Friends in Ministry....You are Invited to "Emerging Trends" a Critical Conference for Ministries!

Dear Friend in Ministry,

For many of our ministries, our legal and social world is constantly in flux, and they are having trouble keeping up with everything. We believe we can help!

You're invited to join us at Azusa Pacific University in Murrieta for this FREE conference to hear from ministry-focused experts about the ever-changing risks of running a ministry and how new, emerging trends will affect ministries of all sizes in 2018 and beyond.

This critical operations conference for church administrators and ministry leaders is a must for those looking for real-world solutions as they work to further the Kingdom.

You'll hear more about how to handle:

  • Ministry Governance
  • Insurance
  • Sexual Harassment
  • TrumpCare & its Affect on ObamaCare
  • Cyber & Digital Security
  • Managing Emerging Risk
  • Finance and IRS Best Practices
  • Employment Best Practices
  • Counseling Liability
  • Navigating Cultural Change
  • and more!

Mark your calendar for Thursday, May 31, 2018, from 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and meet us at Azusa Pacific University in Murrieta for this exclusive-to-ministry event.  Lunch is included.

If you would like more information, please feel free to contact Desaré Ferraro at dferraro@tylerbursch.com or call (951) 600-2733.

In His Service, Robert Tyler General Counsel

Please feel free to forward to invite a friend in ministry.

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.

 

 

 

 

Your Prayers Were Heard...All the Way to the U.S. Supreme Court!

There’s so much good to report!

At Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing about free speech, life, and religious liberty, the question was whether a law passed in California could force pro-life clinics and crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for the state’s free abortion program… in up to 13 languages, no less!

Although a lawsuit to stop the statute was struck down by the Ninth Circuit, you may recall back in October 2017, Tyler & Bursch’s pro bono attorneys, with funding from Advocates for Faith & Freedom, prevailed against this law on Free Speech grounds in Riverside County Superior Court in Scharpen Foundation v. Kamala Harris.

Still, California’s Attorney General persisted on defending this discriminatory law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where non-profit legal defense law firms from across the country took the lead.  Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s research and amicus brief played a significant role in its opposition and was mentioned by three Justices at Tuesday’s hearing.

According to the Daily Signal, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether an unlicensed center ran a billboard that read “Choose Life,” would it have to include the disclosure in the same font and in multiple languages? Wouldn’t that be an undue burden?”

A Courthouse News Service article quoted both Justice Alito and Justice Gorsuch.  “If you have a law that’s neutral on its face, but… when you apply all the exemptions, what you’re left with is a very strange pattern, and, gee, it turns out that just about the only clinics that are covered by this [law] are pro-life clinics,” Alito said. “Do you think it’s possible to infer intentional discrimination in that situation?”

While Justice Neil Gorsuch commented that the California law required pregnancy centers to “do the state’s job” at a significant cost to what Advocates for Faith & Freedom’sresearch set out to prove, are mostly nonprofit, pro-life facilities. “Well, but if you’re trying to educate a class of persons about their rights, it’s pretty unusual to force a private speaker to do that for you under the First Amendment,” Gorsuch said.

Commenting right after leaving the Supreme Court hearing with our client, Scott Scharpen, Tyler & Bursch attorney, Robert Tyler was optimistic, saying, “Based on the arguments, it certainly appears that victory is awaiting!”

Unlike Planned Parenthood, non-profit crisis pregnancy centers exist to support women who face difficult or unplanned pregnancies and receive no money or support from the government.  It was apparent the Justices recognized the state’s majority pro-abortion lawmakers targeted these groups.

It was only through your prayers and financial support that Advocates was able to contribute the research and provide the pro bono legal services that we feel certain made a big difference in this case!

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me. ~ Psalm 66:20 (NLT)

Will You Buy a Box of Girl Scout Cookies?

 In our neighborhoods, young Girl Scouts and their mothers are setting up cookie sales tables outside local grocery and retail stores.  Teenage members of a church girls’ youth group offer these traditional family-favorites for sale from a colorful Girl Scout cookie booth in the church courtyard after Sunday service.

But, several years ago, an uncomfortable rumor began circulating over social media that a portion of Girl Scout cookie sale proceeds was donated to Planned Parenthood. Girl Scouts of America denies this rumor and says that no proceeds from cookie sales have ever been donated to Planned Parenthood.

Their official statement is, “Girl Scouts does not take a position on abortion or birth control. We believe these are matters that are best discussed within the family.” We’re good with that statement.

It was also rumored that Girl Scouts of America promotes and supports organizations with less than Christian social values, so raising money for them goes against our principles. Although local Girl Scout troops will tell you that one hundred percent of the net revenue raised through their cookie sales stays with them. The individual troops set goals on how to spend their proceeds.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." ~ Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

          The girls may choose entertainment or educational activities or outings such as paying their own way to a community event or museum. They might choose to use proceeds to participate in community service projects. Either way, it is a lesson in planning, work ethic, and financial responsibility.  And those are Christian values, so we’re good with that.
           We did find that the Girl Scouts of America does have a legislative agenda.  According to their website, one of their goals is increasing girls’ involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). We’re good with that, too.

In a world where social media has turned just about everything into a negative, political argument - and where young people are retreating to their bedrooms, TV, and computers -  perhaps, as Christians, we could take a step back, allow these girls their childhood, and offer prayers and support for these cheerful, hard-working little entrepreneurs.
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." ~ Mathew 6:34 (NIV)
The hardest part for us will be choosing between Thin Mints, Do-si-dos, Peanut Butter Patties, and Samoas!  What are your thoughts?
 As Advocates for Faith & Freedom continues the fight for the future of religious liberty in our courts in cases involving life, Christians' rights of conscience, parental rights, free speech, and more, we are very appreciative of your faithful prayers and your donations of support.  And, if you or anyone you know believes their constitutional rights have been denied, please contact us. We are here for you!      

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! 

As Long As They Continue Their Attack, Advocates Will Continue To Fight!

Nationally, pro-life and religious liberty protections are strengthening.  Yet, with bills like AB569 that ban Christian employers from requiring their employees to be pro-life in practice (as well as adhere to other biblical values), and laws like AB775 that required pro-life birth clinics to advertise for abortion services, California is ground zero for promoting anti-Christian policies through legislation.

Struggling against their own antithetical rhetoric, they voted to remove the requirement to provide one’s biological gender on birth certificates and drivers licenses while, at the same time, declaring anyone who does not believe in their version of global warming a “science denier.”

California’s liberal legislators have become not only an arm, but a hand and a mouth for left-wing special interest groups. That’s why Advocates for Faith & Freedom is working hard to counter their anti-constitutional, anti-Christian alliances and policies. Below are three important cases we have been fighting on behalf of religious liberty.

Free speech Advocates attorneys are working side-by-side with other legal organizations by sharing our research from our success on the Scharpen case, submitting an Amicus brief, and more, for the NIFLA v. Becerra case, which will be argued before the High Court on March 20, 2018.

Religious land use On March 22, 2018, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will submit the opening brief on appeal in the Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship religious land use (RLUIPA) case.

Religious expression Asked to represent Chino Valley Unified School District in their appeal involving opening school board meetings with an invocation prayer, Advocates for Faith & Freedom gave oral arguments in November 2017 and we’re awaiting the judge’s decision.

As you can see, these cases can sometimes take years to defend and the court fees are costly. Partnering with us in prayer, along with your financial support is important to our success in every case!

“The righteous shall flourish… in courts of our God.” Psalm 92:12-13 NIV

              The good news is that we know God is in charge, so as long as anti-Christian organizations and lawmakers in California continue their attack on religious liberties, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will continue to defend the constitutional rights of Christians.

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

Planned Parenthood May Finally Face Criminal Charges

Planned Parenthood has long been a foe of pro-life supporters. While it claims to approach each situation without bias and have women’s best interest at heart, the real purpose of this taxpayer-funded, nonprofit organization is to make abortion easy and common. It tells young girls their decision to abort their baby is “sensible” and “acceptable.” In summer 2015, however, shocking videos incriminating Planned Parenthood staff with selling fetal tissue from abortions went viral—increasingly shattering their already fragile credibility.

The scandal started a string of investigations, but under Obama’s helm, little effort was made to determine whether or not the nonprofit, which donates heavily to Democrats, should face criminal charges.

In fact, more effort was made to investigate the Center for Medical Progress, the pro-life organization that exposed the disturbing undercover videos, rather than the actual purveyors of human baby parts. But with a new, Republican administration making changes in Washington, the tide could be turning for Planned Parenthood.

Last December, Senator Chuck Grassley(R) sent a report to Obama's Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then FBI Director James Comey. In the report, Grassley declares that the committee found “substantial evidence” pointing to the fact that Planned Parenthood violated the law that bans the buying or selling of human fetal tissue and he calls for their investigation and possible prosecution.

And this month, after an Orange County, California seller of these aborted baby body parts, DaVinci Biosciences/DV Biologics, settled for millions and closed its doors, we have good reason to believe Planned Parenthood is closer to being named in a lawsuit of its own.

Within the last few weeks, there have been reports of a possible FBI investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions and practices. When asked if findings by a Senate investigation could lead to the Justice Department bringing charges, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained that, depending on the substance of the evidence, it “could provide a basis for charges.”

Whether this investigation proves fruitful, we are grateful the current administration is continuing its thorough examination and uncovering of the unethical and possibly illegal practices of Planned Parenthood.

And yet, there are still so many battles to be fought and won in the courts, for our religious liberty.  We are grateful for your prayers of support! And when you think about your year-end charitable giving, please consider a tax-deductible contribution to our important ministry.  Without you, we would not be able to continue to work on pro bono cases that uphold our Christian beliefs, confident in the truth of God’s gospel and the supremacy of His ways.

Seller of Aborted Baby Body Parts Settles for Millions in SoCal

David Daleidin’s 2015 undercover videos showing high-level representatives of Planned Parenthood haggling over the purchase of aborted baby body parts shocked our nation.  Even supporters of Planned Parenthood couldn't help but be appalled.      Due to public outcry, a lengthy congressional investigation was launched in which it was discovered that a company in Yorba Linda, California, DaVinci Biosciences and its sister company, DV Biologics, were purchasing baby body parts from Planned Parenthood. It is a violation of both state and federal law to profit from the sale and distribution of fetal tissue.

It was also discovered that this aborted baby parts supplier was located right next door to a place of worship! This prompted a year-long prayer vigil by Catholics and Evangelicals at the Church of Grace, as pastors and individuals united in prayer over DV Biologics and the surrounding community.

In October 2016, Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackaukus, filed suit against DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics. The company founders and principals, Estefano Isaias Sr., Estefano Isaias Jr., and Andres Isaias, were also named in the suit.

To add to the depravity surrounding this case, further investigation revealed that the Isaias' were given the approval to immigrate to the United States after they donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

The case was set for trial in February 2018, but given the predicted outcome, was just settled this month.

Da Vinci Biosciences and DV Biologics have agreed to forfeit their profits of over $7 million dollars and are required to cease doing business within 60-120 days. The settlement also requires them to pay $195,000 to the County of Orange and to donate any remaining fetal tissue as well as their research and medical instruments to a medical school. The medical school has not yet been named.

This case is a striking reminder of the awesome power of prayer! And, as we continue our ministry of protecting life and religious liberties in the courts, Advocates for Faith & Freedom is so very grateful for yours!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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.