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The AACS Legislative Office monitors issues that affect the educational freedom and religious liberty of Christian schools.
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The Washington Flyer
September 23, 2016
 
“A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.”
Daniel Webster
 
AACS Hosts National Legislative Conference, Thanks Dr. Wiebe, and Welcomes Dr. Rouse
Last week, the AACS hosted the annual National Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., for pastors, administrators, state leaders, and students and teachers involved in AACS ministries. The theme for the conference was “Strong Nations Seek the Lord,” based on Zechariah 8:22, which states, “strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts . . . and to pray before the LORD.” The conference included a legislative briefing in which the AACS legislative staff updated the attendees on the legislative issues important to Christian education. Topics included protecting religious liberty through the First Amendment Defense Act, reining in federal overreach through the Civil Rights Uniformity Act, and opposing federal expansion in early education. A highlight of the conference was the congressional briefing featuring Senator Ted Cruz (TX) and Representatives Tim Huelskamp (KS), Barry Loudermilk (GA), and Vicky Hartzler (MO). Each spoke passionately about the importance of faith in our country, the grave threats to religious freedom and the need to protect those freedoms. Conference attendees also had the opportunity to meet with their own Representatives and Senators to educate them about the issues that affect Christian schools. On Tuesday evening, Dr. Tim Schmig led a Stories in Stone tour of the Iwo Jima Memorial, giving attendees greater insight into the monument, its men, and its meaning. The conference concluded on Wednesday morning with an informative briefing at the Heritage Foundation that included presentations made by education and religious liberty policy experts Roger Severino, Jennifer Marshall, John York, and Mary Clare Reim.
 
A significant part of this year’s conference was the recognition of Dr. Keith Wiebe’s retirement and the installation of Dr. Mike Rouse as the new AACS president. Both Dr. Wiebe and Dr. Rouse shared stirring messages during the conference. During the legislative banquet, the attendees and AACS board members honored Dr. Keith Wiebe for his service as president. The celebration included testimonies of gratitude from the AACS members for his integrity, wisdom, and humility in leading the organization. The AACS is grateful to Dr. Wiebe for his commitment to and passion for Christian education and for 13 years of faithful service.
 
AACS New President—Dr. Mike Rouse
The AACS is pleased to announce the installation of Dr. Mike Rouse as the new AACS president. Dr. Rouse has served as vice-president of AACS since 2008 and has been a member of the AACS Board of Directors since 2003. He has ministered as the senior pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church (Birmingham, AL) for 36 years. He started Mountain View Baptist School in 1981 and has served on the board for the Alabama Christian Education Association for 24 years, 12 years as vice-president and 9 years as president. He holds a theology degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in pastoral ministry from Baptist Bible College, and a master’s degree and doctorate degree in pastoral ministry. His involvement in Christian education includes teaching history and Bible, coaching, and serving as school principal at Anchor Academy in Salt Lake City, Utah, for three years. He and his wife Linda have been married for 45 years and have three daughters and 10 grandchildren, one of which is in heaven.

Religious Liberty

America Without Faith Project
This week, the Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives launched the
America Without Faith project in an effort to provide information for Members of Congress and religious liberty advocates who are seeking to defend and protect the freedoms of faith-based institutions. In light of recent progressive efforts to dismantle religious liberty and remove tax-exempt status for religious organizations, the America Without Faith project seeks to show the extent to which faith-based organizations help society and communities by meeting spiritual and family needs through ministries such as homeless shelters, hospitals, child care centers, and faith-based schools. The project organizers point out that there are approximately 350,000 congregations in America, spending $20 billion from private donations to provide help to 70 million people. Should faith-based institutions lose their resources or freedom to operate according to their mission, these are services which would be lost, and government programs, by their nature, are not sufficient or equipped to meet the spiritual and social needs in the same way. The launch event to promote this new project featured speakers Rep. Bill Flores (TX), Rep. Frank Wolf (VA), Dr. Matt Spalding (Hillsdale College), and Howard Husock (Manhattan Institute), all of whom spoke about the importance of the work of faith-based ministries and the need to protect their religious liberty so that they can continue their invaluable services to society.


Religious Liberty

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Coexistence Report
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) recently released a report entitled, “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties.” The report asserts that religious exemptions to the new wave of nondiscrimination laws are serious violations of the civil rights of special interest groups. The report asserts that religious liberty is simply a weapon used to discriminate. In a statement included in the report, Martin Castro, USCCR chairman since 2011, wrote that “the phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing as long as they remain code words for discrimination
, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian Supremacy, or any form of intolerance.” Castro went on to say that “today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality.” Two of the commission’s members, however, opposed the report’s assertions, concluding rather that the matter is far more complex than simply “good guys vs. bad guys.” Senator Ben Sasse (NE) spoke to the dangers this report presents, stating in part, “This profession of ‘Peaceful Coexistence’ must never quietly euthanize ‘religious liberty’ because Washington lawyers find it convenient to do so.” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, also criticized the report, stating, “The Commission’s report is a shameful anti-American and anti-God document that trashes religious freedom.”

 

 


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American Association of Christian Schools
Jamison Coppola: Legislative Director
Maureen Van Den Berg: Policy Analyst

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