JGJPP - Defending Religious Liberty Against All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

When we think of serious threats to religious liberty, our minds naturally turn to the Middle East, Africa, and other foreign lands. They don’t primarily turn to the United States. Yet while circumstances are different and the threats are of higher magnitude overseas, it is important to remember that we are ultimately protecting and defending the same right to religious liberty—whether the battle is foreign or domestic.

Internationally, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) describes religious liberty protections as follows: “[e]veryone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”[1]This right is similarly described in the legally binding International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), which provides that “[e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”[2] The ICCPR also provides that “[n]o one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”[3]

Domestically, religious freedom also means more than just the right to hold certain beliefs. Statutory protections meant to bolster the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause explicitly protect a “religious exercise” defined as “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.”[4] The Supreme Court recently affirmed the idea that “Free exercise . . . implicates more than just freedom of belief. It means . . . the right to express those beliefs and to establish one’s religious . . . self-definition in the political, civic, and economic life of our larger community.”[5]Well-developed case law supports this view.

Whether foreign or domestic, religious liberty includes the legal right to do more than merely hold certain beliefs or possess an identity. It means the ability to live out and act on those beliefs, manifesting them in various ways as they shape our humanity.

Yet this manifestation of religious exercise is being threatened—both overseas and at home. In foreign lands, opponents of religious liberty want to minimize the right described in the UHDR and ICCPR in the name of anti-conversion laws. Thus, there is “freedom of worship” but no freedom of religion, for if people changed their religion that would constitute “blasphemy.”

Domestically, the robust practice of faith is threatened by the HHS “accommodation” forced upon charities and others under the Affordable Care Act. Religious individuals running certain nonprofits have objections to being forced to be complicit in the provision of drugs and services which they believe cause abortions and end human life. Yet the federal government has sought to involve them in this process anyway, dismissing their conscience objections.

This “accommodation” issue, as is true of blasphemy laws and “freedom of worship” overseas, are ultimately battles not over whether “freedom of religion” must exist—but over what it means. Not many are arguing at this point that freedom of religion is nonexistent. They just don’t want it to interfere with what they perceive as their rights, and want to define it on their own terms. The above are only several examples meant to highlight a larger problem—the ongoing attempts to reduce the contours and chip away at the definition of the free exercise right. We must be on the lookout for all threats to this right which diminish it from its true, full, and robust form—whether foreign or domestic.

Travis Weber, Esq., is Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. Before joining FRC, Travis worked in private practice, primarily litigating federal civil rights cases, and handling military and criminal defense matters. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and former Navy pilot, Travis holds a J.D. from Regent University School of Law, where he served as the Notes & Comments Editor on Law Review. Travis also graduated with an LL.M. in International Law (with distinction) and a Certificate in International Human Rights Law from Georgetown University Law Center.

[1] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, G.A. Res. 217A, art. 18, U.N. GAOR, 3d Sess., 1st plen. mtg., U.N. Doc. A/810 (Dec. 12, 1948) [hereinafter UDHR] (emphasis added).
[2] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), art. 18, 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976 [hereinafter ICCPR] (emphasis added).
[3] Id.(emphasis added).
[4] 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-5 (emphasis added).
[5] Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 134 S. Ct. 2751, 2785 (2014) (internal citation omitted) (emphasis added).

Regent School of Law Announces Wealth Management & Financial Planning

Regent University students will soon be impacting change in the world of personal finance.

In the fall 2015, Regent's School of Law (LAW) will offer a brand new concentration in its M.A. in Law degree program: Wealth Management & Financial Planning. This concentration will provide courses in financial, investment and insurance planning, retirement and employee benefits, and tax planning for its enrolled students.

"It's important at this time because there's going to be a big wealth transfer over the next 20-30 years as Baby Boomers receive assets from their parents and then pass on assets to their children," said Dr. James Davids, associate law professor and director of LLM and M.A. programs.

Davids explained that as these wealth-transfers occur, more and more individuals will be seeking financial planning and wealth management counsel. Job prospects for this in-demand career field are projected to increase 32 percent by the year 2020.

Students graduating from this concentration will not only be primed with the needed skills to enter the industry, they will be equipped for a meaningful career of serving clients with excellence in the field of financial planning.

According to Davids, the concentration's sound moral and ethical training imparts trustworthiness and ethical responsibility to students in the program and will help to set them apart – even if they have the same competency skills and handle the same type of clients.

"How does one select one financial planner over another? Certainly knowing your planner as a person, knowing that they have a good reputation in the community," said Davids. "If one has a bachelor's and the other has their master's, one is going to have more of a competitive edge than the other."

Sharpening the competitive edge even further is Regent's commitment to integrating the love of Christ into its degree programs.

"Having that relationship must be integrated into our lives, and we do that here," said Davids. "Showing the compassion and the love of Christ to others involves caring about all aspects of them."

And caring for a client's financial well-being is only the beginning.

"You have to put the client's interest first, and by constantly doing that you'll sustain loyalty and you'll be taking care of generations of families because of their trust," said Davids. "That's the way it works and that's how we'll be different from others. We not only want to instill those values in our students but build on them throughout their lifetime."

Learn more about Regent University School of Law and the Financial Planning & Wealth Management concentration.

By Brett Wilson

Virginia State Bar President Offers Insight to Regent School of Law Students

Dean Jeffrey Brauch, Kevin Martingayle,
and Professor Natt Gantt.
While the Virginia State Bar (VSB) exists in part to uphold the ethical standards of today’s legal professionals, many times the bar of professionalism is set too low, according to VSB president, Kevin Martingayle.

On Thursday, April 2, Martingayle spoke to Regent University School of Law students about the importance of upholding ethics and professionalism in advocacy.

According to Martingayle, a lawyer who follows a vague notion of mere ethics still has the opportunity to be a “jerk” during advocacy. He's seen a lot of young lawyers – himself included – who have fallen into the trap of being too aggressive.

"When the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail," said Martingayle.

Martingayle explained there will be temptation to get an advantage in a court case at any cost. Including simple ways, like denying the opposition an extension on a deadline, or being "snarky" in email exchanges.

While there aren’t always “hard and fast” rules to follow in every legal situation, the advice Martingayle gave to young lawyers was to fight the temptation to act and respond in the moment, particularly online.

Martingayle has even gone so far as to use an unprofessional email from his opposition as an exhibit in the court of law.

“The emotional response is almost never the right response,” said Martingayle. “Choose your words as though everyone is reading them. Don’t ever write something you might regret.”

Martingayle gave advice to students, naming the faux pas he sees on a regular basis from lawyers fresh to the courtroom. His best advice? Calm down and be professional.

“Don’t ever lose your common sense or your manners,” said Martingayle. “When you’re conducting business think about if one of your pastors, your spouse, your parents – the people who want to be proud while they were watching your decisions – would they be?”

Learn more about Regent University School of Law.

By Brett Wilson

Alumni Profile: Kerriel Bailey ('08)

Kerriel Bailey is an advocate for children as a Guardian Ad Litem in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her persistence in seeking justice for the kids she represents precipitated her award as “Champion for Children” in the legal field in 2014. Outside of her work in family law, Kerriel also co-authored “They’ve Crossed the Line: A Patriot’s Guide to Religious Freedom” and works as an Adjunct Professor at Regent University.

Kerriel’s journey to Regent Law and to a legal career started when she was already a homeschooling mom taking care of two boys. While in college, the birth of her son, Aaron, prevented her from finishing school, but she was inspired much later at a family member’s graduation ceremony to go back with hopes of finishing her Bachelor’s degree within ten years.

It was her experience as an undergraduate student at a secular college that sparked Kerriel’s interest in the law and her passion for bringing justice to those who have no voice. As she progressed through her American History class, it became clear that her professor was discriminating against her for her Christian perspective. When the professor found out that she had gone to the Dean about the situation, she asked her to step out of the room and laid into her, even physically hitting her in the face with her fingers, belittling Kerriel and denying the claim that she would grade unfairly.

“Let me tell you, that semester was one of the most trying times ever. I sought the Lord's face moment by moment to do excellent work and boldly share my faith amongst such overt hostility. It was at that time that I learned of the work of the American Center for Law & Justice. I used their resources as counsel and advice during that time so that I would know what my rights were in the public college setting. That is when the Lord sparked in my heart the desire to protect the religious liberties of people in America. The dream to become a lawyer was born out of a very difficult trial and God has seen that to fruition.”

“I was not only able to reach my goal of earning my BA in ten years, but I actually completed my Juris Doctor degree at Regent as well! During my second year in law school, I was one of only six individuals chosen to participate in a U.S. Supreme Court semester in Washington DC at the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ). When I returned from DC, I was hired as a law clerk at the ACLJ where I worked for over a year. Imagine the goodness of God sparking my interest and then allowing me to help others through my work at the ACLJ.”

Today, Kerriel owns her own practice, K. Bailey Law, PC. She said, “I represent a large number of children in my practice as a Guardian ad Litem which involves advocating for the best interest of children in custody and visitation cases, abuse and neglect cases, and foster care cases. This practice area is very rewarding because you truly can make a difference in the life of a child.” Having experienced severe abuse in her own childhood, Kerriel is able to bring compassion and zeal to her work that makes a big difference for the children she represents. She reflected, “As a result of my personal experience combined with excellent legal training, I can be that voice for the children and families. Children somehow know that I am a safe person and it is amazing how much they share with me. I can then use that information to improve their lives. It’s the kids that inspire me.”

Outside of her work in advocacy and family law, Kerriel is also an author and recently co-authored They’ve Crossed the Line. She said, “The reason I went to law school in the first place was because I was concerned that our religious liberty, guaranteed by the Constitution, was being trampled. Pennsylvania state representative Steve Bloom, whom I met through Regent and the Christian Legal Society asked me to co-author this book with him based on my work with the ACLJ.”

When she is not working, Kerriel and her husband are both avid motorcyclists. She loves going on a ride on a beautiful day where she can take a moment to forget all of the situations she is handling at work.

When asked what advice she would give to other Regent University alumni, Kerriel said, “Do your best, unto the Lord. If you do excellent work with integrity, you will succeed.”

Regent University's School of Law Triumphs In Moot Court Competitions

 Regent's team won first place at the
Touro Law Center's National Moot
Court Competition.
Photo courtesy of Tessa Dysart.
This weekend proved to be another successful turn for Regent University School of Law's moot court competition teams both in the United States and abroad.

"In an already great year for Regent's moot court program, this was a great weekend. At each of the competitions our students attended, they achieved top awards in brief writing, as oralists and as a team," said Jeffrey Brauch, dean of the School of Law. "I'm excited for the students, as God has honored their hard work and dedication. I couldn't be more excited for them; it's amazing what they've done."

Regent's team won first place at the Touro Law Center's National Moot Court Competition in Law & Religion in New York. Wesley Pilon, Tiffany Bennett and Michael Pierce were coached by assistant law professor Tessa Dysart.

"It's always great to see the students' hard work pay off with a competition victory," said Dysart. "They did a great job."

Across the pond at the Price International Moot Court Competition in Oxford, England, Regent argued against other teams from Singapore, Georgia, China, Pakistan and India. The team – Jessica Krentz, Lindsey Brower and Carly Havens, coached by law professor Michael Hernandez – continued into the international round after their success at the regional competition in New York City in February 2015.

Not only did Regent's team place within the top eight of the final round, the competitors also took home the "Best Memorials" (written brief) award. Krentz was awarded second-best oralist in the competition, while Brower was named 10th-best oralist.

"It was incredible to meet teams from across the world; it was such a high-caliber competition," said Krentz. "I'm humbled and grateful for Regent's support of our team throughout this whole competition. Competing in New York at regionals and Oxford at internationals have been undoubtedly the best experiences I've had in law school.

Regent's moot court team also placed exceptionally well at the Elon Law's moot court competition in Greensboro, North Carolina, losing by just .16 out of 100 points in the semi-final round to the team that won the competition.

Palmer Hurst, James Wheeler and Bruce Wilson earned their way into the semi-finals of the competition. Wilson won best oralist for the entire competition, and the team received the best petitioner brief award.

The team was coached by Josh Jenkins '13 (Law), a criminal defense attorney at his own practice: OneSight Legal Solutions. Jenkins worked with the team preparing for the competition – he said that he would not be the same attorney he is today were it not for the invaluable lessons he learned as a competitor and the former chairman of the moot court board for Regent.

"It's a program that's just outstanding in teaching people practical legal skills; I learned a lot that I use in practice every day," said Jenkins. "It's nostalgic and exciting, and I like to see their passion about what they're doing. The quality of advocacy that comes out of Regent is exceptional."

Learn more about Regent University's School of Law.

By Brett Wilson

Regent Law Secures Victory at 12th Annual Statewide Legal Food Frenzy for Third Year Running

Regent University School of Law students, faculty,  and staff contributed to the 1.5 million pounds of food collected by the local legal com...