Religious Liberty With Kelly Shackelford – Good News Friday – With the continuation of COVID-19, religious liberty is coming under attack. Tune in today to hear Kelly Shackelford share news about these battles!
Air Date: 04/17/2020
Guest: Kelly Shackelford
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and culture, it’s WallBuilders Live. It is day 30 of the unconstitutional COVID crack down across the country. I date that back to March 19 when the first statewide stay in your home and do as you’re told, you are no longer essential order came down and then they just dropped like dominoes all across the country. And we are facing all kinds of chaos, constitutional chaos as we try to determine what can the government do here and what can we as citizens do in this crazy, crazy time?
And of course, our focus here on the program is to look at all issues of the day, all the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. And today is Good News Friday, which normally we just fly through a ton of great stories for you on Good News Friday. But we got one specific story and one special guest today as we’re going to dive into how we’re fighting back on some of the religious liberty fronts, where some of these just drunk with power, Local and State leaders are doing everything they can to prevent any form of worship whatsoever and literally picking on the churches, not broad based orders that cover everybody, but literally picking on churches.
So, Kelly Shackleford will be with us later in the program to do some of that good news. We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. Tim Barton is with us, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach.
Well, David, Tim, Kelly Shackleford will be with us after the break here in a little bit. And of course, man, you to talk about on the frontlines, he’s got one of the first cases in the country dealing with religious liberty and churches being able to even come together and you know, to drive in type situations where they’re not even getting out of their car. So, for our Good News Friday, we’re going to have Kelly Shackelford today and the good news is that he’s already winning these battles.
Yeah, it is good news. And this is a question that we’ve been asking for a while, is how is the government going to handle this with churches? So, they’re going to across the constitutional lines? Are they going to be able to restrain themselves and treat churches like they treat everything else? Or will they single out churches? And it looked like for a while that it was going to be just kind of well informed them, give them the right information, Mayors do the right thing. But this one is a different one. This one is coming after the church treated it differently from all of the businesses. And so, this thing, getting in court, this was a really good test case.
And guys, just remind all the listeners. The highlight of the good news, is that even in the midst of all of these attacks that are coming, because even though there is a temporary restraining order that has come down that, right, there’s been some good news, he’s still got a lot of cases that he is having to deal with, battling in areas where they have not seen the victory yet. And so, as we have some of these conversations, I can imagine there’ll be some moments people going now, wait a second. That’s a battle, that’s a problem. So, this isn’t purely total good news when we recognize there are battles. But part of the good news is that there are groups like First Liberty, who for free will represent pastors, represent Christians and leaders in businesses when it comes to First Liberty. And they’re one of many of our friends that do this in response to attacks on religious liberty.
But First Liberty certainly does a remarkable job. And they did get a victory very recently, dealing with a church being told they could not operate over a Sunday and couldn’t do service anymore, driving and whatever else. And so, with that decision coming down, we thought it’d be great to get our friend, Kelly on that to give an explanation about some of what they’re doing and what that decision was,
Kelly Shackleford will be with us when we come back from the break. Stay with us, folks, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, thanks for staying with us. Kelly Shackleford back with us from First Liberty. Kelly, appreciate your time, man. I know you’re running hard today, you got a lot of clients out there and churches that are really being overrun by governments and I can’t believe this, they can’t even meet with Drive-In churches. Thank you for stepping up and defending our religious liberty.
Well, it’s a privilege we knew when this thing started that there was immediately an issue. And so we posted a whole landing area of our website where churches could come, get information on sort of where does religious freedom interact with these orders that are being passed and what’s over the line and just laying out the constitutional framework and even started doing a call every Friday with church leaders and national religious leaders across the country so they could ask questions and we do that every Friday. But we knew eventually we’d probably had to do some, we didn’t think it would be this fast and this outrageous and now, we just got a whole flurry of these cases. But the good news is that on Easter weekend, we have the first battle that ended and the church won and that’s a great first start.
You mentioned the website, Kelly, I just want to give that out a couple of times today, firstliberty.org, firstliberty.org, both for churches that are in the middle of this fight, needed advice and frankly, right there on the website, you’re going to get a lot of advice. But also, for all of our listeners out there, great opportunity to give and invest in religious liberty by making a donation to Kelly and his team. Kelly, you knew you were going to defend crosses in cemeteries and crosses on the highway and kids being able to pray at lunches, did you ever think you would be defending being able to drive up and have church out of your car and your fellow parishioners being able to worship the Lord together from, you know, 20 feet away in different cars?
Never. Never. I mean, you know, really, I could say it no better than the Judge, you know who, I don’t know if everybody’s seen it, his order is flying around the country, because there are so many believers and even people who aren’t believers that so appreciate that one Judge has sort of started to reassert some constitutional sanity into our society. He starts off his opinion with this quote, ‘On Holy Thursday, an American Mayor criminalize the communal celebration of Easter.’ I mean, that’s how you started and his ending. This, just his first paragraph. He said, the mayor’s decision is stunning and it is beyond all reason unconstitutional. So, just a wham right at the beginning and then it’s just a great opinion.
So, it’s a good, at least first win, I mean we all knew we were going to have this battle and to get the first victory is very important, but it’s happening everywhere. We’ve got worst cases than the Louisville case. I mean, the Greenville Mississippi case we have is even worse than Louisville, because they’re the squad car surrounded the African American church parking lot and the six cars that were there for their service and the officer on camera, said to the pastor, quote, ‘your rights have been suspended.’ That’s a direct quote, because of the order that the mayor had done there.
Kelly, let me ask you something on this. Because when I read the order from the Judge in Louisville, it’s a temporary restraining order, so it’s temporary. You got to go back and have your hearing later and then you get your final order. I don’t recall a TRO that had that much explicit slapped down language in it, is that unusual for Judges to do that in TRO?
It is. That he knew this was significant. And by the way, there’s a lot of intrigue that people don’t even know about it. The only time I will talk about this is on your show. But guess who this Judge is? He’s essentially the god-son of a majority leader, Mitch McConnell.
No kidding. I had read that he clerked for Cavanaugh, I didn’t know he had a relationship to McConnell.
McConnell loves this guy, thought he was brilliant as a kid, met him and just sort of adopted him as somebody he thought, he really thought highly of. He was just nominated by the President to be a new Federal Court of Appeals judge on the DC circuit, so there’s more to the story even than people are hearing. But he knew, he was smart enough to know this is serious. I mean, they not only threatened the churches in Kentucky and in particular, in Louisville here with being criminally, you know, prosecuted for having a Drive-In Easter service. But the governor asked the police all over the state to go on Sunday and to write down the license plates of all cars in church parking lots and said that they would be under a 14-day quarantine that they would enforce with criminal laws well.
Kelly, you and I talked back and forth a couple weeks ago. And at that point in time, I was asking you, because you’d intervene with Frisco and McKinney and all these other cities. And I asked you, I said, it looks to me like right now you got a lot more ignorance going with public officials than animus. They don’t really hate religion. They’re just issuing orders that are overly broad and they’re doing things. And in some cases, those are backing down, but it looks like now what’s left is the Animus that we’re what we’re seeing is people really stepping out with a dislike for religion, and really wanted to, as you said, criminalize or punish religious expressions.
Absolutely. I’d say, it’s sort of a mix David of, there’s animus and there’s arrogance. And certainly, Louisville is an example of massive error. I mean, you know, I think Americans cringe at the idea of government officials going into church parking lots on Easter Sunday and writing down their license plates. You feel like you’re in some different country or different time. Oh, by the way, I was asked this by the CNN reporter. He said, “What ended up happening this weekend, did the police go by? And I said, “Yeah, they did go by and they gave them a thumbs up.” I thought, that’s the United States of America right there. He thought that was great.
But the one that’s really to me It shows real hostility is the one in Greenville, Mississippi, David, that one is incredible. Because you’ve got an order there that was passed by the Mayor. It’s only like, I don’t know, three or four sentences or five sentences and it’s aimed only at the church. And it specifically tells churches that they can’t hold any sort of services, including and specifically men Drive-In services. So, here’s what that means in Greenville, it means 100 cars in the parking lot of Walmart, where people are getting in and out of their cars, that’s fine. But in six cars in this church case, on a Thursday night to have a church service where everybody is in the car with their windows rolled up, that’s the crime. I mean, that’s just insane. There’s no rationale for that. It’s just pure animus and attack against the church.
And the Mayor had even said that the churches are a cause of a lot of this spreading and that’s why we’re aiming at the church and so that’s why you have this. If people haven’t seen this, I encourage them to go to spell out, firstliberty.org, go about halfway down our page or so and look on the right side and you’ll see, we were on Tucker Carlson with this African American minister where he tells the story and It’s just chilling. I mean the idea anywhere in America Where you would have the police surround the parishioners of the church, who’re all in their cars and then when you ask, where is this they did this? It’s at the church parking lot. They’re at the church parking lot on church property with squad cars surrounding people who tried to come together to have a service. And people might say, well, why are they doing this? Well, a lot of these people are poor, they’re elderly. They don’t have access to streaming services. The only way they get a service is the way the pastor was providing in this case and then to have them come out and threatened criminal actions against them. It’s something you never thought you’d see.
And Kelly, just to clarify, isn’t it still true that under CDC guidelines that having a Drive-In church is still permissible, according to the CDC, because you’re practicing social distancing, right, you’re in close position? So, it would seem even according to the CDC, this is totally fine, because there have been Judges who said, well, this violates some of the social parameters. No, this doesn’t. CDC has even agreed this is okay.
Yeah, we’ve got, I mean, all of our cases with churches we’re representing the first thing that comes out in our briefing is they’re following all CDC guidelines, they’re following everything. But yet they’re still under attack. And they’re not only under attack, they’re under attack in a discriminatory way. I mean, what they’re doing to them, they’re not doing to other groups. Of course, everybody knows it’s like, well, you know, 10 people can’t be together in cars separated at a church, but 10 people can be standing next to each other, you know, in the liquor store. Well, everybody immediately knows, well, that’s discriminatory and it makes no sense. And certainly, that’s why the Judge here said that this was without any reason unconstitutional and there’s no rationale for it.
Hey Kelly, this pastor in Greenville, I watched that video that he took it, his cell phone video, and you’re exactly right, he was chilling when that police officer said, you know, your rights have basically been postponed. But he had the wisdom to, I mean, he’s sitting there quoting the Constitution back at the guy. I mean, he was good. I mean, and I assume got ahold of you guys right after it happened?
He did. And boy, you know, you’re just proud to stand with people like this. I mean, he tells you, he’s got a tremendous story, just a tremendous story. A guy that was really, you know, was into drugs and all kinds of stuff and God got ahold of him and changed his life and now he’s, you know, preaching at a church and he loves people. He told us, he said, look, my mom, if I just did this with some sort of Facebook Live or some sort of streaming, my mom couldn’t watch the service. He said, we’ve got people here that don’t have access, the only way we could do this is the way we were doing it to reach our people. And you know, we’ve heard about these, right and by the way, get ready, you’re get to see some legal action in Mississippi as well. We’re just having to get that ready.
Louisville, by the way, although we won, the preliminary injunction hearing is on Tuesday, so that’s coming up as well, so we got more battles there. But I can’t tell you how many calls and emails and messages I’ve gotten from people saying, you know what, we were going to have a Drive-In service at our church and they told us we couldn’t so the church just back down. I don’t know how many times it’s happened, but I bet it’s 100 for 1 for every one we hear. And it’s a shame because that is clearly, there’s no reason for that. It’s a violation of the rights of the church and I hope more and more churches will stand up and say, look, we’re all for protecting our people, we’re all for working with the government, but we are not going to lay the First Amendment on the floor and let you shut down the church when there’s no rational reason for doing any of these types of things you’re trying to do.
That’s why what you all are doing is so important, Kelly. We’re so thankful for the fact that you’re on the frontlines, you’re available to churches that need help with that and this weekend, we just encourage all the pastors that are listening, parishioners that are listening, you got to know that these rights are not given up in a crisis like this. This pastor in Greenville is a great example standing up. Kelly, you had to get a kick out of what he said in the video about, you know, even back in my drug days, we never had this many cops show up even in the worst part of town and yet, here you are at the church. He couldn’t believe there’s more cop cars right there in his church than over where they needed them in the crime infested part of the community.
Well, it’s even more than that. He told us afterwards, we had no idea, he said, every police car, every police officer on duty in the entire city was at that church at that time.
Oh, my goodness! My goodness!
And then you got areas like Detroit where you got hundreds of officers in quarantine for the disease. You know, so you need these officers out on the street, you need them out there. You got people that, you know, criminals that think this is a great time to loot and all of that. So what a waste of government resources when we need them in others places. I just hope that the word gets out, that the chilling effect is lifted. Because like you’re saying, if it’s 100 to 1, that means the chilling effect is worse than just that one churches 100 church as not doing it for everyone that fights back. So, people got to stand up. Thanks for leading the way on this, Kelly.
Well, it’s a privilege and I would encourage people. One of the things they can do is spread the word on this and one of the easiest ways is taking that video you’re talking about where we had the pastor on with Tucker Carlson. Again, it’s on our… go to firstliberty.org, go a little over halfway down and you’ll see the video. Just take the link and just share it. It is spreading like wildfire. And the more people that know that this is not allowed to do this to churches, the more churches that will stand appropriately.
Look, we don’t want churches doing crazy stuff. We don’t want them infecting their people, having 500 people and spreading the COVID-19 through and they don’t want to do that. We don’t want dumb… but we do want the church when they’re doing the right thing, when they’re serving people, when they’re following the CDC guidelines and yet they figured out a way to minister, we don’t want that under attack and we don’t want the rights of the church reduced, not just now but permanently into the future because of what happens now.
Amen. And we did hear the mayor of New York, you know, initially say, hey, basically you’re in a shutter you forever, we’re going to shut you down for good if you don’t follow what I’m telling you to do right now. Unbelievable.
That’s right. You know, there’s a time to stand where there’s a balance to all this stuff. Right? I mean, you know, they just want to protect their people, they want to be good neighbors, they want to serve people. But some of these orders would say, well, you can go get your meal as long as you go to a fast food join or a restaurant and go through the Drive-thru service. But the church who’s providing a Drive-thru service for people who are too poor to get food or bringing food to the elderly, they can’t, we’re going to shut them down. Well, you can’t do that, you can’t treat the church differently. And it’s really dumb to do so. Because if you want to know who is the one that really serves and meets needs during these crisis, whether it’s a hurricane or whether it’s a pandemic, while people are hoarding toilet paper, it’s the church that’s reaching out to people, that’s serving people, that’s finding people who need help. And the idea that the government would in any way restrict their freedom or treat them in a worse way is really it’s not only unconstitutional, it’s just foolish.
Kelly, I got to ask you about a specific, you may already have some cases on this. But what about communion? I mean, this is vitally important to the church and a lot of churches are trying to figure out ways to do that. Whether it is a Drive-thru communion or they only let 10 people in the church at a time. Have you seen any cases like that or do you have advice for pastors on how to handle that type of thing?
I haven’t seen a lot. I’ve seen different churches trying to do different things. And you know, I think the creativity, you know, well, our creator is the one who gave us our creativity. So I think there’s a lot of creativity out there and ways to figure out ways to avoid, you know, obviously, you know, spreading this disease throughout their own community which they would never want to do, but finding a way to really follow their scriptural mandates and the things that they’re supposed to do.
There have been no cases on it yet. I think it would be a very difficult case for the government because they’re now entering into one of the most sacrosanct, you know, practices that there is in religion. So, I’m kind of glad there’s not a bad case anywhere at this point. And I hope people as they think more and pray more, come up with great ways to do these things. And I really hope that we’re going to get through this quickly and the church is going to start meeting again and getting back to normal. I know that’ll take a little while, but it’s too important. The church is essential in this country and I really appreciate the governors that have acknowledged that.
Firstliberty.org is the website to go find out more. Kelly Shackelford, thanks for fighting on the front lines for us, brother.
Hey, thank you guys. Appreciate your
Quick break, we got Good News Friday today here at WallBuilders. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us on this Good News Friday and thanks to Kelly Shackleford for being our special guest on Good News Friday. Don’t usually have a guest on Good News Friday, guys, but this was too good. And we were fortunate to be able to catch Kelly, he’s in the middle of it right now with cases like this all across the country.
Well, here’s what I think is an unspoken part of the good news. Is that we now have 191 Judges on the court in the last three and a half years that have been screened, that are pretty close to what we’ve seen with this Judge. In other words, we haven’t seen the current appointees of Trump make bad decisions on religious liberty. So, you now have a cadre of nearly 200 federal Judges. And as these cases start moving forward, like the ones Kelly is filing with Mississippi and others. So, as they start moving forward, the chances are going to be really, really good that the church gets, not only some great protection, but maybe some really strong rhetoric just like this Judge in Louisville gave.
Yeah, it’s one of the things we’ve talked about, where you’ve seen some of these Appeals Courts that the numbers have shifted in more constitutional directions in some of these Appeals Courts, to where even, alright, out in California, we would consider one of the most liberal of all of the Appeals Courts, it now is really close to being an even split between constitutionalists and liberals in these Judges that represent them. And around the rest of the nation, there are some really, really good Courts of Appeals, some judges in those different federal districts. And so, it does give a lot of hope that even though we’re still dealing with a lot of attacks, Dad as you mentioned, that some of these attacks, it’s no longer ignorance. There levels of intentionality that people don’t like religion, they don’t like Christianity, they don’t like the church and they’re targeting. That, well, it’s easy to expose that when you have people that understand the Constitution, that Judges that will support and uphold the Constitution. They can go, okay, no, we see that for what it is, that is an attack on religious liberty, that’s attack on the First Amendment, none of that’s going to work and so we definitely think there could be some positives coming from these Judges.
And by the way, just before we stepped in the studio, I was going over with Tim, some new decisions that have come down from federal circuit Courts of Appeals in favor of religious liberty, things that have been questionable in recent years and we’ve had fights over, we’re winning now. So, this is a good reminder of what’s at stake in the November election. Federal judges are at stake and if we want to keep having good news in regard to constitutional issues that are being litigated, religious liberty and all these other things, Second Amendment, you name it, we got to keep the Judges come in. And that’s what November is all about, is keeping these kind of Judges coming.
Once again, firstliberty.org is the website to go visit, not only to keep up with these cases across the country and maybe you and your church are having difficulty with local officials and you need some help, go to firstliberty.org and if you’re not having trouble, what a great time to make a donation to First Liberty and help them fight these battles. Be sure to check that out today at firstliberty.org.
And while you’re online, go to wallbuilderslive.com, you can get some more Good News. Friday programs right there in our archives section and a great way to catch you up right now while you’re stuck at home. Listen to some of those other programs throughout the week and you’ll get educated on a constitutional, historical and biblical perspective of all of the things that we’re facing in our culture right now.
Great place also to make a contribution. Click on that contribute button at wallbuilderslive.com. No better, no more important time than right now when our constitutional liberties are under attack, to have truth out there, have a program like WallBuilders Live where people can get that perspective. You can come alongside us and help us by making that contribution right there at wallbuilderslive.com. We appreciate you listening to Wall Builders Live.