It has been a number of weeks since my last correspondence. I apologize for the delay. We spent close to one month in a religious liberty jury trial from mid-May to mid-June. As a result, I simply didn’t have the time to write and get out our regular monthly newsletters. Let me bring you up to speed on a few important things we have been working on.
Bibles for the Belize Military
We have been asked to extend our advocacy for faith to the military personnel in the Central American country of Belize! A close friend of mine, John Gotz, serves as a missionary in Belize and as a military chaplain to the Belizean Defense Force of approximately 3,000 troops. The country’s leading General has requested that John acquire 5,000 Bibles to deliver to each member of the military!
When John told me about this opportunity, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring this to Advocates for Faith & Freedom. Would you please participate in this outreach by generously donating to Advocates so that we can purchase the Bibles and advocate for our Christian faith internationally? The Bibles will probably cost us approximately $15,000.
I plan to personally deliver the Bibles to the Belizean military with John as soon as we can raise the money to buy the Bibles. We will have the opportunity to hold Bible studies for many of the troops. In contrast to the U.S. military chaplaincy policies, the doors are wide-open to the Gospel in Belize.
You can designate a specific gift by referencing “Bibles for Belize.” Thank you for your prayer and generosity. We won’t be able to do this without your generous partnership!
In the Hands of a Jury One of our attorneys, Jordan Bursch, and I spent 3 ½ weeks in a jury trial in downtown Los Angeles that led us to a new realization of the environment in which we live. Our client, who asked to be left anonymous, filed a suit a few years ago through another attorney claiming religious discrimination against his former employer, the Metropolitan Water District. Just a couple weeks before trial, we were asked to take the case over. Unfortunately, we had to fight as though we had “one arm tied behind our back” due to the prior attorney’s agreement to exclude substantial evidence.
Picking a jury was extremely enlightening to the state of our culture. During voir dire, we were able to question and exclude numerous jurors who appeared blatantly biased. One juror claimed that “religion is the root of all evil and Christians are the worst.” Another young professional said she was an atheist and could not be unbiased in a religious discrimination case. A high ranking official at UCLA said he was atheist, grew up in communist China, and didn’t believe that anyone should have the right to bring a claim of religious discrimination, regardless of the First Amendment. A young homosexual man said that he believed that whenever he heard of a Christian claiming discrimination, “it was really the Christian doing the discriminating and doing harm to others.” This comment broke my heart as this young man does not understand true Christianity.
While we initially persuaded five of the jurors needed to prevail, the jury ruled that we were not able to show enough evidence of discriminatory intent. Even though we established clear evidence that our client’s immediate supervisor stated, among other derogatory things, that “Jesus isn’t going to save your job,” it was not enough. The burden of proof is very high for proving religious discrimination. You can imagine how easy it is for a large institution to hide their real intent for terminating an employee with vague and benign reasoning.
We knew the likelihood of success would be pretty slim when we took over this case just a few weeks before trial. However, we felt led by the Lord that this gentlemen needed our help regardless of the probable outcome. Sometimes we are called by God to show up and advocate a righteous cause in spite of the odds. I am learning more and more in this post-Christian era that we must respond to God’s calling and leave the results to Him.
Defending Prayer at School Board Meetings
Lastly, I wanted to ask you for your prayer as we work extensively this summer on briefs that will be due in September in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal. We agreed to take over the defense of the Chino Valley Unified School District in the Ninth Circuit appeal where a District Court judge ordered the School District to cease and desist its practice of allowing an invocation at the beginning of School Board meetings. This case will likely have a national impact as many school districts nationwide have a practice of allowing invocations at the beginning of their meetings. Please pray for us to have wisdom as we research and write our legal arguments.
Thank you for your financial support to our ministry. Because of your generosity, we can quickly come to the aid of worthy causes like these. Know that we will continue to work diligently to protect religious liberty and our First Amendment right.