Religious Freedom Reporter
by Walter Carson




January 2016




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The Columbia Union General Counsel keeps a watchful eye on religious freedom in the courts and in the media and reports on individual members standing firm for their faith. He also shares information and photos from Religious Liberty events.

Archives 2010--Religious Freedom Reporter

 On Sabbath, March 15th, the Breath of Life Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Ft. Washington, Maryland, the theme was Religious Liberty. Attorney Robert Patterson, from Dayton, Ohio spoke at the morning service; his message was entitled “YOMA.” A mid-afternoon seminar featured Walter Carson from the Columbia Union and Attorney Patterson as they discussed: rumors concerning a national Sunday law; remedies available to Adventists who face religious discrimination in the workplace; and, the biblical and legal basis for the Church’s teachings regarding separation of church and state. They also responded to a number of questions from the congregation. The Religious Liberty leader, Attorney SaMonna Watts, lead out in a dramatic Adventist Youth presentation – “How Important Is Your Liberty” – reminding church members of last-day-events; and, preparing them to defend their Sabbath beliefs, even in a court of law. Pictured in the attached photograph is Attorney Watts, her husband VanWatts, and Robert Patterson.

Tiffany Jacobson, a Columbia, Md., public high school student, and her women’s volleyball team, were recently honored by the Howard County Council for winning the Maryland State volleyball championship. Jacobsen, a member of the Chesapeake Conference’s Tridelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church, had feared she would be unable to play in the championship event because it had originally been scheduled during Sabbath. However, with our help, an accommodation was arranged. Out of respect for Tiffany’s beliefs, officials agreed to hold the game on Saturday evening rather than Sabbath afternoon, thereby allowing Tiffany to participate in the championship game. We’re proud of Tiffany for her accomplishments and for standing up for her beliefs.

Liberty magazine editor Lincoln Steed spoke to members of the Tunkhannock (Pa.) Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath, February 2. His message was titled “America in Prophecy.” That afternoon my associate, Adrian Westney, and I joined Steed for a panel discussion concerning contemporary church/state issues. Local elder and church Religious Liberty secretary Gerald Grimaud hosted the event. He shared personal experiences from his law practice on the effectiveness of Liberty in informing public officials on the Adventist Church’s position regarding the separation of church and state.

On February 7, Mitt Romney has ended his yearlong campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Earlier this year Romney took the unusual step of speaking publicly about his religion—he is a member of the Mormon Church—and there offered assurances that his religion would not interfere with duties as president of the United States. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 50 percent of Americans indicated that “they would have reservations about or be ‘very uncomfortable’ with a Mormon as president.”

The Ethan Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dayton, Ohio, hosted a Religious Liberty Rally on Sabbath, February 9. Panel members included Robert Patterson, an attorney with Kettering Adventist HealthCare; Todd McFarland, associate general counsel at the Adventist World Headquarters; Adrian Westney, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) associate director of the Columbia Union; and me. We addressed current church/state issues including end-time events; religious accommodation in the workplace; and recent court decisions. In a question-and-answer period, the congregation raised a number of related topics and issues of interest. Earlier in the day, panel members served as Sabbath morning speakers in the Hillcrest, New Life, and Ethan Temple churches. Elder John Smith, the PARL director for the Allegheny West Conference coordinated the event. (Photo used with permission from Vernon Holman)
While in Dayton, I got to see my good friend and Columbia Union College roommate Isaac Palmer. He’s retired and living in Germantown, Ohio. By the way, I graduated from CUC in 1965. Isaac and I had lots of fun there.  (Photo used with permission from Vernon Holman)