Christian persecution

Colorado Baker Sued Again, This Time for Refusing ‘Gender Transition’ Cake

Colorado baker Jack Phillips was back in court Thursday after a lawyer filed a second lawsuit against him for refusing to create a gender-transition “birthday cake.” Phillips, who was victorious at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 following years of litigation for refusing to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding in 2012 — at a time when the state of Colorado did not recognize same-sex marriage — is again being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom. Despite the high court’s 7-2 ruling in his favor two years ago, which found that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown “clear and impermissible hostility” on the basis of Phillips’ religion and violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the same state agency pursued another case against Phillips because he declined to make a cake celebrating transgenderism. Phillips filed a lawsuit against the state alleging harassment and it subsequently dropped the matter. After that, a local trans activist and attorney named Autumn Scardina called Phillips’ Denver-area bakery to order a custom made gender-transition cake. Scardina waited past the appeal deadline so he could file a new lawsuit in a different court. Scardina is seeking more than $100,000 in damages, fines, and attorney’s fees. The state court heard oral arguments in the case on Thursday. ADF has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Scardina is now claiming in this latest legal action, which was filed in the District Court for the city and county of Denver, that Phillips violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act and Consumer Protection Act by refusing to bake what the plaintiff said was a birthday cake. This birthday cake, as described in the lawsuit, was to be blue on the outside and pink on the inside to represent Scardina’s decision to self-identify as a woman. “Masterpiece Cakeshop said before the Supreme Court they would serve any baked good to members of the LGBTQ community. It was just the religious significance of it being a wedding cake. We don’t believe they’ve been honest with the public,” said Scardina’s attorney, Paula Greisen, in an interview with CBS’s Denver affiliate last year. Phillips has long maintained that he does not single out lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or trans-identified individuals regarding his custom orders. However, he’s long maintained that he will not use his creative talents to support messages that conflict with his faith. Thus, he will not make cakes that celebrate Halloween, drug use, or cakes that disparage people, including those who identify as LGBT. “It wasn’t enough for Jack to lose 40 percent of his business after Colorado pursued him the first time. It wasn’t enough for Jack to have to defend his freedoms all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And it wasn’t enough for Jack and his family to endure years of harassment and even death threats,” ADF noted on its website Wednesday. “For some, it won’t be enough until Masterpiece Cakeshop closes its doors and Jack Phillips is in financial ruin. They want Jack, an average American business owner, to pay a hefty price—all because he wants to live according to his faith. It is time to leave Jack alone,” ADF added. The Supreme Court ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission has been seen as one of the more important modern religious liberty cases to reach the high court. Though a decisive majority of justices sided with Phillips, the scope of the ruling was narrow in that it focused on the Colorado Commission’s lack of neutrality. The high court did not weigh in on the deeper conflict between anti-discrimination statutes and the free exercise of religion and free speech.

This poor guy, Jack Phillps, can’t seem to get a break from these people!  He really needs to start a GoFundMe page for his ongoing legal bills just to fight off the gay mafia which won’t rest til he’s out of business permanently.  As we said back when he won his last case at the Supreme Court in a decisive 7-2 ruling, Jack has EVERY right to deny service to anyone he so chooses, if he feels it would be counter to his religious beliefs.  And, freedom of association is a right guarantied to every American by our Constitution, and that decision by the Supremes only affirmed that.  On this Easter Sunday, we wish Mr. Phillips all the best in his latest legal challenge.

Cross targeted by atheists will remain standing on Florida public property

A 78-year-old cross on public property in Florida targeted by atheist groups will remain standing after a victory in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled Wednesday that the Bayview Cross in Pensacola, which was built ahead of World War II as a place for the community to gather, does not violate the Constitution. “The Supreme Court has now made clear that religious symbols are an important part of our nation’s history and culture,” Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, said in a statement. The federal appeals court ruled the cross is constitutional, noting it has become “embedded in the fabric of the Pensacola community” and that removing it could “strike many as aggressively hostile to religion.” Four individuals, represented by the American Humanist Association and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sued the city in 2016, demanding the cross be torn down. Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson celebrated the ruling. “Pensacola is a historic city with a rich and diverse history. The Bayview Cross is an important part of that history as a symbol of our community’s coming together during a national crisis,” Robinson said. “Today the citizens of Pensacola will celebrate our long-awaited victory and the preservation of the Bayview Cross.” The decision came after the June 2019 Supreme Court’s landmark religious liberty case, American Legion v. American Humanist Association, in which First Liberty Institute successfully defended the World War I memorial cross in Bladensburg, Md. “The Supreme Court made clear in The American Legion decision that the days of governments roaming the land to scrub all public symbols of faith are over,” Mike Berry, general counsel to First Liberty Institute, said. “We’re thrilled to see our victory in that case already making an impact and protecting religious freedom across the country.” Monica Miller, American Humanist Association legal director and senior counsel, said the group is exploring all their options, calling it a “devastating blow” to the Establishment Clause.

Oh WHAAAA Monica!  This is an OUTSTANDING decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and one we should ALL be celebrating.  It is a clear and decisive victory for our religious freedoms.  Despite what these whining atheists would have you believe, the 1st Amendment only says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..”  Our founders who wrote that had fled religious persecution in Great Britain where there was an official national religion.  So, they wanted to make sure that there was no official religion of the United States.  BUT, our founders didn’t want religion (especially Christianity) banned from the public, or from our public schools…which is where that second part comes in.  In other words, we have freedom OF religion, but not freedom FROM religion.  Thank God.

Arizona Supreme Court rules Christian artists can’t be forced to make same-sex wedding invitations

A pair of Christian artists can’t be forced by the city government of Phoenix to make invitations for same-sex marriages, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, the owners of Brush & Nib Studio, were accused of violating a local anti-discrimination ordinance. Monday’s 4-3 decision reversed a lower-court ruling that favored the city. “An individual has autonomy over his or her speech and thus may not be forced to speak a message he or she does not wish to say,” the court’s majority decision read. Duka, a calligrapher, and Koski, a painter, were threatened with six months jail time and $2,500 in fines for every day they were in violation of the ordinance. They are now celebrating their judicial victory as “a huge win for religious freedom and freedom of speech.” Duka and Koski told “Fox News @ Night” last year they “serve all people” and decided to challenge the law to defend “the right of artists to create freely.” “Joanna and Breanna work with all people; they just don’t promote all messages,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Jonathan Scruggs, who argued on the pair’s behalf, said in a statement. “They, like all creative professionals, should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment.” Writing for the majority, Justice Andrew Gould concluded that the city of Phoenix “cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance” to force Brush & Nib to “create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.” “Duka and Koski’s beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some,” Gould wrote. “But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone.”

Exactly!!  And well said, your Honor.  We applaud this outstanding decision by the AZ Supreme Court.  Like the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of a Colorado baker for a similar situation, this is a BIG victory for freedom of speech and freedom of religion…some of our most basic values.  Excellent!!   🙂

Group sues Boston for banning Christian flag, approving 284 others

The city of Boston, Mass. is being sued for religious discrimination for banning the Christian flag while permitting 284 others, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week. Hal Shurtleff, the director and co-founder of Camp Constitution, asked the city to fly the Christian flag, an inter-denominational symbol, as part of Constitution Day on Sep. 17, 2017, for a one-hour event. But the city banned its appearance, saying no non-secular flags could be flown. “There’s no question that it is an unconstitutional act and originally said it was a violation of the First Amendment, which I find ironic,” Shurtleff told Fox News. “I’m optimistic the lawsuit will go our way.” Shurtleff said the city would have accepted it if they had called it the Camp Constitution flag instead of the Christian flag. The group was planning an event with pastors encouraging racial reconciliation, freedom in the United States, and celebrating the link between Christianity and the United States, ending with the presentation of the Christian flag. But after the city’s rejection, the event was canceled. Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom law firm representing Shurtleff, slammed the city for the decision, which they made again in 2018. “Censoring religious viewpoints in a public forum where secular viewpoints are permitted violates the First Amendment,” Staver said in a statement. “Boston city officials may not ban the Christian flag as part of a privately-sponsored event when they allow any other flag by numerous private organizations. It’s time for the court to stop the city’s unconstitutional censorship.” A federal court and appeals court previously ruled against Shurtleff, but the new lawsuit has new “key facts” that Liberty Counsel believes will “compel a result in Camp Constitution’s favor.” One is that the city allowed the Turkish flag — with its Islamic star and crescent — to be raised on city hall flagpoles 13 times since 2005, according to the suit. The city has also allowed the Communist Chinese flag to commemorate the anniversary of the Chinese Communist revolution, Cuban, and Vatican flags to fly along with transgender and LGBTQ flags, which were not mentioned in the lawsuit. “Yet, despite all of these many flag raisings containing religious symbols and imagery, and the City’s allowing the official flag of the Catholic Church, Camp Constitution’s proposed flag raising was denied because it was ‘religious,’” the suit states. “There can be no dispute that the City’s denial impermissibly discriminated between religion and non-religion, and discriminated between religious sects. Both violate the Establishment Clause.”

Exactly!

About 80 percent of world lives in areas where religious freedom is ‘highly restricted,’ report says

Pastor Andrew Brunson, jailed in Turkey, was released. Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, was set free. But sadly, their stories are not the norm — religious persecution is on the rise around the globe, according to a new report from the U.S. government that points to Iran, Russia, and China as some of the worst abusers. The Trump Administration puts religious freedom as a big part of its foreign policy, and Pompeo announced the State Department elevated the Office of International Religious Freedom, along with the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, within the organization, giving them more staff and resources. Pompeo called the 2018 International Religious Freedom Report “a chilling array of abuses committed by oppressive regimes, violent extremist groups, and individual citizens.” While there have been significant improvements, the majority of the world is facing rising religious persecution, with nearly 80 percent of the world’s population living in areas where the right to religious freedom is highly restricted. “For all those that run roughshod over religious freedom, I’ll say this: The United States is watching and you will be held to account,” Pompeo said. “History will not be silent about these abuses but only if voices of liberty like ours record it.” While some countries have shown improvements, like Uzbekistan, which for the first time in 13 years is no longer designated as a “country of particular concern,” persecution in other countries has grown. “In Iran, the regime’s crackdown on the Baha’is, Christians, and others continue to shock the conscience. In Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses were absurdly and abhorrently branded as terrorists, as authorities confiscated their property and then threatened their families. In Burma, Rohingya Muslims continue to face violence at the hands of the military. Hundreds of thousands have fled or been forced to live in overcrowded refugee camps,” Pompeo said. “And in China, the government’s intense persecution of many faiths – Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists among them is the norm. The Chinese Communist Party has exhibited extreme hostility to all religious faiths since its founding. The party demands that it alone be called God.” The Trump Administration launched the International Religious Freedom Fund, which has received millions of dollars to support victims of persecution. “We will not stop until we see the iron curtain of religious persecution come down,” said Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. At the same time, the United States could not secure religious freedom alone, he continued, “we need everyone’s help; everyone has a stake in the fight.” Pompeo said he hopes conditions improve leading up to the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, where 1,000 leaders have been invited.

Christian Student Group Wins Lawsuit with University of Colorado

The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) has settled a lawsuit with a Christian student group which forces the university to recognize the group as an official student organization. Breitbart News reported in February that a Christian student group at UCCS had filed a lawsuit against their university over its refusal to recognize them as an official student organization. This week, UCCS settled with the Ratio Christi student group. The original legal complaint against the university claimed that administrators told students that they could not require their group leader to be a Christian. “It has refused to do so specifically because this religious organization seeks to ensure that its leaders share its beliefs and that its members support its mission, even though other student organizations do the same,” the complaint read. According to a report from The College Fix, Ratio Christi settled with UCCS. As a result of the settlement, the University of Colorado will be forced to recognize the group as an official student organization. Additionally, the students will now be permitted to choose their own leaders. Alliance for Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Travis Barham said that he is pleased with the outcome of the settlement. Barham claims that the settlement included an admission by the university that they failed to uphold the students’ right to free association. “It would be absurd for the university to require the vegan student group to appoint a meat-lover as its president,” Barham said. “Thankfully, the university has acknowledged its error and announced a policy that respects students’ rights to free association, no longer forcing Christian students to let atheists or other non-Christians to lead their Bible studies in order to become a registered club.”

Congrats to Ratio Christi for taking on the bully’s at UCCS in court…and winning!  Outstanding!!  🙂

Media Silence Surrounds Muslim Massacre of Christians

Political leaders and public figures were falling over themselves this weekend to condemn the mosque attacks in New Zealand, while dozens of Christians were slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria to the sound of crickets. The mosque attacks were indeed a horrific affair and worthy of universal condemnation. Presidents, prime ministers, royalty, and religious leaders rushed to extend their condolences to victims and their families — as well they should — while decrying the hate that purportedly motivated the shootings. Without exception, the mainstream media gave top billing to the shootings, with newspapers carrying the story on their front pages and television news channels leading off their broadcasts with the story. The bizarre aspect of the coverage was not, in fact, the attention paid to a heinous crime committed in New Zealand, but the absolute silence surrounding the simultaneous massacre of scores of Christians by Muslim militants in Africa. As Breitbart News alone reported among major news outlets, Fulani jihadists racked up a death toll of over 120 Christians over the past three weeks in central Nigeria, employing machetes and gunfire to slaughter men, women, and children, burning down over 140 houses, destroying property, and spreading terror. The New York Times did not place this story on the front page; in fact, they did not cover it at all. Apparently, when assessing “all the news that’s fit to print,” the massacre of African Christians did not measure up. The same can be said for the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Free Press, the LA Times, and every other major paper in the United States. The news shows from the three major television channels did not mention the story, and nor did CNN or MSNBC. There are several possible explanations for this remarkable silence, and none of them is good. Since, in point of fact, Muslim radicals kill Christians around the world with alarming frequency, it is probable that one more slaughter did not seem particularly newsworthy to the decision-makers at major news outlets. Muslims being killed, on the other hand, may strike many as newsworthy precisely because it is so rare. A second motive for the media silence around the massacre of Christians in Nigeria may be geo-political and racial. New Zealand is a first-world country where such things are not supposed to happen, whereas many people still consider Africa to be a backwards place where brutal killings are par for the course. Moreover, the slaughter of black Christians in Africa may not enkindle rage among westerners the way that the murder of white and brown Muslims in New Zealand would. Finally, the story simply does not play to the political agenda that many mainstream media would like to advance. How much mileage can be gained from Muslims murdering Christians, when Christians in America are often seen as an obstacle to the “progress” desired by liberals? The left sees Christians in the United States as part of the problem and seeks to undermine their credibility and influence at every turn rather than emboldening them. Anti-Christian bias has been rightly called “the last acceptable prejudice,” one that few bother condemning. “No one much cares about offending Christians,” wrote the coalition of African-American pastors in an essay last Tuesday. “In fact, mocking, belittling, and blaspheming Christianity is becoming a bit of a trend in our culture. Anti-Christian bigotry truly is the last acceptable prejudice.” “The hypocrisy on display is astounding,” the pastors continued. “Christianity is the dominant religion of our country. It is the foundation of our government and morality. And yet, Christians are treated as fair game for mockery and insult.” Christians are by far the most persecuted religious group in the world, but the mainstream media routinely ignore this fact as if it were unimportant or uninteresting. As a result, many people do not even realize how widespread the persecution is or that 75 percent of the victims of religious persecution around the world are Christians. Whatever the reason — or reasons — for the media silence surrounding the most recent massacres of Christians in Nigeria as well as numerous other such events, it should give right-thinking people pause. By all means, the lethal shootings of dozens of Muslims in New Zealand is a massive story and merits extensive coverage. But it only stands to reason that similar coverage should be devoted to the slaughter of Christians. For the moment, it serves as a poignant reminder that a double standard is at work when it comes to news coverage, and that it is Christians who inevitably draw the short straw.

Agreed..  Thanks to Dr. Thomas D. Williams, PhD for that outstanding analysis.  One thing we love to do here at The Daily Buzz is to point out brazen hypocrisy by politicians and the dominantly liberal mainstream media.  Dr. Williams absolutely nails it here.

Christians suffered an increase in persecution last year with 245 MILLION facing violence or oppression around the world – 30 million more than a year ago

Christians around the world suffered a huge increase in persecution last year – with around 30 million more people being targeted than in the previous year. A report by Open Doors, a Dutch charity that supports persecuted Christians showed that in total, 245 million faced violence or oppression in 2018, with 73 countries listed as danger zones for Christians. China has been named among the most dangerous places to be a Christian after new laws governing religious expression led to raids and the demolition of scores of churches. At least 50 million people expected to experience some form of repression this year as the government tightens its controls over religious worship While India has also seen a spate of against ultra-nationalists against non-Hindu minorites – the report claimed. ‘Rising nationalism is leading to similar persecution in other countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal where national identity is tied to religion,’ the charity said. Open Doors said in its 2019 World Watch List, which ranks 50 countries, that one in three Christians face high levels of persecution in Asia – as India entered the top 10 for the first time. It comes just three weeks after British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered an independent review into the persecution of Christians worldwide.

State Dept.: North Korea Using Executions, Torture Against ‘Serious Threat’ of Christianity

The U.S. State Department affirms in its annual International Religious Freedom Report, published Tuesday, that the communist regime controlling North Korea “considered Christianity a serious threat, as it challenged the official cult of personality and provided a platform for social and political organization and interaction outside the government.” The State Department – citing United Nations reports, NGOs, and media organizations specializing in North Korea coverage – found that Kim Jong-un’s regime regularly employed “arbitrary executions, political prison camps, and torture amounting to crimes against humanity” against anyone suspected of adhering to any faith, but targeted Christians in particular throughout 2017. Various reports estimated “119 killings and 87 disappearances” based on religious persecution, the report notes. It also cites multiple advocacy groups that have concluded that North Korea hosts a population of up to 400,000 Christians, though it is nearly impossible to confirm those numbers, and that between 10-45 percent of Christians are languishing in the nation’s concentration camps. A United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) found this year that “based on the government’s own figures, the proportion of religious adherents among the population dropped from close to 24 percent in 1950 to 0.016 percent in 2002,” the report notes. The report also suggested that persecution of individuals suspected of being Christians increased recently, targeting North Korean citizens for “crimes” ranging from being found in possession of religious material to simply loitering near a church too long for police to be comfortable with their presence, or driving by a church too many times. North Korea does allow a small number of legal churches in Pyongyang, the capital, but defectors and visitors report that they appear largely for show, with no proof that real Christians attend services in them, or that the sermons provided in the few known services to occur offer anything more than Kim cult propaganda. Some defectors said that they knew of the churches as “sightseeing spots for foreigners,” without knowing the true nature of a place of worship. Nonetheless, defectors have said in interviews that North Korean police are quick to arrest anyone who appears too interested in the areas. “One defector said when he lived in Pyongyang, authorities arrested individuals who they believed lingered too long outside these churches to listen to the music or consistently drove past them around each week when services were being held on suspicion of being secret Christians,” the report notes. The full International Religious Freedom Report for 2017, is available at the State Department’s website, divided by country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a press conference Tuesday morning announcing the publication of this year’s edition. The State Department concluded, citing interviews with defectors and NGO reports published throughout 2017, that there existed in the country “an almost complete denial by the government of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and in many instances, violations of human rights committed by the government constituted crimes against humanity.” The report notes that the UN “condemned in the strongest terms the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” against religious people in the country. Christians suffered the most systematic persecution…

Of course they did..  IF President Trump actually meets with Kim Jong ding dong, he needs to put pressure on him for more religious tolerance.  Granted, it doesn’t rise to the level of denulcearization, in terms of our national security.  But, if he can certainly use the time to put in a plug for religious freedom while they’re sitting across from one another.  Just sayin..  For more of this article, click on the text above..

6 Christian Communities that Can’t Practice Their Religion Freely This Easter

As Christians around the world prepare to observe the holy weekend of Easter, many will be asked at their services to pray for the persecuted around the world. After years of advocacy groups raising awareness, the plight of the Christians of the Middle East, particularly in the former Islamic State territories, has become common knowledge among American Christians. Yet they are far from the only group that will celebrate Easter this year in defiance of state persecution, mob violence, and repressive cultural norms imposed by groups threatened by the spread of the Christian faith. Click here for a list of six countries where Christians struggle to practice their faith freely against systematic institutional and cultural pressure.

And this is nowhere near the full list.  It doesn’t even mention N. Korea, where the practice of Christianity is punishable by death.