Attorney defends an 11 year-old’s vision of ministering to “the least of these”.
OBCL Alumnus Matt McReynolds (graduating class of 2004) was a homeschooled kid in Georgia who had a dream of practicing law and restoring the Founding Fathers’ vision of American and the principles they bled and died for.
Matt fought through a major health crisis and cross country move to become a leader in defending constitutional rights in court and in the press. Such noted outlets as the Associated Press, BBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Wall Street Journal have used content from Matt.
Many of us remember Matt from law school when he had a series of medical issues related to his eyesight. Matt has since become legally blind (operating entirely by sound and touch), but that does not stopped him from seeking to make an impact in the practice of law with his characteristic cheerfulness and competence.
During law school, Matt won the prestigious Pew Writing Award from Alliance Defending Freedom. This achievement helped propel him to a job defending religious freedom and free speech with the California based Pacific Justice Institute (PJI). Matt has become a mainstay in the First Amendment legal community with his experience in fighting for everything from the right to witness in public places to senior citizens being able to have worship services in their senior living community.
During Covid, Matt was often a source for pastors and other members of the faith community to navigate regulations. He recently sat down with Laura Barth and shared the following story.
“Pacific Justice Institute does a pretty wide range of work in the religious liberties sector. Back before the pandemic shut down the schools, we were doing quite a bit of work in the schools, public and private, from teachers who had questions of how to express their faith in a public school environment, to students in Bible clubs and other outreaches in the public schools.
One of my favorite things I have been able to do, in the public schools context, was help a young man who was about 11 years old. He had a burning desire to help the homeless, so he started a sock drive in the fall at his school. It eventually grew to a number of schools in the district. He called it “Socktober,” a catchy name, and he started to gather all kinds of supplies for the homeless through his school district.
He ran into a problem with his school district when he printed up a flier to promote Socktober. “Bring your warm clothing and other items to give to the homeless. We will collect them.” Because his motivation came from his faith, he printed this scripture at the bottom of the flier, from Matthew 25: “Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me,” quoting Jesus. And because of that scripture, his faith expressed on his flier, his district told him he had to change it and he could not distribute it.
They threatened to slam the brakes on this outstanding outreach by this young kid, and I was so glad to get involved, be able to get to the heart of the problem, with the law related to that, and to be able to change the outcome and to get that outreach back on track. Honestly, that is some of my favorite kind of work, working with church homeless outreaches.”
At the beginning of 2023, Matt began a new position with PJI as its Western Regional Director for their staff attorneys in California, Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Mississippi.
For those of us who knew Matt in law school, he has always been willing to give good advice, a kind word, and help for those in need. To the friends and clients who have known him since those days, he hasn’t wavered in his desire to make an impact in the lives of ordinary citizens seeking to exercise their constitutional rights.
Matt, his wife Sarah, and their son live in the Sacramento area. You can learn more about what he does at Pacific Justice Institute at https://pacificjustice.org.