A Victory for Religious Liberty

Justice for Jack

That collective “Praise God” you heard on Monday morning came from the body of Christ, His Church, in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of Jack Phillips. The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was brought by Jack Phillips, its owner. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission sought to force the cake shop to employ its considerable artistic talents to craft a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage.

Family Heritage Alliance Action, along with 31 other Family Policy Councils nationwide, signed onto an amicus brief on September 17, 2017 in support of Jack and the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.

The facts in this case are simple and painfully clear. Jack Phillips determined that he must not, consistent with the tenets of his faith, use his artistic talents to design and bake a cake that would celebrate the union of a man and a man. For Jack, his participation in celebrating this union would render him culpable before God.

While the verbiage of the decision will be dissected, parsed and spun I want to share with you, in part, a message I received from a fellow family policy council director, Allen Whitt of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia.

Allen wrote:

“Jesus and Mohamed was both full of hate against the LGBTQAI community. And all of you following your skydaddy are using that silly myth to damage LGBTQAI citizens.” Robin Gomez , City Manager, Fairmont, West Virginia

I know it’s all our tendency to pick apart rulings and good news because we know the other shoe usually drops. But I share the above heinous quote that was spat into my face during a recent legislative battle for the following reason. 

My fellow warriors, today’s decision sends a clear message to Robin Gomez and all the others in your states. Do that again to a business owner of faith and we, the Supreme Court of the United States of America, will stop it!

The hostility expressed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the City Manager of Fairmont, West Virginia is becoming more common in the public sphere and is entirely unacceptable. It was a significant issue for the Court in this matter. This should remind us that we are to be salt and light while boldly defending our religious freedoms. This decision rightfully affirms that tolerance is a two-way street.

Praise God indeed. He has once again blessed all Americans of faith!!!

-Ed Randazzo

Click Here to read a further explanation of the victory from Alliance Defending Freedom

America is Back

While the mainstream media has been feeding us with a daily dose of anti-Trump accusations, the situation in one of the world’s powder kegs, the Middle East, is changing.

The U.S. will open its new embassy in Jerusalem next week as another in a long list of Trump campaign promises comes to fruition. Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate Iranian forward positions in Syria. The U.S. has withdrawn from the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal.

As an invited participant in an international conference call this past week that originated in Jerusalem, we learned that President Trump demanded that the embassy move be accomplished quickly, even if in a temporary location in Jerusalem. Dr. Eran Lerman of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies declared that “America is back” and that the region is in the process of being transformed by that.

We also learned that over 100,000 rockets are inventoried in the region to be used against our Israeli allies. But Israel has made it clear, in action as well as statements, that it will not tolerate Iranian bases to be established in Syria within range of the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights was annexed by Israel in the 1967 War and is crucial to its defense. This past week Israel has attacked Iranian positions in Syria with devastating precision. Prime Minister Netanyahu, in personal meetings with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, was able to rollback a Russian intention to deliver a state-of-the-art missile defense system to Syria and to warn that Russian personnel and equipment would be at risk if near the areas of Iranian activity in Syria.

The U.S. withdrawal from the disastrous Obama “negotiated” Iran Nuclear Deal will reimpose severe sanctions on Iran. This on the heels of statements by Saudi Arabia labeling Iran as the leading exporter of terror and right of Israel to exist assures that even more dangerous days are not far off.

There’s a new sheriff in Washington and things are changing.



The Passing of Sean McPherson

By now, you have probably heard that Pastor Sean McPherson has passed away. Sean was not just a pastor of Real Life Church in Rapid City, he was a Watchman Pastor, one who acknowledged that the problems we face in our communities and our nation are not just political and cultural, they are spiritual in nature. That led Sean to Pierre to represent his district in the state legislature. His voice in issues of Faith, Family and Freedom will be sorely missed.

Sean was a U.S. Navy veteran and served his country as a submariner. Those “boats” were blessed to have him aboard.

He leaves behind a loving family who must now deal with the sorrow of his physical absence. Please especially keep them in your hearts and minds and remember them in your prayers in this time of grief and loss.

Sean has left us for a better place. Through his battle he showed us his strength and his character to fight to the end and to display his faith and trust in his Savior Jesus Christ. We are all both the richer for having known him and the poorer for having lost him in our midst.

Gunfight in Pierre

There were no firearms visible in the Capitol Building on “Veto Day,” but there was a gunfight. In fact, there were 2 gunfights.

The final day of the legislative session is commonly known as Veto Day. In the official calendar it’s described as “Reserved for the consideration of gubernatorial vetoes.” This year, while there were 3 non-gun related bills vetoed by the Governor and 1 new bill introduced (and passed), it was all about guns. Really it was all about executive power and passionate advocacy of gun rights in South Dakota.

All the “shooters” were present. The Governor was represented by highly placed members of his staff seen working hard in the halls of the magnificent building while the National Rifle Association, National Association for Gun Rights and South Dakota Gun Owners lobbyists were present and active.

The Senate convened first and failed to override the vetoes of SB 33 (a bill to revise the State’s education funding formula for special education) and SB 164 (a bill to revise juvenile probationary periods) but then voted to suspend the rules to consider a brand new bill on the same issue (SB 179) to grant more flexibility in juvenile offenders probationary periods which they then passed nearly unanimously. The Senate then stood in recess pending the outcome of the House “gunfights.”

First there was HB 1156, the so-called Capitol Carry Bill that would allow firearms in the Capitol Building (except for the Supreme Court areas) with the Enhanced Concealed Carry Permit. Proponents fired away that the employees in the Building asked for their personal protection on a year-long basis when the Legislature is not in session. Representative Julie Frye-Mueller (D30), glancing at the gallery above, declared “We are in a fish bowl down here,” referring to the House floor while opponents spoke of their faith in the current Capitol security. The override attempt failed by 5 votes.

The main event was the consideration of HB 1072, the Constitutional Carry Bill that would allow for concealed carry of firearms in the State of South Dakota without a Concealed Carry Permit. A passionate, powerful and articulate floor speech was delivered by the prime sponsor, Lynne DiSanto (D35) in which she revealed that the 2 announced candidates for Governor in 2018, U.S. Representative Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley, and the 2 announced candidates for U.S. House in 2018, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and Dusty Johnson all were in favor of this bill. She warned that those voting against the override would be exposed publicly as anti-Second Amendment rights by the powerful NRA and others. Representative Dan Kaiser (D3), a law enforcement officer, declared “Free people don’t ask permission to do what’s right,” in support of the override. The override attempt failed by 11 votes.

Executive power prevailed once again, however the Constitutional Carry proponents are as energized as ever, especially in the knowledge that the current candidates for Governor have both made public statements in support of their pro-Second Amendment position.

The “gunfights” having been decided, the House then upheld the veto of HB 1149 (a bill to reduce a telecommunications tax) but passed the new bill (SB 179) to allow more flexibility for the courts to extend probationary periods for juvenile offenders.

I was honored to extend Family Heritage Alliance Action’s gratitude to many legislators for their service to our Great State and to thank many of them for their support of our Faith, Family and Freedom issues.

2017 Capitol Summit

My Day at the Summit – Ed Randazzo

It’s Tuesday February 7th. There’s a light dusting of snow on my truck as I make my way to the Flying J Truck Stop on the eastern edge of Rapid City. I am going to meet the Stagecoach West bus that will take me to Pierre, South Dakota for the Family Heritage Alliance sponsored SD Ministry Leaders’ Capitol Summit.

I’m honored to be riding with some 38 pastors and ministry leaders and the cabin is abuzz with conversation. Tonya Torve, FHA’s Administrative Assistant is moving through the cabin offering refreshments and a warm smile. A few ask about what’s the latest in Pierre but many are just sharing experiences with other like-minded believers. In the sure and experienced hands of our driver, Ken Updike, the trip goes quickly and soon we arrive at our State Capitol.

The sun is shining brightly as we make our way to the Rotunda where we are met by Executive Director Dale Bartscher, Norman Woods and more than a hundred others. While we were approaching from the west, Lavonne Fosness was leading another bus load of believers from Sioux Falls and a host of other vehicles were arriving from across the state. After some coffee, cookies and a yogurt parfait, Dale and Norman briefed us and then all are free to fan out through the beautiful Capitol Building to engage with lawmakers, constitutional officers or to sit in on committee meetings.

I visit Room 423 where the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee is conducting a hearing on SB 81, a bill to prohibit powdered alcohol in South Dakota that FHA Action is supporting. Dale Bartscher is testifying in support of this bill and the committee approves unanimously to send it to the floor for a vote. It’s fun to win one!!!

But it’s now almost 11:30 when we return to the Capitol Rotunda and fill the entire grand staircase for a group photo. We are joined there by many legislators, constitutional officers, Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels and Governor Dennis Daugaard and as a group we sing, filling the entire building with my favorite “God Bless America”.

It’s off then to enjoy lunch graciously provided and served by Community Bible Church. Once again we are honored to be joined by many legislators and constitutional officers.

But it’s not over yet!!! We then are inspired by a rousing message from Pastor J.C. Church from the Family Research Council who spoke of the need for all churches and believers to be bold and stand for our values and beliefs. Wow, if this man doesn’t motivate you to action, I don’t know who will.

Then it was back on the bus for the loud and fun ride back home. As I stood and watched from the back of the bus, I thought that the ride to and from alone was great. But everything else made it a truly memorable day.

God blessed us abundantly and I am especially grateful that I could be a part of it.

Pastors and Ministry Leaders mark your calendar today for next year’s Capitol Summit on Tuesday, February 6, 2018.  Can’t wait till next year.


Your Voice Was Heard – For Now Anyway

Editor’s Note:  This is an update to this article posted last week.  Article by Ed Randazzo, Public Policy Analyst for FHA Action.
edRecently we learned that the Sioux Falls City Council was set to approve the most invasive and overreaching “SOGI” (Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity) Ordinance amendments in the nation.  This was the Human Relations Ordinance (HRO) CH 98.

FHA Action, along with other godly stakeholders including Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family, and others, mobilized to oppose this dangerous attempt to make those grappling with sexual orientation issues and gender identity issues a protected class of citizens. If successful, this amendment to the Sioux Falls Human Rights Ordinance would have forced not only the City of Sioux Falls but businesses and even churches to comply, even if it was counter to their religious or moral convictions.

Your voice was heard. The mobilization has already produced limited success as the Sioux Falls City Attorney’s office has requested that this Ordinance Amendment (HRO CH 98) be withdrawn from the Council’s June 14th prepared agenda.  ABC’s Sioux Falls affiliate, KSFY files this report.  We will continue to be vigilant; however, as it is likely that some form of SOGI amendment will be forthcoming.

Already we know of the intent to amend another Sioux Falls Ordinance that would include gender identity protection in employment by the City of Sioux Falls.  This is the HRO CH 39.  FHA Action will oppose its passage.

FHA Action assures you that we will continue to make sure your voice is heard and we will inform you of further developments in Sioux Falls and across our great state.