Petition Tag - walter mcgill

1. US Flag Petition to accept the McGill "Cross Country Flag" into the archives of the National Museum of American History

2. Preserve Religious Liberty - Amend the Lanham Act

I am requesting your intervention in a legal matter that has far-reaching implications for the future of our nation’s liberty. The Creation Seventh Day Adventist movement was recently ruled against in Federal Court for "Trademark Infringement" in the name of their Church.

Currently, Federal intellectual property law under the Lanham act allows for religious organizations to apply for and receive a trademark for their church name in various classes. Class 42 may be registered in the field of “Conducting religious observances and missionary services” as evidenced by Trademark No. 1177185 of the name “Seventh-day Adventist.”

The First Amendment implications of this are enormous. The result is that the Federal Government is presently regulating religious observances and missionary services and even handing down civil judgments against those who hold them in a registered name. This is, in the truest sense, religious persecution - the Federal Government can and will rule against you for the name of your religion if you are decided by the Court to not be within it's graces. The alternative is to "give up the name" - which is identical to the demands of past ages of persecution, i.e. "Confess that you are not a [Christian/Muslim/Pagan/etc]."

In order to do this the United States Patent and Trademark Office must decide what organization is entitled to Federal protection; in this case they must decide who is the true “Seventh-day Adventist” church. In other words, they must establish one organization above all others as the one and true Church of a given type. This is in direct violation of the "Establishment" clause of the First Amendment.

Traditionally there have been two sides to the argument of what constitutes the Church – one side argues that it is organizational succession, while the other argues that it is doctrinal succession. In the situation that has arisen, the government has been placed in the undesirable and unconstitutional position of having to decide for one side of this debate and decidedly against the other. Therefore, though one may hold to the original doctrines of Seventh-day Adventism, and though the organization may no longer holds to those doctrines, it has nonetheless been established by the State as the true and only Seventh-day Adventist church.

Because the faith of some remains unchanged that they are Seventh-day Adventists in belief and practice, they cannot in good conscience deny that name and what it stands for. This has placed before them a choice that our Forefathers never envisioned for an American on his own soil; the choice between obeying our nation’s laws and obeying the dictates of our consciences.

Nor is this the first time that this matter has arisen. In Hawaii a pastor named John Marik was held in contempt of court for maintaining that he and his congregation were Seventh-day Adventists outside of the organizational umbrella. He was sentenced to fines and jail time before finally signing a settlement agreement. Similar cases have been brought around the country, such as against Raphael Perez and the Eternal Gospel Church in Florida. While few take notice of this violation of liberty today, what will happen tomorrow?

In short, if religious observances can be enforced under civil power in the name of “Seventh-day Adventist” today, what is to stop them from being regulated under the name of “Christianity,” “Islam,” or “Judaism” tomorrow? The door is opened through this "backdoor" of calling religion a business - and thus subject to State regulation - for just such a future. For some, it is already here.

The misuse of trademark law as a means for the regulation of religious observances and missionary services is a gross abuse of the fair and well-intentioned laws of our nation, and a violation of Constitutional rights. We seek for Congress to propose an amendment to the Lanham act, preventing it from being used in such a manner as to violate the “establishment” clause of the First Amendment. This is imperative not only for the freedom of the Creation Seventh Day Adventist movement, but the liberty of future generations as well.

"If the principle is once established that religion or religious observances shall be interwoven with our legislative acts, we must pursue it to its ultimatum." - U.S. Senate Report on Sunday Mails, 1829