Ronald Reagan Constitutional Conservative Not Crony Capitalist


Yesterday was the 102nd birthday of Ronald Reagan, the greatest President of my lifetime, to whom I owe personal and professional thanks for my marriage (to one of his White House secretaries) and my Washington career (beginning as a Reagan Administration political appointee). His personally autographed photo congratulating us on our marriage is one of our most cherished possessions.

Almost two years ago, I researched all of his speeches and writings available on the internet to determine whether he would be considered a “constitutional conservative” by today’s standards, meaning fidelity to the Bill of Rights, or whether he would stand with today’s “Crony Capitalists” who lobby in Washington for special protection in federal law through the preemption of state law or, worse yet, immunity through federal tort reform. Too many politicians who pass themselves off as constitutional conservatives ditch the 7th Amendment right to civil jury trials and side with Crony Capitalists to protect companies they represent.

I then wrote a special post titled, “What Ronald Reagan REALLY Said About Tort Reform,” which I re-posted in January of last year. The conclusion of my research is crystal clear.

Ronald Reagan was never for federal tort reform. He never proposed a federal tort reform bill in his State of the Union speeches, budget proposals, nomination acceptance speeches, or major addresses on the economy.

Reagan’s silence in the issue is due primarily to his strong belief in the rights of the states and individual, as protected in the Bill of Rights. Reagan understood, better than almost any political figure of our times, the limitations on central power built into the Constitution and fortified by the Bill of Rights. He highlighted his fidelity to federalism in his first Inaugural Address in 1981:

All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.

And before that, in his 1979 speech announcing his candidacy:

The federal government has taken on functions it was never intended to perform and which it does not perform well. There should be a planned, orderly transfer of such functions to states and communities and a transfer with them of the sources of taxation to pay for them.

That sounds like a constitutional conservative, not a Crony Capitalist. And I remember that Reagan was the presidential candidate for “Main Street Republicans,” including the social conservative movement, while John Connolly of Texas was the guy backed by the “Wall Street Republicans.”

In the decades in which he addressed public policy issues as a commentator, Governor and President, he addressed the issue of federal tort reform apparently only once, near the end of his Presidency. In remarks he gave in Washington in April 1986, he remained true to his roots, saying, “To be sure, much tort law would remain to be reformed by the 50 States, not the Federal Government. And in our Federal system of government this is only right.” That’s a man who knows that Uncle Sam’s authority is limited to the powers enumerated in the Constitution. Unlike many on the left and right today, Reagan would have had no inconsistency between his opinion on Obamacare and his thoughts on federal tort reform. He would have found both unconstitutional.

Reagan would feel right at home with the Tea Party base of the Republican Party that recognizes and honors the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial for civil suits. He would have stood with legal scholars Randy Barnett and Rob Natelson; Senators Tom Coburn and Mike Lee; and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli against the takeover of state tort law by the feds. I have to believe that anyone proposing sweeping preemption of the states’ rights to protect citizens and manage courtrooms would’ve drawn severe skepticism or outright opposition by President Reagan.

So thank you, Ronald Reagan, for your vigorous defense of personal and states’ rights, and for so much more.

Dear John Stossel The 7th Amendment Trial Lawyers Probably Saved Your Life


An open letter to John Stossel at Fox News:

Read your column in the Washington Examiner in which you took off on trial lawyers and said that “for the majority of us, they make life much worse.” Guess you’re doing the same tonight on Fox News. Too bad you didn’t ask the trial lawyers’ national association, the American Association for Justice, if they have examples of how trial lawyers have improved Americans’ way of life in some area (I asked them – they’re my clients – and they said you didn’t call). So much for objective journalism. Too bad you didn’t think about balancing the business community’s screams about trial lawyers with a recognition that the 7th Amendment to the Constitution enables consumers hurt by products that kill them to take the issue to court. Funny, I’ve never seen a juror enter a jury box and come out of it with his arm twisted behind his back. See, I trust my Constitution and I trust juries. So much for 232+ years of Constitutional law (you do remember the Founding Fathers, don’t you, John) and your self-righteous and uninformed indignation.

Anyway, this image downloaded from the AAJ website (any Fox News intern could have found it) gives you a clear example of how the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial for civil suits has made significant improvements in the safety of the car you drive today. Air bags, seat belts, and side door protection are just some of the features in the car that YOU DRIVE TODAY that came about thanks to lawsuits filed under the 7th Amendment.

Now face it John, as a red-blooded American male, you’ve certainly run some red lights, busted some speed limits, and slammed on your brakes. So my guess is that all those lawsuits over defective auto safety, filed by the surviving families of killed and/or injured victims and their trial lawyers, have probably saved your life at one time or another. Think about that. And next time do your homework before you do an inaccurate, slanted hit piece on some other profession somewhere that saves lives.

P.S. That doctor you quoted in your article – the one moaning about the source of unnecessary procedures? – doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He didn’t do his research either, and, of course, you never challenged his assertion. That’s in my next letter.

Podcasts on Unconstitutionality of Federal Tort Reform


I want to post links to podcasts of two interviews I’ve recently done on the unconstitutionality of federal tort reform.

The group ‘Let America Know’ interviewed me for their July 12 “You Should Know” newsletter, sent to 50,000 subscribers. In the podcast, I summarized the Founding Fathers’ writings, assertions by legal experts on the unconstitutionality of federal caps on medical malpractice damages and other tort reform measures, and the impact of Texas medmal limits. For regular readers of my work, there’s nothing new, but if someone wants a 15-minute summary of everything I’ve do, this podcast will do nicely (MP3 file). Please note that I recorded the interview before the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision, so it doesn’t reflect the substantial impact of that ruling on this issue. LAK was founded by Art Kosieradzki, a practicing attorney in Minneapolis, and now partners with state trial lawyer associations and the American Association for Justice, one of my clients, to teach Americans about the civil justice system and Seventh Amendment right to a civil jury trial.

I was interviewed on July 10 by Terry Lowry for his nationally syndicated ‘What’s Up’ program, heard weekdays on 12 radio stations and on Sirius Channel 131, Family Talk Radio, to discuss the post-Obamacare landscape for federal tort reform (MP3 file). That program is the only nationally broadcast program on radio or TV to regularly defend and discuss our constitutional right to a jury trial for civil rights and deserves our support.

I want to thank LAK and Terry Lowry for their invitations to discuss these issues and hope readers will distribute the podcasts nationwide, especially in this election year.

Four GOP Budget Plans Honor Constitutional Rights in Health Care Suits


While House Republicans consider whether to obey leadership’s demands in a dictated health care policy agenda, they might want to consider that no fewer than four budget plans proposed by Republicans honor constitutional rights in all health care-related lawsuits. None of the four would unconstitutionally threaten to close courtrooms through federal interference with the individual and states’ rights protected in the 7th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution.

First, the House Republican Study Committee, the largest group of mainstream conservatives in the House, already proposed a budget that attracted over 100 votes on the House floor. Many House Republicans instead the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, but that plan breaks Ryan’s own stated commitment to federalism by enacting federal limits on awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Two good budget plans were presented on the floor of the Senate last week. Neither gained enough support to have a full debate and floor vote. But both attracted more votes than the President’s own budget plan, and both represent steps forward in the protection of constitutional rights. Senator Mike Lee proposed a budget, with health care policy based upon securing individual freedom and consumer choice instead of government mandates. Senator Lee has consistently demonstrated his commitment to protecting our constitutional rights in his votes and statements against unconstitutional federal tort reform, as I’ve reported several times here. And Senator Rand Paul’s budget plan attempts to balance the budget in five years and begin paying down the national debt in ten years, all without resorting to a federal limit on awards in medical malpractice or other health care-related lawsuits.

Finally, Senator Tom Coburn’s “Back to Black” budget plan, now the basis of his new book, “The Debt Bomb,” also protects victims’ constitutional rights to present their case in court. The Senator consistently opposes federal medmal limits, and has told me several times that “if the feds can take over state tort law, there’s no reason to even have states.”

House Republicans need not look too far to find options that protect their own promise to uphold constitutional rights. These budget plans, along with Rep. Paul Broun’s “OPTION Act” health care plan endorsed by FreedomWorks, present real alternatives to an unconstitutional federal medmal bill.

In Imam Raufs America There Would Be No Juries for Civil or Criminal Trials


It’s one thing to build a mosque near Ground Zero – it’s another altogether when the proponent of the mosque is an Imam who believes in imposing Shariah law inside the United States. And that’s what Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, believes is his mission, and that’s what he would pursue inside any completed “Ground Zero mosque.” He already said so on the Huffington Post on April 24, 2009:

In America, we have a Constitution that created a three-branch form of government – legislative, executive and judiciary. The role of the judiciary is to ensure that the other two branches comply with the Constitution. What Muslims want is a judiciary that ensures that the laws are not in conflict with the Quran and the Hadith. Just as the Constitution has gone through interpretations, so does Shariah law.

And what does he mean by referring to “a judiciary that ensures that the laws are not in conflict with the Quran and the Hadith?” For starters, NO JURIES, EVER. A Shariah-trained lawyer for Aramco Oil wrote in 1966 about the complete control that a judge (the “Qadhi”) has inside a Shariah court:

In a Shari’ah court the Qadhi is the central figure. In some instances there may be a Junior Qadhi assisting him, but there are no juries. As an American lawyer, I was at first surprised by the absolute control which the Qadhi maintains over the proceedings before him and by the large discretionary authority at his command. In marked contrast to the more neutral role that a United States trial judge plays, the Qadhi actively participates in the case. Since his role is not to arbitrate, but to actively seek the truth to procure justice, he questions both parties and all witnesses at will. He even concludes cases by convincing the parties to settle their differences by the honorable method of sulh, or compromise, usually on the basis he recommends, when he is in doubt as to which party is in the right.

And that lawyer made it clear that the Qadhi is much more than just a trial of fact and law, he is revered above all other citizenry and leads the community’s religious life:

In the United States a judge is called “Your Honor.” In Saudi Arabia he is called “Your Reverence” and the difference is significant. A judge–more properly, Qadhi–in Saudi Arabia is more than a judge. He is also a religious leader, who leads prayers in the mosque, delivers sermons, advises the Amir of his area on religious matters and hands down fatwas (legal opinions) on matters referred to him. This is at once logical and necessary since the law in Saudi Arabia is rooted in the religious teachings of the Prophet, Muhammad.

So in Imam Rauf’s America, say goodbye to the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial for civil suits (and the 4th Amendment too, of course); farewell to the common law of each of the 50 states, now protected by the 10th Amendment; adios to the 795-year-old right to a jury trial written in blood into the Magna Carta. That’s not my idea of an idea worth defending. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, can find common ground in our Constitution for opposing Imam Rauf’s mission and his mosque.

DIKTAT GOP Beltway Cabal Sets Partys Health Care Policy Updated


“That’s beyond my pay grade. That’s the speaker. They’re the ones doing that coordination.”

That’s how Rep. Joe Pitts, chairman of a powerful health subcommittee in the U.S. House, described how the House GOP majority is designing its future health care policy.

A small cabal of House GOP Members and leadership staff has recently taken the reins of policy formation away from the rest of the House GOP and the conservative base of the party, and is forcing the Members to accept it, whether it’s constitutional or not. And it’s not. They’re copying what Nancy Pelosi did that drove the GOP nuts when Democrats ran the House.

For almost a year, the House GOP paid attention to constitutional principles and avoided crossing the line by not voting on the House floor for H.R. 5. After all, its finest legal experts wrote time and again that federally imposed limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, especially those imposed in H.R. 5, are an unconstitutional abridgement of states’ and unconstitutional rights. And many GOP Congressmen listened.

The lineup against H.R. 5 is full of GOP legal superstars: Anti-Obamacare superstar Professor Randy Barnett, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Federalist Society superstar Professor John Baker, Rob Natelson of the Tenth Amendment Center, Carrie Severing of the Judicial Crisis Network, Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation, Professor Ilya Somin of George Mason Law School, and more. Even Ted Frank and Walter Olson, who sharply criticize the plaintiffs’ bar, warned the House GOP that H.R. 5 is a bridge too far.

And important conservative political figures and groups joined them in condemning federal interference in state civil justice systems: Sens. Tom Coburn and Mike Lee, the Tea Party Patriots group, Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation, the National Conference of State Legislators, the Cato Institute, and Reps. Ted Poe, Louie Gohmert, Lee Terry, Morgan Griffith, and many others.

Then, two months ago, House Speaker Boehner and his close lieutenants put the Tea Party in the rear-view mirror. They intentionally moved away from principles of limited government in the name of “practical politics,” in order to gain more support from business interests. The new agenda included a cyber-security bill that raises privacy concerns; the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank (which really angered conservative leaders); and a heavy push for H.R. 5.

The Beltway Cabal has since made it almost impossible for principled GOP Congressmen to vote for the Constitution and against H.R. 5. First, they announced after the House left town that H.R. 5 would be combined with a very attractive bill to repeal the Obamacare “death panels.” Then they fixed the rules so hesitant Members had no opportunity to strip unconstitutional federal medmal limits from that combined bill. When that passed, they shoved H.R. 5 into a budget bill, again with no opportunity for conservatives to vote against it on the House floor.

Both times, GOP Members complained to Speaker Boehner’s office that they were being forced to compromise constitutional principles – the very basis of their opposition to Obamacare – to support special interest legislation for the very groups that backed the enactment of Obamacare. Both times, the Speaker and his Beltway Cabal shut that opposition down with no floor debate or vote.

Multiple GOP Congressmen voted with the Constitution the first time, even though it meant not voting against Obamacare. I’ve been told by individual Members and key staff of “heated” conversations beetween Tea Party-side Republicans and leadership staff, but the Beltway Cabal doesn’t care. Dissenting Republicans are afraid of losing committee seats and campaign dollars – just what Democrats who disagreed with Pelosi faced.

The Beltway Cabal consists of no more than a dozen GOP House Members. The Speaker and the other three top Republicans in the GOP Conference; the chairman of the Rules Commitee, which sets the terms of debate for bills in the House; two committee and subcommittee chairmen; and two powerful Congressmen who were doctors and are committed to medmal limits at all costs are running the show. It’s “the Pelosi Rules,” GOP style.

The message to Tea Party backers and average Americans is that when push comes to shove, the Constitution takes a backseat to Crony Capitalism.

UPDATE, May 22: I discussed this in a radio interview on the “What’s Up” radio program, hosted by Terry Lowry and broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio and on 12 FM radio stations. You can listen to Segment 1 here and to Segment 2 here.

Civil Litigation Isnt Just Constitutional It Also Saves Lives


On this website, I discuss the basis in Constitutional law for the civil litigation process and the right to a jury trial for civil suits. That right has practical and beneficial impacts, as described in an op-ed over the weekend in the Washington Post.

Gibson Vance, President of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the largest trial lawyers’ association in the world, wrote, How Our Cars Got Safer, summarizing how litigation against auto manufacturers is one reason for the drop in trafic deaths to the lowest level in over 60 years. “(W)ithout the civil justice system, gas tanks would still explode in rear-end collisions, seat belts and airbags would not be standard, and cars would roll over onto roofs that would be easily crushed.” Mr. Vance cited as examples the famous Ford Pinto gas tank explosion case and a gruesome case in which a power window strangled a child.

Mr. Vance wrote his op-ed based on a detailed study conducted by AAJ of changes in auto safety as a result of civil litigation and the exercise of the 7th Amendment right to a civil jury trial. On a special page on the AAJ website, you can download AAJ’s report, “Driven to Safety: How Litigation Spurred Auto Safety Innovations,” and an interactive graphic showing you which car parts, now standard in every car, were forced upon the industry thanks to lawsuits (it’s a pretty neat graphic). From door latches to the tires to electronic stability control, many of the most important safety features of your car were installed after civil suits won by Americans with the help of their trial lawyers.

AND – that’s not the only consumer product positively impacted by civil suits. AAJ also has conducted studies of the impact of civil litigation on toys used by our children and on the treatment of our elderly relatives and friends by nursing homes (each with neat and educational interactive graphics). As Mr. Vance wrote in his op-ed, “History shows that litigation and the civil justice system have served as the most consistent and powerful forces in heightening safety standards, revealing previously concealed defects and regulatory weaknesses and deterring manufacturers from cutting corners on safety for the goal of greater profits.”

Let your relatives and friends know about these studies and tell your Congressmen. Civil litigation is not only Constitutional, it saves lives too.

How Conservative Candidates Can Blunt Mediscare Campaigns


Republicans running for Congress next year, whether incumbents or first-timers, will face a barrage of ads charging that they’ll cut or even kill Medicare. We’ve seen that in the two most recent special Congressional elections in NY and Nevada, and it didn’t work, but in part because the Democratic candidate in each district was a very weak candidate with little to offer voters. Republicans will need every idea possible to avoid being tarred. One idea that I hope Republicans will support is included in a bill introduced into Congress this year, numbered H.R. 1063, and titled, the Strengthening Medicare And Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2011, or “SMART Act.” This bill helps to replenish the Medicare Trust Fund, make Medicare work for seniors instead of the other way around, and reduces paperwork burdens for businesses. And believe it or not, it’s a bipartisan Medicare bill, with the broadest swath of Congressman supporting it you’ll ever see. More on that later.

Here’s why we need to enact the SMART Act: When seniors on Medicare are hurt in an accident and sue the other party, they often file conditional Medicare claims to pay for treatment. Federal law requires the injured person’s attorney to repay Medicare upon a judgment or settlement, before any funds are given to the injured senior. CMS, the federal agency that runs Medicare, is supposed to give the attorney a final figure for the total amount to repay, but CMS is slow and inaccurate. The attorney is barred by federal law from transferring the settlement to the senior, even if CMS takes forever to provide a final amount for repayment. As a result, it can take years to finally pay off even the smallest claim, and the senior doesn’t see a dime of the settlement. At a Congressional hearing this summer, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), discussed the problems at CMS: “Businesses and injured individuals routinely negotiate a settlement, but cannot close on the settlement until CMS provides a complete list of all medical costs incurred. We have heard complaints from a variety of interested parties that CMS is not providing this information in a consistent or timely manner. CMS’s delays cause lawsuits to drag on, hinders timely payments to injured individuals, and causes uncertainty and increased costs for both large and small businesses.”

Here are a couple of anecdotes provided at the hearing about the problem: 1. A woman who was in a car accident suffered chest wall contusions and reported the settlement to Medicare. Years later, that woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. CMS denied her claim for treatment on the grounds that her breast cancer is related to her prior car accident, leaving the insurance company liable for the claims. 2. CMS actually sends dunning letters to seniors years after the accident that gave rise to the initial claim, for amounts as little as $1.59, $2.00, and $4.00, and regularly fails to respond in a timely fashion to phone calls and letters requesting information and assistance from either businesses or seniors. 3. CMS imposes a mandatory $1,000 per day per claim penalty on businesses for failure to properly report a MSP claim, even for small errors or technical problems that occur through no fault of the business.

The SMART Act takes care of all that. It streamlines the process, establishes real deadlines for CMS for claims processing, and enables businesses to meet CMS reporting requirements while maintaining data security. And it’s cost-neutral, according to two economists’ studies.

That’s why the co-sponsors of the SMART Act in the House include the full spectrum of views represented in the House, such as Reps. Ron Paul and Diana DeGette; Allen West and Linda Sanchez; Peter Roskam and Tammy Baldwin. On what other bill would you find such an amazingly wide group of Congressional supporters? Rep. Roskam, one of the top House Republicans, called the bill “the only bipartisan Medicare bill in the whole world” at a dinner a couple of weeks ago. And the bill is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and scores of companies, including Safeway, Lowes, Best Buy, Marriott International and WalMart. The SMART Act is THE Medicare bill that Republicans can discuss with seniors back home without fear of blowback by Democrats. A bipartisan Senate bill is supposed to be introduced soon. I hope all Republicans hop on board and support the SMART Act, H.R. 1063.

Congressional Champions For American Victims of Irans Terrorism Updated August 10


Last week, Congress enacted H.R. 1905, a new Iran sanctions bill with a provision assisting American victims of Iran’s terrorism and hopefully enabling the single biggest takeaway of money from a state sponsor of terrorism in 30 years. The survivors and families of the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon; the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment building in Saudi Arabia; and other families of victims of individual attacks have already obtained judgments against Iran in federal court and attached an account in a New York City bank with almost $2 billion in Iranian funds. Section 502 of the new law strips Iran’s central bank of immunity over that account, which should allow the families to collect on their judgments.

(UPDATE: Pres. Obama signed H.R. 1905 into law on August 10.)

The campaign to enact the new law was arduous and has taken years of litigation and repeated trips to Capitol Hill to discuss the matter with Congress. Complex issues of international banking and commercial law and federal civil procedure made this a very difficult drafting and legislative effort. The leaders in each house of Congress and those who sponsored bills for the families in the House and Senate this term led the way in pushing for this new law. All deserve thanks from the families for their support.

I’ve represented American victims of terrorism on Capitol Hill for over 7 years, and I’ve been honored to serve the Beirut Marine families as a senior legislative strategist. I want to highlight some of the key Members who played a special role in its enactment.

Senators Robert Menendez (NJ) and Mark Kirk (IL) sponsored the first Senate version of the bill to assist the families. When Sen. Kirk suffered a stroke in January, Sen. Menendez worked for bipartisan support all the way to enactment. Sen. Menendez and the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Tim Johnson, included it in the first draft of the Iran sanctions bill in the Senate Banking Committee in February, and their staffs devoted an incredible number of hours to ensuring that the language would punish Iran and assist the families. Sen. Kirk’s senior staff continued to express the Senator’s strong support behind the scenes as the Senator recovers.

Rep. Bob Turner (NY) quickly agreed to sponsor a separate bill in the House, H.R. 4070, and he and his staff urged other Members to co-sponsor. I’ve included a YouTube video of Rep. Turner’s speech about the bill on the House floor below. The families will always remember and honor Rep. Turner as their first champion in the House.

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), always a champion for terrorism victims, was the first senior Republican to co-sponsor H.R. 4070. Her staff shepherded the bill through the House towards a conference with the Senate and provided invaluable guidance.

Rep. Brad Sherman (CA) was among the first co-sponsors of H.R. 4070, and worked with the families to gather other co-sponsors. Rep. Sherman’s support is no surprise, as he has always pushed for legislation and oversight activities benefitting American victims of international terrorism. I cannot imagine what terrorism victims would do without Rep. Sherman in Congress. Rep. Rob Andrews (NJ), another longtime supporter for terrorism victims, also signed onto the House bill very early, and his staff recruited other co-sponsors.

Three House committee chairmen and one ranking Democrat agreed to co-sponsor H.R. 4070, providing an institutional imprimatur that is critical to enactment of any law. They include Rep. Spencer Bachus (AL) of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Peter King (NY) of the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. John Conyers, ranking Democrat of the Judiciary Committee. And the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), and his counsel provided the final impetus for the bill during the final stages of enactment through timely and detailed support for specific language, without which the bill might have failed.

The Iran sanctions law, now numbered H.R. 1905, heads to the President for his signature, and then a federal judge will hopefully see fit to apply the law in a way that results in the families taking almost $2 billion of Iran’s money.

We should remember that this achievement for terrorism victims started with a group of Americans exercising their constitutional rights by filing a civil suit through their trial lawyers. The Founding Fathers built one civil justice system for all cases and causes, including for civil suits filed to punish terrorists and take their money.

I discussed the bill last Friday on the “What’s Up” radio program, hosted by Terry Lowry and broadcast on 12 radio stations and on Sirius satellite radio, Channel 131. You can listen to the first segment here and to the second segment here.

Conservative Trial Lawyers Sue to Save Home Bible Study Property Rights


I constantly remind Republicans and Tea Partiers that the same civil justice system used by trial lawyers to file medical malpractice and product liability cases is also utilized by conservative trial lawyers to file civil suits to protect property rights, religious liberty, gun owners’ rights, and parental rights from government at all levels. Here are two more cases that illustrate the need to protect our constitutional rights.

1. Who would have believed that a simple home construction project could turn into a Supreme Court case? In 2005, Mike and Chantell Sackett bought a small piece of land in a residential subdivision in Idaho, so they could build their own house, and they obtained all the permits required under the law. But as they began building the house, the EPA suddenly informed them, without prior warning, that their land is “wetlands” under federal law, and ordered the Sacketts to return the state of the property to EPA’s liking or suffer $37,500 per day in fines. The Sacketts hired experts on their own dime who certified that their parcel is not wetland, but the EPA didn’t care. When the Sacketts filed suit in federal court against EPA, the EPA challenged their constitutional right to bring such a suit, alleging they would first have to restore their property, seek a “permit” (which costs twelve times the purchase price of the land), and then file a lawsuit when the permit was denied.

The federal district court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with EPA, but the Supreme Court has granted the cert petition filed by the Sacketts’ attorneys at the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation. The issues are whether landowners can sue EPA in court immediately after receiving an EPA compliance order issued under the Clean Water Act; and if not, whether that preclusion violates the Due Process Clause of the Constitution? In the brief filed this month with the Court, PLJ framed the situations as follows:

The Sacketts have never been offered any opportunity for meaningful review of the compliance order. EPA has no administrative process the exhaustion of which will produce an action reviewable in court. The Clean Water Act’s compliance order enforcement provisions do not provide meaningful review, either. The Sacketts cannot initiate such review, but instead are left to the mercy and whim of EPA, never certain whether or when the agency will bring an enforcement action. Such review is available, if at all, only by ignoring or violating the compliance order and thereby incurring the potential for sanctions of up to $37,500 per day. Even if the Sacketts comply with the order, they still cannot seek judicial review.

The Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their grave. This is bureaucratic dictatorship of the type that Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and other patriots fought with their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.”

2. Imagine that you are hosting some friends once a week at your house to discuss passages from the Old or New Testament or the Koran, when the city government accuses you of improperly running a church, fining you $300 and demanding that you get a city permit before inviting your friends back. Think you would sue the city? That’s what happened to Chuck and Stephanie Fromm in the City of San Juan Capistrano, California. A city official told Mr. Fromm that he needed a permit to hold regular gatherings of more than three people, and the Fromms would be fined $500 per meeting if they didn’t get one! The Fromms are appealing the city’s decision to the California Superior Court in Orange County, with the help of the Pacific Justice Institute (no relation to the Pacific Legal Foundation cited above).

Only in a PC-crazy environment could a group of four people be labeled a “church,” just because they’re studying their scripture. And it’s especially ironic that this case occurred in a city founded as a religious mission!

Civil suits and trial lawyers are just as critical to protect social conservative causes as they are claims based in economics. Any effort to limit access to the civil justice system compromises everyone’s right to seek justice and prevent governmental bodies from imposing their will over our lives.

Conservative Think Tank Discovers Importance of 7th Amendment Right to Civil Jury Trial


The Discovery Institute is a conservative think tank headquartered in Seattle, Washington, dedicated to “the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.” The Institute has a special focus, to emphasize “the role that science and technology play in our culture and how they can advance free markets, illuminate public policy and support the theistic foundations of the West.”

The Institute is now highlighting a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by a former employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). David Coppedge was a 14-year veteran and the senior member of the JPL team that oversees computers for NASA’s mission to send a satellite to Saturn, one of the most complicated in its history. He is also a fervent Christian and believer in the “intelligent design” theory of history, which contrasts with Darwin’s theory of evolution, and he manages a website on creationism.

Over the course of a decade, Coppedge periodically discussed “intelligent design” with co-workers and offered them DVDs on the subject. Then, in March 2009, Coppedge’s manager ordered him to stop “pushing religion,” which resulted in an argument between the two, with Coppedge finally agreeing to halt such discussions. A month later, JPL suddenly demoted Coppedge and warned him that he had violated the ethics policy. Coppedge filed a discrimination suit against JPL in Los Angeles. JPL responded to the lawsuit by firing Coppedge. Mr. Coppedge is being defended by attorney William J. Becker Jr., who is supported by the Alliance Defense Fund, the outstanding group defending religious liberty across America.

On November 18, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that Mr. Coppedge is entitled to exercise his 7th Amendment right to a civil jury trial against the JPL. In an interview on the nationally syndicated ‘What’s Up’ radio program, Discovery’s legal affairs policy analyst, Joshua Youngkin, explained to host Terry Lowry the “very significant point” of the judge’s ruling:

The jury and not the judge will determine whether or not David Coppedge had his rights infringed. And that’s a very important right that we all cherish.”

As Terry Lowry pointed out, the right to a trial by jury was listed in the Declaration of Independence above the right to bear arms. Whether you believe in “intelligent design” or the Darwin theory of evolution is irrelevant. Every American is entitled to assert, before a local jury of peers, whether adverse employment actions were the result of religious discrimination. Americans who want to “tort-reform” away cases involving medical malpractice with damage caps and procedural hurdles rarely stop to think whether the tort reformers would then turn against other rights protected in the Bill of Rights.

You can listen to the pertinent portion of Terry Lowry’s interview of Joshua Youngkin on the “What’s Up” program by downloading this short podcast.

Being Offended by Mom Jokes


I love my mom. I love her because she is great. I love her because she did wonderful things for me and in general is a wonderful person to everyone else.

But I’ve been in a car, in a mall, in line at a grocery store, at the beach… and not all moms are created equal. Moms have cut me off, cut me in line, blown smoke in my face, dug through their purse for a pen for too long, answered their cell phone in a movie theater and any number of other things on the List. They’re equally as annoying as the rest of the personnel of this planet and the fact that they pushed a few brats out doesn’t change that. Loving your own mom is one thing, but being universally offended by any wrongdoing to someone else’s mom is another.

Moms are the focus this week for two reasons: Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and the big story in sports news is how the GM of the Miami Dolphins decided to ask Dez Bryant, potential player and future employee if his family life makes him somehow ineligible to earn 40 million guaranteed dollars over the next few years. He basically asked the dude whether or not his mother is a whore. Woops.

Do I defend the “Is your mother a prostitute?” question posed to Bryant on the eve of the NFL draft?
No. But do I scoff at it like I would if the Dolphins took the ball up the field for 6 against the linebacker-less Patriots? Hell no. That gridiron offense gets my blood boiling more than a “your mother is so fat…” joke.

This kid’s mom has been in and out of prison, and could, as tough as this may be for anyone in the world to hear, be a giant pain in the ass to a potential employer. This isn’t a white collar job. This is a job where a player’s baggage is likely to be the number one influence on his potential performance. All of these athletes are beyond world class athletically, they have to be judged and nitpicked in a way that we aren’t used to.

Nobody has ever asked me if my mom was a prostitute at a job interview because nobody has ever offered me 40 million dollars before. If they were going to offer me that I wouldn’t care if they asked me if my mom was a dude. A dude named Hitler. My answer would be no. She isn’t and never has been. Not that I know of.

That was easy, right? Am I offended the Dolphins asked? Who cares if I am? If I don’t like the question, I don’t have to work for you. If Dez doesn’t like the question, then don’t work for the Dolphins.

The notion that men who follow sports are outraged beyond belief at this question is absolutely hilarious. Hilarious. Think about the last time you genuinely did something good for your own mom, then ask yourself if you really have the right to be mad that someone else’s mom was wronged. We don’t respect women, pretty much ever, so why start now?

We treat women like crap all the time. Tiger Woods merchandise had a phenomenal selling week during the Masters. Ben Roethlisberger jerseys will be in the top ten again at some point before his time in this league is through. The Dolphins GM asked if this kid’s mom was a prostitute, and I personally think it is stupid, but the reality is I see moms on the street every day, they aren’t exactly a rare species of endangered magic butterflies. I don’t live my life acting as if they are irreproachably precious every other day of the year, so why start pretending now.

I wonder what Bryant’s answer was to the question was anyway?

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Fat Ugly Male Sexual Entitlement


That’s not really the best part of the story though. The absolutely hilarious, newsworthy part of the story, if you listen to sports radio, or read tabloids like the Post or celebrity gossip sites like Deadspin (oof, oof and oof on all three and eff my life for being the type of person who does) is — you ready for this? — the girl in question DOESN’T EVEN LOOK LIKE A MODEL? Can you believe the nerve of these two average looking people for fucking!? LOL.

This shit is blowing my mind. Apparently regular people have sex. I had no idea. Based upon all my experience with sex, which admittedly comes largely from the internet and fantasy land scenarios based on crayon sketches I did back in elementary school, I had assumed sex only occurred between beautiful people and strippers with fake tits. Occasionally with various X-Men characters and girls with pegged pants and Champion sweatshirts too, but that’s a whole other thing I don’t have time to get into right now.

The biggest offenders are the disgusting, fat, middle-aged sausage-neck neanderthals on sports radio calling in to make light of the girl’s appearance. Wonder what most of these tail-gating sub shop ogres look like? Somehow I doubt it’s pretty.

I don’t want to seem like a moral scold here, or god forbid, a whiny ass politically correct pussy, and it really doesn’t seem like I should have to say this, but here’s the deal, gentlemen: every time a woman comes up in conversation or appears on tv or on an internet article you do not have to reflexively comment on her vis a vis her potential relationship to your tiny boner. I know it’s probably hard to wrap your cheese- and pepperoni-riddled brain around, but the primary function of every woman on earth isn’t to star in your masturbatory fantasies. (Except that one bartender at the sports pub you go to that’s twenty years younger than you. She’s totally into you dude. What are you waiting for?)

No this shit isn’t funny, but it’s most definitely on the List.

OK, sorry, sermon over. Let’s get back to making fart jokes and ripping on the way people’s superficial peccadilloes annoy us again.

Making Sure the Server Knows You Used to Work in a Restaurant Therefore You Know How It Is


Way back in the day, before this site became a mediocre version of Gawker, the List used to be an actual List. Occasionally we take a look back into the vault. Because of lazy.

Making Sure the Server Knows You Used to Work in a Restaurant, Therefore You Know How It Is

Oh word? Thank you so much for the heads up. Let me just bring out the super secret menu that we only show to comrades who’ve been in the shit. The chef will probably be out in a second to say hi too. So glad you told me, by the way, because I was just about to dust your arugula with a fresh thatch of nose pubes. Close call.

What is this move here? You know that when you do this, especially while acting like an entitled four year old pussy who seems like she’s never been in a restaurant, never mind worked in one, that it’s the industry equivalent of saying “Some of my best friends are black, so…” then proceeding to drop some suburban grandmother eugenics lecture. It’s like punching a dude in the face but saying “It’s cool, bro, I have a face too.”  No one gives a shit. If you ever actually worked in a restaurant you’d know exactly what the server expects you to say (what you want) and how you should behave (like a reasonable adult who wants to exchange money for food). Now give me my 12% tip  rounded down and let’s just break this budding relationship off before both of us fall too deep in love. 

Preemptive and Incorrect Umbrella Useage


There is one very specific time when it is acceptable to use an umbrella: when it’s actually raining. Not misting, not drizzling, not when you get too much Visine in your eye and get confused, but legit your-underwear-and-shoes-will-be-soaked rain.Once this happy occasion does arise, act like you’ve got some sense with your umbrella. Perhaps give it a few test openings pre-rain so you don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk wondering how by the hammer of Thor does this dang thing work, while intelligent life tries to exist all around you.

Furthermore, your umbrella does not make you invisible, nor does it render other people who are experiencing the exact same thing immaterial. I understand that umbrellas restrict your vision. So do baseball hats, enormous sunglasses (on the List) and eating a hot dog (also on the list – ed.). Somehow those people retain their ability to walk. With umbrellas users, basic cognizance is reduced to a whimpering, sad, pitiful half-thought when them big rain drops try to ruin your day.

Just get it together. You know who else can manage to walk down the street without bumping into people every five seconds? Blind people. That’s right. People who have the biggest excuse of them all. See, they have these sticks they run back and forth over the ground to make sure there is nothing in front of them. Seeing people have them too. They are called your eyes. Use them.

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Stop eating fast food on the bus you fat fucks repost Sundays


Riding the bus is probably the most quintessentially PTSOTL-y thing a person can do. I’m gonna be on the bus to New York again in a couple hours, so just to get myself prepared, and so I don’t have to write this same exact post later, here’s a pretty good prediction of what I’m going to be up against from the List archives.

We’ve covered that whole fat mess situation you guys have got going on over there pretty thoroughly here what with your eating at the movies, eating at sporting events, eating at places for eating, walking down the street with meatball subs falling out of your pockets all the time like a guy who just won the meatball sub lottery… But when you transfer that phenomenon into an enclosed space filled with total strangers it’s taking things up a few notches. And you guys know how much I like to keep things precisely in the appropriate notch they started off in.


I’m on the bus to New York (The bus. New York.) right now, which — wow! wi-fi on the bus is amazing. I feel like I’m taking a bus to the fucking moon. Soooo, for a while there I thought I was going to walk off of this piece without smelling like a clam shack grease trap. I get enough of that at my day job cleaning clam shack grease traps. Wrong again though Luke, because an hour into the trip my man pulled us over at a Burger King. It’s been one hour! We were all fully capable of eating before getting on the bus. An hour ago. But apparently half the fuckers on this doomed ship of meat souls had worked up a thirst for beef by sitting here so hard all that time. This pork coffin on wheels wreaks of perfumed sugar tomatoes and cheese-product now. And desperation. Although that could just be me in fairness. I haven’t been myself lately.

On the plus side it gave me a chance to flex the old larynx and lung-holes vis a vis some tobacco flavored dirt air. Speaking of which, no one can tell me that this food smell is any better than if I started gunning butts in the shitter right now. I have a pickle-scented headache. Also, is it possible to get airborne e-coli through the nostrils?

Only thing making this trip tolerable is the NYU student blasting mouth-texts into his horn every five seconds about how his audition went. At least I’ve got that to distract me.

Also: stop coughing. People cough too much. Swallow that shit. Your humanity is embarrassing me.

A Tale of 2 Pastors Southland Christian Church


by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

By RaeAnn Slaybaugh

In 1956, leaders of the Broadway Christian Church in Lexington, KY saw there was a need
for a church in the southern part of the city. So a small building was built on the last
street in Lexington at the time, Hill’N Dale, and Dr. Wayne Smith, a 27-year-old preacher,
was chosen to staff it. There were 152 worshippers at its first service.

Forty-three years later, Southland attracts 6,500 people every weekend and hopes to
serve thousands more with a multi-million dollar expansion of its facilities. “As we
say around here,” says Senior Minister Mike Breaux, “it’s simply a God thing. It
was never our goal, and never will be, to be a big church. God has caused the

Southland’s growth persisted despite some major staff changes, mainly the retirement of
Wayne Smith after 40 years at the pulpit. Having built Southland into Kentucky’s largest
Protestant congregation, Smith handed the reins over to the Rev. Mike Breaux in January
1996. There were big shoes to fill.

Breaux is no stranger to the community. He grew up in Lexington where he attended
Broadway Christian Church. He graduated from the local Lafayette High School in 1974 and
attended Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, IL, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1978. He
later returned to Broadway Christian as a youth minister.

While response to Breaux was by and large favorable and enthusiastic, Senior Executive
Associate Minister Roy Mays says this transition was not without some resistance. The
young minister brought with him contemporary music including guitars, drums, keyboards and
saxophones, as well as a different approach to ministering. Mays says that while some
members struggled with the transition, a great many others were energized and liberated by
it. Breaux’s first Sunday brought in about 1,500 more visitors and after that averaged
somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 more in attendance, an increase that the church has
maintained ever since.

“This was a shock to us because we thought we’d drop some,” Mays says.
“A minister of 40 years retires, and that may cause some attrition, but Mike is a
really gifted communicator.”

The staff has been a very stable part of the equation here. According to Mays, in the
last three-and-a-half years, only one minister has left the church. “You know, you
can’t grow just with new folks, you’ve got to keep the ones you have,” he says.

When the church moved to its current 20-acre site, it was all farmland. Services were
held on the lower level of the auditorium, there were no pews in the balcony and for some,
this was enough. However, in 1987 Mays suggested a second service. “It was like that
had never crossed people’s minds to do that,” he laughs, but by the early ’90s
Southland was hosting three services. It currently hosts five to accommodate all the

A long expansion history

In 1970 Southland gave 120 members and money to start up Southern Acres Christian
Church. It started Hill’N Dale Christian Church in 1981 with a gift of 35 members and
funding. According to Breaux, both of these churches now host nearly 1,000 visitors each

Later, in 1993, Southland planted Jessamine Christian Church, and now that church is
expanding to host 300 people every Sunday. In addition, two churches were purchased,
including one in east Lexington that faced financial hardship and was relieved of debt.
This Eastside congregation is now beginning to thrive and help people on the northeast
side of Lexington. Southland also purchased a building on four acres in Winburn
Subdivision to give a home to a predominately African-American church that previously met
in a storefront in downtown Lexington.

“All this to say, we have a heart for reaching people,” Breaux says.
“And in spite of sending people and financial support to begin new ministries, God
keeps bringing people to our door in Jessamine County.”

The community at large has also benefited from Southland’s expansion and influence.
According to Breaux, the church receives an average of 8,000 calls each year for money,
clothing, food and other services. This year the church plans to give away $1 million in
benevolence and missions including the Helping Thru Him ministry housed in a barn on
Southland’s 20 acres, and Garden of Love, a ministry providing free produce for people in
need which helped over 3,400 families last year.

Southland’s facilities welcome community events including hundreds of soccer, football,
softball and baseball games and practices, programs in the church auditorium, and meetings
of various organizations including Alcoholics Anonymous, senior citizen workshops and
community music events. When Jessamine County sought the use of the facilities for a
combined meeting of students and faculty after the high school was damaged, Breaux says
the church was glad to provide the buildings for them.

More than $40,000 a year is devoted to providing professional Christian counseling for
members and non-members, and support groups meet weekly for anyone in the community in
need. There are programs for divorce recovery, grief workshops, eating disorders, weight
loss, cancer and abuse. According to Breaux, 40 percent of those attending are not members
of Southland.

Off the site, the church purchased a house in Lexington as a refuge for girls who
discover they have an unplanned pregnancy. It was also a prime mover in the development of
the 114-bed Sayre Village, a residence for the elderly, where one can live regardless of
race, creed or color.

According to Breaux, the church has grown in the last three years from 3,800 to 6,500
regular attenders. “We believe there are many others out there in our community that
could use a touch from God through us,” he says.

More room needed

Such expansion requires more room, however, an issue Southland could no longer ignore.
Even now barns on the property have been creatively renovated to host a multitude of
ministries and a tent is set up seven months out of the year so the church can have a
small place to gather, set up ministry tables and provide resources. “Plainly put,
we’re out of room!” Breaux told members.

Fortunately, the church has 106 acres on which to grow. Southland recently completed a
$20 million pledge campaign with Resource Services, Inc., Dallas, TX. According to Mays,
the church chose RSI because it wanted to “grow its people, not just its
giving,” an approach the company shared.

Mays says of the RSI consultant, “His sermons series was on a life well spent, not
on a dollar well given. It was about how to make an impact with your life, and of course,
that is reflected in part by your stewardship of giving.” This approach proved
successful among Southland’s members, bringing in roughly $6 million more than anticipated
by RSI. For members and staff alike, the time is remembered as one of the most remarkable
experiences in more than four decades of church activity. A record number of people joined
the church during this time.

“We received commitments on a weekend and everyone in the service came forward and
laid their pledges in envelopes on offering tables,” says Executive Associate
Minister Monte Wilkinson. “People recall that Sunday and Saturday with emotion even
today. What a tremendous experience it was to watch families holding hands, walking up the
aisle and laying their offering envelope on the table. They recognized that in those
envelopes were vacations and bicycles and Christmas presents and retirements. When the
numbers were announced, I think people really realized the significance of what the group
collectively had done and what God had done through them. It was more of a spiritual
experience than anything this church has collectively seen.”

Mays says Southland members really understood the need for new facilities. In a typical
church, 40 percent of those giving will participate in a campaign whereas 64 percent of
Southland’s givers contributed, he explains, a number that RSI was “absolutely blown
away by” as well.

“I think that’s a barometer of what Wayne Smith had sowed for 40 years and what
God had developed here and what Mike with his vision had been able to tap in to,”
Wilkinson says. “The church embraced the future, really with a giving that we have
never seen before.”

Most importantly, the new facilities will allow Southland to minister to more than
twice its current membership, an aspect leaders agree takes all precedence.

Breaux promised $100,000 of his own money from his income, home equity, retirement fund
and honorariums from speaking engagements. Additionally, about $7.5 million of the pledges
came from 175 of Southland’s lay leaders and staff.

Southland also secured a $5 million line of credit with Lexington’s Central bank should
the $20 million be insufficient to pay for the project. “We have a long history with
(Central Bank),” Wilkinson says. “The relationship we have with them brings
respect for us as an organization within the community for people who don’t know us as a
religious organization.”

Although these funds will first go to dedicating $1 million in outreach efforts, much
of this total will go to Phase One of the $19 million construction project. This first
phase will include a youth center; atrium with food service; library and bookstore; and an
activities/family life center with three full-size basketball courts, fitness and weight
rooms, and running track. Completion of Phase One will more than double Southland’s floor
space. The second phase will include a 100, 000-square foot worship center and a 45,000
square-foot children’s ministry building.

Just the Facts

Southland Christian Church,
Lexington, KY
Average Weekly Attendance:
Total Budget:
97, half full- and half part-time
Rev. Mike Breaux

8-Year-Old Boy Dies in Church Elevator



STURGIS, Ky. – Kentucky State Police are investigating the death of an 8-year-old boy, who reportedly was pinned in an church elevator shaft Saturday, June 13.

The boy was at First Christian Church in Sturgis at a wedding reception for his grandmother. He reportedly fell down the shaft and when the elevator returned to the bottom, it pinned him so that he couldn’t breathe.

The official cause of death released by the Union County coroner is compression asphyxia.


Chicago Tribune: 8-Year-Old Boy Dies in Church Elevator

Related Content:

Boy Dies at Church Construction Site

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Are Todays Up-and-Coming Evangelicals More Moderate


Are Today’s Up-and-Coming Evangelicals More Moderate?

A recent article from ABC News speaks to some young-adult evangelical Christians who believe that Richard Cizik’s resignation (forced or voluntarily) from the National Association of Evangelicals was premature. They say that Cizik’s views – he isn’t totally averse to gay civil unions – are actually in line with theirs. These younger evangelicals are more concerned with fighting poverty, protecting the environment and ending wars abroad.

This departure from the so-called hot-button evangelical issues signals a change in young evangelical thinking. To read more, check out the source article.


ABC News: New evangelists buck the Christian right

Related Content:

Cizik Resigns from National Association of Evangelicals

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American Church Might Actually Be Growing


American Church Might Actually Be Growing

For all of the talk – and statistics to back it up – about the Church being in decline, another statistic provides some encouragement: The percentage of Americans who attend a local church is actually up over time.

Provided in Rodney Stark’s book “What Americans Really Believe,” here is a breakdown of the history of church involvement (by percentage) in the United States.

Percentage of Americans Who Belong to a Local Congregation:

1776 – 17 percent

1850 – 34 percent

1906 – 51 percent

1926 – 56 percent

1980 – 62 percent

2005 – 69 percent


Monday Morning Insight: Is the American Church Really in Decline?

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12 People 3 Years 1 Million Effective Leaders in Training


ATLANTA — In 2003, 12 people launched an initiative to equip 1 million Christians worldwide with the skills needed to provide leadership for advancing the Great Commission in their communities, workplaces and churches.

Involving one million leaders in the “Million Leaders Mandate,” a project of the non-profit leadership organization EQUIP, was expected to take six years. With the help of ministry partners, local churches, business leaders and 175 volunteer trainers, the mission was accomplished in just three years.

Now EQUIP — with a staff increased to 26 — is starting on its next million — launching Million Leaders Mandate in 43 additional locations around the globe.

“When we launched this initiative, we recognized that this was bigger than all of us,” says John C. Maxwell, founder of EQUIP. “With God’s favor and blessing, we’ve met our initial goal, but the work of leadership development has just begun.”

“EQUIP is renewing its commitment to training relevant, effective Christian leaders,” says EQUIP’s President John Hull. “I’m pleased to announce that we are expanding our efforts to involve an additional one million leaders in the Million Leaders Mandate program by the end of 2006.”

Million Leaders Mandate is already active in more than 60 countries on four continents.

Included in this second phase of the program is a global outreach to regions where the program is just becoming available, including Latin America.

“Million Leaders Mandate came at the right time in my life,” says Joe Gomes of India, a graduate of the unique training program. “I’ve learned a new, godly perspective of leadership — a God-centered leadership style.

“Before, I was pointing my finger at others,” Gomes adds. “I wept before God every night after each day of teaching. I’m thankful for this dynamic leadership training.”


John C. Maxwell

Founded by best-selling author/leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell, EQUIP exists to train and empower Christians worldwide with the skills needed to realize their leadership potential, improve their communities, impact their spheres of influence, and ultimately fulfill the Great Commission. Through conferences, leadership curriculum, church partnerships, and technology, EQUIP is working to train millions of Christian leaders worldwide.

Amy Terpstra A Modern-Day Pastors Wife


Amy Terpstra: A Modern-Day Pastor’s Wife

by Charlsy Panzino

Amy Terpstra met her husband, Dave, at the Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center in Santa Cruz, Calif., the summer after she graduated high school. Even though Amy attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and Dave was at Wheaton College in Illinois, they continued their relationship long-distance. They married in 1998, two weeks after Amy’s graduation.

“We moved to Denver right after that so Dave could attend Denver Seminary,” Amy says. “We had every intention to return to California the second Dave was done with seminary, but alas, God is in charge and we are still in Colorado – and loving it.”

In Dave’s first year at seminary, he worked as a youth pastor, with Amy helping out as her schedule allowed. After a tough year, they were drawn to The Next Level Church in Englewood, Colo. Dave started out as an intern, then joined the staff as director of leadership and now serves as teaching pastor.

While Dave is at work, Amy takes care of their three children: 4-year-old Abigail, 3-year-old Jake and almost-2-year-old Alyson. She also does consulting at their children’s preschool, where Dave helps when he can. Amy’s other main focus is supporting her husband’s work at church, which meets for service Tuesday nights at 7 p.m.

“On Tuesdays, I am usually ‘on call’ for Dave, making sure he has what he needs for his talks, taking him things he forgot at home, getting him food or other errands,” she shares.

Amy says they never miss church on Tuesday nights, unless one of the kids is sick. “We have always gone, and our children love it,” she adds. “People in the church know they can count on us being there each week.”

The Terpstras also have a Bible study at their home every other Sunday night, and they attend the church’s annual retreat. In addition, Amy is currently trying to start a Mothers of Preschoolers group to reach Gen-X mothers. “Our church is very unique in the population we reach and the activities we provide,” she comments.

Due to the amount of prime time Dave is needed at the church, he is not always able to spend a lot of quality time at home. Therefore, the Terpstras figure out ways to spend time together while keeping Dave’s schedule in mind. “Being a pastor means you don’t really have a day off, so being a pastor’s wife means you get creative with family time and ‘together time,’” Amy says.

When Dave isn’t able to be at home due to church activities, the family will sometimes meet him that day for lunch or dinner. “Or he might go in [to work] late, and we spend the morning together at the zoo or museum,” she adds.

One aspect of the Terpstras’ success is staying mindful of healthy boundaries. There have been times when Dave’s schedule became overwhelming, and he let his co-workers know that he couldn’t take on any extra activities. This allowed him to continue spending much-needed time with his family, even though his job had the potential to consume all his energy. Ironically, even in those breaks, Dave needs a certain amount of downtime while Amy thrives on being busy, preferably doing activities with Dave and the family.

“We had some hard times in the beginning, trying to figure out how to take care of many other people as well as ourselves,” Amy reveals. “And we are still a work in progress, but I am thankful for my husband and look forward to him coming home every day.”

When Dave is home, the couple is very intentional about finding ways to spend time together. “We had a ‘date night’ before the children were born, but now we have one night a week where we watch our favorite TV show together,” she says. “We have to be spontaneous – we do most things at home after the kids go to bed. Sometimes we just watch a movie at home, or one of us will go get ice cream that we will eat together.”

When they’re not together, Amy and Dave stay connected with frequent phone calls. One of the qualities Amy cherishes most about her husband is that he ends every single call by saying, “I love you.”

Being a pastor’s wife creates unique encounters. Amy believes many pastors’ wives have an unspoken sense of approachability because of their husbands’ positions. For her, this means complete strangers often approach her for advice with their life’s problems. “[They think I] can fix everything magically,” she says.

Dealing with people who are hurting provides many challenges, but Amy handles it with grace. “I love that I get to share in many people’s joys and not just the struggles,” she admits.

Although many people share their problems with Amy, that doesn’t mean she can let down her guard. As church leaders, she and Dave both have to be very mindful of their circle of trust. “Besides my husband, I only have a few people that know everything about me, that I can call anytime for anything,” she says. “You really have to hold onto your personal life and your children’s lives and protect them like a mother bear protects her young.”

In addition to her inherent role as community counselor, Amy says she also tends to be the “fallback” person at church. “If something needs to get done and no one else will do it, it finds its way into my lap – usually the day it needs to happen,”
she jokes.

While she’s happy to help meet needs, she also has to be mindful of her personal and family priorities. “I love my church and my life, but I have to make sure that I am growing in my walk, too,” she says.

One thing Amy misses about the early days of her relationship with Dave is when they were able to drive to and attend church together. Now she corrals the kids while he’s already at church preparing for service. They’re fortunate if they even get to sit in the same pew. But as the Terpstras continue serving the Lord, He provides the fellowship and connection they need. For instance, Next Level has four married pastors on staff, which allows these families to share and relate to each other’s life experiences. Not only does Amy have friends in the “business,” but she has family, as well.

“My grandmother was a pastor’s wife and understands my life,” she acknowledges.

Even though her life can be a whirlwind, Amy is still able to find some time for herself. She tries to take time every day to read, pray or talk to friends. “I occasionally go and scrapbook at the local scrapbook store, or go shopping by myself, or go out with one of my close friends,” she says.

But no matter how hectic Amy’s life becomes, she wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. “I love my life and I love my husband, and I feel fortunate to have the life that we do,” she says. “It is tiring and a lot of work, but fulfilling as well.”

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An Afternoon with Pat McMahon Host of The God Show


by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

By RaeAnn Slaybaugh

Every week, tens of thousands of Phoenix-area listeners tune in to Newsradio
620 KTAR to hear “The God Show,” with award-winning host and community icon
Pat McMahon. Without blinking an eye, he and a high-profile panel of guests
cover topics ranging from the morality of war, to the existence of evil, to
whether or not “Merry Christmas” is an insensitive greeting. Sound scary? Well, McMahon isn’t intimated by much.

it’s because being in the public spotlight is nothing new. Phoenix natives widely recognize McMahon for his 30-year role
on the Monty Python-esque local children’s show, “Wallace and Ladmo,”
where he played an arrogant, rich kid named Gerald. (“There isn’t a day that
goes by — and sometimes not an hour — when someone doesn’t ask me about

Today, McMahon is juggling an incredibly full schedule hosting not
only “The God Show,” but also daily programs “The McMahon Group” and “The
Pat McMahon Show.”

So, how did this Phoenix icon go from a renowned kid’s show
actor with a pageboy haircut and Little Lord Fauntleroy collar to the host of a
radio program about God? We spent an afternoon with McMahon and his producer of
17 years, Rosemary Scarfo, to find out.

Church Business®

: So,
how did you come to host ‘The
God Show?’

Pat McMahon: When I was doing a daily
radio talk show, that was a topic: religion. I kept coming out [of those
broadcasts] thinking, Whoa! Fascinating!

So, I went in to one of the program directors some years ago
and said, ‘Why don’t we do a regular show — a show on Sundays — not
about religion as such, but topical views from a spiritual perspective?’ At
that time I think the response was, ‘Yeah right, Pat.’ You’ll find very
few stations of [KTAR’s] impact and size doing anything religious. Most of the
time, that’s left up to the Christian stations. Finally, our program director [agreed] and said, ‘What did
you have in mind?’ I wanted it to be a news talk show, but I wanted to talk
about everything that’s in the news, but from a spiritual perspective.

I’d already decided it should be called something really
allen-compassing and not ponderous, so I chose ‘The God Show.’ That really
does include everybody’s faith, or non-faith.


Who’ve been your favorite
guests so far?


[Noted author] Rabbi
[Harold] Kushner. I also enjoyed talking with the iconoclastic rebel priest that
was just on a few weeks ago, Hans Koln, from Germany; and a number of members
of the Jesus seminar from around the world; and a lot of really wellknown
authors, including Jack Canfield, the co-author of the Chicken
Soup for the Soul
series. I’ve enjoyed interviewing
a variety of bishops, Louis Farrakhan from Nation of Islam, and all the religion
editors from Newsweek, Time,
The New York Times and The
Chicago Tribune


Have any topics or guests been
especially difficult?


It’s been painful the
last couple of years to do shows about the Catholic Church. In almost every
case, it’s either in or around the issue of priests in trouble. For [Rosemary
and me], the most painful part is the recent difficulties with [local priest]
Father Dale Fushek. Not only is he a close friend of ours, he was the guy we’d
always call upon as a guest because he was terrific.

I think it’s cogent and appropriate to talk about this for
your magazine because it’s one of those rare times when your friendship gets
in the way if you allow it. You have to get around that and think to yourself, OK,
here’s someone who says he was a victim of a priest and that Father Fushek
knew about it
— and Father Fushek baptized my

We still talk to him every once in awhile on the phone, but he’s
under house arrest. But he’d be welcome to come down and do “The God Show”
with whatever it is he could say about the proceedings.


Who’s your dream guest?



[Scarfo laughs]

McMahon: They
say He’s coming back, and I’d like to make some kind of a deal where we
could have an exclusive with Him — not forever, just the first couple of


I just wrote two people down
while we were talking: first, the nun who wrote Dead
Man Walking
[Sister Helen Prejean] — we’d love to
talk with her.


I’d like to talk with
Billy Graham because of his mind, and because of his contact with America —
the Presidents dating back to Roosevelt. He seems to be a straight-shooter. And
of late, I’d like to have on Joel Osteen. Oh! And Benny Hinn! I want to show
him this rash under my arm that just will not go
away …


How do you decide the topics you’ll
cover on “The God Show”?


Many times, we do things
seasonally. I keep an eye open. We also look for the quirky topics — something
just a little bit ‘off’ — to let everybody know God is in all our lives.
And I get books. People send us books all the time. The authors really know
their subjects, so they’re usually good guests.


How have you seen “The God
Show” change and grow, both in content and in scope, since it first aired
seven years ago?


I’d say we’ve become
more socially oriented in our approach to things. We started very basic years
ago by asking, What’s a Mormon like? and
What’s a Muslim like? and
so on.


I still think those are
interesting topics, but not every Sunday.


Mm hmm. Now we’re into
things that really affect us — the Catholic church scandals are one example.


And we’ll probably end up
doing something on Ariel Sharon. It might appear on the surface to be absolutely
nothing to do with religion — only political. Or it might be all political,
but anybody who’s listening understands there’s a foundation of Judaism


But I do think it’s
necessary to do an in-depth look [at particular religions] every now and then.


Do you remember the mail we
got when we did the show on Jehovah’s Witnesses?


Hundreds of letters! They
were scared to death Pat was going to really beat up [the guests] with his
questions, but it was absolutely, down-the-road informational. I had hundreds of
people wanting tapes and letters. Unbelievable. A lot of religions have been persecuted for years and years.
They’ve been looked down upon, not treated fairly. We’ve even had
Scientologists on the show.


Of course, I have to bring up
your long-time role on “Wallace and Ladmo” at some point.Was there any part
of the role of Gerald that let you blend your Christian beliefs with what you
did for work?


Yes. Gerald was a Junior

[Scarfo laughs]

McMahon: It
was like this: Wallace was the straight man who tried to keep some order, and he
consistently failed. Ladmo played a lovable buffoon who the kids truly loved —
they could identify with him. He always got into trouble, but he tried really
hard, and his grades weren’t always good.

But Gerald… well, he got straight A’s, and his teachers
loved him. And he always reminded you that he was the wealthiest, most affluent
and influential kid in school.

In truth, though it wasn’t our intent, there were a number
of moral issues addressed according to our standards. Kids understood that if
you misbehaved like Gerald did all the time — if you lied and cheated and
stole — eventually you’d get caught or your privileges would be taken away.
But if you tried really hard, like Ladmo did, that was a good role model.


Do you think your religious
leanings come through in your other shows?


Oh yeah! When you host a
talk show, your primary obligation is to talk about what you’re interested in.
[Another talk radio host at the station] used to do outdoor shows — hunting,
fishing, camping. I’ve never done that. God help anyone who listens to me
about how to build a fire!


Your hands are pretty full. Do
you foresee any other religion-based programs in your future?


We’ve talked briefly with
the management about syndicating the show. When you do, most of the time you lose
the localness of it, and I don’t want to do that. Still, I think most of the
shows would have national appeal.


OK, so what’s the motivation
for a pastor in, say, Iowa to log on and listen to “The God Show”?


We’re talking about the
moral issues of the day. We’re talking about what your kids should know. We’re
talking about world news today, but from a spiritual perspective.


I think we have an advantage
in being on a news-talk station. We can talk about whatever we want.


We do. I wouldn’t — and
probably couldn’t — do this show on a Christian radio station.

Log on to to listen live Sundays from
7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 12 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mountain Time.



PEAVEY INT’L. HEADQUARTERS — On the proverbial road to rock stardom, 12 Stones has endured triumphs and hardships of biblical proportions, from signing a record deal in less than 12 months of existence to landing huge concert tours with major artists, only to have them canceled or postponed for months on end.

Maybe they’re soothsayers; after all, throughout the bible, Jesus challenged the endurance of his 12 apostles. The name 12 Stones refers to that bit of trivia, and while many journalists hang on that religious symbolism, it’s not important to understanding the band’s music. 12 Stones is simply a positive hard rock band with a hopeful message.

And as it turns out, nice guys do win. By rejecting the negativity popularized by mainstream rock acts over the past decade, they’ve sold nearly a half-million albums in the United States alone. Of course, months upon months of hard touring with megastars Creed and 3 Doors Down helped, as did vocalist Paul McCoy’s turn on the Evanescence hit “Bring Me to Life.”

“Paul did the Evanescence song between tours, and a few months later that album [Fallen] had already sold in the millions,” says Weaver. “We’ve had people come up and say, ‘I got the Evanescence album and heard of 12 Stones through that. It’s helped.”

Many of the songs on 12 Stones’ just-released second album, ‘Potter’s Field,’ originated with Weaver and McCoy and benefited from an array of studio guitar amplifiers. When it came time to translate the album to a live setting, however, Weaver turned to the new Peavey JSX amp, co-designed by legend Joe Satriani.

“The JSX supports what I do well, although it doesn’t sound exactly like the album,” he says. “I’ve always had a tendency to do things differently live than on a record. I like the JSX’s two distorted channels, especially if I’m doing an intro that’s distorted. I’ll just use the crunch channel for the intro, then switch to the ultra channel when the song kicks in.

“I also really like the JSX’s clean channel. It blows away anything (other companies) could ever dream of having on their amps. And the mids and highs just scream. I have it sounding just the way I like it. It covers all the bases.”

Fellow 12 Stones guitarist Greg Trammell plays through Peavey Triple XXX heads and cabs, while bassist Aaron Hill plays through a Pro 500 bass amp head, GPS 2600 power amp and Pro 810 bass cabinets.

To read the full Eric Weaver interview and find out more about these Peavey amplifiers and more, visit

About Peavey
Peavey Electronics Corporation is one of the largest manufacturers of musical instruments and professional sound equipment in the world.

Peavey holds more than 130 patents and produces more than 2,000 products, which are distributed throughout the United States and to 136 other countries. To find out more about Peavey Electronics and its artists, visit

5 Preventers of Church Growth


5 Preventers of Church Growth

Pastor and Church Consultant Bill Tenny-Brittian recently identified on his blog five stumbling blocks to church growth – well, five stumbling blocks other than church conflict and infighting.

Among the notable church-growth hang-ups are poor tracking of attendance and not following up with guests. To read the full list, along with complete explanations, read Tenny-Brittian’s article.

Source:  Top 5 Reasons Churches Don’t Grow

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