If you drive through most any city in America on a Sunday morning you probably don’t notice that many public schools have churches that gather each week in them. You probably don’t notice in the same way you don’t notice a Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy because it’s so perfectly normal. In the Nashville area, almost every single school has a church meeting in it.
20 years ago not only was it abnormal, it was considered illegal. A liberal wing of our society progressed the assertion that it was illegal based on the separation of church and state. They would argue that religious advocacy is not beneficial to the general community.
It’s normal now because 20 years ago a guy named Jay Sekulow saw what was happening and had the courage to step out and stand up for our rights, all the way to the Supreme Court. Jay didn’t make the case about the establishment clause, but rather very skillfully and correctly argued for equal access. To quote Jay, “It was 9-0. There is no wiggle room in this ruling.” (During the case, Justice Scalia responded to the opposing position that religious advocacy is not beneficial to a community; “Well, you know, it used to be thought that a person who was religious was less likely to mug me and rape my sister”. )
I’m the Pastor of a group of Christ Followers in the Nashville area. As a Pastor whose church meets every week in a school, I can tell you the benefits are many. In our specific case, because the cost is dramatically lower than a regular retail type space, we are able to invest tens of thousands of dollars into defending, caring for, and preaching the gospel to those in greatest need in our country and around the globe.
This week Jay Sekulow and his family are under attack from a local newspaper in the Nashville area. There are accusations and insinuations that are lobbed at them. There are loaded questions offered up and half truths thrown around like trash on the ground at Bonnaroo. He presents information from public documents that anyone can find doing a basic google search while insinuating that he is presenting information that Jay is hiding.
Jay Sekulow has been on the offense against a group of ideological crusaders that would attack our basic civil liberties as Americans to practice our religion for over 20 years. He has fought vigilantly on behalf of the unborn in our country. He has been a public voice advocating for Christians who are increasingly marginalized in our society. Recently he and his organization have taken up the cause of fighting for justice for persecuted Christians in hostile nations with totalitarian governments around the globe.
In war, one way you know you are hitting high value targets is if you are getting shot at.
I would suggest that some of the targets that Jay and his organization have targeted are very high value targets in enemy territory. It makes perfect sense that he would be attacked.
In case I’m not being clear, the idea of battle is metaphorical but based in scripture metaphor. This is not a call to pick up arms. It’s purely metaphor and spiritual in nature.
When Jesus was on trial, it’s recorded that they brought false witnesses to accuse Him. They said that “this man said he would tear down the temple and rebuild it in 3 days”. And to be clear. That is what He said. However, He said it metaphorically in regards to his own death and resurrection. The people accusing him gave the right information but the wrong implication. It’s one New Testament example of what it means to be a false witness. This article brings up some correct information about Jay but the wrong implication. It’s a false witness.
The reporter spoke with several people who, on the other hand, do have first hand knowledge of Jay, his family and organization. He gives those interviews, which lasted 20-30 minutes each a passing glance, while giving the vast majority of the article to the peanut gallery who have opinions on how a non profit should be run, but no first hand knowledge or experience with Jay.
Never forget though, no matter how thin you slice the bologna, there are always two sides.
Here are some things you might not know about Jay Sekulow and ACLJ if you only rely on google to get “facts”.
In the past decade ACLJ has expanded their presence to include offices in developing nations such as Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Kenya, And other places that are not public out of concern for the safety of the people working on the ground in those nations. These men and women are working on behalf of persecuted, marginalized and oppressed people who heretofore have had no voice. (I told the reporter this in my interview. It is absent from his story)
In the brand new nation of South Sudan, ALCJ has been proactively working to assist them as they write their constitution, form their government and establish themselves after over a decade of being a people group under intense persecution and assault from the Islamic controlled North.
When my organization Conduit Mission was faced with an overwhelming task of helping our long time friends in Jacmel, Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, Jay and his organization sprung into action. He gave me airtime on his show, itself a gift, and proceeded to raise tens of thousands of dollars for my organization as well as 2 other charities working in Haiti. He gave us a national voice, something we did not have. As a result we were able to be connected with countless volunteers with planes, supplies, and man power to help us serve the people of Jacmel.
To date, ACLJ has donated more than $60,000 to Conduit Mission which has helped our small organization to build homes for the residents of Jacmel who lost their homes in the quake. A year and a half later people are still living in tents. There are a few families that are no longer in that situation thanks to the generosity of Jay and ACLJ.
A family in my church faced the unthinkable when their son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Jay & Pam Sekulow personally and very privately stepped in to help. They used their connections to get the boy to a world renowned surgeon who offered to attempt a very rare surgery. They then paid to have the entire family fly to Baltimore and put them in a hotel for the entire time before during and after the surgery.
After the surgery, Jay & Pam who run a multinational firm with hundreds of things going on at any giving moment, were sitting in the waiting room with the family. There were no cameras, no reporters as they sat there playing UNO with the siblings of the boy in surgery.
In the past couple of years Jay successfully represented Israeli Soldiers in a very complex case regarding war crimes.
He was simultaneously winning the freedom of a Christian woman and her children from Gaza after her husband had been brutally murdered in the streets by Hamas. The reason he was murdered? He was a Christian and owned a Christian book store.
I had a rare honor to sit around a table with the directors from his various international offices. When asked how it was that Islam had reached so far and wide into the horn of Africa the director from Kenya told me. “When things got bad here, Western Christians took their cues from their government and media and stopped coming. Islam did not. And the reason is because they’re not afraid to die, and you are”. I’ll never forget that statement. I also won’t forget that Jay Sekulow and ACLJ were among the few Americans who did not stop going. In fact, Jay and his team have ramped up their presence in these dangerous regions, not backed off on them.
Jay is a very successful attorney. He’s successful because he’s very good at what he does. He’s not a pastor, he’s not an evangelist, he’s not missionary. He is a crusader and his work clears the way for the rest of us to do ours. If you’re in jail in Haiti, or on trial in Pakistan, or having your religious freedoms restricted here in America they will represent you. I know this first hand because my church was arbitrarily denied access to a school right here in Middle TN. They do all of this completely free of charge.
The Bible says that we will know them by their fruit. I have seen the fruit from Jay & Pam Sekulow and their entire family first hand. Anyone who has been caught in their orbit of kindness and generosity knows what I am talking about.
My hope is that people wouldn’t make judgments based on half truths. Ask the hard questions, but don’t judge based on questions, make your decisions based on answers.
The reporter told me he wanted to get the whole story but after reading the story, I guess that was a half truth too.