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Supreme Court to Reexamine View of Church-State Relations

By Editorial Staff
Published November 1, 1989

WASHINGTON, D.C. (FR) – The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a number of cases exploring the relationship between church and state during its current session which began on October 2.

The Court will decide the constitutionality of the Equal Access Act, passed in 1984, which requires schools to open their facilities to religiously-orientated student groups if they permit non-religious student clubs.

On July 3, 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case called Westside Board of Education vs. Mergens. The Court will examine equal access in the Mergens case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of a Christian student group that had been forbidden to meet on school grounds. The Court could also review the Garnett case, a similar case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against a Christian student group.

The Court is expected to uphold Equal Access by a wide margin.

Another case that may appear this session, but is not yet scheduled for review, involves Larry Witters, a disabled man from the state of Washington who wants to use funding from a state educational assistance program to pursue a seminary education. Previously the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that his individual choice to use a state education grant at a religious school did not pose a constitutional problem. But the Washington Supreme Court has since overruled the decision, claiming that the state’s constitutional prohibition of establishment of religion is stricter than federal legal codes.

Witters’ case is expected to win review because it involves a conflict between state and federal standards, and because the lower state court is acting out of accordance with the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jordan Lawrence, litigation director for Concerned Women for America, thinks that Witters’ case could lead to a landmark decision by the Court. “I think it has significant implications,” Lawrence said. “The case is innocently asking for the Supreme Court to review this whole area once again and adopt a constitutional principle that if the government makes money available to anyone, as an individual, they can use it to attend a religious institution. It could produce a very important decision.”

Other decisions made recently by lower courts have upheld the religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. In Denver, Colorado, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch ruled that students have a constitutional right to distribute a publication at their high school that promoted Christian principles. In New Orleans, Louisiana, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a public library in Oxford, Mississippi may not prohibit a Concerned Women for America prayer chapter from using its facilities because of the religious content of the group’s meetings.

These cases and other upcoming decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court promise to reestablish and uphold the constitutional right of religious freedom, which had been denied to millions of Americans in recent years.


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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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