You might have heard that the Forsyth County Commissioners have decided to not accept the ACLU's offer of a settlement in the sectarian prayer lawsuit. I've made no secret of the fact that I think they made a mistake in fighting the lawsuit in the first place, but now that we have at least one commissioner saying that she thinks the county should fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary I think we should look at who the county has gotten into bed with on the case.
The Alliance Defense Fund has agreed to represent the county at no cost, but if they lose the county has to pay the plaintiff's expenses. That's one aspect of this case I really don't like, because without the ADF's involvement I don't think Forsyth County would be on the hook at all since the county's own attorney said that she essentially thought the ACLU was right. Since the ADF is the entity that is trying to fight for a larger cause they should be ready to pay up if they lose.
Apparently some citizens are attempting to raise money so the county won't have to pay at all, but in my mind that doesn't help matters. I'd much rather that those tens of thousands of dollars go to an organization like Crisis Control Ministry to help people that are dealing with some incredibly hard times. And there's the issue of county staff time, which was recently stated to be "no more than $5,000". I don't know about you, but I can think of lots of other things to do with $5,000.
So who are these folks who could cost us $60,000 if they lose a lawsuit on "our" behalf?
Well, the folks at ADF say that they fight for religious freedom but I think that could more accurately be described as Christian freedom which they don't deny (see the text from their website below). I'm going to include lots of information from their website at the end of this post, but let me summarize by saying that this is an activist Christian organization that is fighting cases around the country that deal with expression of Christian beliefs, fighting against gay marriage and fighting against abortion. I want to be clear that I think the County Commissioners have made a very big mistake for the following reasons:
- They have put county funds at risk defending a policy that their own lawyer thought was unlawful.
- By affiliating themselves with an activist Christian group they have sent a tacit message to the citizens of Forsyth County that they consider this a Christian county.
- They seem to have confused the will of the majority with the will of the people. The purpose of our constitutional rights are to protect the rights of all citizens, not just the majority. By promoting sectarian prayer at government meetings they are violating the rights of the minority of Forsyth County citizens who are not religious to engage their government in a non-sectarian setting.
- They've fallen for the BS argument that this issue is about the "Freedom of Religion, not the Freedom from Religion." Freedom of religion means that you have the right to practice your religion of choice or to not practice religion at all. The ACLU lawsuit says nothing about denying people the right to pray at a meeting, it doesn't even say that there can't be a sanctioned prayer. All it says is that the government can't force you, me or your local atheist to hear a prayer that invokes Jesus, Mohammed or other sectarian figure. If anyone in attendance wants to invoke Jesus on their own behalf at any time, whether at the beginning, middle or end of the meeting they are free to do so. To think that this is somehow promoting "freedom from religion" is just asinine.
- They did an absolutely awful job of negotiating with the ADF. If this issue is so important the ADF should have been willing to go to the wall for the county. They've put us, the citizens, at risk of losing lots of tax dollars at a time when we simply can't afford it. They're allowing us to be guinea pigs for the ADF at essentially no risk to the ADF. That stinks.
Following is the information about the ADF's activities from their website. From their web page about their defense of religious freedom:
threatened in our nation than it is today. And the rights of Christians
are especially vulnerable.
For more than 50 years, the ACLU and other radical activist groups have
attempted to eliminate public expression of our nation's faith and
heritage. They have done this through fear, intimidation,
disinformation, and the filing of lawsuits (or threats of lawsuits)
- Eliminate Christian and historic faith symbols from government documents, buildings, and monuments
- Ban public prayer in schools and at school functions
- Deny Christians the right to use public facilities that are open to other groups
- Prevent Christians from expressing their faith in the workplace
limit the spread and influence of the Gospel in the United States.
I'm left to wonder how our non-Christian citizens feel about this?
Besides religious freedom other hot button issues for ADF include "Protecting Family Values" and "Sanctity of Life". From the "Protecting Family Values" information web page:
been both the legal and traditional understanding of a marriage –
literally – for millennia, since Eden.
Sadly, many radical
activist groups in the U.S. are attempting to twist the law to change
the definition of marriage and the family to include same-sex
"marriage," polygamy, polyamory, and other structures. These groups
scoff at the idea that there is any fixed or known set of values or
beliefs that is generally good for families or culture.
ADF has fought against numerous attacks on marriage and family values, including efforts to:
- Allow children unlimited access to pornography over the Internet in public libraries
- Allow those engaging in homosexual behavior to have preference to adopt children and be foster parents
- Allow those engaging in homosexual behavior to serve openly in the military
- Expose children to explicit sex education materials contrary to parental approval
- Deny parents the right to raise their children before God as they see fit
- Weakening the family and undermining the values that support it
will ultimately destroy our society and dramatically impact religious
- Weakening the family harms individuals, and especially children.
In other words this is a group that is actively opposing gay marriage and other aspects of gay rights. I'm sure this is not happy news for the gay members of our community.
Finally, from the "Sanctity of Human Life" web page:
However, we confront a culture in America today that doesn’t hold human life as sacred, but rather, as disposable.
This mindset has led to court approved abortion on demand, efforts to legalize assisted suicide, and more.
As a result, human life is cheapened. Countless precious lives are
ended – often inside the womb – and society loses more than anyone can
The Alliance Defense Fund is helping to defend the sanctity of human life.
- Defend the free speech rights of advocates for life
- Oppose efforts to legalize euthanasia
- Oppose public funding of abortion
- Support parental consent and informed consent laws
- Oppose partial-birth, and all other forms of, abortion
- Oppose methods of "research" or "family planning" that require the taking of human life
- Defend pharmacists’, nurses’, and doctors’ right of conscience to not be forced to assist in the taking of innocent life
goal is to reform American law so that all human life will be respected
and protected from conception to death through the power of an alliance.
I don't see anything about a fight against the death penalty. So is their fight for the sanctity of human life conditional and only good people are worth fighting for?
Honestly, I can't believe we've gotten into bed with these folks. If we were going to fight the lawsuit we should have done it ourselves.