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ACLJ In Court: Close Your Church OR Get a Liquor License

Sekulow Radio Show / Jay Sekulow & Jordan Sekulow
The Truth Network Radio
July 30, 2021 1:00 pm

ACLJ In Court: Close Your Church OR Get a Liquor License

Sekulow Radio Show / Jay Sekulow & Jordan Sekulow

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July 30, 2021 1:00 pm

The ACLJ is planning to go to federal court as a church is told to get a liquor license or don't operate. The ACLJ is filing a new lawsuit early next week on behalf of a Virginia church we represent. Jay, Jordan, and the rest of the Sekulow team discuss the details of this new religious liberty case. This and more today on Sekulow .

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Today on Sekulow, the ACLJ plans to head to federal court as a church is told get a liquor license or don't operate. We'll talk about that today on Sekulow. Live from Washington DC, Sekulow Live. Phone lines are open for your questions right now. Call 1-800-684-3110.

And now your host, Jordan Sekulow. In Virginia, the ACLJ represents Alive Church. Alive Church is in Prince William County so not too far outside Washington DC. The ACLJ will be filing a new lawsuit next week either Monday or Tuesday in federal court in Virginia on behalf of the church we represent. The lawsuit is under the Religious Land Use and Incarcerated Persons Act but this is about again another extreme example of a county in Northern Virginia blocking our client Alive Church from worshipping and functioning, being able to utilize the land that they purchased because the church, get this, cannot get an ABC license, a liquor license because unlike many denominations, of their stance on alcohol. The outrageous part is this was literally put in a letter to the church from the zoning board of Prince William County saying, hey, here's the work around. You can operate like a winery, just go ahead and get a liquor license.

It is as outrageous as it sounds. So it actually says, the letter itself, I'm holding it in my hand, now this is the letter from the Prince William County, okay? The letter actually says, okay, this is what people need to understand, the letter says if you get a liquor license, an ABC permit, that's what they do in Virginia, if you get a liquor license then in fact you can utilize the facility but if you don't get a liquor license, you can't. So they're conditioning the church's use of its property on obtaining a liquor license when the church doctrine is opposed to it. Now, whatever your denominational stance on this is, is really irrelevant. What is very relevant here is the fact that a church is being required not to get a land use permit to build a sanctuary, to get a liquor license.

No liquor license, no activity. That's what Prince William County is saying. Now, I'm going to ask Colonel Smith to put on his pastor hat as he is and I look at this and say, how can a church do this?

You point. Yeah, this is the most flagrant violation of the exercise of religion and the concept of separation of church and state that we've seen in a while. I happen to have gone to a college that's related to the Church of Nazarene, which this church is related to. They have a very strong, deeply held conviction against the use of alcohol. And so this church should not be forced to compromise that deeply held conviction.

But as you alluded to, Jay, even if a church was part of a denomination that there is not a strong anti-alcohol stance, for example, some Roman Catholic churches or Episcopal churches, even if that were the case, the state cannot force a church to pay for a permit for alcohol, which is another form of a tax, in order to function as a church. This is an unbelievable case. This is a small church up against one of the wealthiest counties in the country, let alone Virginia, but they've contacted the ACLJ.

So let me tell you what's happening. On Monday, we're going to federal court because this is what the county is saying. If the client would get the ABC license, the county would let the church operate like a, ready for this? Not like a church, but like a brewery or winery. And they could do many of the same things they said. You could have events, gatherings, indoor and outdoor music.

You could even have pumpkin patches. This is the county solution to discriminate against the church. So if you want to operate a liquor store there, you're in great shape.

If you want to operate a church, you're out. We're going to court. That's what we do with the ACLJ to fight back on these. That's right. And we are of course in a matching challenge right now at ACLJ.org.

You can double the impact of your donation. The entire month of July is the final. A day of the week will be on the broadcast with you.

With the matching challenge though, it does go until tomorrow at midnight. The Jay Sekulow Band has got a new concert for you as well tomorrow at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Facebook. But I want to encourage you to support the work of the ACLJ financially at ACLJ.org. That's ACLJ.org.

We'll be right back on Sekulow. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. Whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their life, uncovering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy, and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress, the ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.

For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's matching challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.

A $50 gift becomes 100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support.

Take part in our matching challenge today. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Only when a society can agree that the most vulnerable and voiceless deserve to be protected is there any hope for that culture to survive. And that's exactly what you are saying when you stand with the American Center for Law and Justice to defend the right to life. We've created a free, powerful publication offering a panoramic view of the ACLJ's battle for the unborn.

It's called Mission Life. It will show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, Planned Parenthood's role in the abortion industry and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift.

I'm holding my hands for you. If you're watching the broadcast, you can see there's the map that the Prince William County Zoning Board provided the church that has the tree plots where they can have your Christmas trees, all by the way commercial activity. If you notice, forgetting kind of the purpose of an actual church is not the Christmas tree sales or the pumpkin patch. Your church might do those things.

That's wonderful. You're doing that to either raise money for a ministry or mission trips, or maybe you let the Boy Scouts use the property. I know that's where we get our Christmas tree. This is, again, all commercial, forgetting what the purpose of the church is, but then also telling a church to get a liquor license.

I want everybody to think about that for a moment. Which costs money. It's like a tax on a church. We're supposed to be tax-exempt under our tax code under the laws of the United States and the laws that would govern Prince William County, Virginia.

But it is absurd. These counties try to do this to prevent religious organizations from operating. That's why we have federal law that protects religious institutions from these counties. Here they are trying to say it with a wink and a nod, but what they are doing is saying, we don't want you here. Of course not. Here's what we have. It's not necessarily anti-religious. You don't provide tax resources to us. This is not good.

That's why they fight. Yeah, but here's the reality. I want everybody that's listening right now, if you're watching on any of our social media platforms, I'd like you to do something right now. Whatever social media platform you're on, share this with your friends right now. You don't hear about these kind of things every day. You need to know this operates and it is actually happening.

So share this with your friends and I'm about to get into this in detail. There is a written letter from Prince William County saying to the church, you must obtain the liquor license, the ABC license, in order to operate, to have a wedding, to have a events and I guess to have your worship service. And this, we're talking about one of the richest counties in the United States.

That's why I want you to share this with your friend. I want everybody to be familiar with this. Now, Fan, let's talk about Prince William County. It's close to Washington DC. Yeah, it's not only one of the richest counties in America. This is literally in the shadow of the US Capitol, Jay. This is a commuter county.

For people that are familiar with the DC area, this is towns like Manassas, Gainesville, Haymarket, Woodbridge. Jay, these are people that know better. These are people that know that churches are supposed to be on the leading edge of liberty and freedom in the United States and yet they're doing it anyway. So look, it's not an accident. I would tell you that it's intentional and that's part of the reason we've got to stand up. Sometimes, Jay, maybe these things happen in the shadow of darkness.

This is not one of those things. This is an intentional act of provocation to the church. Well, we're going to federal court on Monday. I mean, we're filing a lawsuit, folks.

So the ACLJ is going to represent this church against one of the biggest and wealthiest counties in Virginia and in, frankly, in the country. Now, I wish I could tell you this was an anomaly. This doesn't happen. But the fact is, Harry, this is happening a lot.

Absolutely. So this is happening in New York. It's happening in New Jersey. It's happening in California.

It's happening in Kentucky. States and counties and cities are imposing arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory rules on churches and the American people need to stand up and fight back. What is missing in this particular case is respect for the First Amendment. What is missing is respect for the Free Exercise Clause. And what we are seeing on full display is absolute hostility, in my opinion, to religion.

So we had two interesting comments came in on, I think these were on Facebook. One says, are they trying to force the liquor license on the church because of communion? The answer is no.

No. In fact... This church doesn't use alcohol. This church, as opposed to alcohol, the specific denomination, which is not unusual in the Christian denominations or the religious world, that there would be a church opposed to alcohol. So it has nothing to do with communion. In fact, I keep going back to the idea that they keep telling, the way that they're trying to sell this to the church, and I mean sell in that sense, is, well, if you did this, you could sell things, you could have your markets, you could have your pumpkin patch.

They, forgetting why the church exists for the first place, those are all secondary or even less things that a church does to reach out to the community. But those are also commercial activities that they're talking about. Which can make a tax.

Right, if you had a liquor license. Right. So do you understand what's going on here? And by the way, the power to tax here is the power to control, and the power to control the church and its message. That's what you have to be concerned with.

Now, Wes, I wanna ask you this, because I think that there's a fundamental issue here. They're also acting as if the winery would be more valuable to the community than the church itself. Yeah, and as far as tax revenue goes, it would be more valuable to the county. The tax revenue. Exactly.

This is a free exercise issue writ large. The bottom line is, they are telling this congregation, you cannot function as a church. That's what we're saying to them. But we will let you, as if they have the authority to let them function as a church under the guise that you're a business that serves alcohol. Yeah, basically they're saying, don't say you're a church, church. But if you'll operate like a winery or a brewery, we'll let you operate. And then if you have a worship service, maybe that'll be okay. Well, that's not the way it works in the United States of America.

Okay? And it's certainly not the way it works under the First Amendment. In fact, it's not the way it works under statutory law also. It doesn't operate that way under the Virginia Freedom of Religion statute, which is one of the broadest in the country.

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson. So this idea that you can, the church, you know, just say you're a winery. Can you imagine this? I want you to put yourself in this church's place. You're the pastor of a church or the board of elders. And they, you, you've got this property and you're going to build your new worship center. It's going to be, you know, fit right into the community to offer assistance to the community, to offer a place of worship. And they, and the board authority, the zoning authority says, you know, church, if you were just a brewery, if you were just a winery, this would be really easy.

So why don't you just say, that's what you are. I want to get your reaction to this too. We're going to hear what you have to say about this at 1-800-684-3110.

That's 800-684-3110. But this idea that they can regulate the church this way, by the way, all their, could you imagine, first of all, the strings that come with a liquor license, you cannot even imagine the regulatory regimes. You know, it's a whole deal. I mean, this is a, the liquor license is important to you, restaurants and other places of commercial activity. But that's what it implies is that you are engaged in commercial activity as a church. And then they go and say, well, see all the other commercial activity to do.

Like if you sold Christmas trees or you had a pumpkin patch and again, those would all be charitable gifts, you know, if you'd be donating, if you, if there was any cost at all to any of those activities. But what is absurd here is the church said, this is, this was the solution by the county. Now understand the solution by the county was, we can get tax revenue out of this church. We can get them to pay a license, pay a license as a tax, a fee. We can get them to do things they wouldn't have to do. So they bought this piece of property and we'll get to keep making money off of it because you have to renew your license.

You have to be inspected to keep these licenses. So they again want to take the tax exemption from this church and tax the church. So it's a creative way for, they thought it Prince George's County to go after a church and still get revenue. And that is again, or choose or tell the church what's going on on the premises or tell the church don't be here.

That's the other option is, is you can't have this, you can't utilize the property bought. No, that's no, you're exactly, you're exactly a hundred percent correct. So I, Harry, the question I, you know, you said this is a fundamental free speech and before I go to Harry, I'm going to get to the, I want to talk about the fundamental freedom of religion issue.

But, but fan describe again what we're talking about here. People need to understand, we're not talking about, you know, way out in the woods. Yeah, it's not an accident. And these are people that are sophisticated, know the law. And I'm sure members of the congregation is certainly members of the governing authority that's making the attack here. They know the law here, Jay, they know this is unconstitutional. They know this is in violation of federal statute. They know it's in violation of state statute.

And I would just add one thing too. I mean, the idea that they're going to say that they tax value of the church is the only thing that they're concerned. Jay, the very reason that churches and houses worship get tax exempt status is because of the irreplaceable value to the fabric of society that they provide. Going against that, very offensive, Jay. You know, Harry, this also really undercuts the Virginia statute of religious liberty, which was drafted by Jefferson.

Absolutely. And so the church has two grounds of attack. First, the state constitution, and secondly, the United States constitution. So essentially what we have here is a decision by the Prince William zoning board to interfere with the church's right to determine its own doctrine. Government authorities do not have the right to determine what you believe, what you say, and how you address your congregation. So this constitutes, at least in my opinion, a violation of both the free exercise clause and arguably the establishment clause because now we have excessive government entanglement in religion. In addition, we should note that the US constitution as determined by the Supreme Court requires neutrality.

Here, neutrality is missing. Essentially, the Prince William County is saying you can't operate as a church, but you can operate as a liquor establishment. Now, it's very, very possible that the members of the Prince William zoning board prefer their liquor as opposed to their religion, but they don't have the right to make that choice. You know what, I think this is, again, one thing you have to point out here is that the church, you went back and this is why it's important to speak out on these issues and to let people know because the church said, is this what we need to do? Should we be doing this?

And of course, now they're working with us and we're preparing the lawsuit because absolutely not, they don't need to be applying for a liquor license and be governed by Prince William County's regulators. We'll be back on Secular. Only when a society can agree that the most vulnerable and voiceless deserve to be protected, is there any hope for that culture to survive? And that's exactly what you were saying when you stand with the American Center for Law and Justice to defend the right to life. We've created a free, powerful publication offering a panoramic view of the ACLJ's battle for the unborn.

It's called Mission Life. It will show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, play on parenthood's role in the abortion industry and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. Whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their faith, uncovering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress, the ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.

For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's Matching Challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.

A $50 gift becomes $100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support. Take part in our Matching Challenge today. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family.

Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. We actually got a comment on Facebook. Someone wrote in and said, you know, why are we talking about this? There's so much going on in the world. Let me just kind of set the stage for everybody.

Maybe you're newer to the ACLJ. We do talk a lot about big topics. Mike Pompeo is part of our team on Two Times a Row this week on the broadcast talking about big international issues. But don't forget your constitution and your rights. If you don't stand up and speak out for the church in Northern Virginia, this will happen to your church, wherever you are. There's a reason why there's a federal law to protect against this, because counties have an interest in not having churches, not having nonprofit entities have pieces of property in their county because they don't pay taxes, because they are tax-exempt organizations. Churches, when you look at the tax code, being the most clearly tax-exempt. They have to file the least amount of information with the IRS, any charitable organization or tax-exempt organization because in America, while this may be Prince William County, we fought a war for the freedom of religion, for the freedom of thought, for the freedom of assembly to govern ourselves. And in our laws, we have gone back time and time again and had to go back time and time again to protect churches. We've had to go to court to protect churches for decades at the ACLJ.

If you don't see the bigger issue, then you're missing the whole point. You know, if you're someone saying, well, we've got this issue, that issue, and the government's trying to intrude, hello, this is the ultimate intrusion, the intrusion into the place of worship, the control of a place of worship. Say, oh, just get a liquor license.

That's wonderful. Then the church would be subject to inspections, you know, unscheduled inspections, because they would be treated like a business operating with a liquor license instead of a nonprofit entity, church, religious organization or religious entity. It is very troubling.

And I want to, again, I want to go to the phones. Also, people talked about, they think that this is something happening at local level governments because they've been empowered by COVID restrictions. I honestly, we've seen this for much longer than the COVID has been a problem in the US and the world, that counties have constant, there is a federal law to protect religious entities from being treated this way. But sometimes you've got to fight back because here, in this case, Prince William County didn't say no. It wasn't that clear cut. They didn't say, no, you can't operate.

That is what they are saying. How absurd in the United States of America to tell a church or any other religious entity, you've got to get a liquor license, a license from the ABC board in Virginia, which is how it operates there. And then you'll be subject to these checks, to inspections.

And by the way, then you'll be able to sell things is how they explained it to the church. It is, again, so when you think, hey, you guys talk about such big issues most of the time on this broadcast, this is a big issue. It's our first amendment. And if you don't like all these other restrictions, well, this is where you fight. And you have to be willing to represent the church in Northern Virginia and take the fight against a major county like this in the US, as we pointed out. This is one of the biggest, most wealthy counties in the country. They've got the ability to fight if they're willing to here. They might realize how absurd this looks once this gets more scrutiny, especially a lawsuit being filed.

But we see this time and time again. I don't think it has to do with COVID restrictions because they've never wanted the churches to operate in their counties. The reason why we see this attitude, and we've seen it a lot in Northern Virginia specifically, which is, again, it's the suburb of Washington DC, the wealthiest suburbs of Washington DC are in Northern Virginia. And we see it time and time again there because these are, again, plots or places, whether the property that's bought won't be tax revenue for the county.

So they want to make them feel uncomfortable. And so that's the bigger issue. But I do want to go to the phones, 1-800-68-431-10. Bill in Wyoming online too. Hey Bill, welcome to Secular, you're on the air.

Hi, thanks for taking my call. I just want to add to that one comment before I start with my question. Maybe liquor is their religion on this government. Anyway, my question is, this could be a precedent if you ask me, because if they get one church to actually give in to this, the news can go out, go to other local governments and say, hey, look, it's being done, it's been a precedent, you've got to do it, or am I wrong? No, listen, you have to be very careful whenever you allow the government to license a religious institution.

Let me say that again. So what happens if they're doing a wink and a nod, hey, if you get the ABC license, we're going to let you operate. Well, they get all the control that comes with the ABC license. And what the establishment clause of the constitution prohibits is government entanglement with religion. But Harry, I'm trying to think of what is more of an entanglement than a church being required to get a liquor license to operate. You raise a very, very good point.

Really? If at the end of the day, in order for a church to operate, they must get a liquor license, what's to prevent governing authorities to now impose other rules and other restrictions on a church? It's very, very important that we take all of our constitutional rights seriously.

The First Amendment is, for instance, linked with the Second Amendment, which is linked with the Third and the Fourth Amendment. President Biden has nominated, for instance, ATF nominee David Chipman. What does he want to do? He wants to shrink Americans' First Amendment rights.

Why? Because ultimately, he wants to target Americans' Second Amendment rights. And so he wants to prevent the American people from defending their rights through freedom of speech so that he can now shrink their Second Amendment rights. So we must take these attempts by Prince William County and other entities very seriously now because there is indeed a slippery slope out there. That's why we're going to federal court on Monday on this. But I'm trying to think, Wes, of a more intrusive way to try to control the operations and the content of what a church does than requiring—I mean, you can't make this stuff up, a liquor license.

Yeah, you have to wonder what county or attorney read this letter and thought it was a good letter to send out to the church. This is not about alcohol. It's not about our liquor license. It's about freedom of religion and the special status that churches have under the law. And on a very practical basis, Jay, liquor licenses generally are not cheap.

They have to be renewed. And if a entity has a liquor license, there are restrictions that come with what you can do on that property, the hours you can operate, and other restrictions from the government. Liquor licenses always come with a lot of government control. This is an outlandish proposal by Prince William County. We would have had Ben Sisney on the broadcast today to talk about this, but he's in federal court on two cases right now dealing with the unmasking issues back from the previous election issues. And talking about election issues, we've got a brief that's going to be filed any moment in the Georgia case.

So we've got a lot to talk about in the second half hour of the broadcast. But folks, we're able to represent that church because of your support for the American Center for Law and Justice. And we're in the last two days of our Matching Challenge campaign.

This is it. Yeah, support the work of the ACLJ at ACLJ.org. As you know, these Matching Challenge months, which are very important to the ACLJ, we have a group of donors. They say we'll match all the donations that come through the month of July. So you've got to trigger that match by making the donation online at ACLJ.org. And we're about to file in Georgia. We're about to file in, again, we've got these two, the unmasking, and of course representing this church.

We'll be right back, second half hour of Sekulow. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's Matching Challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.

A $50 gift becomes $100. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Live from Washington, D.C., Sekulow Live. And now your host, Jordan Sekulow.

Hey, welcome back to Sekulow. So as we informed you, we're about to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of a church in Prince William County, Virginia. This is a church that was already operating interestingly enough, just factually. They purchased the property, but they hadn't yet been building on it because they were operating out of a school. I'm sure they're raising resources. And the reason they can operate out of a school is because of an ACLJ case that we argued back in the 1990s at the Supreme Court in the United States that said when schools opened their facilities for community use, they could not exclude churches.

We won that 9-0. But because of COVID- Under COVID, the schools were shut down for any community use. So it wasn't like the church was singled out by the county.

The school wasn't open at all for anybody, including students for a period of time. So they had to figure out what to do next. They had the piece of land. They wanted to operate.

So they went to get the building permit, the zoning permits, and they were told, you know what, we're not going to allow you to do this unless you get a liquor license. And this is a way for the county to figure out how to get revenue from a church because the church would be tax-exempt at the federal level, state level, and local level. They would get no revenue from the church. You could say there'd be a lot of ways you could, having churches in your counties and communities, benefits civil society.

Look at the breakdown when everything, when there were no church and there was no school, it's not so great and things weren't so great. So churches bring in, I think, a positive, which is why they get treated with this special tax status. They do so much for the community at no cost to the community. Just like the work that we do at the ACLJ, we're a nonprofit tax-exempt organization because we can represent the tax-exempt church and their legal battle at no cost to the church.

And we do that because of your support for our work. But this is also, I think, really a classic example of government overreach to the point of absurdity. Because when you, look, a business license is one thing. A liquor license to a church, which of course sounds absurd to begin with, but brings an entire regulatory regime in place, Harry, which again, going back to the founders, which is exactly what the founders were trying to avoid when they set up the free exercise clause and the establishment clause of the first amendment. Precisely correct. So what we have in play here is another instance of morally superior elites basically telling a church how it should operate in the 21st century.

In other words, they're saying you need to prioritize liquor sales rather than sharing the gospel. That is obviously outrageous. And it certainly represents clear and unmistakable evidence that the officials in Prince William County do not understand the United States Constitution. It also suggests why we took the Revolutionary War to Great Britain and we broke away. Imagine Prince William imposing his edict on the people of Virginia. The people of Virginia should rise up and they should not accept this edict from people who consider themselves royalty. People may be asking, why is the ACLJ making this such a big issue and why is it so important? This is not just about a church. Even if you never go to church, this is about constitutional rights and it affects literally every American citizen. This is a core issue for freedom in America. And we have to take a stand because the government's pension is always to have more and more control. And the Constitution's there to limit that control and to articulate what happens when individual liberties and the government intersect.

I was gonna go to Than for a second here. I know we're right up short on time. We can follow it up afterwards. But then, you know, the idea that government, I mean, you're dealing with government every day and our government affairs office would be doing this is really, it really is outrageous. The ACLJ government's very first job is to secure and defend the liberties that are afforded to its citizens, certainly the ones to acquire. And here's the other thing, Jay, this is just a foothold. If you think this is the end, this is the foothold. And if they have this control, it'll certainly expand from there. They get the Jordan.

They get, they require liquor license with all the regulatory regimes. If you're allowed to do that to a church, this would be absurd. You've got to fight back. You got to fight back and then take them to court. And we are able to do that at the ACLJ because of your financial support to the ACLJ. We have the resources to represent church in Northern Virginia at no cost to that church and work, you know, take the county to court and fight back for what is right. Support our work at ACLJ.org. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad, whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their faith. I'm covering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress. The ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.

For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's matching challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.

A $50 gift becomes 100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support.

Take part in our matching challenge today. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Only when a society can agree that the most vulnerable and voiceless deserve to be protected is there any hope for that culture to survive. And that's exactly what you are saying when you stand with the American Center for Law and Justice to defend the right to life. We've created a free, powerful publication offering a panoramic view of the ACLJ's battle for the unborn.

It's called Mission Life. It will show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, Planned Parenthood's role in the abortion industry, and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift.

Welcome back to Second Hill. We are taking your phone calls, your comments, 1-800-684-3110. We're going to keep you updated too as we file on this case next week in federal court on this church, the alive church in Northern Virginia, just getting started there with litigation. Unfortunately, Prince William County was, again, unwilling to do the right thing and so we will be taking them to federal court.

I can't wait to see the judge's reaction to, we told the church to get a liquor license. I mean, you know... I mean, it's so absurd when you even say that.

Yeah. Yeah, it is absurd, but they're saying we're going to do anything possible to figure out. Maybe they'll just shrug their shoulders. They thought about it. The church thought about it. They said, you know, they go to these churches who were put in a jam.

Right, because of COVID. And they said, you know, if you do this, we'll let you move forward. If not, you can't even build your church.

You cannot operate, basically. So the church, what's right here, what's wrong here, and how are they treating us? Because they put out a nice little map about where we can have our Christmas tree plots, but it is all a game to get money in control of the church. But it's also a game to bring the regulatory regime to that church. And that regulatory regime, when you're talking about a liquor license, ABC permit as it's called in Virginia, you're talking about an entire volume of regulations that now would apply to this church. I mean, again, I go back to Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia religious freedom statute to avoid specifically professor Hutchinson, what they're doing here.

You are precisely correct. I mean, that's what's so absurd. I mean, Virginia of all States knows better than this. They do know better than this, except again, they see themselves as being morally superior human beings who are prepared to ignore their own history. So if they can read, they can read what Thomas Jefferson wrote. However, they are quite prepared to ignore Thomas Jefferson.

They're quite prepared to ignore James Madison and the United States constitution at the end of the day. And I think that's why we need to respond. By the way, it's not just the first amendment that applies here. It's also the religious land use protection act, which was an act fan of Congress many years ago. Now that was designed specifically for, to prevent this kind of abuse. Yeah.

Multiple layers here on the side of the church. Jay's certainly a violation. I want to go back though quickly, not just constitutional, not just statutory to your point about regulation. Jay, can you think of an area that's going to require more levels of regulation than someone who can dispense alcohol and look at the church can say, we're not going to dispense alcohol, but that's not what the state would say. The state would say anyone who has an ABC license, because they could potentially engage in this kind of commerce, they are going to have to deal with these kinds of regulations, Jay.

So you're absolutely correct. This is a foothold for multiple additional layers of authority for the state government. A lot of people are calling in right now and they're asking about the ACLJ donation line. Let me tell you the best way to support the work of the ACLJ and Jordan will give you the specifics, but it's precisely for this. It keeps us broadcast on the air, but also we're in the last two days of this matching challenge for the month of July. It also allows us to represent this church in federal court at no charge. That's right. So you can go to ACLJ.org.

That's ACLJ.org. It's safe. It's secure.

It's quick. It says matching challenge right on the homepage. So you'll be part of that.

Double the impact of your donation. We appreciate everybody who's calling in to ask. You've got until midnight tomorrow, that's Saturday, until this matching challenge is over for the month of July. The Jay Sekulah Bay will be performing 8 p.m. Eastern time on Facebook. So I encourage you to check that out as well tomorrow night.

So you've got, again, this kind of 24 hours, a little bit more of that left. Let's go to the phones. John in California online too. Hey John, welcome to Sekulah. You're on the air.

Hey John. Thank you. My question is, can you give some more facts about the church? Is it already a body? Do they have property? And are they just moving in? Yeah, so John, they were already operating as a lot of churches do. They were utilizing a school, but they had purchased this property. They were utilizing a school as they were planning to build on the property. Which they're allowed to do under the Lamb's Chapel case, which so that the counties are required to allow them to utilize. If the school facilities are open for community groups, you cannot segregate out religious uses or churches.

That was in Lamb's Chapel versus Center Moriches. I argued that case in the Supreme Court in 1992. But they had, as Jordan said, they had already purchased this property. They had already purchased this property. The school shut down under COVID and it shut down to anything in person in the school. And they also, of course, shut down any outside groups from utilizing the school. So this church had to accelerate the use of their new property. So they went in with their plans. They presented it to the county. They still have to go through that approval process.

And the county came back and said, no, unless you do something that will provide us money. That's all this. Ultimately, that's what this is about. Money, control, licensing. Things that sound absurd when you talk about a religious institution. Getting a license from a state, especially for this, a liquor license, which it's almost like a slap in the face to a religious organization, to many denominations, religious denominations. But also the control that comes with that and the confusion because in a year, I could see the county coming back and saying, you're not really a church. Exactly. You're really, you got a liquor license. We're going to tax you. No, that's precisely what they're going to do here.

All the Christmas trees and pumpkin patch that we had. Yeah. And we're going to tax those activities too because you're not serving the function of a church. And then the answer is, well, we're not serving the function of a church.

Well, we are, but you told us we had to have a liquor license to do it. Yeah. Puts them in a double bind. Unbelievable bind.

Yeah. And the government, I'm sorry, in America, you do not have to have government permission to operate as a church. I think this is about government control. It's also about tax revenue for Prince William County. I don't understand for the life of me. And we'll take your calls at 800-684-3110.

Your comments are coming in as well. I don't understand why they are mandating this. Like you said, what county attorney said, well, I've got a good idea.

And let's think about this. We know this church bought this property, a live church, and they've been operating in our school systems without any problems, by the way. They bought this property. How do we keep them out or how do we tax them? I know we're going to require that they have a liquor license, an ABC permit, which is what it's called in Virginia. Now, who came in and said, this is a good idea?

What lawyer told them, I've got a good idea. Let's tell the church they have to get a liquor permit. They're always though, these counties, they have a disposition against especially new churches because it's property that was available.

So it's not necessarily, they weren't historically there for a hundred years. Well, that's property that in the county's view, in a warped view of what a church provides to the community. And it's why they're taxing them for the first place, but say, well, there's not going to be a revenue. We won't get anything from this church.

I mean, you know, that we'd rather be residential because at least they'll be paying property taxes and they'll be paying the taxes that come with a residential property. So they, but again, I think to underscore it, to see the big picture here, step back from Prince William County, is that this is a way that they try and get a church to just go along with what they want. And we don't know often when we take our cases, how many other people got the same kind of treatment because a lot of people, they don't want to fight. They don't want to fight with the government. They don't want to have to go to federal court.

They may not think they don't have the resources to go to court. It's why we exist at the ACLJ. It's it's a, it's again, I know we talk about big issues on this broadcast, broad issues on this topic. But this is a big issue. Yes. You're right. Yeah, but it is just as big.

But it's a fundamental issue of freedom and liberty. Now, interestingly, Ben Sesney just sent a note to us. That's our, our senior counsel that's saying this, that he actually found out about this case because he was visiting the church with his family. They were renting a private school facility once the public school had closed. So it was kind of a stopgap for the church. And he started talking with the pastor and the pastor happened to say, Hey, I'm a fan of the ACLJ. Let me tell you what we're dealing with.

And then I'm looking at this area. I'm looking at the certified letter where they put, Jordan mentioned this, the tree plots, the pumpkin patch, the Christmas trees. I mean, they've actually put this in the document.

Yeah. It's like, Hey church, this is how you could sneak it in. It's absurd, but authoritarianism exploded during the pandemic. And once these government officials tasted power, what do they want? They want unlimited power grounded in their own moral superiority. So I foresee if this is allowed to stand that the Prince William authorities, they will seek to grab more and more power from churches, more and more power from private entities.

They will then shrink the liberties of the citizens of Prince William County. And so I think it is time to stand up to these bullies, these totalitarian authoritarian bullies. All right, folks, again, we were to take your phone calls at 1-800-6430. We'll take your comments to get those online, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram, but let me encourage you to support the work of the ACLJ. We're in almost the final 24 hours.

It goes until midnight tomorrow night. Wherever you are is how our system works. To be part of the July matching challenge, donate at ACLJ.org. That is how we represent these churches. That is how we, again, are able to file in Georgia.

We'll get more into that of course next week as well, but even into the next segment. Again, so whether it's election law, you know, of a whole state, whether it's church in Prince George's County, we are willing to fight and it's because of your support for the ACLJ. Donate online today at ACLJ.org. That's ACLJ.org. Right back with our final segment. Anyone in society can agree that the most vulnerable and voiceless deserve to be protected.

Is there any hope for that culture to survive? And that's exactly what you are saying when you stand with the American Center for Law and Justice to defend the right to life. We've created a free, powerful publication offering a panoramic view of the ACLJ's battle for the unborn.

It's called Mission Life. It will show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, play on parenthood's role in the abortion industry and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. Whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their faith, uncovering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress, the ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.

For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's Matching Challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.

A $50 gift becomes $100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support. Take part in our Matching Challenge today. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. So we're going to keep you updated on this case as we file it next week in federal court.

We just wanted to let you know about the ACLJ's work there. Another major topic, of course, on the border. The border, for two reasons. One, it's a major humanitarian crisis still. It's becoming a crisis.

Democrats are speaking out on it now saying it's horrible, terrible situation. The second part of it is the spread of COVID at the border. They're not wearing masks. People are not wearing masks as they come up through Central America and Mexico, and they are testing positive for COVID and being put in communities. So while we are taking, in some places, pretty drastic steps backwards in the fight against COVID, on the border, they ignore it. The federal government, except as tough as they talked about those horrible policies from Donald Trump, and they didn't care about families, they didn't care about the people, how bad this was going on, the Biden administration has decided that they will utilize the same federal law that allows them to immediately deport, immediately exclude without trial, without going through a process, because of this health crisis. That's existing law on the books. If there's a unique crisis, you don't have to provide the due process you might have to these people who have crossed illegally.

You could just turn around and take the step to immediately deport. They're calling an expedited removal under Title 42. It was the same exact plan that the Trump administration utilized when the same problem existed. Despite the protest and the rhetoric from the vice President about how to handle the border crisis by getting to root causes, and despite the fact, as Jordan just said, that they were complaining about the way the Trump administration handled this, at the end of the day, Than, when the crisis was there, and it is right now, they resorted to exactly what they should have resorted to, which was Title 42.

Because it works, Jay. And it was working before the Trump administration ended and there's no getting around it. And look, we've said this so many times on this broadcast, but so many of the problems that we talk about on the border are fixable or at least improvable. And the track record of the Trump administration shows that, Jay. I mean, you talk about Title 42, remain in Mexico, ending catch and release, shoring up the asylum process, reinstating Operation Talent. Jay, all of these are things that the administration could do if they wanted to. They not only don't want to do it, but Jay, there are bills in both the House and the Senate to reinstate all those programs.

Not a single Democrat in either chamber is on those bills. You know, what's interesting is we've got a FOIA lawsuit for records of the Biden administration ending the Trump policies against the DHS, Customs and Border Patrol and ICE. And they filed a motion to dismiss.

We briefed it. We're waiting for the court to rule. Members of Congress, I know Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, they have put forward legislation to reinstate, it's called the Border Security for America Act, to reinstate the Trump era immigration approach.

The laws that exist, it is taking existing laws and enforcing them on the books. So we're working on this issue as well. So we're working on border security. There's also Democrats that are speaking out on this. I think this is very important for people to understand.

Yeah, that's right. This is not a left, it is left versus right, but it's not all Republicans versus Democrats. The Democrats that represent these borders and communities are also willing. This is Congressman Cuellar.

He is a Democrat from Texas, had a press conference on this today. Take a listen. Take a listen. We just had a phone call, because I've always told the administration, look, I'm a Democrat, it's a Democrat administration. And I've been very respectful about the administration.

All I said, look, you don't have to listen to me. I want you to listen to the border communities. And I want you to listen to the men and women of DHS and their families.

This weekend, I just spent about three hours with agents and their families and their chiefs and especially their families. And they don't need pats in the back. They need help down there on the border. So I got to ask this question because, and that's coming from a Democratic member of Congress, which I appreciate. And Than, what is the sense of Congress here? I mean, I understand what the Biden administration is sticking with the policies of the Trump administration.

I get that. But there is a real crisis here. There's a real reticence inside the Democrat party. Look, I certainly agree with you. There are Democrats speaking out. Henry Cuellar has been at the leading edge of that. But Jay, when the rubber meets the road, when there's actually a chance for Congress to push the administration on this and to require some of these things to be reinstated, you can't find the votes on the Democrat side of the aisle in the United States Senate.

That's just that's just the truth. And Jay, one other point I would make to what Congressman Cuellar was saying here. He's certainly correct that border states are feeling this the most. But look, this is a nationwide problem right now. And the suspension of Operation Talon, which just to remind folks, that was the Trump era program that was tracking down sex criminals who are illegally present in the United States.

They suspended that, Jay. That is a nationwide issue. And frankly, Congress, Republican, Democrat, independent alike, ought to be rushing to the floor to force the administration to reinstate that program.

But you just can't find the votes in the United States Senate. This is again, I think that it is a crisis that continues. It's a crisis that's got worse because of COVID. 190,000 apprehensions in the month of June. The number keeps going up, up, up. And while what the Biden team is trying to do is by not allowing media there is to try to not show how bad this is because they don't want this on their hands.

Yeah. Where there's so much chaos and inconsistency on the policies on the border, they've agreed to keep Title 42 in place so that for health reasons, we can immediately deport people. But they're not doing it consistently. 50,000 people who crossed illegally have been released into the interior of the United States without what's called a notice to appear. Normally you get a piece of paper that says you have to come back to an immigration court on this day.

These 50,000 were given nothing. They were told on the honor system to show up. And then what's happening in places like La Jolla and other border communities, they are actually releasing people who, as they came across, CBB tests them, they are COVID positive, and they're being bused into communities without telling the city officials, without telling, for example, the La Jolla police department, and COVID positive people are being released into border communities.

Now, I want to let people know this. So the ACLJ's government oversight team, our government oversight team at the ACLJ, out of Fann's office in Washington, is already filed a lawsuit to get to the bottom of how this has all happened. Because from a policy perspective, Harry, let's be realistic. Other than the fact that they have the rhetoric that we don't want to do what President Trump did, which they kind of are still doing because they have to, their policy changes make no sense.

Absolutely not. And they ought to look at the evidence. We have 170,000 illegal aliens crossing the border a month. We have migrant detentions hitting a 20-year high.

We have more than 1.1 apprehensions during the first six months of the fiscal year. So I think it's clear beyond question that under President Biden's weak leadership, the border crisis knows no limits as every American community now bears the brunt of this particular problem. So we have rising lawlessness.

We have rising COVID infection rates in some states. And now we have the Biden administration, which has basically suspended, as Than rightly points out, Operation Talon. Why did the Biden administration suspend that particular policy, which limits or focuses on reducing the number of sex offenders in the United States? Does the Biden administration believe that there are too few sex offenders in the United States?

I don't think so. No, I mean, this is, again, it goes to the policy failures, but also dealing with reality. And you ultimately have to deal with reality.

Let me encourage you. We have gone through a handful of so many different kinds of issues. We are literally handling all of them at the ACLJ, from the border security to the church in Northern Virginia to the decisions by the administration on their border issues. We have the voting laws in Georgia, which will be filed on Monday. We're going to get to that. We're filing at the district court level. That's how important we believe the integrity of our elections are moving forward as a country never wanted to see what happened in 2020 repeated again.

There's no reason we have to be like that. So support our work. We have a matching challenge until midnight tomorrow at ACLJ.org. Double the impact your donation. ACLJ.org.

Talk to you Monday. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's matching challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20. A $50 gift becomes $100. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-18 20:00:39 / 2023-09-18 20:24:13 / 24

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