Due to the increase in national issues concerning the First Amendment, Southern Heritage Bank partnered with the prayer group Cleveland Net to provide a free “Lunch and Learn” called Marketplace …
Due to the increase in national issues concerning the First Amendment, Southern Heritage Bank partnered with the prayer group Cleveland Net to provide a free “Lunch and Learn” called Marketplace Faith on Tuesday at Peerless Road Church, to discuss the various cases arising and some ways to protect yourself in the workplace.
Keynote speaker was Matt Sharp, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Sharp is a graduate of Lee University and serves as senior counsel with ADF where he leads the Legislative Advocacy Team.
Following an introduction by Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks, an invocation and lunch provided by GDaddy's BBQ, Sharp took the stage to explain his extensive knowledge on defending Americans’ rights to freely live out their faith, whether it be in the workplace, online or on a college campus.
Sharp relayed the story of the Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, who had refused to bake a same-sex wedding cake on religious grounds. This case went straight to the Supreme Court, where Phillips won in a 7-2 ruling; however, Sharp said this was only one battle of many.
“The Supreme Court told Jack that he had the freedom to bake what he wanted based on religious beliefs. That’s a Constitutional right and that’s one type of case we see very often,” Sharp said.
California recently passed a law requiring pro-life centers to provide information about abortions in addition to their regular info. While California stated it believed women should have access to all options when referencing births, Sharp states this overreaches and could infringe upon religious freedoms, especially for pro-life centers.
In the Rust Belt where unions are prevalent, certain unions use their collected member dues to donate to particular political candidates, campaigns or causes that not all union members are comfortable with. Unfortunately for these members, the unions are often necessary for employment and functioning in the area, so members are beholden to the wishes of the organizations. ADF has tackled cases such as this and references the donations against members’ wishes as infringement as well.
“You might not want to fund particular causes through your membership, and that’s what the Supreme Court has ruled against. You should not be forced to pay money to engage in speech you disagree with like we’re seeing with these unions,” Sharp said.
He added how the resounding message they’ve been seeing come from the Supreme Court is “hey government, hands off when it comes to religion and when it comes to matters of conscience.”
This was made clear through schools during World War II, as American nationalism was at a peak due to growing respect for our country. As a result of this, schools in America were requiring all students to say the Pledge of Allegiance and put their hand over their hearts. When two particular Jehovah’s Witness children stated they couldn’t do this based off their religious beliefs, they were expelled. The Supreme Court then sided with the children based on freedom of religious expression.
Another famous issue he brought up was the slippery slope forming around gender identity. Despite biology telling us that sex only gives us two options — man and woman — some people now claim to “identify” as the opposite sex. Others even use the term “genderfluid,” meaning they can rotate back and forth between what sex they feel like based on their mood. Obviously, this has caused some serious issues.
“There’s been this issue come up where people go, ‘sex doesn’t mean male or female. Instead it is referencing your gender identity.’ I can’t just join a dorm and tell them ‘I identify as a woman, please put me in the women’s dorm.’ They’d tell me that I have to join the men’s dorm,” Sharp laughed. “Biology is not bigotry. There’s places and times men and women should not be mixed together and that’s OK.”
One related instance Sharp recounted was of a young girl at an elementary school in Decatur, Georgia, a year ago. The school had adopted an “anti-discrimination” policy which allowed boys and girls who identify as different sexes than what is on their birth certificates to use whichever bathroom of the sex they identify as. This also transferred into trips as well, meaning a boy who identified as a girl could sleep in a girls’ hotel room and vice versa.
The incident with this young kindergartener girl involved a trip to the restroom at this school. There was a young boy in her class who identified as “genderfluid.” When this kindergartener was dismissed to go to the restroom, this boy followed her in and molested her. Upon discovering this, her parents told the school who then stood by its policy and refused to move the boy to a different classroom or change its policy.
“This school was more interested in standing by its ideology and promoting gender inclusivity than protecting this young victim of sexual assault,” Sharp said.
Since then ADF got involved and received word a month ago that the Department of Education was launching an investigation of the school district for violating Title IX.
“These are the types of battles we are fighting,” Sharp stressed.
He then gave the crowd several questions to ask themselves should they be confronted with similarly difficult situations. These include:
How can you integrate your faith into your work in a respectful way?
Can I tell people “no” based on religion?
What if there are some things we don’t want to pay for on religious grounds, but the government is making us?
How can we be proactive?
“We’re here to be truth and light-bearers. Know your local laws and know what you stand for,” Sharp added. “I look forward to the day when we don’t have to defend this sort of thing, but for the current time, it’s essential to maintaining our basic freedoms.”
For more info about ADF, visit its Facebook, its Twitter at @alliancedefends or its website www.adflegal.org.
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