A Sea Change Has Occurred

Mar 16, 2023

Liberty Counsel is heading back to court — this time against a school district that thought it could get away with discriminating against Christians. This is a replay of a Supreme Court case we won back in 2001. But after 22 years and two more game-changing Supreme Court rulings in 2022, yet another school district is violating the First Amendment. You would think local government officials would learn. Unfortunately for them, they will learn the hard way.

We must fight once again to defend the ground we have won and held for decades. Read on. — Mat

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For 51 years and after more than 7,000 references in court opinions, the “Lemon test” was a judge-made authority that has been used to censor religious speech, songs, Christmas cards, symbols, displays, and even America’s national motto — “In God We Trust.”

On May 2, 2022, Liberty Counsel’s 9-0 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in Shurtleff v. City of Boston involved censorship of Christian viewpoints regarding flag raisings. The High Court unanimously ruled that the City of Boston violated the Constitution by censoring a private flag in a public forum open to “all applicants” merely because the application referred to it as a “Christian flag.” The High Court unanimously rejected Boston’s use of the 1971 case known as Lemon v. Kurtzman.

And in our amicus brief on Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, Liberty Counsel argued that since the Establishment Clause provides no justification for suppressing Coach Joe Kennedy’s private religious speech to silently pray on the football field after games, the Lemon test should be overruled.

Essentially both cases came down to one problem. In the eyes of censors, if one viewed a flag as secular, it could fly. But if the applicant viewed that exact same flag as religious, the flag could not fly. If a person kneeled silently thinking only secular thoughts, the action was permissible. But if the person kneeling was thinking religious thoughts, the action was banned.

In short, the defendants falsely believed that a government religion would be established if the government allowed you to express your religious viewpoint. The argument is not only illogical, but it also ignores our First Amendment rights.

Ultimately, Lemon was a malleable test that judges could use to justify reaching their own personal goal. As a result, some 10 Commandments displays were banned while others (argued in another court) were allowed to stand.

Thankfully, this High Court agreed with our arguments, ruling in Coach Kennedy’s favor while also overturning the flawed Lemon test that had muzzled Christians for so long. In doing so, they ushered in a legal sea change.

Because of the High Court overturning Lemon with these two case decisions, there are many areas in which religious viewpoints have now been restored in America. Moreover, with the Lemon test now overruled, the High Court noted that the Establishment Clause should be interpreted according to its historical intent and meaning. Amazing!

Some examples of the legal sea change wrought by the 2022 cases are:

  • Government shall not discriminate against religious viewpoints whether expressed in speech, symbols, displays, or performances.

  • Public schools must give after-school religious student clubs the same access they allow similar secular clubs.

  • Churches can rent public schools for worship services.

  • Local, state, and federal governments may no longer:

    • Prohibit public prayer.

    • Remove 10 Commandments displays.

    • Ban Nativity scenes.

    • Tear down cross monuments or religious statues.

    • Censor religious performances.

    • And much more.

ALL cases that relied on the Lemon test are no longer good law.

We have worked for decades to see this time. But we must always defend religious freedom, or we will lose it. An excellent example is happening in Rhode Island right now.

Twenty-two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that public schools MUST provide equal access and equal treatment to Christian clubs when the school has opened the forum to secular clubs in Good News Club v. Milford Central School.

We represent Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) nationwide, and CEF has more than 4,800 Good News Clubs meeting in elementary schools. But anti-Christian zealots continue to violate that ruling.

Despite a clear ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court and several warning letters from Liberty Counsel, the Providence School District of Rhode Island has chosen to ban an after-school Good News Club because it is Christian.

Liberty Counsel has never lost a case defending Good News Clubs. The law and the Constitution are on our side. God willing, we will not lose this case.

But this comes at a time when our legal docket is full of vital pro-liberty litigation – much of it defending clients from the Biden administration’s tyranny. Our legal fund is stretched as never before. Could you send a special gift to help replenish our legal war chest?

You can help us continue winning for religious freedom with a recurring monthly donation or a one-time gift. A special Challenge Grant will DOUBLE THE IMPACT of every donation made today.

Thank you and God bless you for standing against anti-Christian bigotry!

Mat Staver
Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel

P.S. FAX CONGRESS! Demand they STOP Biden’s push for global WHO control. You can also sign our petition.


“Freedom for Religious Expression Takes Giant Leap Forward.” Liberty Counsel, March 13, 2023. Lc.org/newsroom/details/031323-freedom-for-religious-expression-takes-giant-leap-forward.