Is There a Disconnect Between Church-goers and Their Pastors?

As a national defender in the fight for religious freedoms and parental rights, Advocates for Faith & Freedom has increasingly seen pastors back away from teaching biblical worldviews from the pulpit, primarily because of their perception that their congregants don’t want to hear it. This has resulted in a growing disconnect between Christian conservatives and their pastors.

Interestingly enough, a new survey titled “What God’s People Want to Know,” commissioned by WallBuilders and the American Culture & Faith Institute shows conservative Christians actually want to hear more about political issue-related teaching from the pulpit. The fascinating survey asked moderate and conservative Christians about the types of issue-related teaching they wanted to hear from their pastors during the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Contrary to the notion of many pastors that religion has no place in the public square, the findings demonstrate that Christians who hold politically conservative views believe that churches should be more involved in the political process—the opposite message we hear from progressives and the media.

Two out of three respondents said they want more information from their church about what the Bible teaches in relation to current social and political issues.  At least 80% of the respondents indicated their greatest need for information related to the following six issues of “high importance”: Abortion (91%); Religious persecution/liberty (86%); Poverty (85%); Cultural restoration (83%); Sexual identity (82%); and Israel (80%).


Sadly, the survey also found that one out of every five conservative pastors did not even encourage their congregants to vote in November 2014. It is also alarming that one-quarter of conservative pastors did not teach their congregants biblical principles

about important social and political issues during the six months preceding the election.

The results also underscored just how tone deaf the media and political candidates are when it comes to the issues most important to conservative Christians. Topics frequently pushed by the media, such as healthcare, foreign policy, immigration reform, jobs/unemployment, taxes, gun rights, military spending, and campaign finance reform, did not make the list of issues that mattered.

          What does all this mean and why is it important? The survey reinforces what we have already seen in our legal defense ministry: There is a correlation between the declining spiritual and social health of America and the lack of engagement of our pastors. In the words of the survey summary, “The nation has been demonstrably worse off ever since pastors chose to disconnect faith from politics and governance. America urgently needs cultural direction from those whom God has placed in positions of spiritual leadership. One way of providing such leadership is by shaping the thinking of Christians by teaching them foundational biblical principles related to pressing social and political issues of the day.” To that, we say Amen!

          So, what can congregants do to encourage their pastors to preach on what the Bible says about social and cultural matters?  Try telling your pastor the following:

  • You’re interested in learning what the Bible teaches on the topics and would consider them appropriate subjects for the pastor to teach from the pulpit.

  • You have appreciated the times when the pastor has addressed current issues from a biblical perspective, and you hope to experience more of that kind of teaching on a broader range of issues.

  • You believe learning about what the Bible says in relation to current issues of importance – beyond abortion and same-sex marriage—would be a significant contribution to the body of Christ.


        I believe that pastors have more than an opportunity to teach on these matters; they have a responsibility and calling to do so. While pushback from some congregants is likely, especially those who are more theologically moderate, addressing these issues may serve as an impetus to developing a more biblically centered worldview among many people in the congregation.

We at Advocates for Faith & Freedom are holding free seminars for pastors, administrators, and other non-profit ministries to equip them in leading the Church to positively impact social and political issues. (Check our website at for upcoming details).

If you would like more information on what your pastor or church can legally do in terms of speaking about political issues from the pulpit, we have numerous resources available on our website, including the handout “Pastors & Politics: What is Legal and Illegal” and a 10-page booklet, “The First Amendment in Crisis: The Intersection of Church and State.” You can access this information at

Thank you for your financial support! We have much to accomplish to change and shape the moral culture of our communities, but we can only move forward with your help. Please continue to hold our attorneys up in prayer as they continue protecting our cherished religious freedom.

Advocates’ Pro Bono Attorney finds Hope and Redemption in Pro-Life Case

Twenty-nine-year-old Nada Higuera stood in the courtroom last April, her growing belly an accessory to her case briefs and plea binders. As an attorney with Advocates for Faith & Freedom—a California-based non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty—Higuera was once again in Riverside County Superior Court Justice Gloria Trask’s courtroom to challenge the Reproductive FACT Act, or AB-775 (see “Free Speech vs. Forced Speech,” page 12). The statute, hailed by NARAL Pro-Choice America as “historic,” and “set[ting] a precedent for the nation,” forces pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) statewide to advertise taxpayer-funded abortion and birth-control programs in their waiting rooms, signage and communications.

Signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October 2015, the FACT Act was immediately decried by the pro-life community. Every Golden State PRC would have no choice if AB-775 became law but to tell clients not only that free or low-cost abortions might be available, but exactly where and how to obtain them. In other words: They would be forced to violate their own missions and moral convictions while providing free advertising for the opposition.

Higuera took the case because it was, in her words, “blatantly unconstitutional.” PRCs, she says, should have the same freedom of speech—or, in this case, non-speech—as everyone else.

Yet Higuera had a much deeper connection to the case she was arguing—one that had slammed into her as a teenager, but had since remained mostly out of sight and out of mind.

But now, a growing daughter tucked safely within her, Higuera’s spirit played host to the ever-present question: Should she tell them?

Hidden Abuse

Higuera was raised in northern California, the eighth daughter born within a thirteen-year span to devout Muslim parents who had emigrated from Palestine. While her childhood was fairly “Americanized, and felt very much like a normal American’s,” as Higuera tells Citizen, it also included her mother wearing headscarves, her father praying to Mecca five times a day and attending mosque services. Everyone in her family spoke Arabic.

In 1992, Higuera’s parents took a fellow Middle Eastern immigrant under their wing, a man about her father’s age. He became like a trusted uncle—but quickly zeroed in on the youngest daughter, often getting Higuera alone starting around the age of 6.

“He would offer to help my parents with errands and then take me to work after hours. He would come up with all kinds of reasons,” Higuera says. “If I said no, my parents thought that was rude and questioned why I was not being obedient.”

His behavior soon turned sexual.

“My personality is a peacemaker, and I didn’t want to stir up trouble,” says Higuera, now 30. “I didn’t tell my parents anything. I never had the courage to say, ‘Here’s what’s happening.’ ”

Even if Higuera had spoken up, she wouldn’t have known what to say. Her family was so shuttered about discussing sex that one sister had no idea what would happen on her wedding night. And as a child in elementary school, Higuera knew even less.

The years passed, and the abuse continued, unseen and unchecked. In the meantime, five of Higuera’s sisters entered arranged marriages—four of them before graduating from high school, with one becoming a bride at 14.

Though her siblings would eventually provide Higuera with 23 much-loved nephews and nieces, she saw how each sister with an arranged marriage grew deeply unhappy. And as her “uncle” kept sexually abusing her, Higuera followed suit: silently surviving.

That is, until she was 16, and took a pregnancy test. It was positive.

The girl who didn’t even realize that her abuser’s actions could create a child had no idea how to tell her family. So Higuera wrote a note to her sister, who then informed their parents.

“Anyone who got pregnant out of marriage was unclean,” Higuera explains. “It devastated my parents. [They] said, ‘We’re going to get this taken care of—your sister’s going to take you to get an abortion.’

“And within a few days, that’s what happened.”

There was no discussion at home before or after the procedure. Nor did anyone at the abortion facility discuss fetal development with Higuera or tell her what her options were.

“I remember [them] telling me I might bleed a little,” Higuera says.

The high school sophomore returned home, “kind of checked out” mentally, as Higuera says, to survive. After a stern upbraiding from a brother-in-law, Higuera’s abuser fled the country, unpunished.

Higuera couldn’t see how that was right. She was a good daughter who loved her family, innocent and sincere. Why had this happened?

It wasn’t until more than a decade later, when AB-775 required her to professionally revisit the world of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, that she would truly see how “our God of justice,” as she says, was “patiently healing and redeeming” her all along.

Meeting Christ

In 2005, Higuera bucked the family tradition of arranged marriage and went to college. As a student at Chico State University, she was unsure of her desired career but positive of one thing: She was pro-choice. A woman should have access to abortion, she thought, especially in cases like her own.

Today, she’ll tell you she was “repressing everything” back then with the gusto of a “typical female student at a liberal college.” It was more coping mechanism than true belief, since she received virtually no trauma counseling after her years of abuse.

“God knew I wasn’t ready [to deal with it],” Higuera says. “He’s been so patient through this whole process.”

A major part of that process was hearing the Gospel for the first time at 18 from a high school friend. The message and prayer resonated with Higuera, but as she joined the college scene, she pushed thoughts of Christ away.

“I thought it was crazy that you could be forgiven for all your sins [that would happen] tomorrow,” she says. “That struck me as so unjust.”

Even so, Higuera “knew there was a lot of power in the Gospel still.” The story of the Cross stayed with her, and after hearing it again at a friend’s church when she was 20, the former Muslim became a Christ-follower.

Her parents’ reaction was swift. Higuera was brainwashed, they said; Jesus was just a man and it’s blasphemy to say otherwise. What’s more, they insisted, if she maintained her Christianity, they had no choice but to cut all ties with her.

Higuera was initially devastated. Wasn’t professing faith in Jesus supposed to solve problems? That night, while reading her new Bible, she found 1 Peter 4:14: “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (NIV). And then Matthew 10:34: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (NIV).

Instantly and ironically, reading that brought Higuera complete peace. And to her great shock, two weeks later her mother called and “acted like nothing had happened,” Higuera says. Indeed, her father gladly walked her down the aisle when Higuera married her Jesus-loving husband Grant four years ago, and since then, along with Higuera’s mother, “has been really pleased and surprised with Christians in general.”

Higuera had a rock-solid faith, a degree in criminal justice, a wonderful husband and a warm relationship with her parents, sisters and their children.

But what about the rest of her life? What was she supposed to do with her past abuse and abortion trauma?

Headed to Court

At a friend’s suggestion, a somewhat ambivalent Higuera took the admissions test for law school. To her surprise, she passed, and in 2010 found herself a student at the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento.

“I ended up loving and being good at it,” Higuera says. “I still didn’t know why God would bring me through law school. I thought surely I wasn’t the typical lawyer.”

After passing the bar in 2014, Higuera heard about Robert Tyler, a partner at Tyler & Bursch, LLP in Murrieta, Calif., and the founder of Advocates for Faith & Freedom. She gave him a call, intrigued by the idea of becoming a faith-based attorney. Tyler hired her, not knowing her back story.

When the FACT Act passed in 2015, the pro-life plaintiffs assembled a legal team from the American Center for Law and Justice and Advocates for Faith & Freedom. As Higuera studied the merits of the case, she knew she wanted to take it—pro bono—but not necessarily because of its pro-life implications; instead, the constitutionality questions drew her.

Tyler tells Citizen he wasn’t surprised when Higuera stepped up.

“These types of cases attract some of the best lawyers because of the impact they have on society,” he says. “It requires a significant personal sacrifice of time and money to take [them on] … These cases separate great lawyers from the rest of the pack, and Nada has risen to the challenge.”

Higuera dove in, immersing herself in reading pro-life literature and interviewing the staff and clients of PRCs like the Scharpen Foundation. As she prepared her case, Higuera did not initially see how “God was using these [activities] to help me heal” from her past trauma. Since her conversion, she recognized the sanctity of life; wasn’t that enough?

“It was God slowly giving these little things, just working on my heart, knowing I was repressing [my abuse],” Higuera says. “Even though I knew my client provided post-abortion counseling and I needed it, I would never say, ‘Please help me, please counsel me.’ But working with people in the pro-life community—doing it from a legal perspective—allowed me to absorb everything.”

In early 2017, Higuera became pregnant with her daughter Nyla and continued working. She often felt Nyla move during legal proceedings, filling her with awe—even preborn, her daughter was advocating for life! As the pregnancy progressed, people often remarked on the uniqueness of a pregnant lawyer in court on behalf of preborn children and their parents.

“It fascinated them,” Higuera says. But how much more fascinated would they be, she wondered, if they knew everything?

To Glorify God

In her eighth month of pregnancy, after much prayer, Higuera decided to tell her boss and coworkers what had happened to her as a kid.

“I don’t necessarily want to publish my story all over the world,” she says. “But if it glorifies God, then I do.” And that story certainly gave the Lord all credit; no one she told had heard of an abuse survivor and abortive mother not only learning “the truth about abortion and the evil that it is” but also defending preborn children through California’s notoriously liberal legal system.

When Higuera thanked her boss for the opportunity to work the case—and heal—he returned the gratitude. “I was so thankful to her for sharing her testimony and putting in so many hours to defend life and liberty,” Tyler says. “I immediately told Nada that I was so impressed with how she has overcome so many obstacles to become such a wonderful person of faith.”

Finally speaking her story out loud made it clear that God had been quietly involved all along.

“Here I am, a pregnant woman going through these different stages, yet I can still just walk in [during any trimester] and get an abortion,” Higuera says. “So knowing the impact of what I did, being able to grieve that death and loss of a baby was just so real to me being pregnant. It was all part of the healing and redemption process.”

Indeed. And when Judge Trask ruled in favor of the Scharpen Foundation on Oct. 30—agreeing that pro-life clinics being forced to refer clients to abortion facilities is wrong—Higuera knew it was a true team effort, not only between herself and co-counsel, but also God and Nyla, who was born in September.

“Looking back at all the guilt and shame, and now God put me in courtrooms advocating for pro-life clinics—it’s so far from where I was,” Higuera says. “He did it so gently, so patiently. It was so personal to use this case to help me, to really understand His grace and love for me. It’s just amazing.”

For now, Higuera is busy not only with ensuring laws like the FACT Act stay unwritten and unpassed, but also settling into new motherhood.

Her hopes for Nyla, meanwhile, are fairly standard: To grow up knowing Christ, fulfilled, within a supportive community.

But Higuera does have another small dream for her second child.

“How beautiful would it be if she becomes a lawyer and can say, ‘Even when I was in the womb, I was in the courtroom, fighting for life?’”

Just like her mama.


Originally published in the January 2017 issue of Citizen magazine.





2018: Time to Gain Ground

Elections have consequences and for years, Christians (especially those of us in California!!!) have borne the brunt of a progressive, anti-Christian onslaught that has undermined our moral and ethical commitments to life, marriage and religious freedoms. But as we eclipse the one-year anniversary of the Trump Administration, believers have something to celebrate as the consequences are finally swinging our way. That message was recently underscored when the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new division protecting the conscience rights of medical professionals who oppose abortion, physician-assisted suicide and other treatments that clash with their religious beliefs. The department will crack down on government coercion, reversing a heavy-handed Obama regime known for forcing nuns to pay for contraception through insurance.

Coupled with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court and other conservative federal judges, Christian conservatives have plenty to cheer about. Even so, now is not the time to rest. Now is the time to gain ground!!!

Unfortunately, while the Obama administration is gone, many bureaucratic policymakers who share his worldview remain. Dubbed the “deep state,” the movement involves government insiders who work underground, pushing their own progressive agenda, often undermining elected officials. While dismissed by many as “conspiracy theories,” recent headlines point to its validity. Among them are the current reports of politicized FBI officials working against the Trump administration and the 2013 IRS scandal involving the IRS targeting of conservative groups (including Advocates for Faith & Freedom and some of our board members, which were also “conveniently” audited by the IRS state bar and board of equalization).

What is happening today is just the tip of the iceberg and they are not going to give up their hateful assault on all we hold dear. In many ways, they feel emboldened by a majority whose values they despise.

In other arenas, primarily in the legislature and judiciary, the attacks on our faith are not so subtle, impacting a wide swath of society: churches, schools, businesses, insurance and healthcare.  Advocates for Faith & Freedom receives calls regularly from faith-based leaders who find themselves in a legal or non-compliance predicament. As a result, we are partnering with other Christian professionals to host “Emerging Trends 2018,” a series of free, informational seminars throughout Southern California. Our vision is to equip pastors, church administrators, Christian business owners and ministry leaders to avoid these risks.

In California, where government has stripped most pro-family protections, the anti-Christian mindset is expanding to include industry associations such as state bars and medical boards, which are amending professional ethics to target Christian ministries and businesses. One of their goals is to saddle us with time and cost-consuming defense through the legal system in an effort to wear us down.

The good news is we can be proactive, which is at the heart of these seminars. Our presenters provide practical strategies to help deflect challenges by the government and lawsuits by anti-Christian organizations and individuals, who are increasingly “shopping” around for opportunities to silence Christian values and voices. Seminar topics range from ministry governance to insurance and risk management to cultural concerns.

In this relentless battle to defend our biblical values and religious liberties, Advocates for Faith & Freedom and Tyler & Bursch, LLP are working together to equip our Christian brothers and sisters with the full armor of God.

Your faithful prayers and generous financial support are greatly appreciated. 

 Now is definitely the time to gain ground! 

Judicial Whirlwind is a Positive Sign for 2018 and Beyond...

Whew!! 2017 has been a whirlwind of activity with President Trump winding down his inaugural year in office. Lost behind many of the sensational headlines and storylines has been a record-setting year of judicial appointments that will help to shape our culture not only in 2018 and into the 2020 mid-terms, but also for years to come. The future looks bright for those of us who embrace our God-ordained religious freedoms.

Making good on one of his central campaign promises, President Trump has already seen 12 of his federal appeals court nominations, a record for first-year presidential appointments. The previous record was 11 by Presidents Kennedy and Nixon. The conservative nominees all solidly embrace the U.S. Constitution; no revisionists among them. In addition to their conservative philosophies, many of Trump’s appointments are young enough that their influence will be entrenched in American law for decades to come!

But even though the president has been operating at a record pace, there is still a tremendous backlog of judicial vacancies.

Many of Trump’s nominations are being held up by Democrats who are trying to obstruct his presidential prerogative to appoint judges. Such is the case in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court, which governs the western

U.S. The 9th Circuit, the most liberal—and overturned appellate court in the country—has four vacancies (three of which have been vacant a year, the fourth for two years) with two more coming in 2018. The vacancies include a seat in California, as well as Arizona, Hawaii, and Oregon.

Despite the desperate need to fill those seats, Trump’s nomination to fill the Oregon seat has been stalled by politics. The highly qualified nominee, Ryan Bounds, has been awaiting confirmation for three months while Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley try to use procedural grounds to block the appointment.

In addition to the appeals court, federal district courts in California (the central and southern divisions), have seven existing vacancies, with one more coming Dec. 31. Nominees have yet to be named to those positions. We believe the make-up of the nation’s district courts is absolutely critical because they hear roughly 60,000 cases annually. In addition, nominees to the appellate court are often culled from the ranks of the district courts.

Although there are no current vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court—thanks to Neil Gorsuch’s April confirmation—most experts anticipate that Trump may have the opportunity to appoint at least two justices with the long rumored-retirements of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal, and Anthony Kennedy, a moderate who frequently casts the tie-breaking vote.

The judicial composition of these courts is particularly crucial in California where the legislature is overwhelmingly liberal. Often the only recourse we have in protecting religious liberties is through the court system, which has systematically eroded to the left. As a result, the greatest legacy of the Trump Administration could be his efforts to remake the courts.

As we head into 2018 with a watchful eye toward promising judicial appointments, Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s attorneys are diligently working on several court cases that have significant ramifications for religious freedom:

The Scharpen Foundation v. Kamala Harris against CA AB775  In October, Advocates’ attorneys successfully argued before a Riverside County Superior Court Judge that California’s Reproductive FACT Act infringes on constitutional free speech by compelling pregnancy care centers to engage in speech that is contrary to their spiritual beliefs. The state will likely appeal.

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra The Supreme Court has agreed to hear this sister case to Scharpen.  We are working closely with NIFLA’S lead counsel because of valuable research we uncovered during our preparations on the Sharpen suit. That information will likely influence the High Court.

Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v. Riverside County  Our client maintains the city of Temecula violated federal law (RLUIPA) by denying the church’s permit to expand its existing facility on its own land within the wine country. Earlier this month we filed our notice of appeal to the 9th Circuit.

We have also supported several other high profile lawsuits by filing Amicus Briefs:
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Colorado baker Jack Phillips is being sued for discrimination for refusing to decorate a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 5. Our brief is filed on behalf of a notable constitutional law school professor.
Arlene's Flowers v.  State of Washington  Similarly, flower shop owner Barronelle Stutzman declined to create floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex wedding.  Stutzman lost her case in Washington. Our brief is filed on behalf of a notable constitutional law school professor.
California, et al. v. Hargan, et al.   California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is challenging to overturn President Trump’s executive order partially removingObama-era mandate that all insurance policies cover contraceptives. Trump’s order exempts employers who object on religious grounds.  Our brief is filed on behalf of American Center for Law and Justice.

When you consider your year-end or year-round charitable giving, please remember Advocates for Faith & Freedom with a tax-deductible donation.

While we remain grateful that your faithful prayers continue to encourage us through these court battles, without your financial generosity, we would not be able to continue to work on pro bono cases that uphold our Christian beliefs.

Happy New Year & God bless you, Robert Tyler General Counsel

Pro-Life Lawyer Finds Redemption and Hope

We won again!And I have a riveting story that underlies this significant case that thwarted the abortion industry. I hope you will read through this inspiring newsletter. First, the Riverside Superior Court judge ordered the State Attorney General to CEASE the enforcement of the California’s Reproductive FACT Act in the case we filed for The Scharpen Foundation.


The Scharpen Foundation operates Go Mobile for Life, a licensed mobile medical pregnancy clinic in California. The transportable clinic parks in public places offering women free ultrasounds, resources, pregnancy counseling and post-abortion counseling.

The Reproductive FACT Act challenges our client’s mission to provide life-affirming options to women facing unplanned pregnancies.  The state law requires nonprofit pregnancy care clinics to advertise for abortions by giving women a county phone number where they can call and get a referral for a free or low-cost abortion.

The judge agreed that this law violates our client’s right to free speech under the California and U.S. Constitutions!


Let’s now rewind to 2015 when I presented this case to our staff of attorneys. Nada Higuera, a first generation Palestinian-American volunteered to work on this case—the epitome of a David versus Goliath battle.

Raised in Islam, Nada became a Christian and now serves as an attorney in our firm defending religious liberties and promoting Christian causes. However, this case was particularly important to Nada.

Nada had an abortion as a teen. When she was just six or seven years old, Nada was sexually assaulted by a family friend—a man in his fifties. The abuse continued for years, and Nada—too afraid to tell her parents and too young to understand what was happening—remained silent. Her abuser told her to keep quiet, and she remained in fearful silence.

“I was a pacifist and didn’t want to cause problems,” Nada said. “I just never had the courage to say anything. I was very confused.”

At 16 years old, Nada found herself pregnant by her abuser after she had purchased a pregnancy test at the grocery store. She knew she could not keep the pregnancy a secret. Nada told her sister, who relayed the information to her parents. Without a second thought, the family agreed that Nada would get an abortion. Her dad and sister drove her to an abortion facility in Modesto, California.

“I felt like an empty shell,” Nada recalled. “I wasn’t really there. I remember the abortion was government funded. It was so easy and it was done. There was no talk about adoption. There was no sonogram that you saw. It was just this really seamless, easy process.”

After the abortion, Nada said she felt relieved because the abuse was over. She continued with her life, went to college, and then pursued her career. It was not until she came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in her early twenties that she realized the gravity of what had occurred. Nada said at first, she experienced deep guilt and sorrow, but as her newfound faith grew, so did her understanding of God’s grace and forgiveness.

 “It was only when I became a Christian that I started understanding the impact of what I had done,” Nada said. “I had taken a human life, and it was a baby made in the image of God. I knew once I became a Christian, that I was forgiven for that.” But her emotional pain did not just go away.


Nada is seeing how God is using our client’s case to help her heal from her abortion, and to bring healing to others. She hopes her story will help women who have faced sexual assault or have had an abortion. “To women who are feeling shame or unforgiveness, I want to be able to help them if I can,” Nada said. “There’s hope and redemption. God is amazing.”


Nada said it is crucial that the rights of pro-life individuals are protected and that governments are not allowed to strong-arm citizens into violating their conscience. “Life is a gift from God,” Nada said. “Even from the beginning, we need to protect it and nurture it.”

Little did any of us know the impact this case would have on us as a staff, our clients, and especially, Nada. But God knew and orchestrated this entire case—every last detail— for His glory!


Nada argued our case as she was nearly nine months pregnant! And Nada came off maternity-leave to argue the case at trial before the court. On September 9, 2017, she and her husband welcomed their daughter into the world.

The case will now be appealed by the Attorney General in the state appeals court. Meanwhile, our sister case in federal court is being briefed for the U.S. Supreme Court where we will be filing an amicus brief advising the High Court of our state court victory. It should certainly have a significant impact on the success in that case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

We can’t fight the state without your financial help!  We have a lot of work yet to accomplish and every gift—large or small—helps us in our battle to preserve life, speech and our God-given freedoms. Please support Nada and our work with a financial gift as God may lead you. 

Celebrating 12 Years - Serving Courageous Christians In Their Fight For Religious Liberty

“Who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions...” Hebrews 11:33 (ESV)

Dear Friends,

Since our founding 12 years ago, thousands of courageous Christians have partnered with Advocates for Faith & Freedom in the fight for religious liberties and to end the tyranny against Christianity. You may remember a few of our cases from over the years where, through God’s blessings, your faithful prayers and generous financial support, we have been victorious for His kingdom!

Pearlie Jenkins and Healing Hearts Outreach Ministry took on the Memphis Housing Authority!  Standing for free assembly and exercise of religion in 2007 when her Bible study was banned from her retirement home, Pearlie contacted Advocates.  Just 3 days after our complaint was sent, the MHA not only decided to permit the Bible study, they also adopted a policy protecting the religious liberties of all the residents!

High School student Chad Farnan “stood up for Jesus” against his teacher and the entire Capistrano Valley Unified School District!  In 2007, Chad exposed his teacher’s frequent hostility in the classroom towards religion and in particular, Christianity—once telling his students that, “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”  With the help of Advocates’ attorneys, in the first case of this type, a Federal Court initially found that some of the teacher’s comments of violated the Establishment Clause!

With a desire to bring “spiritual revival to a depressed area,” Lake Elsinore Christian Center and Pastor Jim Hilbrant fought City Hall...and won!  When City officials denied the church a building permit, they sought our help in the first-ever case of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). In 2007, after a seven-year battle that was pending at the U.S.  Supreme Court, the City of Lake Elsinore settled, paying the church $1,205,000, in a precedent-setting victory for religious land use protection for churches all across the nation! In 2008, Superior Court employee Mindy Barlow and her group’s six-year-long, lunch-time Bible study meetings were suddenly no longer allowed, while other groups were still permitted, so she contacted Advocates to file a complaint on her behalf.  Ms. Barlow “just wanted the judicial system to… apply the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.”  The Superior Court’s Administration agreed to settle, permitting Ms. Barlow and the Bible study group to resume their access to the free exercise of religion in the courthouse facilities!

In December 2013, two brave first-graders won the war on Christmas by fighting against religious bullying and intimidation in their schools!  Little Isaiah Martinez was not allowed to share a Christmas legend with his classmates about a candy-maker who created candy canes to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ.  His West Covina school teacher told him, “Jesus isn’t allowed in school.” After we filed a Federal Lawsuit, the School District agreed to craft a new district policy that accommodates religious liberties at all of its campuses!

That same month, Brynn Williams’ Temecula Valley school teacher prevented her from completing her class assignment to share her family’s Christmas tradition.  As she began describing the Bethlehem Star from atop her family’s Christmas tree, before she could quote John 3:16, her teacher interrupted with, “Stop right there! Go take your seat!” She later explained, in front of the entire class, that talking about the Bible or sharing its verses was not allowed in school. After receiving Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s demand letter, asking for an apology, the School District agreed to allow Brynn to complete her speech in her class and provide First Amendment training to its staff!

We are honored to have partnered with these inspiring Christian soldiers who have stood in the gap with us in the fight to protect and defend religious liberty across our nation. Because of your support, we have been able to represent all of these individuals without charge!

Advocates for Faith & Freedom has grown over the years and we now have eight Christian attorneys! Through their hard work, time and sacrifice, Advocates for Faith & Freedom is making a difference in our laws and culture!

But there is more work to do! We ask for your continued prayers and are thankful for your tax-deductible support for three important, precedent-setting court cases that we are litigating today:

  • The Scharpen Foundation v. CA Attorney General - defending free speech and the sanctity of life. We had a victory at our hearing in State Superior Court - October 30, 2017!
  • Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v. the County of Riverside - defending their religious land use rights. We are awaiting Riverside County Superior Court Judge’s decision by November 9, 2017.
  • Chino Valley Unified School District v. Freedom From Religion Foundation - defending the right to ceremonial prayer before school board meetings under the Establishment Clause. The judge will hear our oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal on November 8, 2017.

We are grateful for your ongoing support of our vital ministry. Through God’s blessings, your continued prayers and your tax-deductible gifts, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will continue to be a strong Christian voice for justice in the courts!

  In His Service,
 Robert Tyler General Counsel

Historical Bible Banished from our Nation's Library

On my recent visit to Washington D.C, I was told that scores of historical books describing America’s Christian heritage have been ousted from our Nation’s library! For centuries the Library of Congress has collected and displayed millions of documents, books, artwork and other artifacts of our Judeo-Christian history. Established in 1800 to provide Congress historical documentation for the making of laws, the LOC is the world’s foremost repository of American history.

Even the architecture—particularly in the Main Vestibule of the Library’s historic Thomas Jefferson Building—symbolizes the legacy of our Christian roots. But while on a tour of the library, I was more struck by what was missing, than what was there.

Our guide, Dr. Catherine Millard, president and historian for Christian Heritage Ministries, told me that over several decades, countless books, many of them historical works celebrating our religious history, have simply disappeared from the General Collection - the library’s primary public access area. They are typically labeled either missing in inventory or charged to the Rare Book Collection and stored in a special vault.

She’s been tracking the books’ disappearances since the 1980’s! Much of her work, including more than 20 years as a researcher and writer at the LOC, is contained  in    her   book,  “The   Rewriting  of   America’s History,” originally published in 1991, updated in 2011. Certain  that  our  nation’s   Protestant   Christian history  has  been  targeted, she  told  me, “There has been a Library of Congress onslaught on removing the nation's true historic origins, hence, identity, from public view.”

Dr. Millard is convinced the literary exodus is not just a case of sloppy book keeping, but a deliberate attempt at revisionist history. Only four days after our tour, Dr. Millard was stunned to discover that the Giant   Bible of   Mainz - a 500 year-old, hand-written and illustrated Bible that, along with the Gutenberg Bible, had been on display for more than 50 years - has been removed.

When Dr. Millard inquired, she was told by the chief of the LOC’s Visitor Services Office that the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, had removed the historic Bible for renovation. However, we cannot find anyone who can tell us if or  when the Bible will ever be back on display.

However, we cannot find anyone who can tell us if or  when the Bible will ever be back on display.

Gayle Osterberg, the director of Communications for the LOC, told Dr. Millard that Hayden, an Obama appointee who was head of the Baltimore Public Library system, has ideas to modify the Main Vestibule to include hands-on, 21st century and “pop-up” exhibits that pay homage to current and cultural influences.

In June, 2017, one of those exhibits included a tribute to “Pride in the Library," featuring items from the library's extensive “LGBTQ-Plus” collections. Since thousands of students visit the Library of Congress every month, what better way to promote the left’s public school agenda? Dr. Millard calls this action an affront to Christian families!

In a June 2016 Daily Signal article, Concerned Women for America voiced their displeasure with Hayden’s far-left radical activism.

Of Hayden’s ideological agenda and obvious lack of qualifications, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Hans von Spakovsky said, “That’s not what the Library of Congress is all about.” It’s the foremost cultural institution of the U.S. government, and that’s why we’ve had renowned scholars in this position.”

With what I’ve been told, I share Dr. Millard’s urgent concern for the integrity of our nation’s Library.  Maybe it’s time for President Trump to appoint a new Librarian of Congress who will respect our Christian Heritage.

If you’d like to help Advocates for Faith & Freedom get this priceless Giant Bible of Mainz back on display and fight this attack on our spiritual heritage, please let your voice be heard!

To exert pressure on the Committee on House Administration please call 202-225-8281 or send an easy form email to the committee members from their website at Public pressure has worked in the past. In 1990, the missing 1847 family Bible belonging to Abraham Lincoln was found after Dr. Millard doggedly pressed Library officials on its whereabouts.

Just as Dr. Millard’s objective is to preserve the truth about our Christian history in Washington D.C., Advocates for Faith & Freedom is fighting to protect our religious liberties in our courts.

Please partner with us with a tax deductable donation of $10, $100, $250, or more.   We are grateful for your generosity and thankful for your prayers!

Pastors Disrupt D.C.!

Dear Friends, If you follow us on Facebook and receive our Advocates In Action emails, you’ve heard about my recent trip to Washington, D.C.  Advocates for Faith & Freedom was honored to be a sponsor of Church United’s Awakening Tour for California pastors.

Church United’s founder, Pastor Jim Domen, admits his purpose is to “disrupt” California pastors and bring a revival to the churches of California. And I believe a sense of revival is about to happen!

Over 150 pastors and influential church leaders from across the state came together in May to accept the challenge to pray for our politicians, pray for revival and to respond to the spiritual issues that threaten our communities.  At least 28 of these pastors are affiliated with Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s ministry!

Everyone prayed for an awakening in the Church!

Church United arranged for most pastors to meet with their own congressional representatives to pray with them and for them.  Most of the politicians were extremely encouraged by their visit from the pastors. God definitely had His hand in the connection made between the pastors and their elected officials!

The pastors were encouraged by so many Christian congressmen and senators who boldly warned that revival won’t come from Washington D.C., but will be flamed in our local churches. After all, California is the birthplace of some of our most significant revivals like Azusa Street and the Calvary Chapel “Jesus People” movement.  The pastors came in unity from the inner-city to the suburbs, from democrat to republican, from orthodox to charismatic, from rich to poor. It was an amazing symbol of a “church united” in the heart of our Nation’s capital.

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, House of Representatives Leader Kevin McCarthy, Freedom Caucus Chairman Congressman Mark Meadows, Congressman Mike Johnson, CA State Senator Mike Morrell, and many more spoke with a conviction that called on these pastors to find the courage to speak from the pulpit and the public square with faith and without fear! All Believers, some were even former pastors who said they never aspired to run for public office, but seeing the decline of our country’s religious and moral character, they are now giving a voice to America’s Christians who feel they’ve been forgotten by their government.

I was blessed to have had the opportunity to share with these pastors about Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s ministry. Simply put, we exist to defend their First Amendment right to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, inspired by the hope of revival and the unity they shared, here is what these pastors had to say…

So, what can you do to help inspire this united message of hope for California and our country? Please pass this newsletter on to your own pastors and encourage them to contact us about attending the next Pastors’ Awakening Tour in Washington, D.C. You can also contact Church United directly at

As Advocates for Faith & Freedom continues our fight in the courts for you and your church’s right to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, won’t you partner with us with your prayers of support? And won’t you consider sending a tax-deductible gift of $25, $100, $250 or more?

Thank you for your generous support, which allows us to continue our ministry in law and our partnership with other ministries like Church United!

They Sued Chino Valley Unified for Freedom of Religion! Really?

We filed a major brief on April 26, 2017 in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal in our defense of Chino Valley Unified School District and its longstanding policy that allows an opening prayer before its public school board meetings. The School District became the target of a federal lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an aggressive, anti-religion organization based in Wisconsin.

After losing in the lower court, the School Board approached our lawyers to take over their defense.  Our lawyers at Tyler & Bursch now represent the School District in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal. Advocates for Faith & Freedom is raising the funds to underwrite this very expensive and nationally significant case and we need your financial support.

Would you partner with Advocates for Faith & Freedom with your tax-deductable donation for our pro-bono defense of the School District?

This case is so important that we asked some of our friends and colleagues to file amicus briefs/friend of the court briefs. Jay Sekelow of American Center for Law and Justice, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, and Freedom, Law and Religious Practitioners have all filed supporting briefs. Many more are likely to be filed.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims that the School District’s policy of allowing prayer before its public board meetings violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Without your support and our strategic defense, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s radical view of the First Amendment will become the law of the land.

The lower court initially sided with the Freedom From Religion Foundation and ordered the School District to stop the invocations before board meetings. Our appeal seeks to reverse the lower court.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled 5-4 in Town of Greece v. Galloway that opening City Council meetings with prayer does

not violate the Establishment Clause, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The U.S. Supreme Court also held that legislative prayer is considered to have “historical precedent” and “lends gravity to public business, reminds lawmakers to transcend petty differences in pursuit of a higher purpose, and expresses a common aspiration to a just and peaceful society.”

Because of your enormous outpouring of prayers and generous financial support, I think it’s important to share more excerpts from our brief, so you can read what was actually cited and submitted to the court. You can also view our entire 70 page brief. Here are a few excerpts from our brief:

The prayers offered at the start of the Board of Education meetings were constitutionally permissible, legislative prayers under Marsh and Town of Greece. The District Court held that the Marsh/Town of Greece legislative prayer exception does not apply to school boards…. The district court erred. The line of cases concerning prayers at school do not apply to opening prayers at the Board of Education meetings because those prayers are constitutionally permissible legislative-prayers.

. . . .

           The Legislative prayer exception was established for State Legislatures and “other deliberative bodies”. These “ceremonial” prayers were simply a “recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government to alter or define. . . .”

. . . .

The Supreme Court extended the Legislative prayer exception to local legislative bodies. “In Marsh, the Nebraska state legislature opened each session with a prayer. Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 784-85 (1983). A citizen sued, claiming the practice violated the Establishment Clause. Id. at 785. Relying on the “deeply embedded” history and tradition of our country, the Supreme Court held that the practice of allowing opening prayers for a legislative body or “other deliberative public bodies” did not violate the Establishment Clause. Id. at 786, 795. Indeed, the Court found that the Framers of the Constitution “did not consider opening prayers as a proselytizing activity or as symbolically placing the government’s official seal of approval on one religious view. . . . Rather, the Founding Fathers looked at invocations as ‘conduct whose . . . effect . . . harmonized with the tenets of some or all religions.” Id. at 792 (quoting McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 442 (1961).)”

. . . .

“The Supreme Court in Marsh and Town of Greece found that prayers before deliberative public bodies are Constitutional legislative prayers to which the traditional Lemon test [a three-part test  put  forward  in  Lemon v. Kurtzman which is used to assess whether a law violates the Establishment Clause] does not apply.”

. . . .

“The Fifth Circuit recently held that prayers delivered by elementary and middle school students during the ceremonial portion of school board meetings do not violate the Establishment Clause. The Fifth Circuit reasoned that school boards are deliberative public bodies to which the legislative prayer exception applies.” At the strategic guidance of Tyler & Bursch’s lawyers, the Chino Valley Unified School District board members have wisely agreed to amend its policies to restrict some of the more controversial comments of board members during public meetings and to focus this appeal solely on the constitutionality of allowing a ceremonial prayer at the beginning of school board meetings.

We are confident that we will prevail with the appeal, whether at the Ninth Circuit or before the U.S. Supreme Court. We’re fighting for invocations; something that’s been going on since the founding of our country. That is why this case is of utmost importance to religious liberty in our country.

There is no other country in the world whose morals and laws are influenced more by Christian values than ours. But, those principles are being silenced by extreme groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation.

As always, Tyler & Bursch and Advocates for Faith & Freedom offer our services pro bono in protecting religious liberty in order to confront these anti-Christian organizations.

If you are able, your tax-deductable gift to Advocates for Faith & Freedom for $25, $50, $100 …or more, will allow us to continue to fight these court battles and ensure we remain free to believe, worship, and pray in this “one nation under God.” God bless you for your generosity, your faithfulness, and your prayers.


Legal Update

  • Also known as Go Mobile For Life, The Scharpen Foundation is challenging Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California on California’s "Reproductive FACT Act" which compels Christian-based, pro-life clinics to post a notice advising the women they serve that free or low cost abortions are available, along with where they can be obtained and a phone number. The judge in this case is expected to issue a preliminary written decision any day now and we look forward to presenting our evidence in a full trial to prove discrimination of pro-life clinics statewide. Through litigation, we have uncovered covert discrimination. The law purports to apply to thousands of licensed medical clinics. But after exemptions, it really only applies to approximately 82 pro-life organizations!


  • In a unique, two-pronged strategy, as Advocates for Faith & Freedom argues for the Scharpen Foundation in Superior Court, we are concurrently awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in the Living Well Medical Clinic case (sister case to Scharpen) as to whether the High Court will accept our federal case for review, challenging California’s anti-life law.


  • If you’ll remember, in the free speech VICTORY of Mackey v. Meyer, three federal appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit issued a final ruling in favor of a Christian man who was unlawfully arrested for reading the Bible aloud in front of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Having won our appeal in the Ninth Circuit, the CHP settled and agreed to pay $10,000 to our client! We will now file a motion to recover attorney fees to support future cases.  
  • Instead of making a final ruling in April on the religious land use case of Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship County of Riverside the U.S. District court hearing resulted in the judge asking both sides to submit additional briefing on specific issues. Based on the oral arguments at the April hearing, we’re optimistic that we will persuade the judge to rule in our favor at our final hearing in August, and that he will find that Riverside County’s zoning ordinance unlawfully discriminates against churches.


  • Church United, an organization whose purpose is to reach California pastors with the message to be bold in proclaiming a Biblical worldview to their congregations, has invited me to join them along with 170 plus pastors on their fully-sponsored trip to Washington, DC. Our goal is to encourage and support those courageous pastors who no longer wish to stay silent about the moral and ethical issues facing our culture today.

Can California Ban Moral Standards of Religious Employers? They're Trying!

Should a church be allowed to remove a high school youth pastor from his position if he coerced his pregnant girlfriend to get an abortion? What if the youth pastor was female, pregnant and unmarried? Today, church leaders have the ability to take the appropriate employment action that they believe is best in that situation. I suspect that you agree that the First Amendment protects the church’s right to make the best decision that the leaders see fit for that particular situation based on their religious beliefs.

But the California Legislature will soon decide whether the church is capable of making the right decision. If passed, AB 569 would outlaw the right of religious organizations, including churches, pro-life organizations, non-profits and Christian colleges to maintain employment standards regarding “reproductive health.” These are just liberal code words for abortion and birth control.

What if a Catholic nun became pregnant by a priest and later had a partial birth abortion? Will the California legislature really have the nerve to tell the Catholic Church that the church has no ability to take appropriate disciplinary action?

Assembly Bill 569 stomps on religious freedom by forbidding religious organizations from requiring that their employees maintain the moral standards taught by the individual organization.

We will certainly oppose the legislation and encourage you to do the same.

ACTION ITEM: It is absolutely vital that members of the Assembly hear your concerns. To see if your Assemblymember is on the committee, click here. To find your Assemblymember and contact information, click here.


         At the end of February, I was invited by Jim Domen of Church United, to participate in a briefing with pastors at the California State Capitol. We met with numerous politicians to pray with them in the Capitol Building. I was honored to have the opportunity to provide a legal briefing and to encourage the pastors to engage in today’s culture.


Litigation Update           Reproductive Fact Act Lawsuit: You may recall that we are aggressively challenging this abusive law that requires pro-life licensed medical clinics to post a notice to patients in the waiting room or in the clinic’s intake paperwork. The notice states that free and low cost family planning services and abortions are available by calling a particular phone number. Last week, along with our co-counsel at the ACLJ, we filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to accept our case for review after the Ninth Circuit ruled that forcing this speech on pro-life organizations is not unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, on April 6, 2017, we will be in the California State Superior Court where we are taking a second strategic path of litigation against the California Attorney General’s Office. We have uncovered important evidence that will help us prove discrimination by exempting most all other that the State engaged in viewpoint licensed clinics from the law. Our case will either be dismissed by the court or set for trial. Please pray that we receive a fair hearing and favor before the state court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Our cost of litigating these cases are significant and we urgently need your support so that we can continue to battle to protect the unborn and our First Amendment right to free speech and free exercise of religion - all in the same litigation.