Moses said in Deuteronomy 4:7, even the Gentiles would look at the law and say, “What great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as the whole law” of Moses? Yet, God brings about something new that leaves the New Testament writers saying that, in comparison, the law of Moses was “weak” and “obsolete.”

Is God Doing a New Thing?

Could that be what God is doing now? Is He tearing down some things, as unpleasant and hard now as that may be for us to live through, in order to raise up something new and better?

By trying to “go back” and “hold on” to what is familiar and has certainly been good, could we be making an idol out of the past ways and structures that may no longer really fit that new thing that God wants to do as He moves toward His desired purpose?

I don’t know, but my reason for hope is not in what I see going on around me but in Him who sees all that is going on around me . . . and is pleased. What a pleasant thought.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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