Several recent decisions by the Supreme Court have helped restore the foundational freedoms that made the United States, though far from perfect, the greatest nation on earth. Yet we must realize that there is no real freedom apart from God and the acceptance of personal responsibility. There can be no effective government without responsible citizens living under moral order. If we do not live under control with the freedom Jesus offered to all captives, we can never hope for our society to support and maintain the principles that enable freedom.
With an understanding of the importance of personal freedom, we may rightly ask the question, “What about national freedom?” It is my firm opinion we are in danger of losing it, along with the opportunity it offers. It is my prayer that all believers will learn that we must live to protect what others died to provide.
We are in the process of forfeiting the freedom our founders established – a freedom built on moral absolutes and a strong, but limited, government. Enemies of faith and true freedom don’t even want to acknowledge the supernatural power that influenced America’s birth or the importance of God, faith, family, and the principles necessary for freedom. They stand hell-bent in opposition to undeniable, absolute, transforming truth.
It’s time for people who understand the value of faith and freedom and its foundation to stand together like a mighty army – an undeniable spiritual force. We must reclaim the land of promise birthed through faith, prayer, and personal sacrifice to bless the American people and the nations of the world. Our freedom can only be preserved with the same determination, diligence, and supernatural unity Jesus prayed for and freedom’s champions understand.
The framers of the Constitution knew that the true liberty they offered demanded responsible citizens. Benjamin Franklin was asked if the meeting in Philadelphia had created a monarchy or a republic. Franklin answered, “A republic – if you can keep it.” Franklin, along with the other founders, knew that in order for liberty to be maintained, it would have to be supported by principled statesmen who were actively engaged in the task of governing themselves, encouraging all citizens to hold fast to truths espoused in the Declaration of Independence.
John Adams, our second president, said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
We are on the verge of losing freedom’s blessings as morality is under assault. Sadly, the church has not fully understood the importance of living under the control of God with the powerful spirit of God providing the strength for us to not only enjoy the privileges and possibilities of freedom, but also to protect them.
Jesus commissioned His followers to share the truth that sets people free and keeps them free. He said, “When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”
Ronald Reagan observed, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on to them to do the same or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.”
I do not want to be found among those who will be asked what we were doing when freedom died. By the grace of God, with His help and the help of those who share common concerns and with Christians of conviction, I will not be indifferent and allow freedom to die on my watch. I will continue to pray, preach, and openly call for a return to God-given principles.
America’s founders believed they were on a journey similar to that of Israel’s exodus from Egypt to God’s Promised Land. Moses was their hero. His farewell address delivered on Mount Nebo references the choices God offers those desiring true freedom. Martin Luther King, Jr. invoked these words the night before he was assassinated in 1968, and Ronald Reagan repeated them while standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty celebrating our nation’s birthday in 1986:
“See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and adversity. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God to walk in His ways and to keep his commandments. But if you turn away, you will certainly perish. You shall not long endure on the soil that you are crossing the Jordan to enter. I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse, choose life that you and your offspring shall live.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-19)
The life being offered was a life of freedom, fullness and fruitfulness. God has granted us both the privilege and responsibility of being overseers, good stewards of all that He had entrusted to our care. You can be the guardians, the gate keepers, the restorers of the foundation and the wall builders maintaining our precious liberty. Let not your hearts be troubled. Keep the faith. Fight the fight as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ with the whole armor of God and the sword of the Spirit, don’t bend and don’t bow before the godless influences of this world and you will not be crushed and enslaved by the powers in this present world!
When God rules in individual lives, sound principles will prevail in our land. Leaders will no longer be chosen because of personality, party affiliation, or skillful communication. They will be chosen because of their commitment to God-given principles necessary for the survival of true freedom.
I am praying to God and appealing to caring people to help restore America and freedom. It will not be easy, but together, and with God’s help, it can be done. This is the greatest hour for people of faith to become a guiding light.
PITTSBURGH – Scott W. Brady, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro today warned against hacking teleconferences during the coronavirus pandemic. The Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Task Force will investigate, disrupt and prosecute such hacking.
Western Pennsylvania’s chief federal, state, and local law enforcement officials are joining together to warn that anyone who hacks into a teleconference can be charged with state or federal crimes. Charges may include: disrupting a public meeting, computer intrusion, using a computer to commit a crime, hate crimes, fraud, or transmitting threatening communications. When hackers work together on coordinated attacks, they can also be charged with conspiracy. All of these charges are punishable by fines and imprisonment.
U.S. Attorney Brady said, “Hackers are disrupting business and community meetings for sport and targeting specific groups, including addiction recovery meetings, in order to mock, harass and interfere with treatment. This is another low point in this crisis. We are better than this. DOJ will use all of our resources to find, expose and prosecute these low-lifes.”
“At a time when people need internet conferencing technology to do essential business or to connect with loved ones, it’s vital that we make these platforms safe from hackers,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “People need confidence in the services they are relying upon during
this emergency. Through my Office’s partnership with the Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, we will be able to investigate and prosecute hackers.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a spike in businesses and employees teleworking to communicate and share information over the internet,” said Acting FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel. “Cyber criminals see this as an easy way to take advantage of vulnerable members of our community and to exploit telework software vulnerabilities to obtain sensitive information. The FBI encourages users to safeguard their user information and prevent these malicious cyber actors from eavesdropping or stealing sensitive information. We ask anyone with information about criminal activities, especially those exploiting the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus, to contact us.”
“Over the course of the next several weeks, the United States Secret Service’s primary investigative priorities will be to mitigate any efforts by criminals that target citizens for cyber-enabled crimes and identity theft as it relates to COVID-19 scams,” said Tim Burke, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service Pittsburgh Field Office. “In doing so, we at the Secret Service are grateful to be joining our fellow law enforcement partners on the COVID-19 Fraud Task Force. Together, the COVID-19 Task Force will enable us to focus our resources to uncover, investigate, and prevent these crimes more effectively in a unified front.”
“Every community and their leadership are appreciative of the efforts that all of the Federal agencies are putting forth in addressing the issues of Zoom-bombing,” added Bruce A. Fromlak, West View Borough Chief of Police and President of the Western Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. “As we conduct business each and every day we are presented with new challenges. This is clearly a new challenge however this too will be dealt with in cooperation with all of our law enforcement partners and professional law enforcement organizations. We will approach and address all malicious attacks in an expeditious and professional manner in order to bring any and all unscrupulous individuals to justice.”
As individuals continue the transition to online lessons and meetings, law enforcement recommends exercising due diligence and caution in your cybersecurity efforts. The following steps can be taken to mitigate teleconferencing threats:
- Do not make the meeting or classroom public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control which guests are admitted.
- Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.
- Manage screen sharing options. In Zoom, change screen sharing to “Host Only.”
- Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications. In January 2020, Zoom updated their software. In their security update, the teleconference software provider added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.
- Understand the features of your specific teleconference platform, including how to close a conference call in the middle and how to kick out people who are disrupting. Zoom has posted these steps on their blog.
- Lastly, ensure that your organization’s telework policy or guide addresses requirements for physical and information security.
If you were a victim of a teleconference hijacking, or any cyber-crime for that matter, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. Click here for more information regarding teleconference hijacking: https://www.ic3.gov/media/2020/200401.aspx.
Additionally, if you receive a specific threat during a teleconference, please report it to the FBI at https://tips.fbi.gov/ or call the FBI Pittsburgh Division at (412) 432-4000.
To contact Secret Service directly call (412) 281-7825.
21 AGS FILE LEGAL ACTION SUPPORTING ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO’S LAWSUIT PROTECTING CONTRACEPTIVE RIGHTS OF WOMEN
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that a coalition of 21 state Attorneys General have filed an amicus brief in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in support of a lawsuit brought by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey asking the courts to stop the Trump Administration from rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide contraceptive care coverage in their health insurance plans.
The Attorneys General brief asks the court to issue a nationwide preliminary injunction stopping the federal government from implementing new regulations that authorize employers with a religious or moral objection to block their employees and their employees’ dependents from receiving insurance coverage for contraceptive care and services. The new federal regulations are otherwise set to take effect this month.
“Despite previous court orders barring the Trump Administration from implementing rules which threaten the health care and independence of women in Pennsylvania and across America, the federal government continues to seek ways to enact these harsh measures,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Women need contraception for their health because contraception is medicine, pure and simple. Families rely on the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee of affordable healthcare, and my fellow Attorneys General recognize the impact this has on family budgets in their states and across the country. I welcome my colleagues’ support. Congress hasn’t changed the law, and the President can’t simply ignore it with an illegal rule.”
In December 2017, Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit to challenge the interim version of the regulations and won a nationwide injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. That decision stopped the Trump Administration’s interim rules from undermining the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide their employees with contraceptive coverage.
Last month, Attorney General Shapiro announced that he had filed an amended complaint against Trump Administration seeking to block the federal government’s final religious and moral exemption rules from taking effect, and that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had joined Pennsylvania in filing the amended complaint.
Federal government estimates for the number of American women who will be immediately impacted by the final rules are more than double the number which were potentially impacted by the interim rules. Government estimates do not account for women who will be entering the workforce in the future.
Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, most employers who provide health insurance coverage to their employees have been required to include coverage for contraception, at no cost to the employee. As a result of the ACA, more than 55 million women in the United States, including 2.5 million in Pennsylvania and their families, have access to a range of FDA-approved methods of contraceptive care, including the longest-acting and most effective ones, with no out-of-pocket costs.
In the amicus brief, the state attorneys general argue that the new regulations threaten the health, well-being, and economic stability of hundreds of thousands of their residents by depriving them of contraception coverage. As a result, the attorneys general contend their states will be forced to spend millions of dollars to provide their residents with state-funded replacement contraceptive care and services. The states further argue that the expanded religious exemption included in the final regulations will cause women in every single state to lose contraception coverage and therefore agree that the court should impose a nationwide preliminary injunction.
“Access to contraception advances educational opportunity, workplace equality, and financial empowerment for women; improves the health of women and children; and reduces healthcare-related costs for individuals, families, and States,” the state attorneys general write in the brief.
Joining Massachusetts Attorney General Healey in filing the amicus brief in support of Attorney General Shapiro’s lawsuit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
Contact the Press Office
PA Office of Attorney General / Press Office
16th Floor, Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is one of the most significant, esteemed judicial bodies in the history of the United States, and, indeed, in the civilized world. There has been some debate, however, about whether Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court—often dubbed “the oldest court in North America”—can legitimately claim that distinction. One renowned legal historian, writing in 1972 to mark the 250th anniversary of the act that formally established the The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is one of the most significant, esteemed judicial bodies in the history of the United States, and, indeed, in the civilized world. There has been some debate, however, about whether Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court—often dubbed “the oldest court in North America”—can legitimately claim that distinction. One renowned legal historian, writing in 1972 to mark the 250th anniversary of the act that formally established the