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By Todd Starnes
Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to $1,000 in fines, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, two ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene.
“Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” attorney Jeremy Tedesco told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”
The wedding chapel is registered as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.”
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However, the chapel is also a for-profit business and city officials said that means the owners must comply with the local nondiscrimination ordinance.
That ordinance, passed in 2013, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and it applies to housing, employment and public accommodation.
City Attorney Warren Wilson told The Spokesman-Review in May that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel likely would be required to follow the ordinance.
“I would think that the Hitching Post would probably be considered a place of public accommodation that would be subject to the ordinance,” he said.
He also told television station KXLY that any wedding chapel that turns away a gay couple would in theory be a violation of the law “and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation.”
Wilson confirmed to Knapp in a telephone conversation that even ordained ministers would be required to perform same-sex weddings, the lawsuit alleges.
“Wilson also responded that Mr. Knapp was not exempt from the ordinance because the Hitching Post was a business and not a church,” the lawsuit states.
And if he refused to perform the ceremonies, Wilson reportedly told the minister that he could be fined up to $1,000 and serve up to 180 days in jail.
Now all of that was a moot point because until last week gay marriage was not legal in Idaho.
The Ninth Circuit issued an order on May 13 allowing same-sex marriages to commence in Idaho on Oct. 15. Two days later – the folks at the Hitching Post received a telephone call.
A man had called to inquire about a same-sex wedding ceremony. The Hitching Post declined – putting them in violation of the law.
City officials did not respond to my requests for an interview nor did they respond to requests from local news outlets.
“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jeremy Tedesco said. “The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”
Alliance Defending Freedom also filed a temporary restraining order to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance.
“The Knapps are in fear that if they exercise their First Amendment rights they will be cited, prosecuted and sent to jail,” Tedesco told me.
It’s hard to believe this could happen in the United States. But as the lawsuit states, the couple is in a “constant state of fear that they may have to go to jail, pay substantial fines, or both, resulting in them losing the business that God has called them to operate and which they have faithfully operated for 25 years.”
The lawsuit comes the same week that the city of Houston issued subpoenas demanding that five Christian pastors turn over sermons dealing with homosexuality and gender identity.
What in heaven’s name is happening to our country, folks? I was under the assumption that churches and pastors would not be impacted by same-sex marriage.
“The other side insisted this would never happen – that pastors would not have to perform same-sex marriages,” Tedesco told me. “The reality is – it’s already happening.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told me it’s “open season on Americans who refuse to bow to the government’s redefinition of marriage.”
“Americans are witnesses to the reality that redefining marriage is less about the marriage altar and more about fundamentally altering the freedoms of the other 98 percent of Americans,” Perkins said.
Why should evangelical Christian ministers be forced to perform and celebrate any marriage that conflicts with their beliefs?
“This is the brave new world of government sanctioned same-sex unions – where Americans are forced to celebrate these unions regardless of their religious beliefs,” Perkins told me.
As I write in my new book, “God Less America,” we are living in a day when those who support traditional marriage are coming under fierce attack.
The incidents in Houston and now in Coeur d’Alene are the just the latest examples of a disturbing trend in the culture war – direct attacks on clergy.
“Government officials are making clear they will use their government power to punish those who oppose the advances of homosexual activists,” Perkins said.
I’m afraid Mr. Perkins is absolutely right.
Whenever a city passes a nondiscrimination ordinance it seems like it’s open season on Christians.
Click here to get your copy of Todd’s latest book, “God Less America.”
By Todd Starnes
Derek Miller is a Glenn Beck fan. Derek’s university is not.
Miller, 20, is studying abroad this semester at the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. The Pennsylvania native is an international and business major at Washington & Jefferson College.
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The other day Miller had a few hours to kill between classes so he tried to log on to GlennBeck.com. Instead of reading a story about Duck Dynasty, he got a message telling him the website was blocked.
“In Spanish it says their filter had detected material that is inappropriate and unprofessional,” Miller said.
The conservative university student said it wasn’t that much of a surprise – considering the political climate in Spain.
“They are politically confused,” he said.
He said he’s had a chance to examine Spain’s leftwing ideology up close and personal.
“In their eyes, the United States is conservative under the Obama Administration,” he said.
Miller, who is proud to be a gun-toting and Bible-clinging American, said they also take great offense over gun rights.
“I’ve been in arguments with people who think that guns should be illegal,” he said. “They would rather be robbed than physically defend themselves from an attacker.”
Miller said he became a Beck fan after reading his book, “Glenn Beck’s Common Sense.”
“He also reports on a lot of heartwarming stories,” Miller said. “I don’t like to read or watch the news and walk away disappointed with all the crazy things happening in the world. I like to see things that are inspiring as well.”
Hang in there, Derek. It won’t be too long before you’re back on American soil.
Read Todd’s latest book, “God Less America.” Click here to get your copy!
By Todd Starnes
It was the salute seen around the world.
President Obama was caught on video saluting Marines with a coffee cup in his hand. Just call him Cappuccino-in-Chief.
The White House posted video to its Instagram account and soon unleashed a torrent of outrage. The Washington Times dubbed the moment “Semper Latte.”
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I’m surprised he didn’t order the Marines to fetch him cream and sugar.
Before lunchtime – liberals had unearthed a photograph purportedly showing former President Bush saluting with a dog in his arms.
As if that somehow makes what President Obama did okay.
I do not know the context of the Bush photo – but I will say this — if in fact he saluted Marines with a dog in his hands – shame on him.
Wrong is wrong. This isn’t about politics. It’s about respect.
And President Obama’s lukewarm latte salute was a violation of protocol and common decency and a complete sign of disrespect.
Just remember, Mr. President – they are not baristas. They are Marines.
Get a copy of Todd’s latest book, “God Less America.” The Obama Administration has declared war on religious liberty. Click here to find out how to fight back!
By Todd Starnes
It was nothing short of a Christian purging.
That’s how the Pacific Justice Institute described what happened at a California charter school. They allege the school removed any book from its library that was either written by a Christian author or had a Christian message.
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“It is alarming that a school library would attempt to purge books from religious authors,” said Brad Dacus, president of the religious advocacy group. “Indeed, some of the greatest literature of Western Civilization comes from religious authors. Are they going to ban the sermons or speeches of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?”
A parent, who was visiting the Temecula campus of the Springs Charter Schools, discovered the library purging last month.
“She was told by one of the library attendants that the library has been instructed to remove all books with a Christian message, authored by Christians, or published by a Christian publishing company,” read a letter PJI sent to the charter school. “The attendant advised that the library would no longer be carrying those books. Indeed, our client was told that the library was giving those books away, and she actually took some.”
Are they going to ban the sermons or speeches of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? – Brad Dacus, Pacific Justice Institute
One of the books deemed unacceptable was “The Hiding Place,” the biography of Corrie ten Boom. Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape the Holocaust. She was later imprisoned by the Germans for her actions.
“This is a major sweep by this charter school to eliminate the religious viewpoint,” Dacus told me. “Libraries cannot engage in an open purging of books simply because they are of a Christian perspective.”
Dacus said the charter school must reverse “their ill-conceived and illegal book-banning policy.” If they fail to do so, he said they are prepared to take further legal action.
So is the charter school really banning books? Well, yes – according to Kathleen Hermsmeyer, the charter school’s superintendent.
“We are a public school, and as such, we are barred by law from purchasing sectarian curriculum materials with state funds,” she wrote in a letter to the Pacific Justice Institute. “We only keep on our shelves the books that we are authorized to purchase with public funds.”
Hermsmeyer wrote that the charter school primarily caters to a homeschooling crowd.
“In order to help provide curricular choices to our families, we allow homeschool parents to borrow or purchase a wide array of secular textbooks and other educational materials,” she said.
She said there have been occasions when parents donated books or materials to the library. Those books are placed on a rolling cart to be given away.
So that still doesn’t explain why Christian-themed books were confiscated.
“We do not purchase sectarian educational materials and do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves,” she wrote.
Well, that certainly explains a lot. Religious-themed books are not even allowed to set on the shelves.
The superintendent denied they were discriminating against Christian authors or publishing companies – so to speak. Check this out:
“At no time, however, have we discriminated against Christian authors or publishing companies who create secular educational materials,” she wrote.
Heaven forbid the children find a Bible in the library.
When it comes to books, I’m a purist. I don’t believe in book banning. If you find a book objectionable, don’t read it. I also believe parents have a right to determine which books their children should read.
The way I see it – if we start banning any old book – one day – they might try to ban the Good Book.
Are you prepared for the war on religious liberty? Be sure to get “God Less America” – Todd’s latest book documenting the attacks on the Christian faith. Click here!
By Todd Starnes
A Vermont diner decided to take down a sign advertising bacon after a Muslim declared that she had a beef with bacon.
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Sneakers Bistro had placed a sign on a lamp post that read, “Yield Sneakers Bacon.” The diner was allowed to erect the sign because of their participation in a beautification program in the town of Winooski.
A woman who described herself as a “vegan and a member of a Muslim household” called the sign offensive, the Burlington Free Press reported.
“Given the large number of Muslim families in Winooski, as well as many others who do not eat pork for a variety of reasons, it seems unnecessary for this insensitive business sign to be at the city’s main crosswalk,” she wrote on the Front Page Forum.
The owners of the diner told television WPTZ they decided to proactively pull their pork ad and apologize.
Local news outlets said the town manager commended the owners of the diner — using words like diversity and tolerance and dialogue.
And boy howdy did folks dialogue. Lovers of pork chops and BLT’s fired off letters to the diner – taking them to task for giving in to the anti-pork police.
The national outrage seemed to cause angst among the owners of the diner. They posted a message on Facebook:
“We are here to serve people BREAKFAST, not politics. We removed the sign that was located on public property as a gesture of respect for our diverse community. There were also concerns raised about safety. Removing it was not a difficult decision. We still love bacon. We still love eggs. Please have the political conversation elsewhere.”
What safety concerns? Were they worried about high cholesterol or a fatwa?
The diner’s statement only added pork fat to the fire. The local newspaper reports the diner got even more complaints. The Facebook message has since been taken down.
“Winooski is a diverse community, and we like it that way,” city manager Katherine Decarreau told the Burlington Free Press. “It’s uncomfortable, but discomfort can be a source of growth, not just a source of anger and frustration. I think as a community we’ll work through this. It’s unfortunate that the country seems to be reacting to reports that are blown significantly out of proportion and don’t represent what actually happened.”
Here in the United States, bacon is a way of life. One renowned bacon scholar called it meat eye candy. There are bacon festivals, bacon books, bacon toothpicks, bacon cupcakes, bacon cheeseburgers and bacon-eating festivals.
This is America. We love bacon. If you have a problem with that, then feel free to head to the border. And don’t let the bacon grease hit you on the way out.
May God Bless America – liberty and bacon for all!
CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY OF TODD’S LATEST BOOK – GOD LESS AMERICA.
By Todd Starnes
The federal government is shipping “unaccompanied minors” to the Paradise of the Pacific.
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Immigration attorneys in Hawaii tell me at least eight illegals have been dropped off in their state – and they’ve been told to expect more.
“We have lots of attorneys happy to take these cases pro bono if needed,” said Clare Hanusz, chairperson of Hawaii’s chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “If they cannot afford representation, we will definitely find someone to take the case.”
The boys and girls arrived by jetliner — and were quickly taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We don’t know if the kids were flown first class or coach. ICE won’t comment.
Hawaii News Now was the first to report the story.
We also don’t know if the children were given leis – or one of those delicious fruity drinks served in carved-out coconut shells. ICE won’t comment.
Hanusz told me she was not surprised to learn that illegal immigrant children were being sent to the islands.
“It’s our understanding that they were released to family members,” she said. “We have a small Central American population here.”
Since news of their arrival was broadcast, Hanusz said she’s been overwhelmed with people wanting to help from churches to residents offering to adopt children.
“That’s really been gratifying,” she told me. “These are kids that have needs that all kids have. The response has really shown there is a lot of aloha and concern for these kids.”
How about that – an all expense paid trip to Honolulu!
The Obama Administration should just pull out all the stops. Throw a big luau for the kids. Roast a pig! Play some Don Ho classics! Get some dancing girls – with the grass skirts! Hula, Hula.
They can just charge it to the taxpayer’s bill. As they say on the Big Island — Mahalo, America.
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By Todd Starnes
The Obama Administration’s air embargo of Israel has ended.
The two-day flight ban played right into the hands of Hamas and had Republicans wondering if the administration had launched an economic boycott of Israel.
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Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican from Texas, lashed out at the administration’s $47 million aid package to Gaza and the FAA’s decision to shut down air travel to Israel.
“When Secretary Kerry arrived in Cairo this week his first act was to announce $47 million in additional aid to Gaza, which is in effect $47 million for Hamas,” Cruz said. “In short order, this travel ban was announced by the FAA. Aiding Hamas while simultaneously isolating Israel does two things. One, it helps our enemy. Two, it hurts our ally.”
The administration’s decision was, quite frankly, suspicious. There have been no such flight bans over other war-torn nations. So why Israel?
“The facts suggest that President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands,” Cruz said.
Last night – President Obama seemed to downplay events in the Middle East. He told a gathering at a posh Los Angeles fundraiser that Americas were more concerned about the conflict in Washington, D.C. than they were about the conflict in the Middle East.
“Obviously, people are concerned about some of the turmoil that’s taking place around the world,” the president told his Hollywood friends. “And they look at the Middle East and they see a transition from an old order to a new order, and they’re not sure how that’s going to happen, and the terrible violence that occurs as a result.”
That statement exudes arrogance. Does the president truly believe that Republican opposition to his radical policies is more egregious than the war drums beating in the Middle East?
President Obama called the crisis a transition — “from an old order to a new order.”
What’s happening, Mr. President, is the systematic extermination of Christians and Jews – in Iraq and Israel. And quite frankly – many Americans are not quite sure whose side his administration is on.
Since our president seems to be allowing moral equivalency to cloud his judgement, let me lay out the two choices the Obama Administration -they can either support Israel or they can support the terrorist thugs who want to wipe them off the face of the Earth.
This commentator stands with Israel.
Click here to get a copy of Todd’s new book “God Less America” – endorsed by Huckabee, Palin, Hannity, and Franklin Graham.
By Todd Starnes
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy has become the latest American to be subjected to a public flogging at the hands of LGBT activists.
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Dungy, the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, told a newspaper that he would not have taken Michael Sam in the NFL draft.
Sam is the first openly gay professional football player.
Here’s what Dungy, now an analyst for NBC, told a Tampa Bay newspaper about the media buzz surrounding Sam:
“I wouldn’t have taken him. Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”
He later clarified his remarks – explaining that he gave the interview around the time the Oprah Winfrey reality show was going to chronicle Sam’s NFL journey.
He released a statement to ProFootballTalk.com. It reads in part:
I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does.
I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not.
I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not.
I have been asked all of those questions several times in the last three months and have always answered them the same way—by saying that playing in the NFL is, and should be, about merit.
The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play. That’s my opinion as a coach. But those were not the questions I was asked.
What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.
I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.
I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.
I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field.
My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation.
“I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization. I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. Unfortunately, we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.”
Dungy’s honest answer unleashed a flurry of hate.
Headlines labeled the coach as anti-gay, homphobic. An ESPN host called him the worst person of the week.
But in reality, Tony Dungy is one of the nicest men in the country. He’s a family man who loves God and is passionate about his Christian faith.
The lesson here folks – is that in the NFL tolerance will not be tolerated.
Don Jones – of the Miami Dolphins – learned that lesson, too.
He was slapped with a fine shipped off to a re-education camp after he posted an innocuous tweet about Sam.
David Tyree is learning that lesson, as well. Gay rights activists are furious that he was hired by the New York Giants. Tyree is an outspoken Christian and supporter of traditional marriage. To their credit, the Giants have decided to stand by Tyree — so far.
I address the issue of tolerance in the NFL in my new book, “God Less America.” Read chapter 12 – “Why Does the NFL Hate Tim Tebow?”
Professional sports is becoming less about the game and more about which team you bat for.
To get your copy of Todd’s latest book – “God Less America” – click here!
By Todd Starnes
For the past two months I’ve said the best way to stop the invasion of America is to either send Chuck Norris or the National Guard to the border.
Texas Governor Rick Perry decided to send the National Guard.
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One thousand troops in all will be dispatched – with orders to secure the border between the United States and Mexico.
Governor Perry says the citizens of Texas are under siege — but his pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears at the White House.
The administration is secretly shuttling illegals across the fruited plain – dumping them in small towns and telling local residents to deal with the problem.
So the Lone Star State is dealing with the problem and sending a message to Central America: Don’t Mess With Texas!
Meanwhile, as Governor Perry defends sovereign American soil – President Obama is back on the campaign trail hobnobbing with celebrities in Hollywood in advance of his multi-million dollar vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.
These days the governor of Texas is being more presidential than the president.
Phil Robertson, Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity are among the folks reading Todd’s latest book. Click here to get your copy of “God Less America.”
By Todd Starnes
Burger King, the home of the flame-broiled whopper, has announced the creation of a new menu item — a gay pride burger.
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The Proud Whopper comes wrapped in a rainbow colored wrapper with the inscription: “We are all the same inside.” The burger is being sold at a Burger King restaurant in San Francisco, USA Today reported.
The fast food chain also posted a video promoting the sandwich on its YouTube channel.
The video features a Burger King cashier asking a customer: “Do you want to go with meat or without meat. We can go both ways.”
“It showcases who we are as a brand,” Burger King’s Fernando Machado told USA Today. “It shows how we, as a brand, believe in self-expression.”
You might recall Burger King previously reworked their “Have it your way” slogan. Their new slogan is “Be your way.”
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