The Battle For Religious Freedom Across The Nation, Part 2 – With Kelly Shackelford: Why did Alaska Airlines fire Christian employees? Should the new administration be allowed to forbid Navy Seals to wear Scriptures verses on their dog tags? What is going to happen with Religious Liberty over the next decade? This week we are sharing several important sessions from the ProFamily Legislators Conference. Today, Kelly Shackelford continues to shed light on the war over religious freedom in this nation. Tune in to hear his encouraging update on the winning strategy!
Air Date: 12/15/2021
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.
Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live, where we take on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. I’m Rick Green America’s Constitution coach, normally here with David and Tim Barton, but today we’re going to take you out to the ProFamily Legislators Conference, actually picking up right where we left off yesterday. So if you missed yesterday’s program, it’s available right now at wallbuilderslive.com.
The special guest speaker is Kelly Shackleford from First Liberty, one of the most incredible legal organizations on the planet. In fact, they win case after case. They are representing so many people on religious liberty cases, including members of the military right now with this ridiculous vaccine mandate that President Biden continues to try to force on these incredibly healthy members of our military and to think that we’re going to dishonorably discharged members of the military for not getting a job, it’s just unbelievable.
At any rate, that’s one of the things that Kelly and First Liberty do. But they’re also involved in all kinds of religious liberty cases around the country, just incredible winning percentage. And Kelly is speaking at the ProFamily Legislators Conference to update us on some of these cases, but also to just to give us a general view of where things are headed with the courts and what he thinks is going to happen with religious liberty over the next decade or so.
You can learn more about Kelly at firstliberty.org. Let’s head out to the ProFamily Legislators Conference. We’ll pick up right where we left off yesterday with Kelly Shackleford at the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
ProFamily Legislators Conference
She says first the airline wrote a response to her comment, then they deleted it, then they paused her work schedule, then they called her in for a meeting, then they fired her.
Losing Her Job
They said that by my asking the question, I was such a bad person that it merited firing me for my job. And I think that that’s the hard part about it that, you know, like what do people get fired for, right? Like they get fired for being, you know, not caring, incompetent, lazy, whatever. And mine had nothing to do with performance. It had everything to do with my character. And that’s what they fired me for that they said my character was so bad that I shouldn’t work there anymore.
And the ultimate ironing what Alaska Airlines did perfectly illustrates why Lacey had questions about the so-called Equality Act.
I have the freedom to be who I want, and less apparently, I work for Alaska Airlines. And then all of a sudden, I no longer have the freedom to be who I am because in order to keep my job, I now have to agree with everything that the company is saying and doing. When we are determined about things and when we make up our mind about something, when we know that we know that we know, I think that it allows us that courage.
So I wanted you to understand what happened. The company sent out to their employees, we love the Equality Act, we’re so excited. We want you all to get behind. The Equality Act is so horrible piece of legislation: strips away everybody’s religious freedoms. And they said we’d love your feedback or any questions you have.
Two other flight attendants, this is one of them asked a question. One of them sent in, said, I’ve got real questions about this. I think this could hurt my church. They fired them both. So we want you to give us your feedback unless it’s Christian feedback and then we fire you. Well, you know, we’ve been looking for the right case.
This is the right case to go after the World Corporation. There are federal laws against that. You can’t just say, hey, we want your comments, but we’re going to fire all the Christians who have comments that we don’t like. That’s a violation of federal law.
So our goal here is not just to win the case but to leave a mark on Alaska Airlines. It sends a message to every other corporation that you don’t do this. And one of my favorite things about this case too is the former head of the EEOC, the top lawyer, she was under Trump, so she stepped down a couple of years ago with the new administration. When she saw the fact, she said, can I be an attorney on your case? We said yes, you can. So she’s our lead counsel, which is great.
Attacks on Churches
And then the last area I tell you, attacks on churches, on kids in schools and all these things I’m going through, but the military. Obviously, you know about our seal case. But this is probably one of the most well-known cases that we’re battling over right now. And it’s shields a string.
So the idea this guy, Kenny Vaughn came up with the idea of having a scripture verse on a dog tag, I mean people in the military are scared. There’s times when they really are fearful appropriately so to be able to look down and to read Joshua 1:9 says be strong and courageous, says the Lord, I’m with you. It’s really important.
And you can’t go to any unit anywhere in the military and not find people that have these dog tags, but they’re not allowed now. Why? We don’t have to guess we got a letter from the new administration saying that they’re not allowed because they have religious things on them. So you can wear anything around your neck you want, any sort of profanity, anything.
The one thing you’re not allowed to wear is a scripture verse. Or we’re not going to stop until everybody in the military has a right to wear these if they want to wear these. That’s their right to do so.
Now, some of you are like, gosh, you know, thank you for the Barton’s and everybody invited me to hear the depressing speaker talk about all the bad cases, so let me tell you the good news. The good news is we have a method of dealing with this. We’ve been doing it a long time, and it works.
And that is if you were to watch the nonprofit legal world you’d find, I don’t care if they’re left wing or right wing, it’s the same model. Raise as much money as you can use that money to hire as many attorneys as you can, put them in an office in DC or LA or New York, fly around the country covers many cases you can cover. That’s not our model.
Our model is there’s all these believers who went to law school because they want to stand for what was right. And 30 years later, these are now the best litigators at the best law firms in the country, really in the world. And they’ve done honorable work for their clients. But they’ve never gotten to do a case for the Kingdom.
And we go and sit down with them and we say, look, if we give you everything you need, we have the top attorneys from Harvard and all these law schools and all they do is religious freedom, we got a media division, we’ll back you in every way, if we give you everything you need, are you willing to give your time? And they’re like, man, I’ve been waiting 35 years, sign me up.
Alright, friends, we got to take a quick break. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live. You’re actually listening to Kelly Shackelford speak at the ProFamily Legislators Conference, normally for all our legislators only but this presentation we have permission to share with you our WallBuilders Live listeners. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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A Moment from AMERICAN HISTORY
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Many today assert that religion is something private, that it has no place in the public square, and that it is incompatible with government. But the Founding Fathers believed exactly the opposite. They held that religion was absolutely necessary in order to maintain our free system of government.
For example, John Adams declared “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” And signer of the Declaration, Benjamin Rush, similarly affirmed “Without religion, there can be no virtue, and without virtue, there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all Republican governments.” The Founding Fathers understood that limited government required public morality from the people and that public morality was produced by the Christian religion.
For more information about the Founding Fathers views on religion and public life, go to wallbuilders.com
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, jumping right back in with Kelly Shackleford at the ProFamily Legislators Conference. Kelly is of course the president of First Liberty, and we have him on often and other attorneys from the First Liberty organization, but you should definitely check them out at firstliberty.org. Get on their email list, donate to them, they’re doing an amazing job, firstliberty.org. Here’s Kelly Shackleford at the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
We know what’s going to happen when we give them that first case. For the first time in their life, all their talent, all their gifts, all their training, everything they’ve ever learned is for the first time lined up with their faith and their love for their country. They’ve never felt that before.
It’s kind of unfair, but we now know we have them for the rest of their lives as one of our volunteer attorneys. And they are the big partners, and they give permission for the younger attorneys; they taste to what it’s like.
And so literally, if you were to go through the top 100 law firms in the country, you’d find that most of those firms don’t just donate their time with us, they’ll fight each other over who gets to donate their time with us. And my goal in this was to get a lot more bang for our buck. And sure enough, average case every 10,000 we spend, we get 60,000 donated. So it’s like a leveraging of God’s resources that like a 6:1 rate.
But what I didn’t count on was a win-loss ratio. If you watch nonprofit legal groups, they’re created to fight something big, something very formidable, and you know, government, industry something. And if they win 40% of their cases, they’re pretty good. Our win rate now 22 years in a row, every single year has been above 90%.
And it’s because of God’s favor, but it’s really because of His method, which is we’re the only ones that do litigation the way we’re doing it. Well, let me put this way. If ford motor company out of Detroit, Michigan got sued in Dallas, do you think they would send their Detroit attorneys to litigate that case? No, they would not. They would get the best litigators in Dallas to do that.
And so they know the judge, they know the community. So when we have a case in Montana, our attorneys from Montana from the biggest law firm in Montana, when they go into court, they look at the judge, say hey, I was in first grade with that judge, we lost the two together. Right? The ACLU who’s flying in from New York City, they’re playing an away game. Okay.
Now, this is the way every major corporation does their business, but no nonprofit does this. They all fly their attorneys in from some other foreign place. And they are foreign in that state. It’s not how you win. But we can only do this because we are the body of Christ and we have attorneys everywhere.
We can put together the most powerful team of attorneys anywhere in the country in 30 minutes. And it’s a blessing to them because they’re finally getting user gifts for the Kingdom, the clients are getting attorneys they could never pay for, never. And the result is these wins and precedents that protect the entire body of Christ. It’s exactly how things are supposed to work. And it’s beautiful to watch.
But so, normally, I would stop now, and I’d say, okay, that’s it. Yeah, more cases, we’re still winning 90%, all is good. But something started happening in about five years ago. I started to notice and I really started to say in some of the speeches, I said, I think we can change the future.
In about two years ago, I changed because I started saying we are changing the future. But what do I mean?
And we’re nonpartisan, whoever’s in office, we’re going to advocate for religious freedom. And so we were planning how to advocate for religious freedom under a Hillary Clinton presidency. And then this Trump guy won, and we’re like, okay, we have to reevaluate. We immediately saw 132 judicial seats, federal judges, very unusual to see that number of seats.
These are lifetime appointments, each one of them maybe 30 years on the bench. And we immediately felt really called by God to we got to focus on this because this is a lot greater impact than one case. I mean, one Judge for 30 years.
And so we went to our board and donors, and we said we need an extra $2 million a year to just have the best betting group in the country so that every person we’re looking at, we know what they are, what their background is, where they stand so that we can put the very best people on the courts for life who are going to stand for religious freedom and the Constitution.
And you’ve seen the results, 234 Judges appointed by President Trump and some of the most incredible. I wish there was a way for me to get across you who these people are. So I put a picture just as an example, and you can start multiplying this many times over. Who’s this guy with his hand?
Top of his law school class, went to work for one of the biggest law firms in the country, after about seven years decided he wanted to go do something more significant. So he went to work at the US Attorney’s Office, putting away terrorists, won a national award for putting away terrorists.
And then Eric Holder came in as the Attorney General, took him off some of that work to have him work on social justice issues. He’s like, you know, that’s not why I’m here, so he left. Where did he go? He came to work at First Liberty as one of our attorneys. And at age 38, he was picked by the President to be a federal judge for the rest of his life. Okay.
This guy’s brilliant. He would rather die than ever turned from the Constitution. He’s a strong man of faith. You’ll never have to worry about what he’s going to do in the next 30 years on any case. Okay. Who’s swearing? Amen. Jim Ho, probably one of the smartest lawyers in the country, clerked for Justice Thomas, now is it the Federal Court of Appeals at the Fifth Circuit right underneath the Supreme Court–
Probably will end up on the Supreme Court, one of our most active volunteer attorneys in the country. Guy working at one of those powerful law firms in the country, Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher making huge amounts of money, given his time for religious freedom, and now working for $180,000 a year for the rest of his life.
These are the kinds of people we filled the courts with. And when that happens, it starts to change the decisions that are coming down. And so there’s two religion clauses: Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause. There’s a bad case under both of them that if you’d asked me five years ago, can you get rid of those, I just said, not in my lifetime.
They’ve caused great damage to religious freedom our whole lives. And I’m watching both those decisions now being imploded. I mean, it’s really miraculous. I’ve been doing this 32 years. I never thought any of this was possible.
So I’ll start with the Coach Kennedy picture. I think most of you have heard about Coach Kennedy, coach who was fired for going to a knee, say a prayer after the football game. Unfortunately, for coach Kennedy, he lives in the Ninth Circuit because San Francisco is one of those cases go through, and they said coaches are not allowed to pray in public if anyone can see them. That’s not the law. But that’s what they wanted to be.
So we took it at the Supreme Court, Supreme Court said, you know, go back down, there’s some more facts we weren’t developed. But then something really unusual happen. I mean, this almost never happens. A concurrence was written by the four conservative justices.
They said, by the way, we noticed that the first claim to reach us was a free speech claim, not a free exercise of religion claim. Maybe that’s because of the Smith decision which has caused so much damage to religious freedom over the last 35 years. But we haven’t been asked to review that decision yet. Not subtle, right?
They’re ready to open up the Free Exercise Clause again. Incredible. That’s step one. By the way, this case went back down back through the Ninth Circuit, they doubled down on their anti-religious rhetoric. The Judge in the case, in fact, ended his decision by attacking coach Kennedy, because he said in his religion, that Judge’s religion, you don’t pray in public. So this is an interesting thing that evidently I didn’t know you had to agree with the federal Judge’s religion, in order to be a citizen under the First Amendment in the United States.
Alright, friends, got to take another quick break here with Kelly Shackleford from the ProFamily Legislators Conference speaking there to these legislators, we’ll be right back. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
The American Story
Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have at WallBuilders called The American Story. For so many years, people have asked us to do a history book to help tell more of the story that’s just not known or not told today.
And we would say very providentially in the midst of all of the new attacks coming out against America, whether it be from things like the 1619 project that say America is evil, and everything in America was built off slavery, which is certainly not true or things, like even the Black Lives Matter movement, the organization itself, not out the statement Black Lives Matter, but the organization that says we’re against everything that America was built on, and this is part of the Marxist ideology. There’s so many things attacking America.
Well, is America worth defending? What is the true story of America? We actually have written and told that story starting with Christopher Columbus, going roughly through Abraham Lincoln, we tell the story of America not as the story of a perfect nation of a perfect people. But the story of how God used these imperfect people and did great things through this nation. It’s a story you want to check out, wallbuilders.com, The American Story.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Let’s jump right back in with Kelly Shackleford from the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
The other thing that they said in their opinion was that one of the reasons coach Kennedy should lose is because he was pugilistic. What does that mean? It means that after they fired him he filed a lawsuit. I kid you not. Okay. So this case is set up. There were 11 dissents written on our way to the Supreme Court. And I think they’re going to take this case. We’ll see, this will be a great, great, great case if they take it.
But Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, what does it say? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. What does that mean? We don’t want there to be a nationally established church that takes away all our freedoms.
But 50 years ago, the liberal Warren Court said, no, no, no, it means more than that, it means separation of church and state. It means if you’re offended, you can bring a lawsuit. You can bring lawsuits because you’re offended. I mean, the only place in our whole lives that people could bring lawsuits that we’ve watched is if they’re offended by religion. And it’s not because
So we’ve watched nativity scenes, Ten Commandments monuments, so veterans will all come under attack. Why? Because the Founders would have had any problems with it? No. Because of this case. By the way, the name of the case is Lemmon. It’s perfectly named, okay. And it’s been in place for 50 years. It has caused all this hostility to religion our whole lives. So we had the Bladensburg Cross case. You see this cross, it was put up almost 100 years ago by mothers who lost their sons in World War I.
And at the court of appeals, one of the Judges said, why don’t you just cut the arms off the cross, that way nobody will be offended, and we won’t have to tear it down. So they ruled it was unconstitutional after 100 years. So we went to Supreme Court, except instead of just saying we want to protect this cross, we looked up, we saw Kavanaugh on the court, Kavanaugh, by the way, who donated time with us as a young attorney on religious freedom, we saw Gorsuch he’s been really good on religious freedom, we said, you know, we might be able to get rid of Lemmon now.
So we argued keep the cross. But we argued even more: it’s time to stop following this lemon case, which is causing all this hostility to religion. The court ruled 7-2 in our favor, but more importantly, 5-4 they said we’re not following Lemmon.
And so for 50 years we’ve gotten this hostility to religion direction, and we just turned, and most people don’t recognize it yet. But I’m telling you, everything is changing. If you look at all the lower court opinions, the presumption in the law now is religion in public and religious symbols and everything in public are presumptively constitutional. Everything has flipped from the opposite presumption.
Headed in the Right Direction?
So, my summary to you on this is, we’re just at the beginning of this. But in my opinion, every American is about to have more religious freedom than they’ve ever had in their lifetime. And even more so, this is something we can’t say, what could you say that we could pass down to our kids that’s greater than we had?
This is it. Okay. I mean, we’re just at the beginning. The only thing that can stop this is something really extreme, like court packing.
If you don’t know what court packing is, it’s when the majority party says we’re going to add four Justices, five Justices, whatever we need 10 Justices to the court to get to the political results we want to get to. And people think it’s bad. Look at the polling. We have tons of polling on this. But they don’t understand it. They think it’s bad because it’s not good to jump left or right or politicize a court. It’s much worse than people realize.
If you do this once, your country’s over. Okay. If you wonder what happened to Venezuela, I think I had a picture of there, their court packed. Okay. If you wonder what happened to a lot of the countries, we have this all documented on a website called supremecoup.com.
This is really dangerous. And the reason is you might think you have constitutional rights, but you don’t. You have whatever rights the majority party wishes you to keep because they can just add Justices until they take those away, whatever it is they want to take away. So this is something we have to stop.
Biden on Court Packing: Everything is on the Table
President Roosevelt clearly had the right to send to the United States Senate, the United States Congress a proposal to pack the court. But it was a bonehead idea.
Don’t know my opinion court-packing when the election is over. Now look, I know, it’s a great question.
So I’ll put together a national commissioner of scholars, and I will ask them to come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system.
This is a live ball.
Oh, it is a live ball. So we will figure out a way to get something done.
But let’s take a look and see.
Everything is on the table.
We’re going to add 5, 6, 7, 10 seats to the court.
Well, I think everything’s on the table.
Everything is on the table.
All of those matters will be on the table.
All options are on the table.
And as I’ve said everything, everything is on the table.
Presidents come and go. Supreme Court Justices stay for generations.
The Battle For Religious Freedom Across The Nation, Part 2 – With Kelly Shackelford
Alright, friends, we are at a time for today. You have been listening to Kelly Shackelford speak at the ProFamily Legislators Conference on the issue of what’s happening in the courts on religious liberty, some of the specific cases, but most importantly, the general view of where this is headed over the next decade. I think just a fantastic message and good news for us.
I know there’s a lot of bad news out there, but you know, there’s always some good things happening in as well. And this is one of those areas where we are having victory after victory. So Kelly’s presentation, we’ll get the conclusion of it tomorrow. Make sure you listen tomorrow to WallBuilders Live. You can share these programs through our website, go to wallbuilderslive.com, grab the link, send them out to your friends and family. They need to hear this good news anyway, but they also just need to be informed of what’s happening at the court level. And then make sure you learn more about Kelly and First Liberty at their website, firstliberty.org.
Last thing for today, I want to encourage you to be a champion for liberty and a force multiplier. Start being the catalyst for a restoration of biblical values and constitutional principles right there in your community by hosting our Biblical Citizenship in Modern America course. You can do that in biblicalcitizens.com. It’s completely free.
We give it away to you for free your students or fellow church members or people in your family or whoever you want to have over to join you as you go through this course, they all get to sign up for free. The digital workbook is free. It’s just a fantastic opportunity. And it’s chock full of good information. And it will actually give you hope.
That’s what we’re seeing happen, is thousands of classes are taking place all over the nation. We now have 10,000 constitution coaches, you can be one of them. Sign up for free today at biblicalcitizens.com
Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!