Ignore the Spin: Liberal Bullies Failed in North Carolina

Photo credit: Mr. TinDC via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The spin has begun from the results of the North Carolina governor’s race. Even as the votes are still being counted, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is suggesting that Governor Pat McCrory’s tight re-election race should warn Georgia officials against pursuing religious-freedom legislation in the 2017 session. This conclusion, though entirely predictable coming from the AJC, isn’t supported by the facts.

McCrory catapulted into the national spotlight last spring by signing a bill protecting the privacy of women and girls in taxpayer-funded restrooms. This thoroughly unremarkable action provoked the rage of wealthy radical interests from outside the state, who vowed to pull out all stops to defeat him in his re-election bid.

McCrory currently trails challenger Roy Cooper by a paper-thin margin, a few thousand votes, after 70,000 votes belatedly appeared from liberal Durham County. (The media had predicted McCrory would lose by several percentage points. Oops.) Results won’t be known until all provisional, military, and absentee ballots are counted, and there are more than enough votes there to erase Cooper’s tiny lead. But regardless of which way the election tilts, there is no basis for claims that McCrory’s action to protect privacy either hurt the state or violated the wishes of North Carolinians.

Despite the propaganda, North Carolina’s economy is humming along quite nicely. The state has welcomed dozens of new companies even since the privacy controversy erupted in the spring of 2016. In fact, other than PayPal, pretty much the only enterprises that have chosen to punish the state for exercising common sense are taxpayer-funded sports events, aging musicians, and leftist Hollywood types looking to make a political statement. Continue Reading

Six Days Left: Trump Has a Lot of Outs

When poker players are drawing to a straight or a flush, they will often talk about having a certain number of “outs” — i.e. how many cards are left in the deck that can make their hand, allowing them to win the pot.

Donald Trump doesn’t have a winning hand yet, but he has a lot of outs.

Last Thursday night, we wrote at Townhall about Donald Trump’s easier-than-you-think path to 270 electoral votes. We explained that Trump could get to 265 by winning Utah, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina. At the time, this still seemed like a somewhat daunting task, albeit one that was within the realm of possibility.

But now? Well, Trump’s lot has improved significantly in these states since Thursday night, as Hillary Clinton’s lead appears to be fading fast:

Utah

  • RCP Average (10/27): Trump +5.8%
  • RCP Average (11/2): Trump +6.0%
  • 6 Day Swing: Trump +0.2%

Georgia

  • RCP Average (10/27): Trump +2.8%
  • RCP Average (11/2): Trump +5.7%
  • 6 Day Swing: Trump +2.9%

Iowa

Ohio

  • RCP Average (10/27): Trump +1.1%
  • RCP Average (11/2): Trump +3.3%
  • 6 Day Swing: Trump +2.2%

Arizona

  • RCP Average (10/27): Clinton +1.5%
  • RCP Average (11/2): Trump +3.0%
  • 6 Day Swing: Trump +4.5%

Florida

  • RCP Average (10/27): Clinton +1.6%
  • RCP Average (11/2): Trump +0.7%
  • 6 Day Swing: Trump +2.1%

Nevada

  • RCP Average (10/27): Clinton +2.0%
  • RCP Average (11/2): Trump +1.6%
  • 6 Day Swing: Trump +3.6%

North Carolina

Obviously, these states are still too close to call, but Trump now is tied or enjoys small leads in all eight of them. Continue Reading

Trump’s Path to 270 Is Easier Than You Think

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

“It’s over. Trump can’t win.” That’s the narrative the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media have relentlessly promoted over the past several days. The problem with that narrative is that it is a bald-faced lie. This election is nowhere near over. Not even close!

Let’s take a look at the electoral map. Remember, to become the next president of the United States, Trump needs to win 270 electoral votes. Conversely, he needs to hold Hillary Clinton to 269 electoral votes because, with a Republican House of Representatives, a 269-269 tie is likely to also result in a Trump presidency.

Trump’s baseline amount of electoral votes is 158. Let’s assume Clinton’s baseline is 239 — we will generously cede her Virginia (13), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Michigan (16), New Mexico (5), and three of Maine’s four electoral votes.

If this is a fixed reality, Trump must win the following states to get to 265 electoral votes (ordered from easiest to win to most difficult):

Utah

Utah just became a battleground state as Independent candidate Evan McMullin has been surging recently. It truly is a three-way race at the present. The most recent poll, conducted on October 23 and 24 by Heat Street/Rasmussen, gave Trump a narrow 32-29-28 lead over McMullin and Clinton, respectively.

Georgia

[…]

Read the full article at Townhall.com.

Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles Project. Jon Schweppe is the Communications Director at American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Scary: Georgia Pastor Fired by State Now Ordered to Turn Over Sermons

Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Although we may still be a few days from Halloween, the Georgia state government is certainly doing its best to frighten religious believers.

The target in this instance is Dr. Eric Walsh, a Seventh Day Adventist lay minister who was hired by the Georgia government in 2014 as a state health official. Walsh was by any measure eminently qualified for the job. Shortly after accepting the position, however, a spooky series of events took place:

First Liberty said Walsh was hired as a district health director on May 7, 2014. A few days later, DPH officers and other government workers began investigating his religious activities.

“DPH officers and other employees spent hours reviewing these and other of Dr. Walsh’s sermons and other public addresses available online, analyzing and taking notes on his religious beliefs and viewpoints on social, cultural and other matters of public concern as expressed in the sermons and other public addresses,” the lawsuit states.

The behavior of the DPH was so egregious that its own counsel twice warned them on May 15 that “under federal law Dr. Walsh’s religious beliefs could play no role in any employment decision by DPH.”

But on May 16, the DPH announced it had rescinded the job offer that Dr. Walsh had already accepted.

Dr. Walsh, of course, immediately filed suit against the Georgia government, accusing them of engaging in religious discrimination. But then, things got even scarier:

On September 28, in the process of building their legal case against Walsh, the State of Georgia served a Request for Production of Documents on Walsh, which requires Walsh to surrender copies of his sermon notes and transcripts.

Continue Reading

The Left Fires Dr. Eric Walsh, African-American Hero, for His Sermons

Photo credit: Jennifer Moo via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Can a state government demand to see the sermons preached by a public health professional who is also a part-time pastor? And can it, after seeing those sermons, rescind an agreed-upon job offer made to that highly-credentialed professional?

It would seem not, because the facts are just too suggestive of a causal relationship between the sermon investigation and the job-yanking. We would seem to have here a violation of the Free Exercise Clause, and also of the Religious Test Clause, which originally applied only to federal officials but was extended to state officials by the Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961).

Dr. Eric Walsh is an African-American man who rose out of poverty to earn both an MD and PhD in public health. In 2014 the Georgia Department of Public Health scored a recruitment success when it hired Dr. Walsh away from his public health job in Pasadena, Calif., to become Georgia’s Director of Public Health.

But then — in a series of events that remains murky but will no doubt be thrashed out in lawsuit Dr. Walsh has recently filed — Georgia officials demanded that Dr. Walsh turn over to it videos of sermons he had preached in his role as an associate pastor at his Seventh-day Adventist church.

Many smaller religious denominations in our country get by with the help of part-time pastors, who often excel in their primary careers outside their church, as Dr. Walsh has. The Seventh-day Adventists, for their part, hold strongly traditional beliefs on many issues. Continue Reading

Need for Religious Freedom Not Going Away

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

My piece on Georgia’s religious freedom legislation at the Columbia County News-Times:

Just as the Supreme Court thought it had resolved the abortion debate 44 years ago, so apparently Gov. Nathan Deal thought he had put to bed the religious-freedom issue with his veto of the Free Exercise Protection Act (FEPA) on Easter Monday. But Georgians of faith – many of them Republicans – are reacting with righteous indignation to the governor’s surrender to the forces of intimidation.

And as the governor grows more defensive, he strays further and further from the truth.

Last weekend, nine of the 14 GOP district conventions passed resolutions supporting FEPA, also known as House Bill 757. These resolutions were direct and unsparing in their criticism of the governor’s veto, expressing “deep disappointment” with his abandonment of Georgians of faith and urging him “to uphold his constitutional duty to protect our First Amendment Free Exercise rights . . . .”

No district convention that was presented with such a resolution voted it down.

In fact, in District 12, when Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, took the floor to read the names of all state legislators from that district who voted for FEPA, he finished to a standing ovation.

The delegates of District 3 went further than this, passing a resolution actually “censuring” the governor for his veto.

There is no way Governor Deal could have missed the message.

[…]

Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Two Black Men Fired by Georgia Government for Being Christian Shows Need for FADA

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The case of Eric Walsh, a distinguished physician and Seventh-day Adventist, should be extraordinary. Government health care workers attended his church to evaluate the part-time pastor’s sermons and decided to revoke his job.

The thing is, it’s not extraordinary: Eric Walsh is actually the second highly accomplished black man to be fired by a Georgia government for expressing Christian views of sex and marriage.

The first was Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, who raised the ire of the LGBT community by writing one paragraph in a self-published Bible study on sins of impurity, including homosexuality.

John Kasich may cry peace, but meanwhile the Left is using its political and regulatory powers to redefine the expression of Christian views as the equivalent of racism.

Dr. Walsh, whose record of service to his patients is faultless, was astonished to discover he had come under Grand Inquisitors’ fire:

“I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” Dr. Walsh told me in an exclusive interview. “This has been very painful for me. I really am a strong believer in the Constitution. But now I feel like maybe all these ideals and values that I was raised to believe – the ideals they [sic] country was founded upon – no longer exist.”

Georgia needs a First Amendment Defense Act. And so does the U.S. Congress.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe. Continue Reading

Georgia Deserves a Better ‘Deal’

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

Why is Gov. Deal siding with corporate bullies over Georgians of faith?

Governor Nathan Deal drew national attention [last] week when he vetoed HB 757, a bill that would have protected Georgians’ free exercise of religion against infringement by state or local government.

Yielding to threats of economic harm from global corporations, the Hollywood Left, and LGBT activists, the governor demonstrated that he’s more concerned with the values and agenda of these outside groups than he is with those of Georgians of faith.

In short, he chose Mammon over God.

HB 757 is a reasonable bill that was carefully crafted to respond to concerns the governor had previously expressed.

It would have protected the right of faith-based groups, including churches and religious schools, to freely exercise their religion without fear of government persecution.

It would have provided critical protections for pastors, faith-based organizations, and individuals, preventing them from being forced to perform or participate in wedding ceremonies, or otherwise provide services, that violate their sincerely held religious convictions.

And since the governor had promised to sign a bill modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) – a bill to provide protections on the state level that RFRA provides on the federal – HB 757 essentially adopted those provisions.

But the governor reneged. Weighing propaganda from the Left against pleas from the people in the pews, he found the propaganda more compelling. And in a nice touch, he issued the veto the day after Easter, the holiest day on the Christian calendar.

Continue Reading

What Do the Massive Religious Liberty Defeats Tell Us?

Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Mississippi passed one bill; North Carolina another. But imagine if 15 states all passed religious liberty bills at once: could Apple or PayPal really boycott a quarter of America while doing business in Saudi Arabia?

Over at National Review, the high profile defeat in Georgia, where nominally GOP governor Nathan Deal vetoed religious liberty protections for gay marriage dissenters, is provoking headlines like “Georgia Religious-Liberty Fight Reveals Christian Right’s Weakened Influence.”

I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The Christian Right has been living on borrowed prestige for years, refusing to invest in building real political organizations (or failing to find a way to do so) and relying on diffuse pastor-organizing and the-people-will-rise-up threats.

The Left doesn’t operate like this. The gay Left certainly hasn’t. Think about it: as the Obama administration redefines the 1964 Civil Rights Act to force your daughter to shower with transgendered biological males, there still is not a single political organization that fights for religious liberty protections in federal elections.

Citizens United has generally decreased the influence of the grassroots and increased the power of the GOP donor class. The creative tension between these two groups has been broken, and the political system is now infinitely more responsive to donors than to voters — one reason for the Trump phenomenon befuddling Washington.

The aversion to Donald Trump is rebuilding a temporary alliance between the #NeverTrump evangelicals and the GOP establishment, but meanwhile in state legislatures, we are seeing the GOP coalition crack-up in real time, as corporations use their influence in the GOP to kill minor religious liberty protections that do not really affect their core business interests — but help them curry favor in the elite world including with the powerful regulators on which their profits depend. Continue Reading

A Tale of Two Governors

From left: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (photos via Flickr: Hal Goodtree/Public Information Office)

Here’s tale of two governors. One is a tale of courage. The other is a tale of cowardice.

Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina recently signed legislation that overturned a Charlotte city ordinance that allowed men who claimed to be women to use women’s restrooms. The new law creates a uniform policy that protects privacy rights and upholds common sense in public facilities.

It is sad that we even have to debate this issue today. But this is what happens when a culture can’t even get something as simple as marriage right.

The ACLU is vowing to sue the governor, and Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s Democrat attorney general, is refusing to defend the new law. Senate President Phil Berger is demanding Cooper resign. If he doesn’t, I suggest Senator Berger launch impeachment proceedings.

Where did Cooper get the idea that public officials in this nation of laws can pick and choose which laws they want to defend? Perhaps he got it from the Obama Administration, which routinely ignores laws it doesn’t like.

Needless to say, the left has come down on North Carolina like a ton of bricks. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned all non-essential state travel to North Carolina. Talk about left-wing hypocrisy! Cuomo is eager to go to Cuba, but not North Carolina!

Thankfully, Governor McCrory isn’t backing down and is boldly defending the values and common sense of the people of North Carolina. Continue Reading