NASHVILLE – Public policy experts at this year’s National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville asserted that the government religious liberty and freedom issues facing Christians today are fundamentally and intrinsically tied to the future of culture in America.
Janet Parshall, host of the daily radio talk show “In the Market,” moderated a panel on Tuesday that included Todd Starnes of Fox News, Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and NRB Sr. VP and Chief Legal Counsel Craig Parshall.
Janet Parshall said finding the subject matter for this year’s event was not difficult. “It took us about three nano-seconds to decide what we were going to discuss here today,” joked Parshall. “It’s the most important issue Christians are facing today.”
The forum’s primary theme centered around how government is undercutting the basic rights Americans have enjoyed since its founding, touching on the overreach of agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Communications Commission.
Craig Parshall, Janet’s husband and an expert on religious liberty issues, pointed out the connection between social issues and how they tie into the loss of freedom many in our country have encountered in recent years. He made a particular reference to private for-profit companies who are refusing to comply with the HHS mandate handed down by the Obama administration last year that requires large employers to provide birth control for their employees.
“The Hobby Lobby issue is about abortion, but more importantly, it’s about religious liberty,” said Craig Parshall. “This is sophisticated warfare we are involved in.”
The two agencies most often associated with generating the most controversial headlines on religious liberty issues in recent months have been the IRS and the FCC. In 2013 evidence was uncovered that IRS employees in the Cincinnati, Ohio office went too far in investigating and delaying the granting of non-profit status to groups aligned with the Tea Party movement. More recently, the FCC has made threats about investigating and ultimately controlling how journalists and media outlets investigate, write and report the news.
Sekulow, a Jewish born attorney who later converted to Christianity, is the founder and Chief Legal Counsel of the ACLJ. He is on the frontlines in the fight for religious liberty and has argued the issue multiple times in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, making the case that government overreach is not warranted in America.
“The government targeting anyone is wrong. Period,” Sekulow said in referencing the IRS and FCC issues. “And to make matter worst, the Department of Justice investigating the IRS is a meaningless exercise. But we need to be concerned that they thought they could actually do this.”
Sekulow issued a word of caution to conservative groups who hope the courts, especially the U.S. Supreme Court, will ultimately side with them in one or more of the high-profile cases that may come before them.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Sekulow said. “One bad ruling could do significant damage to the same issues we are fighting for.”
Starnes, who writes opinion columns and host a radio program on Fox News, commented that as a journalist that he would resist any attempts by the FCC to control how he performs his job.
“It will be a cold day in the butterbean patch before the FCC comes in and ask about how I cover my stories,” noted Starnes.
Janet Parshall asked Starnes that as an unashamed follower of Jesus Christ what it was like to work at Fox News.
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