A Liberty Counsel News Release:
WASHINGTON, DC – In a move seeking to mobilize millions to stand in solidarity for religious freedom, defend marriage, and promote the protection of all human life, two longtime human rights and constitutional lawyers, Mat Staver and Keith Fournier, announced a formal collaboration for the culture on Friday, October 10, 2014.
Last year, Fournier and Staver coauthored and jointly released a Christian leaders from across the confessional spectrum. They are currently completing a similar joint statement entitled “The First Freedom: Defending the Foundation of the Free Exercise of Religion” which will be released by Christmas.
The appointment of Fournier as Special Counsel to Liberty Counsel and announcement of formal collaboration of these two leaders arises out of their shared concern that the erosion of religious freedom threatens the sources of all our liberties.
Mat Staver is the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and also serves as Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action.
Staver holds Bachelor, Master, and Juris Doctorate degrees and an honorary Doctorate of Laws and a Doctorate of Divinity. He has argued two landmark cases before the United States Supreme Court as lead counsel. He has written numerous briefs before the High Court and other courts, having argued in numerous state and federal courts across the country. He has over 210 published legal opinions.
Staver has written hundreds of popular articles, five scholarly law review publications, numerous brochures and booklets, and 11 books, most of which focus on constitutional law. Staver is an evangelical protestant Christian leader whose lifetime of dedication to religious freedom has made him a well-known figure across the Christian confessional spectrum, as well as a popular media figure, speaker, and respected Christian leader.
Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance, as well as the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online. He is an ordained member of the Catholic Clergy, a Catholic Deacon, and well-known – not only in Catholic circles but across the broader Christian community.
Fournier is the author of eight books and hundreds of articles on public policy, Christian faith, Christian unity, marriage and family, prayer and devotion, and contemporary issues of concern to Catholics, other Christians, and all people of faith.
Fournier served as a Dean at Franciscan University, was the founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice, and had a long career as a constitutional lawyer and public policy advocate at the intersection of faith and culture. He appeared at the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous appeals courts on Pro-Life, Po-Family, and Religious Freedom cases and controversies.
He has been very active in authentic ecumenical efforts oriented toward bringing Christians together to influence the culture with their values informed by faith. He is dedicated to offering the truths and principles found in Classical Christian thought as the leaven for the renewal of the culture.
Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation.
Last year when Staver and Fournier released their joint statement on Marriage, they acknowledged that differences exist between the signers on important matters of religious doctrine and practice, but declared that “on the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity.”
The statement affirmed “that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society; the first church, first school, first hospital, first economy, first government and first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.”
This announcement of a Formal Collaboration for the Culture picks up where the marriage statement left off. The two Christian leaders issued the following statement on making the announcement:
Our work together over the years has bound us together as brothers in the Lord. It has also made us realize that the urgency of the times in which we live demands that we find new ways of standing together to defend the foundations of freedom upon which the American Experiment in ordered liberty stands.
These are urgent times, but these are our times. As Christians, we believe we were born and born again for this hour. As American citizens, we know that the birth certificate of this nation was called a Declaration of Independence because it declared independence from an unjust civil ruler. It did not declare independence from a just God.
We live in an age which has been deceived by a counterfeit notion of freedom as giving people the right to do whatever they want, rather than the right to choose to do what is right. The roots of the crisis we face recall the profound and prophetic statement of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the recipient of the Templeton prize in 1983. “Men Have Forgotten God.”
The mistaken idea that the exercise of freedom can ever be divorced from the moral norms necessary to govern our choices and guide our behavior is wrong and will not promote the true common good. When there is nothing objectively true which can be known by all and form the basis of a common life, then there is no freedom. Instead, we teeter on the brink of anarchy.
We reject the claim that one can separate moral or social issues from economic or international issues. There is a moral basis to every social concern. That is because there is a Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women because it is written on the human heart. It can be discerned through the exercise of reason. It must inform our life together.
The existence of such a Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built. This Natural Moral Law gives us the norms with which we can build a truly free and just society and govern ourselves. It must also inform the positive or civil law of our Nation, or we will become lawless and risk devolving into anarchy.
There is no word which echoes more passionately within the human heart than that word “freedom.” The United States of America was founded by men and women who experienced threats to freedom’s promise and risked everything to secure a future of true freedom.
Authentic freedom has a moral constitution within which we must exercise our rights as individuals, families, communities, and nations. Freedom is much more than a freedom from; it is a freedom for responsible and virtuous living. The early American founders spoke of the pursuit of happiness with reference to just such an understanding of virtue as a key to living a happy life.
We reassert together that there is a moral foundation for the exercise of authentic freedom. We may be free to choose, but some choices are always and everywhere wrong. We know this is true because it is written on the human heart. It does not require religion to reveal it or to make it obligatory. It is a part of a common morality.
We affirm as Christians that the fullness of truth concerning what is good and true has been revealed to all who choose to embrace the Gospel – in the Person, message, and mission of Jesus Christ. However, the moral norms upon which our nation was founded are not simply “religious,” and they are essential to the survival of a truly free society.
Freedom will only grow and flourish when we choose what is good, respecting the truth about the human person, marriage and the family and society founded upon it, and what advances the real common good. It is weakened and lost when we choose against what is true and right. In fact, it results in fracturing our common bond as a free nation.
Religious freedom is the first freedom. It ensures that the leavening role of revealed truth helps us to form our conscience and shape the choices we make as individuals, families, and as a truly free society. It is also under a wholesale assault. We pledge to stand together to defend the First Freedom of Religious Freedom.
Religious faith, religious institutions, and religious speech are protected by the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution for good reason. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and serves the common good. We stand together for religious freedom and against the growing assaults upon what has long been hailed as America’s First Freedom.
In launching this collaboration for the culture, we reaffirm the words of the American Founders and make them our own. There are still self-evident truths and unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With the Founders, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor to defend them.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.