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Religious Liberty Newsletters
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(James Standish is an adventist representative on Capital Hill fighting for Religious Freedoms)

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      Fall 2006     



May 5, 2006

Dear Friends of Freedom:

I write this update during a short break between activities on Capitol Hill. Friends, I am overwhelmed by what is happening here.

On Thursday morning, John Graz, the head of the Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty work represented all of us at the prayer breakfast held in the East Room of the White House. President Bush, along with a number of members of the cabinet, were in attendance.

That same morning across town on Capitol Hill, NARLA members from all over the United States and Canada convened to get the latest developments and training on how to interact with their Members of Congress.

Thursday afternoon we went to appointments with over 30 congressional offices. There are so many stories from yesterday afternoon, I will give you just one. One group of NARLA members met Senator Joseph Lieberman. During their discussion with him, they thanked him for his support of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. In reply, Senator Lieberman thanked them for supporting the bill and told them how much he appreciated that Seventh-day Adventists share the same Sabbath with him. Many members reported that the training that they received during the morning prepared them for meetings with their Members of Congress and their staff.

Senator McCain’s speech at our annual religious liberty dinner last night was outstanding. The great news is that you don’t have to simply take my word for this. A link to his speech is located at www.religiousliberty.info I am particularly proud of the recognition he gave to the pivotal role Seventh-day Adventists have played in promoting religious liberty around the world - not just for ourselves, but for everyone. And his dedication to ensure that human rights - including religious liberty - are at the top of the American agenda.

This morning we focused on international religious liberty issues, with John Graz giving NARLA members a global view of the struggle for religious freedom. Jonathan Gallagher provided an inside view of how the United Nations works, and what the Seventh-day Adventist Church is doing there to combat religious hatred and advance the cause of religious freedom.

This afternoon, NARLA members are all over Capitol Hill again, this time on special behind the scenes tours of the U.S. Capitol lead by Congressional staff, and in a few hours the Written in the Heart Sabbath begins at Capitol Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are having a tremendous time flying God’s banner of truth and religious liberty in the places that matter most!

With the help of our friends at the Hope Channel, you will be able to access some of the spirit of what is going on this weekend. As I mentioned in my last update, the Hope Channel has special programming running this Sabbath that highlights the Ten Commandments, and features many of those of us on our church’s religious liberty team.

Before I close, I want to sincerely thank all of you who are upholding our annual events on Capitol Hill in your prayers. As you know, our religious liberty team is working systematically and seriously on the challenges in our nation and around our world. We will be here working on Capitol Hill next week, the week after and the week after that.

Your support all through the year is sincerely appreciated. If you haven’t already, I want to invite you to become a meaningful part of this work by joining the North American Religious Liberty Association. You can join at www.religiousliberty.info and become a force for good in our society and our world. And maybe next year you will join us for our annual events right here in the heart of the nation’s capital.

May God bless you this Sabbath in my prayer,
James Standish



May 1, 2006

Dear Friends of Freedom:

Members of the North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA) from across the nation will be arriving in Washington shortly. We will spend Thursday, Friday and Sabbath raising God’s banner of truth and religious liberty here in the nation’s capital.

If you want to join us next year, visit www.religiousliberty.info and become a member of NARLA today.

The Hope Channel has some important news surrounding our events that I am pleased to pass onto you:

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS DAY:
NATIONAL REPENTANCE OR IMMINENT PERIL?

The Hope Channel will be breaking into its regularly-scheduled programming on May 6, 2006, to bring a special report on the 10 Commandments Day movement in the USA. Is this the beginning of a national repentance, or a sign of imminent peril?

Discussing the religious liberty implications of the new legislative interest in the Law of God will be Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty magazine, Drs. John Graz and Jonathan Gallagher of the Church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department. Appearing to discuss God’s gift of the Ten Commandments and the role they play in the Christian’s life will be Mark Finley, evangelist and a vice president of the Adventist Church. There will also be a Question and Answer segment with Pastor Brad Thorp and Gary Gibbs, president and vice president of Hope Channel and attorney James Standish, director of legislative affairs for the Adventist Church. Viewers are encouraged to send their questions to 10cc@hopetv.org. Other special guests will include Ron Wexler, president of the 10 Commandments Commission; Blackie Gonzalez, chair of the 10 Commandments Commission (first broadcast in February).

Also included in the program will be a segment on “Written in the Heart,” a three-day event organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s religious liberty team. The three-day event is packed with special seminars, congressional visits by members of the Adventist Church, and a religious liberty rally on Capitol Hill. For more information about this three-day event, visit www.religiousliberty.info.

Broadcast schedule as follows:
Hope Channel
May 6 May 7
3 – 6 p.m. EDT 8 – 11 a.m. EDT
9 – 12 p.m. EDT 11 - 2 p.m. EDT

Hope Channel International
May 6
0430 – 0730 GMT
1030 – 1330 GMT
1800 – 2100 GMT

Hope Channel Europe
May 6 May 7
1800 – 2100 GMT 1200 – 1500 GMT

Currently operating six channels, Hope Channel is a “window to the world sharing practical Hope as revealed in the Bible and demonstrated in the lives of people scattered around the globe,” says Brad Thorp, president of Hope Channel. For more information about this ministry, visit www.hopetv.org or call (301) 680-6689.



April 5, 2006

 

Dear Friends of Freedom:

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be part of a small group that spent 45 minutes with the President of the United States in the Oval Office. It was a privilege to discuss our religious liberty work – including our efforts to pass the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. There is more about this meeting later in this note. But first we have to get to something very, very important -

Urgent: Something BIG is Coming to Your Church this Sabbath!

If you are in the North American Division, your church will receive a DVD this week from Liberty Magazine. The DVD contains critical information on the Ten Commandments movement.

We are getting a lot of calls from folks wondering whether they should be joining protests against the removal of the Ten Commandments from American court houses. Others are trying to understand the political and religious context for the movement that is demanding the government display of the Ten Commandments. Still others are wondering what all the fuss is about when so many American court houses already have the Ten Commandments represented in their art and architecture – including the Supreme Court itself. With so many voices seemingly taking different positions, some are struggling to understand where we as a church come out on this.

Liberty Magazine is the official voice of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on matters relating to church-state relations in the United States. That is why the DVD arriving at your church this week is so important. In it, Lincoln Steed puts into context the current movement and outlines the Seventh-day Adventist approach to the issue. For this reason, it is vital for every single Seventh-day Adventist Church to show the DVD this coming Sabbath. But I know that will not happen unless you – our religious liberty advocates – make sure it happens. And for that reason, we are alerting you in advance and asking that you do all that you can to ensure your church does not miss out on this time sensitive message.

This is not a time for confusion. This is a time for concerted effort. The Liberty Magazine DVD is a vital tool in organizing this effort.

In addition to information on the Ten Commandments movement, the DVD includes an engaging segment on the Workplace Religious Freedom Act – what it is, and why everyone of us needs to do all we can to get it passed.

Nominations

We are preparing for the annual events on Capitol Hill from May 4 - 6. One of the highlights each year of our annual events is the presentation of the A. T. Jones Religious Liberty medal to a member of the North American Religious Liberty Association who has worked diligently and seriously to advance the cause of religious freedom.

If you know a member of NARLA who you think should be recognized for their outstanding contributions to advance the cause of religious liberty, simply send a note with their name and two to three paragraphs about them and their work to advance religious freedom.

Please send this note to narla@religiousliberty.info 

The purpose of the award is not to uplift an individual, but rather to recognize what God can do through regular people who dedicate their lives to him, and to provide role models for all of us on how to advance the cause of religious liberty in very practical ways.

How Did We Choose The Dates?

I have had a couple of people ask a very interesting question. What made us decide to hold our events on Capitol Hill the same weekend as the Ten Commandments Day?

Interestingly, we selected our dates back in mid-2005 before anyone had declared that weekend anything to do with the Ten Commandments. We chose the date because it fit best with all the participants’ schedules and we believed we could secure all the necessary facilities for our extensive activities.

In fact, the Ten Commandments Day organized by Sunday keeping Christians was originally planned for February. Imagine our surprise when they changed it to the same weekend we had chosen!

Some might think it is coincidental. I believe it is providential.

What are the chances that events planned a year in advance by a Church that upholds all ten of God’s Commandments would just happen to coincide exactly with the weekend on which many will be focusing on those Commandments?

We intend to ensure that God’s banner of truth and religious liberty is raised high on Capitol Hill in very practical ways at this critical time.

Some have asked whether we are coordinating our events with others. The answer is a very big YES! As always, our planning includes representatives from each of the nine North American unions, the North American Division, Liberty Magazine, the General Conference and lay members of the North American Religious Liberty Association spread coast to coast. We have even been approached by a network to televise some of the events live.

But, and this is very important to understand, the purpose of these events is not to create TV programming. Rather, it is to train men and women to be effective religious liberty advocates, to meet with Members of Congress and their staff and to advance the cause of religious liberty in practical ways, and to uphold God’s truth for these final times to people who will never hear it unless we bring it directly to them.

More on the Meeting with the President of the United States

For those of you interested in learning more about our meeting with the President of the United States, please visit:

http://news.adventist.org/data/2006/03/1144177860/index.html.en

Conclusion

We are living in wonderful times. Please uphold all of this in your prayers. And more than that, please support this work financially. We have so many challenges and so few resources. Now is the time to invest in spreading God’s justice and mercy through ensuring religious liberty extends to every single person on earth.

May God bless you this Sabbath,

James Standish

(James Standish is an adventist representative on Capital Hill fighting for Religious Freedoms)

 


 

March 15, 2006

Dear Friends of Freedom:

I am writing about a very exciting development - a nationwide "Written in the Heart" Sabbath. But before we get there, let me begin with dates you will need to remember - May 4th – 6th we are holding our not to missed annual events on Capitol Hill. Every member of NARLA will soon be receiving a formal invitation in the mail to come and join us in Washington and stand side by side together as we carry God’s banner of “truth and religious liberty” to our leaders. Here is what we have planned -

Thursday, May 4th

Briefing on domestic religious liberty issues by experts with the latest information

Training on how to be an advocate for religious liberty

Meeting with your congressional representatives and their staff with a team lead by an experienced professional

Dinner with representatives from across the U.S. Government, diplomats, and church leaders (seating is limited)

Friday, May 5th

Briefing on the latest developments in international religious freedom

Insiders tour of the U.S. Capitol lead by Adventists who work in Congress

Written in the Heart Sabbath begins with inspiring presentation by Dr. Angel Rodriquez, chair of the Seventh-day Adventist Biblical Research Institute

Sabbath, May 6th

Written in the Heart Sabbath – putting the law of God back where it belongs! A tremendous rally in the heart of Capitol Hill with Ed Reid, John Graz, Lincoln Steed, Clarence Hodges, and many others.

There are many places you can be May 4th – 6th. If you are a member of NARLA, we hope you will plan to be right here on Capitol Hill with us – working together to raise God’s banner of truth and religious liberty. If you’re not a member of NARLA, it’s not too late to join. Simply go to www.religiousliberty.info and follow the links. This is a momentous event you need to be a part of.

Written in the Heart Sabbath, May 6th

At NARLA we love the Law of God, and are pledged to honor it, and more than that, to stand up for the religious freedom rights of those who, by the grace of God, obey His law.

This is why we’ve joined with Liberty magazine to promote the “Written in the Heart” Sabbath. As many of your know, some protestant leaders have banded together to promote a Ten Commandments Sunday. The irony of uplifting the Ten Commandments on Sunday rather than the seventh day of the week as required in the Commandments themselves is the first thing many will note. But even more troubling is the concept behind the day – that we need the government to promote God’s law, and through government promotion, America will somehow regain its moral footing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We call ourselves a “Christian nation” but we divorce each other, assault each other, exploit each other, murder each other, steal from each other, sell drugs to each other at rates that are astonishing. We are searching for healing, but where will that healing come from?

Will it come from posting more copies of the Ten Commandments in government buildings? From the Supreme Court on down, many, many U.S. court rooms already have the Ten Commandments woven into their art and architecture and have had so for decades. Have these governmental displays changed even one heart?

Will it come from electing more religious politicians? We may never have had more overtly religious politicians in our history than we have now. How many lives have been changed as a result?

Will laws to enforce the Ten Commandments save our nation? No. It is widely reported that America now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Think about that. It is higher than China, Russia or Iran. We have laws enough – the problem isn’t a lack of laws or a lack of enforcement. The problem is a deep lawlessness in the hearts of our people. The only way to change this is to change our hearts. And the only one who can change our hearts is the One who made our hearts in the first place.

That is why NARLA is proud to support “Written in the Heart Sabbath” – a day to turn America’s focus to putting the law of God back where it belongs – written on our hearts, by an all loving, all powerful God!

It would be wonderful if every church in America used this opportunity to remind America of God’s invitation to write His laws in the only place it really matters – in each of our hearts.

For more information and materials, visit www.religiousliberty.info Before I close, I want to personally thank our friend and colleague Alan Reinach, religious liberty director for the Pacific Union, for developing this concept and materials to support it. Once again, you’ll want to visit www.religiousliberty.info to get more information on how you can be a part of this event.

What Happened to S. 1943?

Sadly, S. 1932 narrowly passed without the addition of language exempting tithe payers and other systematic donors from its ambit. We have been assured that it is not the intent of Congress to penalize tithe payers although the language of the law leaves this open to interpretation.

Rather than rely on nonbinding promises, we are working to enact clarifying language through statute or regulation that states clearly that tithe and other systematic donations to churches will not count against those applying for Medicaid.

Conclusion

They say that life used to be slower sometime back. It is hard to know, I suppose. But what is certain is that the pace of developments in our society is astonishing. This is a time to stand up and be counted. If you haven’t already, visit www.religiousliberty.info and become a member of the North American Religious Liberty Association. There’s a time for silence, and a time to speak. Let everyone be convinced in their own mind what kinds of time we are living in. If you believe silence is not an option, make your voice count by joining us – www.religiousliberty.info

May God bless you,

James Standish

(James Standish is an adventist representative on Capital Hill fighting for Religious Freedoms)