On the front lines defending religious liberty
Q&A | Kelly Shackelford with First Liberty Institute on fighting for freedom
by Warren Cole Smith
Posted 9/05/16, 10:38 am
Kelly Shackelford is the president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, which in the past few years has become one of the largest legal firms in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom. I had this conversation with Shackelford at a recent meeting of conservative activists in Cleveland, Ohio, just days before the Republican National Convention.
Threats to religious liberty have become clear and present dangers not just for the few, but for many people of faith. Even though you’re winning many court cases, are we losing the war? People always come to me and just say, “Is there any hope?” I say, if you look at our record, we’ve got all these people, these attorneys—they’re incredibly talented—waiting to give their time on a case. We’ve got all these people who, if they’re willing to stand up, we’re going to win. The law’s on our side. We’ve got the best litigators on our side, but it will take people of faith being willing to stand. A lot of people have heard of Coach Joe Kennedy. Incredible guy. [He was] fired because he went to a knee after the football game to give thanks to the Lord for the privilege of coaching the young men. He went by himself, and he was fired. You know what? We think it’s a really important case. The whole country’s been watching this case. We wouldn’t have a client unless Coach Kennedy was willing to go to a knee. If people of faith around the country are willing to stand for their freedoms, we can win these cases.
I appreciate that the law is on your side, but I think you would admit that’s changing a bit. What would erode the law and legal precedents and put Christians in a weaker position? What would erode it is the loss of rule of law. We’ve seen some real erosion and attempts to really deconstruct the rule of law over the past years. What kind of judges are being appointed? Are they judges who say, “My job is to interpret and apply the law,” or are they judges who think, “Well, I’m just going to do what I think I’d like to do.” ... All these things that are on our side, the law, the history, the Constitution, only work if we have a system where the judges apply the law. We can bring the very best litigators, the very best arguments, and everything on our side, but we’ve got to have good judges who do the right thing so that we get freedom for everybody as a result.
Listen to Warren Cole Smith’s complete conversation with Kelly Shackelford on the Aug. 19, 2016 episode of Listening In.
Warren Cole Smith
Warren is the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. He previously served as WORLD's vice president and associate publisher. He currently serves as president of MinistryWatch and has written or co-written several books, including Restoring All Things: God's Audacious Plan to Change the World Through Everyday People. Warren resides in Charlotte, N.C. Follow him on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.