Texas Attorney General Releases Statement Supporting Justice of the Peace in Dispute with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
March 23, 2017) Montgomery County, Texas includes many of the suburbs north of the City of Houston in the Southeast part of the state. A Justice of the Peace there, Wayne Mack has a guest chaplain program. These volunteers offer support and counsel at the scene of death investigations. These volunteers are also called upon to lead a brief prayer at the beginning of Judge Mack’s court proceedings.
Last year Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick asked the Attorney General for a legal opinion on Judge Mack’s practices. It is worth noting that Lt. Governor Patrick has always enjoyed a large amount of support from Texas’ Pro Family/Christian Conservative movement. So it is likely that he requested the opinion to grant Judge Mack a degree of legal cover, not to stop the practices. In August of last year AG Paxton released opinion KP-0109. In this six page opinion AG Paxton held that Judge Mack’s actions were in line with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece V. Galloway, and other precedents, and therefore were not in violation of the state of federal constitutions.
On this past Tuesday March 21st. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against Judge Mack seeking to end his use of chaplains. Paxton responded the following day with an official statement saying
“Judge Mack is fully complying with the Constitution by adhering to the model for opening prayers the Supreme Court endorsed just a few years ago,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The Freedom from Religion Foundation’s quest to expunge any vestige of religion from public life flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s holdings. I am confident our courts will follow years of precedents and not indulge a litigious group’s plea to rewrite the Constitution.”
Shooting in San Bernardino: Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Chaplains Offer Hope and Comfort Following the Attack
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 3, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — As details continue to emerge following the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in the southern California city of San Bernardino, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been welcomed into the community by local authorities to provide emotional and spiritual care. The first chaplains arrived yesterday afternoon, hours after the tragedy.
At this time it is being reported that there are 14 fatalities, with 17 more injured. According to the Los Angeles Times, this is the deadliest mass-shooting in the United States since the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., nearly three years ago.
“I’m in California today, not far from San Bernardino where the mass shooting took place,” said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, on his Facebook page. “Please join me in praying right now for each one of the injured, the victims’ families, and the first responders in this ongoing crisis.”
Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, said, “Our hearts are broken for those who lost their lives, and particularly their families, following this shooting. We’re sending in a team to encourage the community, offering love, hope and support. A tragedy like this affects everybody.”
I have also learned that the California Fire Chaplains Association has at least two chaplains in the area-Pastor Crutchfield
The response to San Bernardino is the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s third shooting-related deployment since October. Chaplains were on-site at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Oct. 1, and just completed an internationally-coordinated effort to Paris following the terrorist attacks there on Nov. 13.
For more information on the ministry, including videos, photos, news articles and an interactive map of former and current deployments, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt. Updates can also be found at www.facebook.com/RRTChaplains.
About the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team:
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has since grown into a nationwide network of chaplains in 48 states who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 200 disaster sites, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.
By A Servant In Training
The Department of Defense spokesperson who made the comments backtracked in a new statement Thursday that explained, “Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”
“Members of our military should not be denied the very freedoms they fight to defend. Freedom of religion and speech are paramount among those freedoms,” said Legal Counsel Joseph La Rue. “We appreciate the Pentagon’s clarification, but little or no evidence exists of coercive proselytization in the military, so we are still troubled over what motivated the original comments.”
“We wish to ensure that the Pentagon does not deny members of the armed services the basic freedoms that the Constitution guarantees all Americans,” La Rue added. “For that reason, Alliance Defending Freedom is serious about investigating this gross error.”
On Tuesday, Fox News reported that LCDR Nate Christensen issued a statement on behalf of the Pentagon that said that “religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense” and that “court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom FOIA request asks for copies of all communications between Christensen and others on the matter.
“Because we provide legal representation to a number of individuals who stand to be negatively impacted if this policy is enforced, we seek to determine the authority under which LCDR Christensen made the above-referenced statements,” the request states.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 30, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been deployed to multiple disaster sites along the East Coast of the United States after the hybrid Hurricane Sandy “superstorm” caused unprecedented damage. According to the recent news reports, more than 30 people are believed to have been killed in seven states and some 8 million people are without power. It is estimated that damage from the storm could exceed $20 billion.
Chaplains trained in crisis-response deployed this morning from Charlotte with three mobile office units, and are tentatively headed for northern New Jersey, southern New Jersey, and Philadelphia. After an initial assessment, additional chaplains will arrive from across the United States later this week.
“We all watched this unique ‘superstorm’ coming from far off, and could see the potentially devastating course,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “Sadly, it seems that the worst fears were realized and millions of people are now hurting as a result of Hurricane Sandy. I’m not sure that there are words that can adequately describe the enormity of this massive disaster. We’ll do all we can in the face of this catastrophe to offer emotional and spiritual care and the hope and compassion of Jesus Christ.”
recently concluded its deployments to three areas in Louisiana following the impact of Hurricane Isaac in late August. Chaplain teams spent several weeks in LaPlace, LaCombe and Plaquemines Parish, La. Thus far in 2012, chaplains have deployed to 22 disaster areas in 14 states.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is a nationwide network of Christian chaplains across 48 states that are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. Since the ministry was launched in 2002, it has responded to more than 145 natural and man-made disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and shootings.
For more information on the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt. For videos, photos and news articles from recent Billy Graham Rapid Response Team deployments, visit www.billygraham.org/response. Ministry updates and photo galleries are posted at www.facebook.com/BGRapidResponseTeam.
About the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world by every effective means available through a wide range of domestic and international Christian evangelism ministries. Visit www.billygraham.org. Get news updates on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/BGEAnews.
“Our churches, as well as individual believers and all persons who believe in liberty of conscience, should stand with U.S. military chaplains who are resisting oppressive political correctness.” — Mark Tooley, IRD President
WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (DADT) and efforts to legalize same-sex marriage are increasingly threatening the religious liberty of U.S. military chaplains to uphold traditional marriage. Lawmakers on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee have reported that chaplains opposed to DADT repeal and same-sex marriage have been silenced, punished or even told to resign.
Religious liberty threats to chaplains are not limited to sexuality controversies. In January, the U.S. Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains told Catholic Army chaplains not to read from the pulpit a letter from Archbishop Timothy Broglio. Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote that an Obamacare regulation was “a blow” to a freedom that U.S. troops have fought to defend. U.S. Army Secretary McHugh later admitted that it had been wrong to try to silence the Catholic chaplains.
Active duty chaplains from conservative religious traditions vastly outnumber those from liberal denominations. As of 2010, there were 448 Southern Baptist and 252 Roman Catholic chaplains, compared to only 56 Episcopal, 17 United Church of Christ (UCC) and two Unitarian Universalist chaplains.
IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
- “Our churches, as well as individual believers and all persons who believe in liberty of conscience, should stand with U.S. military chaplains who are resisting oppressive political correctness, especially in defense of traditional marriage and expressions of traditional faith.
- “Will chaplains who serve our country have all the liberties that the U.S. armed forces have sacrificed their lives for across three centuries? Will chaplains be forced to choose between fidelity to their own faith and service to America?
- “On Memorial Day especially, we should recall that hundreds of thousands have died in defense of an America where liberty of conscience and religion are fully protected.”
The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church’s biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.