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We provide legal services to those suffering religious discrimination, regardless of your religious belief or affiliation. We especially seek those willing to advance the law by making a long term commitment to engaging in trials and appeals. This is known as “impact litigation” because it helps to change, and hopefully strengthen the law.

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International Issues

From its inception over 150 years ago, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has supported human rights. Inspired by biblical values, Adventists chose to be directly involved in the struggle against slavery and injustice, and continue to work at the forefront of human rights and religious freedom today. Adventists claim the right of every person to choose beliefs according to conscience and to practice and teach his or her religion in full freedom, without discrimination, always respecting the equal rights of others. Seventh-day Adventists are convinced that in religion the exercise of force is contrary to God’s principles.

In promoting religious freedom, family life, education, health, mutual assistance, and meeting crying human need, Seventh-day Adventists affirm the dignity of the human person created in the image of God.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written and adopted by individuals who had emerged from the unprecedented destruction, disorientation and distress of World War II.

This harrowing experience gave them a vision of, and a desire for, a future world of peace and freedom. Coming from the best and highest part of the human heart, the Universal Declaration is a fundamental document standing firmly for human dignity, liberty, equality, and non-discrimination of minorities. Article 18, which upholds unconditionally religious liberty in belief and practice, is of special importance, because freedom of religion is the basic human right which undergirds and upholds all human rights.

Today the UDHR is often violated, not least Article 18. Intolerance frequently raises its ugly head, despite the human rights progress accomplished in many nations. The Seventh-day Adventist Church urges the United Nations, government authorities, religious leaders and believers, and nongovernment organizations to consistently work for the implementation of this Declaration.

News Stories On This Subject

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Freedom's Ring Radio

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Speaker's Bureau

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Legal Services

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Organizations Engaged in Religious Freedom Issues

This list includes both national and California organizations, as well as U.S. Government links and Seventh-day Adventist links.

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Recommended Reading

Want to read a good book about religious freedom? There’s something for everyone on this list, whatever your educational background, depth of interest or experience.

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Religious Liberty Sermons

Get inspired with ideas for your own worship services

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Historical Links

Looking for historical documents or court decisions regarding religious freedom? It’s probably linked somewhere in these sources.

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Urban Legends

Sound too bad to be true? Might just be an urban legend. Check it out.

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Seventh-Adventist Publications on Church-State Subjects

Official church statements, and a compilation of the writings of Ellen G. White on church-state relations.

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October 15, 2003 - United States Supreme Court Will Hear Case Involving the Pledge

The United States Supreme Court accepted today the appeal of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling regarding the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that students could not be compelled to recite the Pledge, more than a decade before the phrase "under God" was added. The Supreme Court has also repeatedly ruled that students cannot be required to participate in public prayer.

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January 6, 2004 - California Land Use Bill Introduced

Two important bills were amended this week that would require local land use authorities to respect the constitutional rights of churches to obtain and use land in conducting worship and engaging in ministry. These bills are urgently needed to remedy a long history of discrimination against religious uses. Under current law, adult book stores are treated better than churches under most zoning schemes!

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March 5, 2004 - Should Adventists Speak Up on Marriage?

The battle over gay marriage has become hotter than a sizzling summer heat wave. The Adventist Church has not issued any formal statements, although it has previously issued statements addressing both marriage and homosexuality. These can be read on the church's website: www.adventist.org. There is a strong case to be made for the Adventist voice to be heard on this issue.

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May 21, 2004 - California Land Use Bill Passes Assembly In Unanimous Vote

On Thursday, May 20, the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 1903 by a unanimous voice vote. This bill would preclude local governments from discriminatory treatment of religious uses. The bill is supported by the Church State Council, among others.

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June 14, 2004 - The ACLU Attacks the Workplace Religious

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent an action alert to their members on June 9th implying that the Workplace Religious Freedom Act is a partisan attempt designed to restrict access to reproductive services and to privilege harassment. These claims are patently false.

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June 21, 2004 - Workplace Religious Freedom Act, S-893

Following the ACLU's attempt to sabotage the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, S-893, more than 3000 e.mails have been sent to the U.S. Senate in the first week of our campaign to build momentum in support of this bill. The Workplace Religious Freedom Act will strengthen civil rights laws against religious discrimination in employment, providing much needed relief for those facing the loss of the their jobs due to religious observances, such as Sabbath keeping.

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July 13, 2004 - 21,000 E-mails Sent Nationwide in Support of Workplace Religious Freedom

Your e-mails are building momentum in support of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, S-893. More than 21,000 e-mails have been sent through our website, www.religiousliberty.info, and in the past few weeks, two new Senators have signed on as sponsors of the bill, Georgia's Zell Miller, a Democrat, and North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole, a Republican.

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September 8, 2004 - Home Stretch in Push for Workplace Religious Freedom Act, S-893

Senate leaders have assured us of their commitment to press for a vote on the Workplace Religious Freedom Act before Congress adjourns for the year. We need to assist that commitment by pressing the issue and generating as much support as possible for the bill. If you care whether Sabbath observers and other people of faith are able to work without sacrificing their religious principles, you need to put your care into action!

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September 14, 2004 - Announcing: "One Nation Under God? What the Bible says About..."

ANNOUNCING: "One Nation Under God? What the Bible says about Religion, Government and the American Destiny." WHEN: November 12 - 14, 2004 WHERE: Camp Cedar Falls, San Bernardino Mountains

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Congress, Don't Penalize Seniors Who Tithe!

There is a bill pending in the House of Representatives that would make it much harder for many seniors who tithe and make other charitable donations to qualify for Medicaid. The bill is not designed to penalize faithful tithe payers, but that is exactly what it does!d

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May 6, 2006 Designated "Written in the Heart" Day

As Christians throughout the nation are poised to celebrate the Ten Commandments on Sunday, May 7th, on the heels of several years of public controversy over displaying the Ten Commandments. The North American Religious Liberty Association, in conjunction with Liberty magazine and the Pacific Union Conference Department of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty are urging Seventh-day Adventist churches to celebrate "Written In The Heart" day, on May 6th.

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The Ten Commandments Commission: Where do Seventh-day Adventists Stand?

With recent public and legal controversies over the place of the Ten Commandments in public places, and on government property, the Christian community is rediscovering and placing new emphasis on the importance of God’s law for recovering the moral foundation of American life. Seventh-day Adventists encourage all who seek to honor God’s law, and to turn attention to the importance of obedience to God.

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Adventist Leaders Meet with President Bush, Discuss Workplace Religious Freedom

Religious liberty and humanitarian concerns were the highlights of an April 4 meeting between leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and President George W. Bush of the United States.

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IRS Releases Report on Political Activity in Churches

The Internal Revenue Service has released a report outlining the activities of churches are tax-exempt under 501(c)(3). This underscores the need for churches that receive tax-exempt status to be particularly careful to avoid endorsing particular candidates.

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Senator John McCain Addresses Annual Seventh-day Adventist Religious Liberty Dinner

On May 4, 2006, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gave the keynote address at the Seventh Day Adventist Annual Religious Liberty Dinner. The following is a transcript of his remarks: “Thank you for your welcome and for your kind invitation to give this year’s Liberty Dinner address. It is an honor to speak before a group that has worked so hard to promote human rights and religious freedom.

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April 7, 2005 - Remarks of Senator Hillary Clinton at Adventist Religious Liberty Dinner

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the keynote address at the April 7, 2005 Seventh-day Adventist Annual Religious Liberty Dinner. The following transcript was posted on Senator Clinton's website and is posted here as a service to ChurchState.org visitors.

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NARLA NEWS: James Standish Reports on Capitol Hill Events

On Thursday morning, John Graz, the head of the Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty work represented all of us at the prayer breakfast held in the East Room of the White House. President Bush, along with a number of members of the cabinet, were in attendance. That same morning across town on Capitol Hill, NARLA members from all over the United States and Canada convened to get the latest developments and training on how to interact with their Members of Congress.

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Sen. John McCain Tells Adventists America's Leadership Tied To Its Moral Standing

"America truly is not like past superpowers, countries who sought territorial gain or imperial dominion," United States Senator John McCain of Arizona told attendees at a dinner sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), Liberty magazine and the North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA), three religious freedom outreaches sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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May 5, 2006 - McCain Keynote Address / NARLA-West Lobbies Congress in Support of WRFA

Arizona Senator and potential presidential candidate, John McCain, praised the Seventh-day Adventist Church for its commitment to defending religious liberty for people of all faiths, at a banquet May 4 sponsored by several Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty organizations. Plans are also being made to send a NARLA delegation to the International Religious Liberty Association Quinquennial World Congress in Capetown, South Africa, in February, 2007.

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6/27/06: Brazil: Religious Liberty Event Draws 32,000

On a warm Saturday afternoon, 32,000 "Paulistanos," as residents of this 10.9 million population city are known, assembled for an important purpose: to learn about and promote religious freedom. Although the crowd was far greater than the Ibirapuera Gymnasium could hold, some judicious arrangements allowed almost everyone to hear part of the event.

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6/30/06: Federal Court Rules For Sabbath-keeping Worker

A United States federal district court in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has ruled for a Seventh-day Adventist who sought accommodation for his Sabbath-keeping beliefs. The worker was awarded U.S. $311,166.75 in lost wages and punitive damages.

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7/21/06: YES! to the Pledge, but NO! to the Pledge Protection Act!

I am writing today as there is a particularly pernicious piece of legislation that has passed the House and that we MUST stop in Senate. The sponsors of the bill call it the “Pledge Protection Act.” The name for the act is more accurately the “Constitution Destruction Act” because that is precisely what it does. While we support the constitutionality of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, we strongly oppose the so-called “Pledge Protection Act,” read on to understand why.

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NARLA Calls on Congress to Address Workplace Religious Discrimination

“The most pressing issue in the labor force today is the penchant of some employers to demote, demean and dismiss employees in retaliation for employee’s unwillingness to compromise their religious principles,” states James Standish, Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association. Standish co-chairs a coalition of 45 religious organizations pushing for the passage of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (S. 677, H.R. 1445).

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Book Review: Tempting Faith by David Kuo

Some Christians are pretty ticked off at former White House official David Kuo right now for what he has written in his new book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction . If his book causes more Christians to reevaluate the hard-wiring of faith into partisan politics, however, it will have done a great service to the Gospel.

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10-31-06: United Kingdom: Discrimination, The Law and The Christian

Christians are not free from discrimination and they should be prepared to withstand it, said Richard O'Dair, an employment and discrimination law specialist, at a recent meeting of Christian business professionals. O'Dair contributed to a breakfast panel of five discussing, "Discrimination: How Should We Fight It? Is Litigation the Answer?" The meeting was held at The Law Society's Hall, Chancery Lane, in London.

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Iraq: Christians Fleeing Country in War's Wake

Civil unrest in Iraq--home to the cities of Nineveh, ancient Babylon, Ur of the Chaldees, and even the Biblical Garden of Eden--is taking a toll on the already-small Christian community. Many who can leave the country, including Seventh-day Adventist Christians, are continuing to do so in the face of daily terrorism.

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10-03-06: Adventists Reaffirm Commitment to Religious Liberty - 25th Anniversary of UN Declaration

This week, representatives of the United Nations' (U.N.) Non-Governmental Organizations, among them Seventh-day Adventist delegates, are expected to hold a conference marking the 25th anniversary of the 1981 "Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief," reaffirming the organization's commitment to religious liberty and human dignity around the world.

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11-7-06: Quebec Says Private Schools Must Teach Evolution or Close

Quebec's education ministry has warned private, unlicensed evangelical schools in the province they must teach Darwin's theory of evolution and sex education or face closure.

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9-15-06 - Mexico: Government Leader Says Religious Liberty Thriving

Fourteen years after the nation allowed open registration for various religious communities, Mexico's freedom of religion is strong and growing, a national official told leaders at the Seventh-day Adventist world church headquarters September 13.

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The Draft and Liberty of Conscience

Most political pundits have dismissed the call of Representative Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to return to a military draft as nothing more than a protest against perceived socio-economic inequality in recruiting, but some are beginning to ask whether the current all-volunteer military is capable of sustaining existing combat operations while preparing for the prospective battlefields of 21st century.

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I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

There is an inspiring story behind the words to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" penned by one of America's favorite poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow achieved early success as a professor of English, but life became difficult when he lost his first wife in a house fire, and some years later a second wife, with whom he had 5 children. His faith was tested almost to the breaking point when his beloved country fell into the Civil War.

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1-22-07 - Solano County Board of Supervisors to Reconsider Radio Ministry

On Tuesday, January 23, 2007, the Solano County Board of Supervisors will meet at 9:00 a.m., to hear motions on whether to overturn its previous decision to reject the Vacaville Seventh-day Adventist Church’s bid to locate its radio ministry KASK on church property.

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A Voice on the Hill: NARLA and the New Congress

IN THE 200-YEAR HISTORY OF THE SWINGS of political power in American democracy, the 2006 election will go down as one of the more dramatic. In one fell swoop American voters transferred power from Republicans to Democrats in both houses of Congress.

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1-24-07: Solano County Board Grants Permission for Radio Ministry

VACAVILLE, CALIFORNIA - After ten years of litigation, the Solano County Board of Supervisors yesterday voted unanimously to approve the modification of a use permit for the Vacaville Seventh-day Adventist Church, granting permission to locate its radio ministry on church property. This clears the way for the radio ministry to begin broadcasting gospel programming within weeks.

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1-22-06 - The Reporter - Supes to revisit radio station plan

Years of wrangling between the county and a church that wants to broadcast from its rural Vacaville campus will continue Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors meets.

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9-01-02: Liberty Magazine Article "Let My People Speak"

A short drive down a quiet country road, incongruous by its being located between the large population centers of San Francisco and Sacramento, is the Vacaville Seventh-day Adventist Church. Actually, the church itself isn’t quite finished. At present the complex consists of a one-room church school and a fellowship hall where weekly worship is conducted. And off to the side of the 21-acre parcel sits a single-story, triple-wide mobile unit, beautifully landscaped and ready for use. It is this structure, or rather, its use, that has been the subject of a six-year-long battle with the county of Solano. It is a battle that is far from over.

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1-22-07 - Call for Prayer for Radio Ministry

On Tuesday, January 23, 2007, the Solano County Board of Supervisors will meet at 9:00 a.m., to hear motions on whether to overturn its previous decision to reject the Vacaville Seventh-day Adventist Church’s bid to locate its radio ministry KASK on church property.

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California Supreme Court Approves Inclusion of Religious Schools

In a 4-3 decision, the California Supreme Court held that Azusa Pacific University, California Baptist University and Oaks Christian School may participate in the issuance of tax exempt development bonds, and that this did not violate either the state or Federal constitution's prohibition on giving financial aid to religion. The bonds are intended to finance the construction of classrooms, dorms, athletic facilities and administrative offices.

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Religious Pluralism and America's Christian Nation Debate

The constitutional system of the United States of America remains the envy of the world—or so we Americans like to think! Ideally and practically speaking—no matter how many flaws and shortcomings some seem to find—America’s constitutional system is what has inspired most of the nations on this increasingly free trade global planet of ours to aspire to freedom and equality and to share in the democratic and economic successes that follow in the train of borrowing from its constitutional and economic model.

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New Congress Aims to Protect People of Faith in the Workplace

The Workplace Religious Freedom Act, H.R. 1431, was introduced into Congress on March 9th by Congresswoman McCarthy (D-NY) and Congressman Souder (R-IN). In what has become a rare occurrence at the intersection of religion and politics, the bill enjoys broad bipartisan support -- with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans joining as original cosponsors. A version of the bill will soon be introduced in the Senate and is expected to be an equally bipartisan effort. The bill aims to stem the growing tide of intolerance to people of faith in the American workplace.

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Bible in Public Schools?

Religion sells magazines. So every major holiday, Christmas and Easter especially, newsmagazines feature Jesus or church on the cover. This Easter, Time Magazine ran a story about teaching the Bible in public schools. Americans are biblically illiterate, Time reported, according to a Gallup poll. Only about half of adult Americans can name even one of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Hence, the pressure is building for the academic study of the Bible as an elective course in public high schools. Is this a good idea? The short answer is "yes, but."

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Religious Freedom Goes to Court

Our national commitment to religious freedom is undergoing serious scrutiny in both the California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court this year. As I write, the Church State Council is filing a friend-of-the-court brief in a case in which doctors refused to provide certain family planning services to a lesbian couple on religious conscience grounds.

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Freedom at Work Still Under Fire

Just a few days ago, Jason joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church through an evangelistic series. In his mid-20s, he has been married two years, and he and his wife have a newborn baby. His wife is glad that he is taking his spiritual life a bit more seriously, but ultimately thinks he is going through a "crazy phase" that will come to a screeching halt in a few months when he moves onto the next big thing.

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The Third Angel's Message Goes to Talk Radio

When Time magazine’s special Easter issue ran a cover story about teaching the Bible in public schools, NARLA West president Alan Reinach knew he had to send out a press release and talk about it on the radio. Reinach has been actively doing talk radio appearances for several years. Even before he sent out the release, the phone rang twice. First, he was invited to appear on the Steve Gallimore show that is broadcast on both Lifetalk Radio, and also on the Hope Channel, thus going round the world. The second call was from his PR firm, asking for an updated press release. It seemed God was confirming that this was an opportunity that should not be missed.

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NARLA West Board Plans to Increase Awareness of Liberty Issues

LOS ANGELES, CA – The NARLA-West Board (which covers Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah) met to develop plans to increase public awareness of the message of religious liberty, and to find new ways to protect the freedom of all.

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5-17-07 - Senator Kerry Pushes for Religious Tolerance, Better Care of Environment

On a night dedicated to recognizing and upholding religious freedom for all, key speaker and United States Senator John Kerry rallied behind a bill designed to protect the rights of people of faith, including Sabbath-keepers, in the workplace. Kerry spoke to a room of 200 guests at the fifth annual religious liberty dinner staged in the historic Caucus Room located in the Russell Senate office building on Thursday, May 17.

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KASK Radio 91.5 FM Begins Broadcast in Vacaville, California

This morning, Thursday July 19, 2007 at 8:25 a.m., Pacific time, KASK, 91.5 FM began broadcast from studios in Vacaville, California, on site at the Vacaville Seventh-day Adventist Church. This brings to an end a lengthy ten year struggle with local government for permission to broadcast from church premises. Bob Michaels, Vacaville Church member, and board member of Maranatha Broadcasting, Inc., the organization that has pursued this station these past ten years, reported that the first program aired was a religious liberty broadcast, Freedom’s Ring. [You can listen to Freedom’s Ring at: www.churchstate.org]

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PUC Victory! Board of Supervisors Votes to Retain the Existing "Urban Bubble" in Angwin

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Napa County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday, February 26th, to retain the existing "urban bubble" in Angwin, respecting the property rights of Pacific Union College. As indicated by the letter below, the legal claims raised by the Church State Council on behalf of the college are being given wide credit for convincing the Supervisors to avoid restricting the college's development rights through amendment of its General Plan.

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Connecticut Ruling Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, reversing a lower court decision that had concluded that the civil unions legalized in the state three years ago had offered the same rights and benefits as marriage.

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The Levee of Liberty

Bible Students know that Liberty in America faces its own storm. Revelation 13 repeatedly warns us that the powers of church and state will combine to enforce worship. No man may buy or sell unless he worships the beast and its image. All who will not worship will be killed. Many Adventists think that the loss of liberty is inevitable, even desirable, since persecution must come before Jesus comes, and we want Jesus to come.

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America Needs the Law of God: Written in the Heart

A recent poll found that Americans can name at least two members of the Simpson family, of the television show, but they cannot identify two of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. It makes me wonder whether Americans are willing to defend freedoms that they don’t even know exist, or if they would resist the erosion of such freedoms.

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The Answer is Written in the Heart

A battle has been raging over the law of God. It is not surprising really. Seventh-day Adventists have known for more than a century that it would eventually come down to this. The battle is just beginning, even though it is at least ten years old, but it can be expected to rage for a while to come, indeed, until Jesus comes.

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How Liberty Dies

In 1992, Ross Perot ran for President and pulled enough conservative votes away from President George Bush to enable William Jefferson Clinton to be elected president. Can anyone remember the name of Ross Perot’s vice presidential running mate? He was James Bond Stockdale. I found his name amusing. James Bond Stockdale participated in the Vice Presidential debates, and began his opening remarks with the profound questions: “who am I; why am I here?” It was refreshing for this unknown candidate to publicly admit that no one knew who he was, or what he was doing in a vice presidential debate.

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The Triclenium Affair: Love, Power, and Betrayal in the Upper Room

In revisiting Christ's complex relationship with Judas, we discover how Judas's attempt to manage what he believed was Christ's revolutionary movement to establish His kingdom on Earth mirrors contemporary religious and political attitudes and strategies in the United States, and how this is leading many Christians, in the long run, to unwittingly betray Christ when understood in the larger prophetic scheme of things.

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The Battle for the Gospel

In 1992, Pat Buchanan gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in which he declared that America is in the midst of a culture war, a war for the soul of America. When Americans think of culture war, they often think of issues like abortion, gay rights, school prayer or the public display of the Ten Commandments. I am convinced that these are only surface issues. The real battle is for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Will the Real Christian America Please Stand Up?

America is at a crossroads. Her morals and standards have fallen so low, if God does not intervene soon He will have to apologize to Sodom. Christians have a responsibility to work for the establishment of the kingdom of God. The United States was chosen, from the beginning, to be God’s instrument, God’s country, God’s tool for bringing the kingdom of God to this sin sick world. Now its our turn.

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Our Eroding Freedoms

September 11, 2001, was a defining moment in U.S. history. Prior to 9-11, America was enjoying a time of peace, prosperity, freedom and safety. The day after everything changed, and we were plunged into a world of fear. How could such a thing happen? We wondered. Will it happen again in other locations? Seeking to calm our fears, our government invaded Afghanistan, hoping to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, the person responsible for planning the attacks on September 11, but the mission proved to be a failure, and to this day din Laden continues to stir up hatred against the United States.

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Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land

Todd Sturgill had a good job driving a UPS truck. He owned his own home, and was able to provide a comfortable living for his family. It was nearing Christmas, and the delivery season became hectic with the delivery of mail order gifts. Sundown came earlier on Friday afternoons, and Todd’s requests for Sabbath accommodation were met with incredulity.

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The Sheep and the Goats

In the nineteenth century, France wanted to send a gift to the United States to commemorate the centennial anniversary of our declaration of independence. Lady Liberty was a few years late, but was finally erected in New York Harbor in 1886. The famous inscription is found, not outside, but inside, a poem by Emma Lazarus called “The New Colossus:” The poem reflects the fact that this nation was built and populated by immigrants, who were welcomed and valued.

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Available from the Church State Council

Listing of various brochures, books, DVDs, etc. in stock now for immediate delivery.

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Immigration and Naturalization - Pastor Letter

(For use in enabling immigrants to obtain U.S. Citizenship without violating their religious convictions against bearing arms.)

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IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION

The Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches its members not to bear arms in military service. When immigrants seek to obtain United States Citizenship, they are required to swear an oath, including a statement that they are willing to bear arms and serve in the defense of their new nation.

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RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

Each year, the Church State Council assists literally hundreds of workers who face discrimination in the workplace due to their religious beliefs and practices. Many of these claims are by Seventh-day Adventists who seek to observe the seventh-day Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and to refrain from secular employment during those hours.

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Spirit of Prophecy Counsels Relating To Church-State Relationships

A Word From the Compilers For seventy years, the administrators of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have been confronted with the question of the acceptance of tax exemptions, grants and gifts. The whole problem is one closely interwoven with the positions which the church has taken on the question of the separation of church and state.

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Religious Discrimination Litigation Report

The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear arguments today in a case of religious discrimination by UPS against Todd Sturgill, a former driver who won a jury verdict of $311,166.75 last June after trial in Federal District Court in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Sturgill had been a driver for UPS for nineteen years when he joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and faced the company’s refusal to provide a religious accommodation. He was fired in December of 2004.

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Part #1: Ink and Stone or Freedom

DISCLAIMER: This is a research paper which provides material for a morning sermon and an afternoon seminar. It is not meant to be "preached." It is not "preachable" but will provide material for a powerful "Freedom of Conscience" sermon.

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Part # 2: “The Creeping Culture of Secrecy”

DISCLAIMER: This is a research paper which provides material for a morning sermon and an afternoon seminar. It is not meant to be "preached." It is not "preachable" but will provide material for a powerful "Freedom of Conscience" sermon.

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Part # 3 “The Immorality of Forced Morality”

DISCLAIMER: This is a research paper which provides material for a morning sermon and an afternoon seminar. It is not meant to be "preached." It is not "preachable" but will provide material for a powerful "Freedom of Conscience" sermon.

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Sabbath Accommodation Request - Follow up Letter

{Use this letter to follow-up with management regarding your Sabbath accommodation request. This is especially useful if management is responding to you in writing and is documenting your request and all follow-up in their files. This letter alerts them to intervention by the Church State Council on your behalf. Send ONLY after consulting with the Church State Council office.}

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Section VIII: Miscellaneous Questions Involving Church-State And Other Relationships

The Bible in the public schools; School attendance on Sabbath; Meeting legal requirements in our medical training; Attitude toward the military draft and military service; Involvement in labor unions; The Work to be done in Washington

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Section VII: Tax Exemption, Grants and Favors

The historical background revealed in Minutes and Correspondence. Ellen G. White speaks on: Christian Courtesy; Tax Exemption; Receiving Gifts

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Section I: Some Basic Principles—God’s Government and Earthly Governments

Their spheres, methods, principles; God the Supreme Ruler—governments of earth under His control; Man a free moral agent—religious liberty a right of all, etc.

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Section II: The Christian’s Attitude Toward Civil Authorities

To be law-abiding, save when human laws conflict with God’s law; not to defy authorities; God’s law supreme, to be regarded above laws of men.

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Section III: Heroes Of Faith—The World’s True Noblemen

Men who stood firm in Bible times and later; Abraham’s example of cooperation and noble independence; Elijah; Three Hebrews; Daniel; Ezra and Nehemiah; Esther; Peter and John; Stephen; Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas; Reformers

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Section IV: Seventh-day Adventists And Politics

The question of voting; political agitation; political office, etc.

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Section V: Satan’s Efforts To Destroy God’s Government—The Dragon’s Voice

Satan Takes the World Captive; The Dragon’s Voice in America; Rome and Religious Liberty

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DISCRIMINATION AND ACCOMMODATION ISSUES IN EDUCATION

The Church State Council assists those who need accommodation in their course schedules or exam schedules for religious observances, such as Sabbath. No student should be denied the opportunity to complete a course of instruction because of their religion.

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LAND USE CONFLICTS INVOLVING RELIGION

Land use battles between churches and local planning authorities are on the rise. The Church State Council has counseled institutions such as churches, colleges, and religious radio stations on the application of Federal law to the land use process.

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DEFENDING THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION

The Church State Council is the regional leader in mobilizing the interfaith community to protect and defend the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion in the legislature and in the courts.

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AUTONOMY OF RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS

Religious freedom is not only an individual right, but a right that pertains to religious communities. These associational rights often enjoy legislative or judicially created exemptions that reflect respect for the autonomy of religious bodies, and the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state.

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RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS TO LABOR UNION MEMBERSHIP

Seventh-day Adventists were among the earliest religious objectors to labor union membership. These objections are founded on various principles, including, on principles of liberty of conscience.

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ISSUES INVOLVING THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

There is much confusion today about the separation of church and state, what it means, how it is applied, and what our founding fathers intended. The courts are awash in lawsuits over the proper boundaries of the state in matters of religion.

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FAMILY LAW CONFLICTS WHERE RELIGION IS CENTRAL

The Church State Council has increasingly been consulted in child custody matters where one parent is allegedly hostile to the religious teaching and practices of the other parent.

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PRISONER ACCESS TO RELIGIOUS SERVICES AND DIETARY NEEDS

Congress conducted hearings in the late 90s after the Supreme Court struck down portions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as unconstitutional.

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Assisted Suicide Bill Dead This Year -- Expected to be Resurrected Next Year!

California Assembly Bill 651 was designed to alleviate the suffering of terminally ill patients until it was amended to eliminate such people entirely through self inflicted means -- medically assisted suicide, that is. Thankfully, due to the opposition of many groups, including Adventist Health and the Seventh-day Adventist Church State Council, this bill is "dead" for the year. The author is on record indicating his commitment to work for passage over the long term. The issue is not going away any time soon.

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January 12, 2005 – NARLA Forms Western Regional Chapter

The North American Religious Liberty Association is pleased to announce the formation of the NARLA - West chapter of the advocacy organization.

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March 4, 2005 – Ten Commandments Brochure Goes to Supreme Court

Crowds lined up early in the morning hoping to get into the U.S. Supreme Court and hear arguments in two cases involving the public display of the Ten Commandments.

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March 21, 2005 – Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2005 Introduced in Congress

S-677 and HR 1445 represent historic bill numbers. This is the first time that the Workplace Religious Freedom Act [WRFA] has been introduced in both the House and Senate, and with bi-partisan sponsorship! Late last week, Republican Senator Rick Santorum and Democrat Senator John Kerry held a joint press conference announcing the introduction of this vitally important legislation to protect people of faith from losing their jobs.

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Press Release from Senator Rick Santorum

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA), today introduced the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA) of 2005. If passed, this legislation will require employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee's religious practice or observance, such as time off and attire; similar legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Mark Souder (R-IN), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Bobby Jindal (R-LA), and Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

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April 7, 2005 - Remarks of Senator Hillary Clinton at Adventist Religious Liberty Dinner

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the keynote address at the April 7, 2005 Seventh-day Adventist Annual Religious Liberty Dinner. The following transcript was posted on Senator Clinton's website and is posted here as a service to ChurchState.org visitors.

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April 7, 2005 - Hillary Clinton Lauds Adventist Church on Religious Freedom Issues

"Religious liberty is one of the most important issues on the world's agenda today," said United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who made the case for both freedom of religion and the right not to choose one at a dinner sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association, "Liberty" magazine and the North American Religious Liberty Association, three religious freedom outreaches sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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April 10, 2005 - NARLA West Members Lobby US Congress for Workplace Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC – Members of the North American Religious Liberty Association converged in Washington, DC for the annual NARLA Capitol Hill Conference which took place April 7–10, 2005.

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Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2005 Momentum Building

Every day three Seventh-day Adventists lose their jobs rather than work on Sabbath. Others are never hired because they won’t work on Sabbath. Thousands of e.mails and petition signatures have already been gathered in support of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, S-677 and HR 1445, but much more is needed.

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Religious Discrimination Claims Are On The Rise

This week’s issue of the widely read journal, Lawyer’s Weekly, features the following article on religious discrimination, with frequent quotes of Alan J. Reinach, director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the Pacific Union. Please reference this article in a new round of letters, phone calls and emails to Congress in support of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, citing the national attention this issue is gaining, and the importance of strengthening laws remedying religious discrimination.

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"The Conscientious Objector" Documentary to Air Memorial Day on PAX TV

On Memorial Day, May 30, 2005, PAX television will be showing the award winning documentary about Seventh-day Adventist medic Desmond Doss who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving lives on a hilltop in Okinawa. The program will air on PAX on Monday, May 30 at 9/8c. Tell your friends!

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April 13, 2005 – Liberty Magazine Special Issue on the Ten Commandments

There has been a growing public cry to acknowledge the Ten Commandments for several years now. This has culminated in legal battles going to the U.S. Supreme Court over the public display of the Ten Commandments in and around public buildings. This public attention provides Seventh-day Adventists with a wonderful opportunity to champion the spiritual realities of the Ten Commandments, and remind people of the binding nature of the Sabbath

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High Court Upholds Inmates' Right to Religious Accommodation

The Supreme Court today unanimously upheld the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that in part requires state prisons to accommodate prisoners' religious exercises as long as they are not disruptive.

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Same-sex Marriage Bill Headed for Defeat

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage appeared headed for defeat in the state Assembly late Wednesday after a historic, at times personal debate that touched on themes of personal liberty and societal values.

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California Assembly Votes No on Same-Sex Marriage

After a tense and emotional debate, the California Assembly voted against AB 19. All the Republican members voted against the bill, and a dozen Democrats abstained from voting on the issue.

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California Bill Amended to Allow Assisted Suicide

California AB 651 was a popular bill to help the disadvantaged chronically ill people who suffered from diseases such as asthma and diabetes receive necessary Medi-Cal Benefits. It passed with broad bipartisan support. On May 31, 2005, the Assembly voted on the original provisions of AB 651 and sent the bill on its way to the senate.California AB 654 was a struggling assisted suicide bill. Only 20-25 were in favor of the bill which required 41 "yes" votes in order to pass.

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Stand Up and Be Counted

Someone once said that if you aren’t angry about the injustice in this world, it’s because you aren’t paying attention. The sad truth is that much of the injustice in not meted out by thugs, but rather it is done in a perfectly respectable manner by the pillars of society.

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NEWSFLASH! Supreme Court Rules in Ten Commandments Cases

SUPREME COURT RULES IN TEN COMMANDMENTS CASES By now, you’ve seen the press coverage of the Ten Commandments decisions from the Supreme Court, upholding a monument outside the Texas State Capital, and striking down an interior courthouse display in Kentucky. Permit me to add a few observations of my own.

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Justice O’Connor — Opinion on Ten Commandments

Justice O’Connor, concurring. I join in the Court’s opinion. The First Amendment expresses our Nation’s fundamental commitment to religious liberty by means of two provisions–one protecting the free exercise of religion, the other barring establishment of religion. They were written by the descendents of people who had come to this land precisely so that they could practice their religion freely. Together with the other First Amendment guarantees–of free speech, a free press, and the rights to assemble and petition–the Religion Clauses were designed to safeguard the freedom of conscience and belief that those immigrants had sought. They embody an idea that was once considered radical: Free people are entitled to free and diverse thoughts, which government ought neither to constrain nor to direct.

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NARLA-West: Napa Valley Members Plan Booth at Napa Fair

It would be an understatement to say the Cedar Falls North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA) Retreat in November 2004 caused an Inspiration. Besides being my husbands childhood summer camp, Cedar Falls Camp is the definition of charm. From its pet bear, to the falls I called rapids, to the perfect weather we enjoyed, that weekend was unforgettable. But all good things must end.

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July 13, 2005 - International Religious Liberty Leaders Express Vision for Next 5 Yrs

The 58th Session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted a clear mandate for the General Conference religious liberty team to continue their work on the frontlines of the battle for truth and religious liberty.

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Analysis: Judge John G. Roberts Nominated to Supreme Court

Many conservatives are salivating over the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court. They are claiming him as one of their own, and praising the president for fulfilling his campaign promise to give them someone who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision legalizing abortion.

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Kansas Debates the Teaching of Darwinism

Controversy is raging in Kansas over teaching Darwinism in public schools. One side questions Darwinism and champions academic freedom; the other seeks to impose neo-Darwinian orthodoxy. Darwin's enforcers have effectively promoted their position in the media while claiming that presenting their case publicly to the Kansas state school board would be somehow unfair. In open public meetings, untruths could be exposed by those questioning Darwinism.

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Religious Minorities in Iraq Worried Constitution Won't Protect Them

(RNS) With an Aug. 15 deadline looming for completion of a permanent constitution in Iraq, the country's religious minorities are increasingly fearful that it will create an Islamic government that doesn't protect their rights.

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Adventist Church Holds AIDS/HIV Conference

HIV and AIDS Call to Compassion, the first international conference of its kind held by the Adventist Church, took place at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, from June 23 to June 27, 2005. The conference was held in conjunction with the SEEDS International Church Planting Conference, which was held on the same campus and focused on church planting from a world-in-need perspective.

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The Original Intent Myth: Deciphering the Rhetoric

The Myth regarding the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause has become as dogmatically believed by the religious right as evolution is believed by the scientific community. Because of the upcoming changes on the Supreme Court, as well as a number of significant Court decisions, we need to spend some time understanding the myth and why we must continue to rebut it.

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The Post-Rehnquist Supreme Court

As Chief Justice, William Rehnquist moderated his early attacks on the wall of separation between church and state. If replaced by a staunch conservative in the mode of Justice Antonin Scalia, as President Bush and others have publicly advocated, the Supreme Court could experience a dramatic shift which would erode the constitutional protection of religious freedom.

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Sept. 12, 2005 - The New Chief Justice?

Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John G. Roberts, Jr. A week ago today was the first time this title and this name were officially combined in the form of the President’s nominee.

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Sept. 15, 2005 - Analysis: Recitation of Pledge Struck Down in California

A Federal Judge in California ruled on Wednesday that public schools cannot require school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and issued a restraining order to schools in Sacramento County compelling them to halt the practice.

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Charles Steinberg, Esq., Vice President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, on the story of Joe Macom, a Native American Christian who was denied the right to have a Bible and attend church, because he had registered in prison as a Native American.

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Todd McFarland, Associate General Counsel, General Conference of SDA, discusses a very interesting case of discrimination against an Hispanic Church trying to build in Jonesboro, Georgia.

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Attorney Alan J. Reinach, host of Freedom’s Ring, discusses the upcoming Utah tuition voucher referendum that would give public funding to private schools, and thereby threaten their independence.

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Attorney Barry Bussey, Director of PARL for the SDA Church in Canada, discusses a key court ruling in Canada, and how it has been applied to churches, resulting in background checks of church volunteers.

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James Standish, Esq., Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, on the role of religion in the primary campaign process, and the religious values that inform voter choices.

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Journalist Max Blumenthal discusses the lobby organization founded by Pastor John Hagee, Christians United for Israel, and how it is seeking to facilitate the Rapture by urging an American attack on Iran, and the escalation of war in the middle east, based on their interpretation of biblical prophecy.

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Dr. Jonathan Gallagher, Deputy Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, discusses new regulations that impose regulations on religious and secular businesses alike, restricting their freedom to act in accordance with their own values regarding sexual morality

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Laurie Wyndham, legal counsel to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, discussing a recent case denying a church the right to build on land it purchased.

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Nicholas Miller, Esq., director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, on how the doctrine of creation is the foundation of religious freedom

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Nicholas Miller, Esq., director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, on the doctrine of creation and its relationship to the civil and religious liberties protected under the U.S. Constitution. March 1, 2008

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Host, Alan J. Reinach, Esq., discusses how our modern concepts of religious freedom are based on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Professor of History and Political Studies, at Columbia Union College, Douglas Morgan, discussing the role of the United States in biblical prophecy, and his contributing chapter in a new book

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Dr. Jonathan Gallagher, Deputy Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, discusses his chapter in the book, Politics and Prophecy, on the dangers of Dominionism

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James Standish, Esq., Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, discusses his chapter in the new book, Politics and Prophecy, explaining the principles of free exercise of religion.

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Vinny Demarco, National Coordinator, Faith United Against Tobacco, discusses bills in Congress to regulate tobacco, HR 1108, S 625.

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James Standish, Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, giving an update on the most critically important religious liberty issue of the day – religion in the workplace.

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Barrett Duke is Vice President for Research and Director of the Research Institute of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention, HR 3887, to reauthorize a congressional act to deal with human trafficking.

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Attorney Kevin Block discusses how the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 proved instrumental in helping a Christian college avoid a prolonged conflict with Napa County over its development rights.

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J. Brent Walker, Executive Director, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, discussing the do’s and don’ts of churches and politics.

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Editor Lincoln Steed observes that we are in a time of crisis for civil and religious freedoms, and compares this time to previous eras.

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The Demise of Free Exercise. Host, Alan Reinach continues a series with a discussion of the erosion of the constitutional protection for the free exercise of religion.

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Lincoln Steed, Editor, Liberty magazine, discussing the growing role of religion in how Americans evaluate presidential candidates and the importance of preserving the principle of “no religious test for public office.

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Greg Hamilton – President, Northwest Religious Liberty Association, discusses a unique case where prison officials blocked an inmate from participating in religious services, because he claimed to be both a Native American and a Christian.

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High School Teacher, Fabian Carballo, discusses how he incorporates religion legally into his curriculum in public school.

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Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., Director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, discusses an appeals court ruling that parents cannot homeschool without being certified by the state

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Attorney Kelly Shackleford, Liberty Legal Institute, discussing a brief he filed regarding the religious freedom issues in the ongoing child custody and abuse proceedings deriving from the raid on the FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas.

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Ambassador Robert Seiple, the first U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, discussing the role of religious freedom in U.S. policy ten years after passage of the International Religious Freedom Act.

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Frank Schaeffer discusses his book: CRAZY FOR GOD - How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back

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Greg Hamilton, President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, discusses the significant role of faith in shaping American policy in the middle east, especially the contribution of Catholic leaders.

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Attorney John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, and one of the founders of the Religious Right, discusses the failure of the political effort and the welcome return to spiritual roots.

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Attorney Ward Coe, discusses a $3.7 million jury verdict in a religious discrimination land use case involving a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Maryland.

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Journalist Max Blumenthal discusses the lobby organization founded by Pastor John Hagee, Christians United for Israel, and how it is seeking to facilitate the Rapture by urging an American attack on Iran, and the escalation of war in the middle east, based on their interpretation of biblical prophecy.

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Barrett Duke is Vice President for Research and Director of the Research Institute of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention, HR 3887, to reauthorize a congressional act to deal with human trafficking.

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Alan J. Reinach, Esq., host of Freedom’s Ring, discusses why gay marriage is the most dangerous threat to religious liberty in America today.

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Kevin James, Associate Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the southern states, discusses various bills including Florida initiatives to remove constitutional prohibitions on public funding of religion; Ten Commandments bills; and a bill to require elections to be conducted on Saturdays.

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Todd McFarland, Associate General Counsel of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists discussing important new guidelines issued by a Federal civil rights agency giving employers direction on dealing with religious issues in the workplace

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Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty magazine discusses the religious liberty implications raised by the visit of the Pope to the U.S. and current Vatican policy and practice regarding church and state relations.

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Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty magazine, discusses the current and future issues of Liberty, and the concern that we live in testing times for the future of freedom

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Kevin James, Associate Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the southern states, discusses whether Christians should vote, how to responsibly exercise the vote, and other issues regarding avoiding partisanship and division in the body of Christ over political differences.

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Randall Balmer, Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University, discusses his new book and the unreliability of a candidate’s religious professions as a predictor of policy or performance in the White House.

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Alan J. Reinach, Esq., host of Freedom’s Ring, answers objections to the support for the Marriage Amendments, such as Proposition 8 in California, and explains why supporting marriage does not violate the separation of church and state, and why it is not hurtful to gays. He also further explains the seriousness of the threat to the survival of the church.

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Professor Richard Epstein, University of Chicago Law School and Fellow at the Hoover Institute, discusses the Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation case, challenging the Faith-Based Initiative and holding that citizens cannot enforce their rights under the First Amendment.

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Liberty Magazine editor, Lincoln Steed, discusses the need to find peace and calm in Christ during a time of economic uncertainty, rather than looking to the state to provide spiritual solutions.

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Host, Alan J. Reinach, Esq., discusses the liberal intolerance that would silence the church on moral issues, despite insisting on their own right to advocate for public immorality.

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Greg Hamilton, President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, discussing plans to press for enactment of important legislation in the states of Washington and Oregon.

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Jim Sweeney, Esq., counsel for the California Catholic Conference, discusses a California Supreme Court decision holding that Christian doctors cannot rely on a religious freedom defense to a claim they discriminated against a lesbian patient seeking artificial insemination.

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Kristen Waggoner, Esq., an attorney for a pharmacy and two pharmacists, battles a regulation that would require them to sell the “morning after pill,” Plan B, against their religious conscience.

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Robert Tyler, Esq. President of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, discusses the Federal Court’s decision against Christian schools and their students, who have suffered discrimination and exclusion from U.C. campuses because of the Christian worldview in high school courses.

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Alan J. Reinach, Esq., explains what the historic Protestant view of separation is and contrasts it with the secularist and fundamentalist approaches.

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Host, Alan J. Reinach, Esq., discusses a powerful prayer by Pastor Joe Wright before the Kansas Senate, the exception to the rule that ceremonial prayer is “vain repetition” contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

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Brent Walker , Esq., Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty. www.bjconline.org

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Brent Walker , Esq., Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty,discusses stories of 2008. www.bjconline.org

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Barry Bussey, Esq. is the new Associate Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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Casey Mattox, Esq., Litigation Counsel, Center for Law & Religious Freedom of the Christian Legal Society

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Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., Executive Director, Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute

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Erik Stanley,Esq., Senior Legal Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund.

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Art Spitzer, Legal Director, ACLU of the National Capitol Area.

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Pastor Chris Clark, East Claremont Baptist Church, San Diego, California

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Interview with James Gibson,Esq. staff counsel of Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, www.bjconline.org.

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Discussion with Tim Smith,Esq. a Sacramento attorney.

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Discussion with Casey Mattox,Esq., Litigation Counsel for the Center for Law & Religious Freedom

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Barry Bussey, Legislative Afffairs Director of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, discusses a Sri Lankan effort to outlaw attempts to proselytize, witness, evangelize, or otherwise seek to make religious converts.

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Richard Foltin, Esq., Legislative Director and Counsel for the American Jewish Committee in Washington, D.C., www.ajc.org.

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Derek Davis, Dean of Graduate School, University of Mary Hardin Baylor, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty discusses faith-based initiative in the Obama Administration

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Greg Hamilton, President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, discusses the shift toward the broad evangelical middle reflected by the presidential election, and shifting priorities among the nation’s evangelical voters.

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Matthew McMearty, Legislative Affairs Director for the Church State Council, discusses an effort in Congress called We the People Act.

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Howie Beigelman, Orthodox Union Deputy Director of Public Policy, talks about legislative efforts to solve the problem of condos and apartment buildings outlawing religious displays such as a Mezuzah, a Christmas wreath, or other symbols of religious identity.

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Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Affairs, Southern Baptist Committee, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, www.ERLC.com., discusses challenges in the workplace to the rights of conscience.

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Tim Tracey, Esq., attorney with the Center for Law and Religious Freedom of the Christian Legal Society, discusses a series of decisions denying Christian student groups the right to require voting members and officers to be professing Christians

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Barry Bussey, Legislative Affairs Director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, discusses the current state of Resolutions on Religious Defamation

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Host, Alan Reinach discusses the current status of traditional religious beliefs regarding marriage in California, in the wake of a series of state cases regarding religious liberty and gay rights.

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Greg Hamilton, President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, www.nrla.com

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Joe Grieboski, President of Institute on Religion and Public Policy, www.religionandpolicy.org.

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Angela Wu, International Law Director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, in Washington, D.C., discusses a series of U.N. Resolutions that shape international law to the standards of Islamic law, in forbidding public criticism of religion.

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Eric Treene, special counsel for religious discrimination, Civil Rights Division of the United States Justice Department, discusses a case in the Seventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the Fair Housing Act does not apply to discrimination that occurs after the rental or sale of housing, and its implications for religious freedom.

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Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Affairs, Southern Baptist Committee, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. www.erlc.com.

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Nicholas Miller, Esq., Director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, discusses the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding traditional marriage

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Greg Hamilton, President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, discusses this important bill to protect the rights of workers to religious accommodation

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Barry Bussey, Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, discusses efforts to overturn the District of Columbia’s acceptance of same sex marriages from other states.

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Host, Alan J. Reinach, Esq., explains what the Historic Protestant view of separation is and contrasts it with the secularist and fundamentalist approaches.

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Nicholas Miller, Esq., Director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, discusses the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding traditional marriage

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Proposition 8 Challenged in California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review the constitutionality of the ballot initiative to amend the constitution to retain the historic definition of marriage.

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The Pendulum Pauses: California Supreme Court Declines to Hear Lutheran High School Case

The gay rights community has been pressing the case of two female students who were expelled from the California Lutheran High School for their public expressions of romantic affection for one another. The school insisted that it has the right to enforce standards of student conduct rooted in its religious values.

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The Ten Commandments

With recent public and legal controversies over the place of the Ten Commandments in public places, and on government property, the Christian community is rediscovering and placing new emphasis on the importance of God’s law for recovering the moral foundation of American life. Seventh-day Adventists encourage all who seek to honor God’s law, and to turn attention to the importance of obedience to God. However, we also value the importance of freedom from religious coercion.Additional links on this topic:

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Analysis: Supreme Court Rules in Ten Commandments Cases

By now, you've seen the press coverage of the Ten Commandments decisions from the Supreme Court, upholding a monument outside the Texas State Capital, and striking down an interior courthouse display in Kentucky. Permit me to add a few observations of my own.

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Written in the Heart: God's Covenant With You

Our Founding Fathers emphasized the importance of moral citizenship in a democracy. The aphorism "you can't legislate morality" has always been ludicrous. Of course you can, and we do. The question is, whose morality? The American "culture war" is a battle over whose morality will prevail.

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Ten Commandments Radio Ads Now Available

WrittenInTheHeart.org and Freedom's Ring Radio are proud to announce the availability of ten (10) entertaining and high quality radio ads designed to heighten awareness of the issues involved in the current Ten Commandments debate.

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Adventists Issue Statement on Role of Ten Commandments

Adventist world church general vice president Pastor Mark Finley speaks during consideration of Ten Commandments statement at the church's Spring Meeting in Loma Linda, California. [Photo: Rajmund Dabrowski/ANN] Noting recent public interest in the Ten Commandments, the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted April 12 to affirm the Decalogue's importance in society.

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Some Thoughts on the First Annual Ten Commandments Day

Most people have heard that last Sunday, May 7, was designated by a number of broadcasting organizations and ministries as “Ten Commandments Day.” While May 7 turned out to be largely a non-event, Seventh-day Adventists conducted a variety of events on May 6 and 7 to promote the Ten Commandments and took a prominent share of the limited news coverage that was generated.

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The Ten Commandments Commission: Where do Seventh-day Adventists Stand?

It reads like a “who’s who” of the faith community: James Dobson, Paul Crouch, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer, and leaders of powerful Christian organizations like Trinity Broadcasting Network, National Religious Broadcasters, and Family Research Council. What has drawn all these leaders and organizations together is to rally round the Ten Commandments. They are all supporters of the Ten Commandments Commission. How do Adventists relate?

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6/19/06: Nepal: Adventists Welcome Secular State Declaration

Seventh-day Adventists in the Himalayan nation of Nepal are among those welcoming a recent series of reforms, including the designation of the country as a "secular" state. Previously, Hinduism had been the religion of Nepal.

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5/19/06: Uzbekistan: Government Reportedly Closes Samarqand Adventist Church

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samarqand (also known as Samarkand) has been closed by the Uzbekistan government, external media reports indicate.

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6/19/06: Saudi Arabia: Arrested: four Christians found praying at home

All the Christians come from eastern African. The arrest was carried out by the muttawa during a prayer service in a private residence.

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Iraq: Car Bomber Targets Baghdad Church; Christians Protest Attacks

The Baghdad Seventh-day Adventist Church has been targeted by a car bomb for the second time in two years, injuring an armed guard, one of two permanently stationed to protect the church compound.

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Turkmenistan: Stop Religious Persecution

As a coalition of non-governmental organizations, we are writing to express our concern over the dire and worsening situation of religious freedom in Turkmenistan, and to urge you to secure meaningful, measurable, and sustainable short-term improvements.

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UN Expert on Religious Freedom Calls for Greater Support

Geneva, Switzerland… In an April 6 meeting with non-government organizations, United Nations special rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief Asma Jahangir called for greater support of the fundamental liberties of conscience.

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Adventist Women Advocate Gender Equality at United Nations

New York, New York, United States ....Five Seventh-day Adventist women added their voices to thousands of other women in calling for drastic improvements in the lives of women worldwide at the United Nations' 50th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women.

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UN Commission on Human Rights Closes Down

Geneva, Switzerland… The United Nations Commission on Human Rights concluded its work today, March 27, in a final session that reviewed its sixty year history.

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UN Expert on Religious Intolerance Appeals for Support, Commends Adventists

New York, NY… United Nations expert Ms. Asma Jahangir appealed for greater support in the fight against religious intolerance during a meeting in New York on October 24

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Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is defined as the movement of women and children for purposes of prostitution or sexual slavery. It includes transporting, transferring, harboring, or sale. Trafficking usually occurs through means such as drugging, kidnapping, raping, assaulting, or other forms of violence.

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Military Service

The following information may be helpful for individuals currently serving or considering enlistment in the United States armed forces and for those concerned about conscientious objection and religious liberty in the military.

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A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists in Times of War

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was founded by New England pacifists with intellectual and spiritual roots in the Radical or Anabaptist Reformation.

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Resolutions on Nonviolence and Civil Responsibility from Early General Conference Sessions

A summary of the resolutions made relating to nonviolence and civil responsibility during General Conference Sessions in the late 1800s.

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Historical Essay: Why Seventh-day Adventists Cannot Engage in War

Eight reasons why Seventh-day Adventists should object to participating in armed combat.

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A Seventh-day Adventist Call for Peace

This statement was voted during the Spring Meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee on April 18, 2002 in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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General Information About the Military

The Seventh-day Adventist Church strongly counsels its members to consider the possible conflicts over Sabbath and other issues before they enter military service voluntarily.

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Read Actual Armed Forces Contracts and Documents

Links to official and editorial documents clarifying armed forces contracts.

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The Conscientious Objector - The Story of Desmond Doss

So what do you do with a soldier who won't train on Saturday, eat meat, or carry a gun or bayonet? Doss' commanding officer knew what to do.

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Desmond Doss: Congressional Medal of Honor Citation

He was a company aid man when the lst Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back.

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BBC Features Desmond Doss: "Why I Would Not Kill in War"

BBC Features Desmond Doss: "Why I would not kill in war." Doss, the Seventh-day Adventist medic who is the only non-combatant ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, was one of four men profiled by the BBC on International Conscientious Objector's Day, May 15, 2003.

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Proposition 8 Challenged in California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review the constitutionality of the ballot initiative to amend the constitution to retain the historic definition of marriage.

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The Pendulum Pauses: California Supreme Court Declines to Hear Lutheran High School Case

The gay rights community has been pressing the case of two female students who were expelled from the California Lutheran High School for their public expressions of romantic affection for one another. The school insisted that it has the right to enforce standards of student conduct rooted in its religious valu

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Seventh-day Adventist Appointed as Religious Liaison for Obama Administration

A Seventh-day Adventist will help United States President Barack Obama's administration consider the concerns of faith communities as it makes policy decisions, the White House announced recently.

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US Commission on International Religious Freedom indentifies 13 countries on its “countries of particular concern” list

A U.S. government panel listed 13 countries Friday as "egregious" violators of religious freedom.

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Oregon Passes the Workplace Religious Freedom Act

On May 29th, the Oregon legislature enacted a bill to protect religious accommodation in the workplace, a dream come true for the bill sponsor, Greg Hamilton, President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, a ministry of the North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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"Social and Moral Nonsense?"

The L.A. Times commentator criticized the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding Proposition 8 as “social and moral nonsense.”

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AJR 19 Introduced to the California Assembly

Assembly Joint Resolution 19 was introduced into the California Assembly on May 18 and was assigned to the Judiciary Committee on May 26, 2009.

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Nevada Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto of Domestic Partnerships

The Nevada Legislature overrode Governor Jim Gibbons’ veto of a bill recognizing the legal rights and benefits of domestic partnerships.

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San Diego County Issues Citation Ordering Home Bible Study to Cease

Across the nation a news frenzy has erupted over the story of a home bible study being required to stop meeting unless it obtains a Major Use Permit, costing thousands of dollars.

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Oregon and Tennessee Enact Religious Freedom Acts

Oregon Governor, Ted Kulongoski, quietly signed Senate Bill 786, the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act on Thursday, July 16, 2009. The bill establishes protections for employees needing “holy day” and “religious apparel” accommodations in the workplace.

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Fiji Church Rules No Pants on Sunday

The strict observance of Sunday worship has resulted in men on a Bua island not being allowed to wear pants on Sunday. The Sunday ban also forbids travel and the hanging of clothes on lines.

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How the ELCA Left the Great Tradition for Liberal Protestantism

During last week's biennial Church Wide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the church affirmed major policy recommendations to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions (which practice will soon inflate to same-sex marriage) and the rostering of gay and lesbian pastors in partnered relationships.

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Barry Bussey, Legislative Affairs Director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, discussing the current state of Resolutions on Religious Defamation

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Host, Alan J. Reinach, Esq., discussing the liberal intolerance that would silence the church on moral issues, despite insisting on their own right to advocate for public immorality.

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Host, Alan Reinach discusses the current status of traditional religious beliefs regarding marriage in California, in the wake of a series of state cases regarding religious liberty and gay rights.

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Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty magazine, discussing current legislation in Congress regarding hate crimes.

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Casey Mattox, Litigation counsel, Center for Law and Religious Freedom of the Christian Legal Society, discussing a big win for private, religious schools, in a case involving the expulsion of two female students for their public romantic relationship.

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Holly Holleman, legal counsel to the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, discussing the current status of faith-based funding.

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Bruce Cameron, Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law, also on staff with National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, discussing a recent case from the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

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Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, discussing an historic conference addressing an issue crucial to the Christian life and experience in the U.S.

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James Gibson, staff counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee, on the analysis of our newest Justice’s record on religious liberty.

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Dean Broyles, President of the Western Center for Law and Policy, and lawyer for Pastor David Jones, whose home Bible study was cited by San Diego County for violating the zoning regulations.

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Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty Magazine, discussing the current investigation of the legacy of torture in the U.S. and the urgent need for America to reclaim our values of respect for human life and liberty.

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Clifford Goldstein, editor of the Adult Sabbath School Quarterly for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, discussing the prophetic implications of the world religions meeting together.

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Clinton urged to discuss religious rights with Iran

WASHINGTON — A religious freedom watchdog Wednesday urged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss repression in Iran during upcoming talks on its controversial nuclear program.

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Benedict's Gambit with Anglican Split

The Church of England has survived the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War and Elton John performing “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Diana’s Westminster Abbey funeral. So it will probably survive the note the Vatican issued last week, inviting disaffected Anglicans to head Romeward, and offering them an Anglo-Catholic mansion within the walls of the Roman Catholic faith.

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Sunday Rest Initiatives in the European Union

Karel Nowak, Secretary General of International Association for Defense of Religious Liberty, reporting from Bern, Switzerland, on efforts to secure Sunday as a universal rest day in the EU.

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11/14/09 - Christians and War

Gary Councell, Director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists discussing the historic Adventist teachings

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Dr. John Graz, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, discussing global efforts to focus attention on religious freedom through large national festivals, with stadium attendance of up to 50,000 people.

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Fla. man says Home Depot fired him over God button

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A former cashier for The Home Depot who has been wearing a "One nation under God" button on his work apron for more than a year has been fired, he says because of the religious reference. The company claims that expressing such personal beliefs is simply not allowed. "I've worn it for well over a year and I support my country and God," Trevor Keezor said Tuesday. "I was just doing what I think every American should do, just love my country." The American flag button Keezer wore in the Florida store since March 2008 says "One nation under God, indivisible."

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Defeat in Maine a harsh blow to gay-marriage drive

In an election that had been billed for weeks as too close to call, Maine's often unpredictable voters repealed a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed. Gay marriage has now lost in all 31 states in which it has been put to a popular vote - a trend that the gay-rights movement had believed it could end in Maine.

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Land, other religious leaders: Sanctions needed on Iran

The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission collaborated with Paul de Vries, president of the New York Divinity School and leader of the New York Evangelicals, and Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, in issuing a statement Nov. 2 urging all governments to apply sanctions in order to produce effective diplomacy and encourage the human rights efforts of Iranians living under a militant Islamic regime.

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Archdiocese opposes legalizing gay marriage in District of Columbia

The Washington Archdiocese said in written testimony Oct. 26 that it opposes legislation to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District of Columbia and is concerned the bill "would restrict the free exercise of religious beliefs if it is passed as drafted."

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Were These People Attacked for Their Positions on Marriage Equality?

A Massachusetts man says that he lost his retail job for simply stating his religious views on same-sex marriage, while an anti-gay group supporting the repeal of marriage equality in Maine says that a man who works in Maine’s school system has come under attack because of his religious beliefs regarding gay and lesbian families.

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U.S. courts weigh challenges to wording of pledge of allegiance

Michael Newdow, a California doctor, is fighting to declare the pledge unconstitutional. In October, a federal judge in New Hampshire dismissed the legal suit, saying the pledge is voluntary and not a prayer, so it did not violate the Constitution. Dr. Newdow is appealing that decision.

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Pork byproduct in swine flu vaccine

FOX 35 has discovered that the H1N1, swine flu vaccine contains an ingredient that raises questions whether its use is permissible under certain religious, dietary laws. The Jewish, Muslim and Seventh-Day Adventist faiths all forbid members from consuming pork. The ban is based on scripture.

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Italy unites to condemn crucifix ruling

ITALIAN political leaders of left and right were united with the Vatican today in condemning a European court ruling that crucifixes displayed in schools are a breach of human rights. The reactions came quickly after the European Court of Human Rights ruling in response to a case brought by an Italian mother opposed to the hanging of crucifixes on classroom walls.

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Clinic forbids Dallas doctor's Islamic head scarf

DALLAS — A physician searching for her first job after finishing her residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center was told by officials of the CareNow clinics that she would not be allowed to wear her head scarf on the job. Dr. Hena Zaki of Plano said Friday that officials of Coppell-based CareNow, which operates 22 clinics in the Metroplex, told in her person and later by e-mail that a company no-hat policy extended to her hijab.

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House Committee Considers PATRIOT Reform (UPDATED)

The mark-up got off to a somewhat worrisome start when Chairman Conyers introduced a "manager's amendment" making numerous changes to the bill to address concerns raised by the Obama Administration about some of the bill's reforms. We have a copy of the amendment and a description of the changes it makes to the bill. Based on a very quick review, most of the changes seem relatively minor, but they are definitely not an improvement from a civil liberties perspective. So, once again, the Obama Administration is quietly working to stop reforms to the PATRIOT Act even though Senator Obama was one of the PATRIOT Act's staunchest critics.

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The U.S. State Department has released the 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom

The U.S. State Department has released the 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom -- the world's most comprehensive survey of religious liberty. The report examines how governments in one-hundred ninety-eight countries and territories are protecting or failing to protect religious freedom. It shines a spotlight, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on abuses by states and societies, and it draws attention to positive steps by many countries and organizations to promote freedom and interreligious harmony.

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Facing Three Great Divides, Part 1

Americans are all aware that society is currently being turned upside down and inside out by a financial tsunami. Those who still enjoy the comfort of both a job and a home have cause to be doubly thankful.

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Facing Three Great Divides, Part 2

We offered evidence in part one that crises and catastrophic events lead to “change.” Friedman, the disciple of the “free market” and deregulation, believed that leaders (economists and politicians) were “to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”

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Ireland's 'blasphemy law' worries religious liberty proponents

A proposed law criminalizing the criticism of religion in Ireland may defy international standards of freedom of speech and indicate a troubling trend toward more state control over religious matters, religious liberty experts say.

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U.S. judge bans 'I Believe' license plates

WASHINGTON — A US federal judge has ordered South Carolina not to issue cross-adorned "I Believe" license plates, ruling it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. US District Judge Cameron Currie ruled Tuesday that the state legislature, which in 2008 voted unanimously to approve the license plates that also include a cross in front of a stained glass window, had thus clearly given favored government treatment to a single faith in violation of the Constitution.

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CCR Files Opening Brief in First Supreme Court Case to Challenge Patriot Act

WASHINGTON - November 17 - Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the first brief in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the first case to challenge a portion of the Patriot Act before the Supreme Court. The case, originally brought in 1998 on behalf of a human rights group, a retired federal administrative judge, a doctor, and several nonprofit groups, challenges the constitutionality of the law that makes it a crime to provide "material support" to groups the administration has designated as "terrorist." In particular, the plaintiffs charge that the law goes too far in making speech advocating lawful, nonviolent activity a crime. The lower courts have unanimously declared several provisions of the law - including one added by the Patriot Act - unconstitutionally vague because they encompass speech and force citizens to guess as to their meaning.

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New Turn in Debate Over Law on Marriage

WASHINGTON — The fight over a proposed same-sex marriage law here heated up this week as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said that if the law passed, the church would cut its social service programs that help residents with adoption, homelessness and health care.

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Churches and Charter Schools

Charles Haynes, Senior Scholar at the First Amendment Center, discussing the constitutional issues with churches seeking to operate public charter schools.

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N.Y. Same-sex Marriage Case

Austin Nimocks, Senior Legal Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, discussing challenges to NY State decision to recognize out of state same-sex marriages, in violation of state law.

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Viewpoints: Much gray in debate of faith vs. medicine

If a parent refuses to inoculate his or her child against swine flu and the child contracts swine flu and dies, should the parent be prosecuted? Most of us would say no. Parents do what they think is best for their children. If they decide against inoculation, even against the best medical advice, it's their decision. And the loss of the child would be worse than any sentence exacted by any government authority. But if a couple chooses to follow their religious beliefs by fighting sickness with the power of prayer rather than medicine and their child dies, should the parents be charged with a crime?

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District approves same-sex marriage

The D.C. Council voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the District, a key step in a process that could enable gay couples to marry in the nation's capital by the spring.

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EU accused of meddling as Equality Bill debated

An amendment to the Equality Bill to protect the religious liberty of churches was voted down in the House of Commons last night amid accusations of EU interference. The proposed amendment, tabled by Labor MP David Drew, would have safeguarded the right of religious organizations to restrict their posts to people whose conduct is consistent with the Bible’s teachings. It was defeated by 314 to 170 votes.

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Sikh-Americans and Religious Liberty

With their distinctive appearance and religious practices, Sikh-Americans often find themselves at the center of workplace discrimination cases and other controversies involving their religious rights. And while Sikh groups have worked to carve out legal protections for the community's religious practices, their efforts have not always met with success. In California, for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a bill that would have required police in the state to receive training about the Sikh religion - including the faith's requirement that believers carry a small sword known as a kirpan. The bill, which Schwarzenegger called unnecessary, will likely be reintroduced in the state's next legislative session.

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The Problem of Islamic Religious Persecution

America, like so many countries in the West, laments its strained relations with the Islamic world. In June, Pres. Barack Obama traveled to Cairo to speak against the “fear and mistrust” that exist between the West and Islam. Yet Muslim governments demand respect for Islam while refusing to offer similar respect for religious minorities within their own borders. The recent Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets in that European nation has become the latest controversy to generate Muslim protests worldwide. However, Islamic governments are in no position to complain about Western intolerance and “Islamophobia.”

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Germany’s Highest Court Rules Against Sunday Shopping

Constitutional provisions that declare Sunday a day of rest mean German merchants will have to significantly rein in the number of days they are open for business, Germany’s highest court ruled December 1. The ruling was prompted by protests from Catholic and Protestant churches in Berlin over laws enacted in 2006 that gave German states greater freedoms in determining store opening hours. The Berlin city-state was one of the most enthusiastic adopters of the policy, allowing stores to operate for 10 Sundays a year, including the four Sundays of Advent leading up to the Christmas holiday. Other states had opted for fewer shopping Sundays; heavily Catholic Bavaria had opted for none.

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Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (UC Hastings)

The Christian Legal Society (CLS) chapter at the University of California - Hastings College of the Law filed a lawsuit on October 22, 2004, against school officials who denied recognition to the group because the chapter requires its officers and voting members to adhere to the CLS Statement of Faith. The CLS chapter asked school officials in early September 2004 to exempt the group and other religious student organizations from the religion and sexual orientation portions of the university's nondiscrimination policy.

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Official Chinese Newspaper Publishes Call to Change Religion Policy

A leading Chinese religious scholar called the country ready for "an institutional guarantee for the legality and quality of all religions," according to a December article in China Daily, the official government English language newspaper. Religious freedom experts say they are cautiously optimistic about the public pronouncement.

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Religious Hostility in Schools

Jennifer Monk, Associate Counsel, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, discussing the case of Chad Farnan v. Capistrano School District, a huge win for religious freedom in protesting against the overt hostility to Christianity from a public school history teacher.

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Religious Freedom Denied at Wright State University

Robert Shibley, Vice President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), discussing the denial of club recognition of the Campus Bible Fellowship, after thirty years of meeting.

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Church State Matters: Fighting for Religious Liberty in Our Nation’s Capital

J. Brent Walker, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee, discusses his latest book about twenty years of advocating for the separation of church and state.

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The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, “ENDA”

Barry Bussey, Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, discussing the religious freedom implications of extending legal protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

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Top U.S. court to hear religious freedom case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal that sets anti-discrimination principles against religious freedom. The case is part of a continuing battle by a student group, the Christian Legal Society (CLS), to defend its rights of religious liberty and freedom of association. However, the University of California's Hastings College of the Law refuses to recognize the CLS because of what it calls the group's discriminatory membership requirements.

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In God, North Carolina politician doesn't trust

RALEIGH, N.C. - -- Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government -- but he doesn't believe in God. His opponents say that's a sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they have the North Carolina Constitution on their side. Bothwell's detractors are threatening to take the city to court for swearing him in, even though the state's requirement that officeholders believe in God is unenforceable because it violates the U.S. Constitution.

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Let’s Talk About Faith

Liberal democracy offers religious believers a bargain. Accept, as a price of citizenship, that you may never impose your convictions on your neighbor, or use state power to compel belief. In return, you will be free to practice your own faith as you see fit — and free, as well, to compete with other believers (and nonbelievers) in the marketplace of ideas

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Prop 8 trial set up aids gay marriage side

The trial to determine the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, is being held in San Francisco, one of the most pro-gay marriage venues in the country. This is a decided home-court advantage for those challenging the law and, by implication, the nation's marriage laws. Judge Vaughn Walker has pushed this case to trial despite many objections from the proponents of Prop 8. Already, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has been peppered with appeals from the backers of Prop 8 over Walker's procedural rulings, which have significantly tilted the litigation environment in favor of the opponents.

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Commonwealth Court Decision Affirms Department of Public Welfare Authority to Regulate Religiously Affiliated Child Care Facilities

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After 12 years of legal proceedings, Commonwealth Court has affirmed the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's authority to regulate religiously affiliated child care facilities, further protecting the health and safety of children in all forms of care. "There is no greater support we can provide to families than to ensure that their children are as safe in their child care facility as they may be in their own home," said acting Secretary of Public Welfare Harriet Dichter. "This decision upholds our belief that every facility -- regardless of affiliation -- should be held to the same quality standards to protect the health, safety and development of our children."

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Kentucky County Can Display Ten Commandments

- The 6th Circuit on Thursday ruled that a Kentucky county can display the Ten Commandments alongside other historical documents in a county courthouse. In a 2-1 decision, the appellate panel in Cincinnati overturned an injunction barring Grayson County from displaying the Ten Commandments in its "Foundations of American Law and Government" exhibit, which included the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and seven other historical documents.

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Swapping “Rights” For the “Common Good”

The Church State Council, a regional affiliate of the North American Religious Liberty Association, maintains a “Speaker’s Bureau” list and because I am one of the professionals listed, I have been asked on many occasions to preach the morning sermon and present an afternoon seminar. As a consequence, I have developed a seminar which deals with current events economic, social and religious. The seminar focuses on the content of the recent Papal Encyclical, both to its economic and social policy. It considers the role “coercion” is currently playing in the shaping of our nation vs. the role freedom of conscience and individual rights play. A careful examination will show that the platform our President ran on is now being shaped by “other” forces. The Seminar points to the rise of new forces which will dramatically affect our future. I think it can safely be stated – our nation is currently embarking on a new adventure to which everyone should give careful consideration.

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Same Sex Marriage Battles Continue in Hawaii

Attorney Jim Hochberg, discussing the legal status of marriage, and ongoing legislative battles over the status of marriage and civil unions in Hawaii. For information on current legislation, go to www.hawaiifamilyforum.org.

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University of California Discriminates Against Christian Club

Kim Colby, senior legal counsel for the Christian Legal Society, Center for Law and Religious Freedom, discussing the case of U.C. Hastings v. Martinez, now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, involving the law school’s exclusion of a Christian Legal Society chapter for its allegedly discriminatory policy of requiring members to sign a statement of Christian faith.

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Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Stands . . . For Now

Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, discussing challenges to corporate and individual tax credit programs in Arizona for school tuition

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The Next Decade: The Main Issues Facing Religious Freedom

Dr. John Graz, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, discussing expected challenges to religious freedom globally, and the dim prospects for improving religious freedom in the coming years.

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Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law

Because good news is all too rare in our culture wars, Americans should welcome a common-ground agreement released this week titled “Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law.” Drafted by a diverse group of religious-liberty advocates, educators and scholars, the document represents the first-ever consensus on how the law addresses the role of religion in the public square in the United States.

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German homeschoolers' political asylum in America exposes the EU Gulag

The case of the homeschooling couple from Germany who were granted political asylum in the United States, becomes even more interesting if one reads the remarks of the man who granted the Romeikes asylum, Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman, of Memphis, Tennessee. Burman said: “We can’t expect every country to follow our constitution. The world might be a better place if it did. However, the rights being violated here are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.” He observed: “Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution… therefore, they are eligible for asylum…”

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Innocent-sounding Calif. bill could help legalize 'gay marriage', some say

SACRAMENTO - A new bill in the California legislature that purports to protect pastors from being forced to perform "gay marriages" actually contains language that could help open the door to legalizing such relationships down the road, conservatives who are watching the bill's progress say. Dubbed the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act, the bill (S.B. 906) is sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno -- a leading advocate for "gay marriage" -- and it would, he says, ensure that "no member of clergy or church will be penalized for refusing to solemnize marriages that violate their religious tenets." If the bill did only that, there likely would be no controversy, but it also changes California law to call all marriages recognized by the state "civil marriages."

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DC ruling favors same-sex ‘marriage’ over religious freedom, archdiocese says

A two-man Washington, D.C. panel has preferred to advance same-sex “marriage” at the cost of religious liberty, the Archdiocese of Washington has charged. The panel ruled that a referendum on a city council bill recognizing same-sex marriage would violate the District’s human rights law.

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Congressional authority usurped

In striking down the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, the Supreme Court majority has escalated its war on Congress to a new and dangerous level with respect to deciding contested constitutional issues. It is time for members of Congress to become angry, to realize that they are at war with this majority and to reaffirm a constitutional theory as old as Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and the two Roosevelts: the Supreme Court is a coequal branch of the federal government whose constitutional interpretations are entitled to respect, but no more so than those proffered by Congress and the president.

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House overwhelmingly says 'End ban on teachers wearing religious dress'

With a strongly favorable vote in the House on Wednesday, Oregon is on its way to becoming the 48th state to permit teachers to wear head scarves and other religious dress in school. The 51-8 vote on House Bill 3686 is the first decision toward repealing Oregon's 87-year-old ban on religious garb. Oregon, Nebraska and Pennsylvania are the only states that prohibit religious clothing.

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Christian Educators Barred from Arguing Against Anti-Religious Court Order

A federal judge has turned down a Christian educators association’s motion to argue against an anti-religious and allegedly unconstitutional consent order imposed upon a Florida county school district. In her 35-page ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers reiterated that Santa Rosa County School District officials are constitutionally obligated to ensure that teachers and other staff do not inculcate public school students with religion and that the Christian Educators Association International had no valid basis for seeking to have the consent decree ruled unconstitutional.

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The D.C. Government’s Strike against Foster Kids – and Religious Liberty

This week Washington, D.C. became the second U.S. jurisdiction to lose the benefit of Catholic Charities’ adoption and foster care services over the issue of same-sex marriage. Early next month, barring Congressional or judicial intervention, the District of Columbia will become the sixth U.S. jurisdiction to authorize same-sex marriage. As the law developed last year, the Archdiocese of Washington, of which Catholic Charities is a part, endeavored to avoid a conflict between its social services and the new D.C. marriage law.

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The Torture Lawyers

Is this really the state of ethics in the American legal profession? Government lawyers who abused their offices to give the president license to get away with torture did nothing that merits a review by the bar? A five-year inquiry by the Justice Department’s ethics watchdogs recommended a disciplinary review for the two lawyers who produced the infamous torture memos for former President George W. Bush, but they were overruled by a more senior Justice Department official.

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Land to Congress: Stop D.C. 'gay marriages'

WASHINGTON (BP)--Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land has joined two dozen other Christian and conservative leaders in urging Congress to pass legislation requiring a public vote before the District of Columbia issues marriage licenses to homosexual couples. The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the others called on senators and representatives quickly to approve the District of Columbia Referendum on Marriage Act. The D.C. government is slated to begin giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March, which could be as early as next week.

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Debating TV for Prop. 8 trial

Opponents of California’s Prop. 8 ban on gay marriaged, along with a coalition of media organizations, argued at midday Sunday that televised viewing of the trial on the ban’s validity should not be barred. In filings here and here (along with a new appendix), the challengers and the media argued that the request to stay videotape viewing of the trial is premature, since no final order to allow it on YouTube on the Internet was in place yet. They also argued that the Supreme Court would not be likely to review and overturn the federal judge’s order allowing slightly delayed release of the trial video. The media groups argued: “If there is a public benefit to public trials — and there is — then there is also a public benefit to complete access to public trials.” (Justice Kennedy has not yet acted on the stay application.)

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Prayer on! Forsyth County appeals prayer-ban ruling. New Hanover watching case closely

Commissioners in Forsyth County aren’t going to let a little federal court ruling get in the way of officials holding a prayer before their board meetings – even if pressing the issue could cost more than $300,000. A divided board, with four Republicans voting for and the three Democrats against, has decided to appeal a decision that prayers before meetings violate the country’s Constitutionally enshrined principle of separation of church and state.

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Learning From the Sin of Sodom

For most of the last century, save-the-worlders were primarily Democrats and liberals. In contrast, many Republicans and religious conservatives denounced government aid programs, with Senator Jesse Helms calling them “money down a rat hole.” Over the last decade, however, that divide has dissolved, in ways that many Americans haven’t noticed or appreciated. Evangelicals have become the new internationalists, pushing successfully for new American programs against AIDS and malaria, and doing superb work on issues from human trafficking in India to mass rape in Congo.

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The Torture Memo John Yoo Should Have Written

On February 19, the Department of Justice released the long-awaited 261-page Report of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which concluded, among other things, that in his legal memos on torture and Presidential power, John Yoo had "committed intentional professional misconduct when he violated his duty to exercise independent legal judgment and render thorough, objective, and candid legal advice." A senior Justice Department official, acknowledged that he had not reviewed all the documents available to the OPR, found that Yoo exercised "poor judgment" and that Yoo's memos were "flawed," "one-sided and conclusory" and "wrong," in various respects, but nevertheless declined to accept the report or refer Yoo for disciplinary action, leaving this decision to the state bars.

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Before Justices, First Amendment and Aid to Terrorists

WASHINGTON — The line between speech protected by the First Amendment and aid to terrorists appeared elusive at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, and the justices’ lively questioning complicated rather than clarified matters. They discussed travel to Cuba, the Communist and Nazi Parties, Tokyo Rose, treason and whether it is a crime to teach a terrorist how to play the harmonica.

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Civil Religion and the Presidential Prayer Breakfast

Barry Bussey, discussing President Obama’s recent speech at the prayer breakfast, and the larger role of civil religion in American life.

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Appeals for calm after Nigerian sectarian slaughter

JOS, Nigeria (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon appealed Monday for "maximum restraint" amid revulsion at the slaughter of more than 500 Christians in Nigeria, as survivors told how the killers chopped down their victims. Funerals took place for victims of the three-hour orgy of violence on Sunday in three Christian villages close to the northern city of Jos, blamed on members of the mainly Muslim Fulani ethnic group

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Bishops offer help with Senate

The Roman Catholic bishops signaled Thursday that if agreement is reached with House leaders on anti-abortion language, the church would work to get the votes needed to protect the provisions in the Senate — and thereby advance the shared goal with Democrats of health care reform. “We would strongly urge everyone, Democratic and Republican, to vote to waive the point of order,” Richard Doerflinger, an associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told POLITICO. “Whether it would be enough to get to 60 votes, I can’t predict. We would certainly try.”

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Court Upholds 'Under God' In Pledge

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the use of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency, rejecting arguments on Thursday that the phrases violate the separation of church and state. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected two legal challenges by Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow, who claimed the references to God disrespect his religious beliefs.

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Religious Liberty Retrospective

J. Brent Walker, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, reviewing the significant Supreme Court decisions and developments of the first decade of the twenty first century.

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The Role of Religion in American Foreign Policy: Vietnam - a case study,

Judd Birdsall, with the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, discussing the remarkable turnaround in religious freedom in Vietnam, and the role U.S. policy played

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Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism)

Author Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Francis Schaeffer, discussing his latest book.

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Yuma, AZ Prefers Bars to Churches

Eric Treene, senior counsel to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, discussing a city that refuses to permit churches to locate downtown, so that liquor establishments can thrive.

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Free Speech and Religion Update

Barry Bussey, Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, discusses three recent issues: the Focus on the Family Superbowl ad; Bible verses on rifle scopes; and Secretary Clinton’s speech on Internet Religious Freedom.

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Campus Censorship

David French, Alliance Defense Fund, discussing campus speech codes, and accreditation issues that threaten to put the gospel in chains on campus, and coerce students to express support for beliefs or behaviors they find offensive.

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Challenges to Faith-Based Organizations

Stanley Carlson Thies, president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, discussing the role of faith-based charities, the need to protect them through religious exemptions, and the unique challenges they face, especially from wooden “non-discrimination” laws that threaten their right to exist.

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Health Care Rights of Conscience

Steve Aden, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, discussing the case of a nurse who was forced to participate in an abortion, against her religious beliefs, on threat of losing her job and her license.

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Perry v. Schwarzenneger: Marriage on Trial

Jordan Lorence, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, reporting on the trial proceedings.

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The Work-Free Sunday Movement Getting Organized in Europe

A “Work-Free Sunday” and the need of legislation to enforce the concept was the topic of a conference held this week in Brussels, Belgium. Last year the European Parliament rejected such an attempt. This conference comes as a response. It is but the beginning of a more strategic movement to revitalize the discussion for a work-free Sunday. Daniela Weichhold attended the conference and reports that László Andor, the new Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, saw the conference as " a new chapter." As Weichhold points out the EU Commission can still launch the legislative procedure even if it fails. There is now a serious attempt to convince the hearts and minds of Europeans that Sunday legislation is necessary for the health of all citizens.

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Gay couple may sue Christian B&B owners

A homosexual couple who, on Friday night, were denied a double room in a Berkshire B&B owned by Christians say they are considering suing. The Christian owners, Mike and Susanne Wilkinson, say it is a matter of religious conscience and they should be free to follow their beliefs in their own home. But the homosexual pair, Michael Black and John Morgan, say they have suffered unlawful discrimination and are considering whether to sue.

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Faith healers would no longer be exempt from laws under bill

Legislators and church groups squared off Wednesday on a bill that would remove the exemption of parents who practice faith healing on their children from Wisconsin child abuse laws. Under current Wisconsin law, an individual is not guilty of child abuse if he or she chooses spiritual healing through prayer for a child over medical treatment. Under the bill, this exemption would be removed

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Prayers over PA system stop at public high school

ALEXANDRIA -- The Chris­tian influence at Alexandria High School is visible, but as of this week it's a little less overt. There, brightly colored fly­ers printed with Bible verses hang on the walls, weekly Bible studies are held before class be­gins and, until recently, prayers were spoken over the school's intercom system. But that regu­lar practice stopped this week when a student questioned the legality of the practice.

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Gilbert poised to rescind controversial religious ban

A controversial ban on church meetings in private homes has brought the town of Gilbert into the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons, Mayor John Lewis says. Hundreds of e-mails from "all over the world" have flooded town officials' inboxes since the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale-based religious legal organization, cried foul over perceived religious limitations in the zoning code, Lewis said.

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Religious heritage belongs in our schools

A federal district court in California recently ruled that the Poway Unified School District in San Diego violated math teacher Bradley Johnson's constitutional rights when it ordered him to remove two patriotic banners from the walls of his classroom because they "overemphasized" God.

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Put the pope in the dock

Well may the pope defy "the petty gossip of dominant opinion". But the Holy See can no longer ignore international law, which now counts the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity. The anomalous claim of the Vatican to be a state – and of the pope to be a head of state and hence immune from legal action – cannot stand up to scrutiny. The truly shocking finding of Judge Murphy's commission in Ireland was not merely that sexual abuse was "endemic" in boys' institutions but that the church hierarchy protected the perpetrators and, despite knowledge of their propensity to reoffend, allowed them to take up new positions teaching other children after their victims had been sworn to secrecy.

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Obama Pressed to Appoint an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

A joint letter signed by more than 25 organizations and individuals was delivered today to President Obama urging him to immediately fill the still-vacant position of U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom and to make this appointment in conjunction with the announcement of a U.S. strategy for promoting freedom of religion worldwide.

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U.N. body adopts resolution on religious defamation

(Reuters) - A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning "defamation of religion" as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.

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We Can’t Tell You

For more than 20 years, it was settled law, born of bitter experience, that the government may not eavesdrop on people in the United States without a warrant. Until, that is, after the 9/11 attacks, when President George W. Bush ordered the National Security Agency to ignore the law. When The Times disclosed the spying in late 2005, Mr. Bush argued that the attacks changed everything: Due process and privacy were luxuries the country could no longer afford. Far too many members of Congress bought this argument. Others, afraid of being painted as soft on terror, refused to push back. In 2008, at the White House’s insistence, they expanded the government’s ability to eavesdrop without warrants.

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The End of Religious Freedom?

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn't taken on many significant religion cases lately. Perhaps the justices were resting up for what could be one of the biggest rulings yet: Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which went before the court April 19, is in some eyes the title fight between anti-discrimination laws and religious identity. It's a case that both sides have long been waiting for.

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City Says No to Religious Meetings at Home

Daniel Blomberg, Staff Attorney, Alliance Defense Fund, discussing Gilbert, Arizona’s provision that religious assemblies are not allowed in single family homes!

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Ethnic Violence Erupts in Nigeria

David Dettoni, Director of Operations and Outreach, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, discussing a recent slaughter of some 500 Christian villagers, allegedly in retaliation for an earlier killing of Muslims, near Jos, Nigeria.

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Oregon Passes Workplace Religious Freedom Bills

Greg Hamilton, president of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, discussing two bills protecting religious freedom for workers of various religions.

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Faith-Based Initiative Tune Up By Obama Administration, Part 1

Melissa Rogers, Director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs, Wake Forest University Divinity School, discussing the Obama Administration’s assembling a stellar interfaith panel to analyze the “faith-based” initiative, and make recommendations.

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Faith-Based Initiative Tune Up By Obama Administration, Part 2

Melissa Rogers, Director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs, Wake Forest University Divinity School, discussing the Obama Administration’s assembling a stellar interfaith panel to analyze the “faith-based” initiative, and make recommendations.

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Workplace Religious Freedom Bill Finds Revived Interest

More than a decade after it was first introduced, an on-again off-again bill to protect employees' religious expression in the workplace is attracting renewed attention that could lead to action on Capitol Hill in coming weeks. The Workplace Religious Freedom Act would revise and strengthen the existing requirements imposed on employers to accommodate the religious practices of their employees.

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Even Controversial Views Should Be Protected by Freedom of Speech

As a human rights advocate, I recognize that defending speech I do not agree with comes at a personal cost. I struggled with this issue when I wrote about Geert Wilders' trial in Holland, where he has been charged for violating Articles 137(c) and (d) of the Dutch criminal code for group insult of Muslims, inciting hatred of and discrimination against Muslims due to their religion, and fomenting hatred of non-Western immigrants. Wilders is by any measure completely biased against immigrants and Muslims, and saying anything remotely

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NewsReal Sunday: Pastors Beware! UK Arrested Someone for Preaching.

Late last month a Baptist street preacher named Dale McAlpine was sharing the Gospel in Cumbria and got himself arrested by saying homosexuality is a sin. Sexuality was not the main subject of his preach; he simply answered some questions about it in a polite matter. The UK Telegraph reports:

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Religious freedom is fundamental to human rights

Religious liberty is the first freedom granted by the First Amendment. It also is a principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948, with the U.S. voting "aye." Americans understand that freedom to worship as they choose, or not at all, is a fundamental component of democracy itself, and a few hundred residents of Bradford County demonstrated support for the concept of freedom of religion in observing National Day of Prayer last week on the steps of the county courthouse in Towanda despite a controversial ruling by a judge declaring the observances illegal.

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Conservative Rabbi Wins Fight Against Kosher Law

The previous Kosher Food Labeling Act required that any food sold as kosher in the state meet “Orthodox Hebrew religious rules and requirements,” delegitimizing alternative interpretations of kosher adhered to in other Jewish communities. The new law no longer institutionalizes an official definition of kosher and instead requires that all food and food establishments represented as being kosher clearly disclose to consumers the practices and standards by which the food was prepared.

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Church wins zoning dispute

A Colorado church has won a land-use lawsuit against Boulder County. As Rocky Mountain Christian Church is growing, the congregation was running out of room for its church and school. So the church made plans to make more room and went through the legal process to build a future 240,000-square-foot facility. But Lori Windham of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty reports that the county denied the request, prompting the church to seek legal intervention.

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U.S. Supreme Court says Mojave Cross veterans’ memorial can stay

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a cross-shaped veterans’ memorial currently covered up by a box in California’s Mojave Desert can stay right where it is. In a 5–4 decision, the court determined that an act of Congress transferring the land under the memorial to a veterans’ group was constitutional and additionally noted that “the Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.”

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Catholic nurse’s suits allege abortion violated her rights

A Catholic nurse is suing New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and some members of its medical staff, charging that her conscience rights were violated when she was compelled to help with a late-term abortion last year. A lawsuit filed April 29 on behalf of Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo alleges that the nurse’s conscience rights under state law were violated by her forced participation in a late-term, non-emergency abortion in May 2009, despite the fact that Cenzon-DeCarlo had notified the hospital of her religious objections to abortion before she was hired in 2004.

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Idaho charter school's bid to use Bible as text falls short

BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the state by a Nampa charter school over plans by school administrators to use the Bible and other religious texts as a classroom teaching tool. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge dismissed the case May 17 filed by the Nampa Classical Academy. School administrators sued the state and the Idaho Public Charter School Commission in September after the commission barred the school from using religious texts in the classroom. At the time, the school’s attorney, David Cortman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, complained that he had never seen such a broad-reaching ban on using the Bible as a resource in public schools.

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Religious protection bill freed from Senate committee

An attempt to derail a bill that would expand the state's religious freedom protections was reversed by the state Senate on Wednesday. Sen. Danny Martiny's Senate Bill 606 would prohibit government from burdening the free exercise of religion, unless it can prove "it has a compelling governmental interest." After the measure narrowly escaped a Senate committee Tuesday, the bill was redirected to a second Senate panel at the request of an opponent of the bill, Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge.

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U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Arizona School Choice Suit

ADF attorneys argue that the program--which allows state residents to claim a tax credit for donations to private organizations that provide scholarships to private schools--is constitutional because it involves individual, private choices and funding, not government action or money. Parents should decide what schools their children attend and where their money goes.

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Student Suspended for Wearing Rosary in School

13-year old wears the rosary to honor his brother and uncle who have both passed away. However, the Code of Conduct states beads are not allowed because they could potentially indicate a connection to a gang.

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Federal judge dismisses Summum suit against Pleasant Grove

SALT LAKE CITY — The Seven Aphorisms of Summum will not join the Ten Commandments on display in a Pleasant Grove park. A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the city that claimed it violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution by allowing a Ten Commandments monument but rejecting one showing the Salt Lake-based religious sect's beliefs. The clause in the First Amendment prohibits government from adopting a national religion.

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Missionaries and Diplomats

James Standish, Emeritus President of the North American Religious Liberty Association, discussing the role of missionaries as ambassadors for the United States, and the positive role they play internationally in light of postmodern criticism of missionary activities.

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Accreditation Threats to Canadian Universities

Grace Mackintosh, Director of Public Affairs for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, regarding threats to accreditation of religious colleges and universities in Canada.

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Freedom and Security and Torture Policy

As the new administration backs away from prior policies regarding waterboarding, Attorney James Standish, Associate Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, discusses the immorality of torture from a Christian worldview.

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Ask God what your grade is!

Attorney David Hacker, with the Alliance Defense Fund, discussing an egregious case of hostility and discrimination against a Christian student in a Los Angeles community college, and the successful injunction against a speech code restricting “offensive” speech on campus

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Compulsory Unionization Bill Defeated in Washington State

Greg Hamilton, President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, talks about a bill to compel child care centers and owners to be unionized.

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Sunday Revival in the European Union

Lincoln Steed, Editor of Liberty Magazine, www.libertymagazine.org, the nation’s oldest and best publication devoted to religious freedom, discussing the status of Sunday in the European Union.

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Persecution of Christians in India

Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., Director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, discussing persecution of Christians in the Indian state of Orissa.

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Obama names Cook religious freedom ambassador

The White House just announced that they're filling the long awaited position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The appointee is Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, whose experience includes pastoring a New York City church and founding a group called Wisdom Worldwide Center. She has also been a chaplain for NYPD.

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Spain planning burqa ban: government

MADRID — Spain's government plans to ban the use of the Islamic burqa in public places under a proposed new law on religious freedom, the justice minister said Tuesday. "We believe that there are things like the burqa which are hard to reconcile with human dignity and which especially pose problems of identification in public places," Francisco Caamano told reporters.

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Weinstein to sue over religious symbol at Fort Carson

A religious freedom advocate with ties to Colorado Springs said Tuesday the Army has declined his request to remove a cross and religious motto from the emblem of Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital. Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the religious theme violates the Constitution and that his foundation will sue to have the emblem changed. “Our message to the Army is: See you in court,” he said.

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Pastor tests IRS by endorsing candidate

A South Dakota minister says he wants to do for religious freedom what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. did for civil rights. The Rev. H. Wayne Williams, pastor of Liberty Baptist Tabernacle in Rapid City, last month endorsed GOP state Sen. Gordon Howie in the South Dakota governor's race, in defiance of the Internal Revenue Service and a federal court ruling and in hopes of producing a landmark constitutional test case.

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Hayes: School censorship undermines what kids learn in civics

To find out how the First Amendment is supposed to work in public schools, don’t ask school officials—ask the kids. Strange as it may seem, many students actually believe what they’re taught in civics class about their constitutional rights. Consider Raymond Hosier, a seventh-grader in Schenectady, N.Y. He doesn’t buy his school’s argument that his rosary beads are a “gang symbol” that should be banned.

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Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Protest Schools Ruling

JERUSALEM — Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews took to the streets of this city on Thursday to accompany dozens of Hasidic parents who were on their way to prison for two weeks after refusing to comply with a Supreme Court ruling against ethnic segregation in their children’s school.

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Religious freedom bill passes Senate

Legislation is on its way to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk aimed at underscoring constitutional freedom of religion protections. The Louisiana Senate voted 30-6 Sunday afternoon to concur in House changes to Senate Bill 606, sending it to the governor. SB606 sets out the legal standard in state law that would give courts guidance when religious beliefs and practices are challenged by governmental entities. Proponents argue that religious freedoms are under attack.

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Obama administration sidelines religious freedom policy

Last week President Obama nominated an ambassador at large for international religious freedom, a position created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. The nominee, Suzan Johnson Cook, is a distinguished pastor who will, if confirmed by the Senate, be strongly supported by advocates of religious freedom.

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NH church receives more than $1.1 million over unconstitutional zoning restrictions

RICHMOND, N.H. — An Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney has secured a $1.15 million settlement on behalf of Saint Benedict Center of Richmond in a lawsuit over the town’s unconstitutional zoning restrictions. The center contended officials singled it out for discrimination after certain officials expressed their view that the church’s moral positions on matters such as abortion and homosexual behavior are “abhorrent.”

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Religious freedom to exclude

The Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited opinion in Christian Legal Society Chapter of the University of California, Hastings College of Law v. Martinez (CLS). The decision may go largely unnoticed since it arrived on the first day of future Justice Kagan's confirmation hearings and, McDonald v. Chicago, another decision released the same day, is gaining much more attention after it extended the Second Amendment to limit state gun control laws. Yet the CLS decision hits all the fault lines of the clash between non-discrimination requirements and claims about religious freedom. Welcome to the future of the so-called "culture wars."

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What would George Washington say about Islam in USA?

With all the loud clamoring about the proposed Islamic Center to be built near Ground Zero, reasonable voices are hard to discern. One thing is clear: this is not a debate about religious freedom. A mosque by peaceful Muslims of good will, unrelated to perpetrating the 9/11 attacks has every right to exist anywhere on these shores. It is the worst form of religious intolerance--and very un-American--to think that one form of religion has limits on where and when it may be practiced.

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Federal Judge Rules Against Proposition 8

Chief Judge Vaughan Walker today overturned the will of seven million California voters by declaring Prop 8 “unconstitutional.” Although the decision was not unexpected by the Prop 8 Legal Defense team, Judge Walker’s opinions are especially strident. As a preemptive act, the Prop 8 defense attorneys sought a motion to “stay” – attempting to keep same-sex marriages from taking place – in the event that Walker overruled Prop 8. Giving all sides until end-of-day Friday, August 6, to respond to the motion, Walker has issued a temporary “stay”. At some point after that, Judge Walker will decide whether same-sex marriages should proceed in California. The legal defense team may need to seek immediate review from higher courts of appeal in order to keep new same-sex marriages from taking place.

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Freedom of Worship' Worries

"Freedom of worship" has recently replaced the phrase "freedom of religion" in public pronouncements from the Obama administration. Experts are concerned that the new rhetoric may signal a policy change. "Freedom of worship" first appeared in President Obama's November remarks at the memorial service for the victims of the Fort Hood shooting. Days later, he referred to worship rather than religion in speeches in Japan and China. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the shift in language. In a December speech at Georgetown University, she used "freedom of worship" three times but "freedom of religion" not at all. While addressing senators in January, she referred to "freedom of worship" four times and "freedom of religion" once when quoting an earlier Obama speech.

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Coming to Terms With Equality and Diversity: America's Ongoing Culture Wars

The recent decision by the Texas School Board of Education to revise the curriculum in the state to reflect a more "conservative" approach to social studies and history has highlighted the ongoing debate about the role of education in American society and culture. The explicit desire by the conservative majority on the Texas School Board to impose an ideological orientation in elementary and secondary education - including a shift of focus away from the civil rights movement and slavery, an emphasis upon ensuring that students be taught that the idea of the separation of church and state is not in the Constitution and promotion of the need to safeguard American sovereignty from threats posed by organizations such as the United Nations - is a barometer of the increasing uncertainty that has overtaken the conservative factions in American society.

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University of Illinois Instructor Fired Over Catholic Beliefs

The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church's teaching that homosexual sex is immoral. The professor, Ken Howell of Champaign, said his firing violates his academic freedom. He also lost his job at an on-campus Catholic center.

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Lawsuit Claims College Ordered Student to Alter Religious Views on Homosexuality, Or Be Dismissed

A graduate student in Georgia is suing her university after she was told she must undergo a remediation program due to her beliefs on homosexuality and transgendered persons. The student, Jennifer Keeton, 24, has been pursuing a master's degree in school counseling at Augusta State University since 2009, but school officials have informed her that she'll be dismissed from the program unless she alters her "central religious beliefs on human nature and conduct," according to a civil complaint filed last week.

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Prop. 8 ruling ignores precedent, evidence and common sense

Even some who support same-sex marriage worry that, in striking down California's voter-approved proposition defining marriage as between one man and one woman, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker went too far. They are right -- and not the only ones who should be concerned. Walker's ruling is indefensible as a matter of law wholly apart from its result.

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Making of a mosque mess

On Dec. 8, 2009, the New York Times published a story about a planned development in lower Manhattan: "The building has no sign that hints at its use as a Muslim prayer space, but these modest beginnings point to a far grander vision: an Islamic center near the city's most hallowed piece of land that would stand as one of ground zero's more unexpected and striking neighbors. "The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July.

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U.S. may sue Arizona's Sheriff Arpaio for not cooperating in investigation

A federal investigation of a controversial Arizona sheriff known for tough immigration enforcement has intensified in recent days, escalating the conflict between the Obama administration and officials in the border state. Justice Department officials in Washington have issued a rare threat to sue Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio if he does not cooperate with their investigation of whether he discriminates against Hispanics.

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School faces court hearing after banning Bibles on Religious Freedom Day

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Tuesday Liberty Counsel will meet the Collier County, Florida, School Board in the Fort Myers federal courthouse. This lawsuit challenges the board's recent ban on Bibles during Religious Freedom Day on school campuses in Collier County, Florida. For years, the school board allowed World Changers to provide free Bibles to interested students by placing them on tables where students could voluntarily pick one up during noninstructional time, but now the school officials claim that Bibles do not provide any educational benefit to the students and the distribution should stop. Liberty Counsel tried to convince the school board to correct its actions outside of court. But because of the school board's defiant actions, there will be a preliminary injunction hearing at 10:00 a.m. EDT in Judge Charlene Honeywell's chambers.

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Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism)

Author Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Francis Schaeffer, discussing his latest book.

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Ethnic Violence Erupts in Nigeria

David Dettoni, Director of Operations and Outreach, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, discussing a recent slaughter of some 500 Christian villagers, allegedly in retaliation for an earlier killing of Muslims, near Jos, Nigeria.

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Maryland high court hears religious freedom case

n one of the cases kicking off its fall term, Maryland's highest court is being asked whether a judge violated an Orthodox Jew's right to religious freedom by holding a medical malpractice trial without him and his lawyer during a major Jewish holiday.

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Was it the Right Thing to do to Pressure Pastor Jones not to Burn the Quran?

On this solemn weekend of the 9th anniversary of 9-11, I find myself deeply troubled by the most recent development involving the Florida Pastor who threatened to publicly burn Qurans, but decided against doing so after receiving enormous pressure from fellow pastors and high ranking government officials. Apparently, officials at the highest levels of our government had pressured him (some would say pleaded with him) to not carry out his plans for fear of retaliation against our Troops. One report even said he got a visit from the FBI at his home in Florida. If this is so, such actions should alarm us all and cause us to ask some hard questions, even if we don't agree with the Pastor's proposed actions.

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Jewish NGOs slam ‘Time’ magazine cover story

ewish organizations slammed Time magazine for its cover story appearing in its September 13 issue, saying the article titled “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” was “insidious” and borderline anti-Semitic. The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League both responded to the article penned by the magazine’s Jerusalem correspondent Karl Vick.

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Justice Department sues Walnut for blocking Buddhist temple construction

Federal prosecutors sued Walnut for religious discrimination Monday, saying the city unfairly denied a Buddhist house of worship a land-use permit. The city rejected the Chung Tai Zen Center a conditional-use permit to build and operate a temple on property it owned in 2008. According to federal prosecutors, that denial was the first of its kind in almost three decades. The complaint points to a permit granted for a Catholic church later that year that was larger than the proposed Zen center.

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Full 9th Circuit orders new hearing in Calif. headscarf case

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court has ordered a new hearing for a Muslim woman who was made to remove her headscarf by Orange County deputies in a courthouse holding cell. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said yesterday that a majority of its 27 judges voted to set aside an earlier 9th Circuit ruling in the case.

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Hartford City Council says no to Muslim prayer

HARTFORD, Conn. — Hartford officials now say they won't include Muslim prayers before City Council meetings in September, after getting mostly negative feedback from the public on an earlier plan to invite Islamic invocations. The reversal has prompted the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Connecticut to plan a prayer vigil tonight at City Hall in protest.

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Torture and Slavery Endured by Tens of Thousands of Believers in China

Bob Fu, Founder and President of China Aid Association, (at www.Chinaaid.org) discussing the persecution of thousands of Chinese in forced labor camps, where they are often beaten and tortured.

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Supreme Court Report: A Cross on a Lonely Mojave Desert Hill

Eric Rassbach, National Litigation Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, discusses Buono v. Salazar, Supreme Court decision

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Where Freedom Can’t Ring: Phoenix, Arizona prosecutes bishop for ringing church bells

Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, (www.telladf.org) recounting how the city of Phoenix, Arizona, prosecuted and convicted a bishop for ringing church bells, in violation of a noise ordinance, and vigorously defended this conviction against a constitutional challenge in Federal Court.

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Indonesia’s Blasphemy Law Upheld by Nation’s Highest Court

Angela Wu, International Law Director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, (www.becketfund.org. ) discussing a ruling from the Indonesia High Court upholding that nation’s Blasphemy law.

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Michigan home-based child-care workers sue to break from union

DETROIT — Peggy Mashke tends to 12 children for 12 hours a day at her home, so she was surprised to get a letter welcoming her to the United Auto Workers union. “I thought it was a joke,” said Mashke, 50, of northern Michigan’s Ogemaw County. “I work out of my home. I’m not an auto worker. How can I become a member of the UAW? I didn’t get it.” Willing or not, Mashke and 40,000 other at-home providers are members of a labor partnership that represents people across Michigan who watch children from low-income families. Two unions receive 1.15% of the state subsidies granted to those providers, or more than $1 million a year.

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Bullying and discrimination against students on religious and other grounds banned by new NY law

Religion Clause: “On Monday, New York Governor David Patterson singed into law the Dignity for All Students Act. The new law prohibits bullying of students by other students or school employees, as well as discrimination against students, taking place on school property or at a school function when the bullying or discrimination is based on the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.”

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Texas education board to consider rule on Islam's portrayal in textbooks

AUSTIN – Just when it appeared the State Board of Education was done with the culture wars, the panel is about to wade into the issue of what students should learn about Islam. The board will consider a resolution next week that would warn publishers not to push a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian viewpoint in world history textbooks.

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Ashburn To Governor: Don't Pass Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act

SACRAMENTO — Citing same-sex marriage equality, Senator Roy Ashburn has asked Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto a senate bill that would seek to further define the separation of church and state and would afford churches who refuse to perform same-sex marriages protection when it came to their tax-exempt status.

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Court sides with World Vision's practice of hiring only Christians

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that Federal Way-based World Vision is lawful in hiring only Christians. Three former World Vision employees were fired in 2006 due to their religious beliefs. The group filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in 2007. That court granted World Vision a summary judgement and, in 2009, the plaintiffs appealed the District Court's decision. On Aug. 23, the Appeals Court ruled 2-1 that the Christian-based organization is exempt from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars religious discrimination in hiring.

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Continued ban on converting others proposed in Nepal

NEW DELHI – A legislative panel in Nepal has proposed retaining a ban on converting others in the country’s new constitution. Parliament has yet to decide on the proposal, but Christian leaders said they fear it is likely to be approved given that Nepal’s largest political party, led by former Maoist rebels, sympathizes with the deposed king’s wishes for such a ban. The country is forging a new constitution as part of its transition from a Hindu monarchy to a democracy.

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Far right group successfully blocks religious center development

Despite the guarantee of religious freedom for all, a far right group representing the majority religious opinion in the country has successfully pressured the government into forbidding a minority religious community, whose beliefs are commonly associated with violence and civil unrest, from worshiping at the site of a planned religious community center. The ban on development came from the towns mayor who, after initial support, issued his decision after a series of outspoken protests outside of the building site drew national attention.

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Why the Campaign for Politics in the Pulpit Is a Bad Idea

As citizens we are called to work toward a just society. It should be no surprise, then, that people of faith have been engaged in virtually every social reform movement throughout American history. Religious individuals and houses of worship have the right and responsibility to take part in important public debates. While the Constitution and other laws protect that right, tax regulations that govern nonprofit entities, including houses of worship, bring legal restrictions.

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America's True History of Religious Tolerance

In the storybook version most of us learned in school, the Pilgrims came to America aboard the Mayflower in search of religious freedom in 1620. The Puritans soon followed, for the same reason. Ever since these religious dissidents arrived at their shining “city upon a hill,” as their governor John Winthrop called it, millions from around the world have done the same, coming to an America where they found a welcome melting pot in which everyone was free to practice his or her own faith. The problem is that this tidy narrative is an American myth. The real story of religion in America’s past is an often awkward, frequently embarrassing and occasionally bloody tale that most civics books and high-school texts either paper over or shunt to the side. And much of the recent conversation about America’s ideal of religious freedom has paid lip service to this comforting tableau.

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America's True History of Religious Tolerance

In the storybook version most of us learned in school, the Pilgrims came to America aboard the Mayflower in search of religious freedom in 1620. The Puritans soon followed, for the same reason. Ever since these religious dissidents arrived at their shining “city upon a hill,” as their governor John Winthrop called it, millions from around the world have done the same, coming to an America where they found a welcome melting pot in which everyone was free to practice his or her own faith.

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People of the book - The true history of the Koran in America

Nine years later, we are still haunted by Sept. 11, and in some ways it’s getting worse. All summer, a shrill debate over whether to build a mosque near the Ground Zero site was fueled by pundits on the right, who drummed up a chorus of invective that made it impossible to focus on the modest facts of the case. Then in the days leading up to the 11th, a church in Gainesville, Fla., sparked a firestorm — almost literally — by inviting Christians to come by on the anniversary for a ceremonial burning of the Koran. The Dove World Outreach Center — a misnomer if ever there was one — has made a cottage industry of its Islam-bashing, promoting its old-fashioned hate crusade with the most modern weapons — YouTube, podcasts, Facebook, and blogs (“Top Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran”).

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Gospel for Asia fears Nepal’s draft constitution could threaten religious freedom

Nepal’s draft constitution has left Gospel for Asia with mixed feelings after a legislative committee last week proposed retaining a ban on activities aimed at religious conversions. The formerly Hindu kingdom is in the process of drafting a new constitution after becoming a secular nation in 2006, at the end of a decade-long civil war.

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Hindus laud City of Ann Arbor for “reaffirming religious freedom”

Hindus have applauded City of Ann Arbor (Michigan, USA) for passing a resolution reaffirming religious freedom. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended Ann Arbor City Council for taking religion seriously as it was the most powerful force in human society. Prevalence of different religions was a positive sign of God’s generosity.

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Historic building constraints prompt church to sue city

Religious liberty is being pitted against historic preservation in a federal lawsuit filed this month against the city of Indianapolis. Leaders of St. John United Church of Christ on the Far Eastside claim city officials have meddled in the functions of the church by forcing a historic designation on the congregation's 96-year-old building and surrounding 5-acre property on the northeast corner of Washington Street and German Church Road.

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Report from Jordan

Nicholas Miller, Esq., Executive Director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, reporting on a groundbreaking meeting between Christian and Arab leaders in Jordan the week before 9/11/2010, in an atmosphere charged by the threat of Koran burnings in Florida.

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Censorship of Student Religious Speech

Charles Haynes, Senior Scholar, First Amendment Center, www.firstamendmentcenter.org, discussing the recent decision of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholding the right of a first grader in Plano Texas to give candy canes with a religious message to fellow students at a Christmas party in school! Yes, this really was a federal Case!

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Islam and Religious Liberty

James Standish, International Religious Liberty Association, putting the Islamic terrorist threat in perspective, and concluding that we can uphold religious freedom in America without compromising on our national fight against terrorism.

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Religion and Education: The State’s Strings Still Strangle

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty Magazine, www.libertymagazine.org, the nation’s oldest and best publication devoted to religious freedom, discussing attacks on religion in education in Spain and Australia.

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Religious coalition stands up for Bible Belt mosque

A new coalition of religious leaders, many based in New York, has started working to defend groups trying to open mosques in different parts of the country. The group, the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, took its first action this week in filing a brief opposing a lawsuit that is trying to stop the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

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Civil Rights and Religious Groups Demand That Air Force Academy 'Climate Survey' Be Made Public

The following letter has been sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), demanding that the results of this year's U.S. Air Force Academy "Climate Survey" (explained in the letter) be made public. The letter also demands that an immediate investigation be launched into the activities of the Christian ministries operating on the Air Force Academy campus, due to reports from the parents of Academy cadets and graduates that at least one of these ministries is using cult-like tactics to recruit cadets and estrange them from their families.

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Europe court to hear Jehovah Witness tax case against France

The European Court of Human Rights said Wednesday it had agreed to consider a case brought by the Jehovah Witness Christian sect against the French government over taxation of donations. In its request, the group alleged an infringement of the right to religious freedom saying the French government had tried to curtail its activities by demanding in May 1998 taxes on donations from its followers.

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Vouchers Fail in Florida

Amireh Al Haddad, Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, discussing vouchers for religious schools in Florida.

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Bibles Banned on Religious Liberty Day!

Harry Michet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, Florida, discussing a wonderful victory for religious freedom in Collier County, Florida, where the school district decided that it could restrict Bible distribution because the Bible lacked any significant educational value for students.

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Wake up and Smell the Equality!

Alan Reinach, host of Freedom’s Ring, discussing a series of three Federal Court decisions holding that religious values regarding human sexuality and marriage are discriminatory, and illegal.

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Youth Pastor Arrested for Witnessing at the Mall

Attorney Tim Smith discussing the case of Snatchko v. Westfield, and a marvelous victory for free speech against the large national shopping mall chain that sought to banish religious speech from the common areas of a Roseville, California shopping mall.

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Indiana Gay Rights Ordinance Threatens Religious Freedom

Nicholas Miller, Esq., Executive Director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, discussing the battle over a local gay rights ordinance in South Bend, Indiana, and its inadequate exemption for religious institutions.

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Atheists At it Again: Challenging “Parsonage Exclusion” for Ministers

Todd McFarland, Associate General Counsel, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, discussing a constitutional challenge to a “parsonage exclusion” tax benefit historically provided to ministers.

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BJC board discusses state of liberty

WASHINGTON (ABP) – Directors of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, meeting in Washington Oct. 4-5, discussed the tenuous state of religious freedom in America and heard of the organization’s continuing search for property on Capitol Hill. At their annual meeting, the advocacy group’s leaders focused much of their conversation on recent flare-ups over the religious freedom of Muslims in the United States and recent surveys that show high levels of public misunderstanding about the First Amendment’s religion clauses.

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Group details human rights violations in N. Korea

In late 2003, Kim, then 55, was hiding nine people he had led out of North Korea in an apartment in the Chinese province of Canton. The refugees had fled starvation, as famine in North Korea had killed hundreds of thousands, he said. As the group of Christians prayed, armed Chinese police broke down the door and apprehended Kim and his group. One of the refugees had been forced into spying for the Chinese after the police captured her husband. “To gain his release, she had to inform on us,’’ Kim said in a phone interview yesterday.

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The Supreme Court and Religious Liberty

As the Supreme Court enters its new session this month, no issue looms as large as religious liberty in America. At the end of its last session, the Court, in an unprecedented and potentially devastating blow to the first freedom, denied the right of a voluntary Christian organization to determine religious standards for its membership at a public university. On June 28, by a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that the University of California’s Hastings College of Law could deny recognition to the group because it restricted membership to those who adhered to its principles.

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7th Circuit: Ill. moment-of-silence law is constitutional

CHICAGO — A federal appeals court ruled late last week that the Illinois law requiring a moment of silence in public schools is constitutional because it doesn’t specify prayer. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 15 ruled that legislators who supported the bill said the moment of reflection had a secular and practical purpose in settling down students at the start of the school day. The three-judge panel also determined that the law was “not unconstitutionally vague in all of its operations.”

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The Supreme Court and Religious Liberty

As the Supreme Court enters its new session this month, no issue looms as large as religious liberty in America. At the end of its last session, the Court, in an unprecedented and potentially devastating blow to the first freedom, denied the right of a voluntary Christian organization to determine religious standards for its membership at a public university. On June 28, by a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that the University of California’s Hastings College of Law could deny recognition to the group because it restricted membership to those who adhered to its principles.

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Pope Benedict Calls For Religious Freedom and Peace in the Middle East

Vatican City – PNN – Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass at the conclusion of the synod of bishops on the Middle East in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday and called for greater religious freedom in the region. . . The Pope also said that the Middle East would benefit from greater religious freedoms and supported a call by the synod participants for Muslims and Christians to open an “urgent and useful” dialogue on the issue.

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China's ban on Lausanne delegates called 'gross violation' of rights

WASHINGTON (BP)--The Chinese government's refusal to allow Christians to participate in the Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization was a "gross violation of the rights guaranteed to them by their country's constitution as well as the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights," Southern Baptist religious freedom specialist Richard Land said.

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New UN Special Rapporteur on Religion Criticizes Chinese Regime

NEW YORK—In his debut statement to the United Nations General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee, the recently appointed Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, boldly demonstrated that he won't ignore China, at once a permanent member of the Security Council and a chronic abuser of religious freedom.

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An Inconvenient Truth: More Religious Freedom Means Less Religious Conflict

Many Americans would be happy to wake up tomorrow, and discover an Islamic center was not going to be built near Ground Zero and that they would not have to hear of another pastor planning to burn Qurans. The decisions would be popular, justified in part by a desire to preserve public order and to reduce potential violence.But if they were coerced they also would be dangerous.

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UZBEKISTAN: "Anti-terror" raid on Protestant worship, beatings, and fines

Five Baptists in Uzbekistan have failed to have fines for taking part in an unregistered worship service overturned on appeal, local Baptists have told Forum 18 News Service. The fines, as well as beatings given to two Baptists by police, followed an "anti-terror" raid - as police described it - on the congregation as they met for worship. During the raid by 20 police officers, officers swore at church members and seized hymnbooks, personal Bibles and even handwritten notebooks from church members "using physical force, even tearing books from the hands of children".

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Obama Admin Urged to Defend Iranian Pastor Facing Execution

A U.S. government body in charge of monitoring religious freedom in the world is urging the Obama administration to demand Iran that release a Christian pastor who is facing possible execution for apostasy. The Obama administration should press Iran to release Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been jailed for over one year, expressed the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in a statement Friday. The non-partisan commission noted that past experiences with Iran have shown that pressure from the international community can influence the fate of prisoners.

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Supreme Court Hearing Today Tests Prisoners' Ability to Sue

There is no question, in the Sossamon case, that, in passing the 2000 civil rights law to protect the religious rights of individuals kept in state institutions like prisons, Congress had the constitutional authority to pass such a law. It had found, after a three-year investigation, that indifference, ignorance, bigotry or simple lack of resources had led to sometimes serious restrictions on the religious practices of prisoners or patients in state institutions. Congress, in the RLUIPA law, linked the duty to protect religious freedom and practices to states’ receipt of federal funds. The Spending Clause was thus one source of its authority to pass that law..

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BJC Joins Brief Asking Supreme Court to Bolster Prisoner Protections

The Baptist Joint Committee, along with the Interfaith Alliance, Americans United, and other groups, has filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the case of Sossamon v Texas. The question there is whether plaintiffs bringing RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) claims may ask for monetary damages. The 5th Circuit said no, but in their brief supporting Texas inmate Harvey Sossamon (pdf), amici argue that to deny damages is to leave RLUIPA essentially toothless in protecting the religious freedom rights of prisoners.

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Religious Accommodation Makes Waves

Colleges strive to create welcoming, inclusive communities for students from every background. But a new effort at George Washington University has scores of critics and supporters abuzz with heated comments that continue to pour in on various blogs and news articles. At the request of the university’s Muslim Students’ Association, George Washington began offering a once-weekly, female-only swim hour in March. But it only recently turned into an online debate over issues of religious and sexual discrimination and -- though not always explicitly -- racism, spurred by an article in the student newspaper, The GW Hatchet.

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Pope calls for religious freedom in Muslim states

The pope issued the call in a document of nearly 200 pages called an "apostolic exhortation," in which he offered his reflections on a synod of bishops that met in the Vatican in 2008 on the theme the "Word of God." He said the Catholic Church respected all religions and a separate section of the document was dedicated to relations with Muslims.

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'God' in Pledge doesn't violate students' rights, 1st Circuit rules

BOSTON — The constitutionality of a New Hampshire law that requires schools to authorize a time each day for students to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance has been upheld by a federal appeals court that found the oath's reference to God doesn't violate students' rights. On Nov.12, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston affirmed a ruling by a federal judge who found students can use the phrase "under God" when reciting the pledge.

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Florida law protects posting small religious symbols

Before you tack, nail or tape holiday decorations outside your condominium or home, consider your governing documents, your right to religious freedom and the story of Laurie Richter Spector. Richter Spector, of Fort Lauderdale, fought back in court several years ago when her condo association demanded she remove a Jewish mezuzah from her door shortly after the holidays. While the case was eventually dismissed, now all Floridians share a state-supported right to post religiously mandated symbols — albeit small in size — anytime of year, regardless of association rules.

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Christian Legal Society considering options

The Christian Legal Society (CLS) is facing another setback in its religious liberty case against the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, which refused to recognize a chapter of the society because of its Christian beliefs. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has decided, for procedural reasons, not to allow the case to go down to the district court for a trial. This case, which has been before the U.S. Supreme Court, centers on whether non-discrimination policies could be used by universities to prohibit religious groups from choosing their officers according to their religious beliefs

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Do teachers have religious freedom?

A teacher discriminated against because she is not a Catholic won maximum damages at the Equality Tribunal recently. The case raises important issues about the continuing influence of the Catholic church in teacher training. IN A recent case before the Equality Tribunal, a Catholic school was found to have discriminated against a teacher on the grounds of religion. The school withdrew the offer of a permanent post after it discovered that the teacher was a member of the Church of Ireland. Michelle McKeever was asked about her religion after she failed to furnish a Catholic religious certificate to the board of management at a Co Cavan school.

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Who needs marriage? Kids do

In a culture that glorifies unwed parents like “Brangelina,” Jamie Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin, is it any wonder that Time magazine has declared the institution of marriage to be on the verge of extinction?

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Same-Sex Initiative Reaches Next Hurdle

SAN FRANCISCO — It has been more than two years since voters outlawed same-sex marriage with a ballot initiative in California, and it may be two more before the legality of that measure — Proposition 8 — is finally decided, most likely by the Supreme Court.

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Thousands Rally in Japan to Defend Religious Freedom and Protest Human Rights Violations

NEW YORK, Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 20,000 Japanese citizens are expected to rally on December 3 to "Protect Japanese Human rights and Religious Freedom." Beginning at 11 a.m. in Tokyo's Hibiya Park, more than 3,000 demonstrators will commence the protest that will see similar gatherings scheduled in all 47 prefectures throughout the country. After rallying, the Tokyo protestors will conduct a formal demonstration in Hibiya's Large Music Hall at noon. The protests will seek to draw attention to the ongoing human rights violations of Unification Church members who have been confined by "faith-breakers" in an attempt to force them leave the religion. Experts confirm that the government and police have done little to stop the practice – a violation of both Japanese law and international human rights standards.

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WikiLeaks' Vatican cables involve national security, intelligence and religious freedom issues

Washington D.C., Dec 2, 2010 / 03:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The ongoing WikiLeaks “Cablegate” project could result in the release of more than 800 U.S. diplomatic cables involving the Vatican. According to an exclusive analysis of preliminary data conducted by Catholic News Agency, many of the cables, which span a nine-year period from 2001-2010, concern human rights and religious freedom issues

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State Senate approves civil unions

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gay rights advocates celebrated Wednesday as the state Legislature voted to legalize civil unions. "I don't want to feel like I have to travel to another state or country just to get married. I wanna get married where I was born...in Illinois," said Chicagoan Duane Holder. The state Senate approved the legislation 32-24, sending it to Governor Pat Quinn who promised to sign it.

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Can a Minister Sue the Church?

Attorney Mark Chopko discussing an Oregon case that allowed a jury to award substantial damages to a minister who was terminated for misappropriation of church funds, and who sued the church for telling the congregation why he was fired.

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Can a Church Organist Sue the Church?

Attorney Charles Steinberg compares a German case where a church organist sued after being fired for adultery, with an American case headed to the Supreme Court, where an elementary school teacher at a Lutheran school was fired.

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Religious Freedom and Spiritual Revival

Liberty Magazine editor, Lincoln Steed, discusses the close connection between religious freedom and spiritual revival, whose winds are blowing in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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Government Seizure of Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Law Professor, Brett Scharffs discussing a decision of the European Court of Human Rights arising from state interference with a split in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church arising during the communist era, involving ownership and control of more than 100 church buildings.

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Religious Freedom for Muslims?

Liberty Magazine editor, Lincoln Steed, discusses the religious freedom implications for all Americans arising from the controversy over a Muslim community center in lower New York.

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Religious Freedom Goes to European Court of Human Rights

Law Professor Brett Scharffs discusses two conflicting decisions of the European Court arising from church discipline of employees for sexual misconduct – i.e., affairs, and their implications for the religious freedom of those churches

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San Francisco Resolution Against the Roman Catholic Church

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, discussing a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision in favor of San Francisco’s condemnation of the Catholic Church for opposing same-sex adoptions by Catholic Charities in S.F.

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Azerbaijani state committee supports increased fines for violating law on religious freedom

The Azerbaijani State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations supports amendments to increase the penalty for violating legislation on the freedom of religion. "We believe that these amendments will contribute to the further improvement of the religious situation in the country," the committee told Trend. Azerbaijan plans to increase fines for violating the legislation six times for individuals and up to 16 times for officials, Parliamentary Legal Policy and State-Building Committee Chairman Ali Huseynov said at a meeting yesterday.

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Mayor Daley Applauds Illinois General Assembly For Passing The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection And Civil Unions Act

Mayor Richard M. Daley today applauded the Illinois General Assembly for passing the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act. The Civil Unions bill offers the same benefits, obligations and responsibilities of marriage (under state law), while protecting the rights of religious institutions to define marriage as they choose. The major benefits include hospital visitation, healthcare decision making, disposition of a deceased loved one’s remains and probate rights.

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Montana Valedictorian Wins Religious Free Speech Case

Montana's Supreme Court has ruled 5-to-1 in favor of a high school valedictorian who claimed her free speech and religious rights were violated. In 2008, Butte High School officials required Renee Griffith and other outstanding students to turn in their speeches for review prior to graduation. . . . According to the U.S. Dept. of Education document, "Religious Expression in Public Schools," http://www.freedomforum.org/publications/first/findingcommonground/B10.USDeptGuidelines.pdf, teachers and school administrators are "prohibited from discouraging activity because of its religious content, and from soliciting or encouraging antireligious activity.

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Adventist religious liberty advocate recognized with First Freedom Award

A Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty advocate is among this year's recipients of the First Freedom Award for contributions in advancing freedom of belief in the United States and worldwide. John Graz, who directs the Adventist world church's department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL), will receive the National First Freedom Award at a January 13 gala sponsored by the Virginia-based First Freedom Center.

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Germany, Italy issue joint appeal for religious freedom

Berlin - Germany and Italy on Wednesday urged the European Union to step up efforts to safeguard religious freedom and protect religious minorities targeted by recent attacks in predominantly Muslim countries. 'Italy and Germany believe that freedom of faith and the rights of religious minorities are a fundamental part of the international human rights catalogue and of the universal system of values,' German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, said in a statement issued after a meeting in Berlin.

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Religious Freedom Project Will Address Democracy, Extremism

A project that explores religious liberty and its relationship to democracy and the struggle against extremism has been created at Georgetown, thanks to a $2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The grant went to the university’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where the three-year project will be led by Berkley Center senior fellow Thomas Farr. Farr served as the first director of the U.S. State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2003.

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Christian religious freedom under threat across EU: UN security organization

VIENNA, December 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The religious freedom of Christians in Europe is under threat from “equalities” and anti-discrimination laws around the EU, said The Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) at a conference earlier this month in Vienna.

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Religious legal group challenges ‘driveway tax’

Mission’s so called “driveway tax” is coming under legal assault from an Arizona legal group that advocates religious freedom. Two local local churches, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, have sued the city of Mission over a new fee intended to help pay for street improvements.

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Apple Rejects Christian App as Promoting ‘Hate and Homophobia’

To expand the Declaration’s reach, an Apple i-Phone and i-Pad application was created and submitted to the Apple apps store, and it was initially accepted with no problem. However, back in early December, Apple notified Chuck Colson that the application was being rejected. As Mr. Colson wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle,

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Judge rules against Christians in B&B case, but allows appeal

The Christian owners of a guesthouse who restrict double rooms to married couples have been ordered to pay £3,600 in damages to a homosexual couple, but leave to appeal has been granted.

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Who Fights for Religious Freedom? Obama's Ambassador Position Still Vacant

No one leads the U.S. Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) after two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. The IRF vacancy demonstrates the low priority currently placed on religious freedom even though there is nearly unanimous, bipartisan support for international religious freedom in Congress.

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DeMint Stymies Obama’s Religious Diplomacy Nominee

[L]ast month, the arc of Ms. Cook’s career drastically plunged. The woman who had thrived against basketball elbows, macho newsrooms and sexist churchmen ran into the strange ways of the United States Congress. Without public debate or a formal vote, her nomination to be the Obama administration’s special ambassador for international religious liberty quietly and cryptically died.

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Campaign regards students' religious rights

Two Christian organizations are teaming up to help provide information regarding religious freedom in schools for parents and students. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has joined with Gateways to Better Education (GTBE) ) in the "National Free to Speak Campaign" to encourage students about their rights to express their religion.

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Embattled Iraqi Christians Need Protection Now

"The U.S. government needs to strongly encourage and work with the Iraqi government to protect Christians and other religious minorities before they are all driven out of Iraq," said Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "History continues to demonstrate that where religious freedom flourishes, stable democracies, strong economies and healthy societies develop. Considering the immense financial commitment the United States has made in Iraq and the tragic loss of American and Iraqi lives, it is imperative that we hold both the United States and Iraqi governments accountable to ensure religious freedom for all people in Iraq."

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Long Island eruv battle rages on

A long-simmering controversy over whether Orthodox Jews can place a religious symbol on utility poles in a Hamptons community on eastern Long Island appears headed to court.

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Ashton: freedom of religion or belief top of EU’s agenda

“I am fully committed to keeping freedom of religion or belief at the top of the EU’s agenda,” said the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, commenting on the situation of Christians in the context of religious freedom at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Ashton expressed her concern about the recent violence against persons belonging to religious minorities, stressing that “the EU condemns all forms of intolerance and violence against persons because of their religion or belief, wherever it takes place”

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Muslim Countries Cited On Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON (RNS) The New Year's Day massacre at a Coptic church in Egypt. Christian converts facing the death penalty in Afghanistan. Swastikas painted on a Jewish synagogue in Venezuela. As the headlines deliver fresh stories of the persecution of the faithful, two recent reports by watchdog groups and a new book take a fresh look at the persistence of religious intolerance worldwide, with Muslim-majority nations facing particular criticism.

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'HORRIFIC ATROCITIES': Egypt, Iraq 'failed' to protect Christians, religious communities

WASHINGTON (BP)--The governments of Iraq and Egypt have failed to protect the freedoms of religious minorities, resulting in "horrific atrocities" against historic Christian communities, a religious freedom advocate testified Jan. 20. Nina Shea, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, appeared before Congress' Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission less than a week after an Egyptian court handed down a death sentence to a man convicted in a January 2010 attack in which six Christians and a Muslim guard were killed in the city of Nag Hamadi.

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So. Baptist Withdraws from Interfaith Coalition on Mosques

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, made the announcement Friday after fellow Southern Baptists had expressed concerns with his involvement in the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, established by the Anti-Defamation League. "While many Southern Baptists share my deep commitment to religious freedom and the right of Muslims to have places of worship, they also feel that a Southern Baptist denominational leader filing suit to allow individual mosques to be built is ‘a bridge too far,"

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Another California school steps on religious freedom

THe Palm Desert High School PTO in California ran a fundraiser in the form of selling inscribed brick paver's for a sidewalk. Now, two Christian women who had purchased brick paver's with religious content have been told that their paver's would not be included in the sidewalk. This, even though the fund raiser was approved by the school principal, the board, and Superintendent of the Palm Desert Unified School District. The paver's that the two women purchased would have been placed along side other paver's with similar inscribed content.

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Marriage on Appeal-Prop 8 Before the Ninth Circuit

Carol Hogan, Communications Director for the California Catholic Conference discussing the oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals regarding the ballot iniatiative approved by California voters preserving marriage under the state Constitution.

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Group sues to block prayer event at AF Academy

DENVER (AP) — Five faculty members at the Air Force Academy and a religious watchdog group are filing a civil rights suit against the academy, saying it is violating the constitutional separation of church and state by sponsoring a National Day of Prayer event and inviting a fundamentalist Christian to speak.

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The Quietly Crumbling Wall of Separation

In his recent RD piece, law professor Bruce Ledewitz does a good job telling the story of the trend toward diminished protections for the free exercise of religion over the past couple of decades of federal jurisprudence. But it’s not the whole story. He is correct in asserting that the courts have—due in large part to Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority in 1990’s Employment Division v. Smith decision—increasingly come to treat the free exercise of religion as just another right, due no more heightened level of protection from government encroachment than any other civil right.

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Marriage on Appeal: Part Two

Robert Tyler, Attorney, Director of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, discussing the oral arguments and issues in the appeal of a Federal judge’s decision striking down California’s Prop 8 marriage amendment, retaining marriage as a man and a woman in the state constitution.

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Pledge of Allegiance Ruled Constitutional

Jeremy Tedesco, staff attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, discussing a ruling from the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals throwing out a challenge to a New Hampshire law authorizing the recitation of the Pledge at the start of the day in public schools.

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Va. House passes constitutional amendment on school prayer

The House of Delegates passed an amendment to the state Constitution on Tuesday aimed at ensuring the right to pray on public property, including public schools.Opponents of the measure warned that it might violate the federal Constitution. The amendment, HJ593, sponsored by Del. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson County, adds a paragraph to the religious freedom section of the state Constitution saying that “the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, and traditions on public property, including public schools, shall not be infringed; however, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions, including public school divisions, shall not compose school prayers, nor require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity.”

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Gov. Quinn signs civil union bill into law

“Here we are in 2011 on the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s 202nd birthday and I think this is very special,” Quinn said as 20 politicians joined him on stage and hundreds of supporters packed a hall in the Chicago Cultural Center. “We believe in civil rights and we believe in civil unions.” With the move, Illinois joins five other states and the District of Columbia in establishing statewide laws to provide the equivalent of state-level spousal rights to same sex couples.

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Balancing Security With Religious Freedom: Sikh Men Denied Entry to National Assembly

On January 18th of this year, Quebec’s National Assembly refused entry to four Sikh men, ironically coming to appear at a conference on reasonable accommodations, when they refused to remove their Kirpans (A Kirpan is a religious object shaped as a knife). Keeping the Kirpan is to many devout Sikhs a religious obligation in the same way that wearing a yarmulke is for many Jewish people. To quote Dr. Sukhdev Kooner, president of the Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor, “We are supposed to wear this all the time, even when we are sleeping, taking showers, cutting the grass… ” While the Supreme Court has held that the position of religious authorities on the matter is not determinative (see Amselem, infra) . . .

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LAUSD allows Christian 5th-grade student in talent show same day ADF files for temporary restraining order

ADF attorneys move forward with lawsuit to make sure district doesn’t exclude, censor religious content in future school-related student activities. LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced Tuesday that they will no longer prohibit a 5th-grade student from performing to a Christian song at a Feb. 4 elementary school talent show. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys had filed a request for a temporary restraining order earlier in the day against the district, following their filing of a lawsuit against district officials on Friday. The principal of Superior Street Elementary School had told the student’s mother that the song “We Shine” was “offensive,” allegedly violated the so-called “separation of church and state,” and suggested that her child pick a song that “does not say ‘Jesus’ so many times.” The Christian song discussed themes similar to other accepted songs, some of which contained mature content. Case Name: B.H. v. Garcia

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GOP senators: We will not support gay marriage

« Garagiola: Increase gas tax by eight to 10 cents | Main | Kittleman will support gay marriage bill » February 1, 2011 GOP senators: We will not support gay marriage The Senate's GOP caucus leaders sent out a less-than-resounding resolution opposing gay marriage this afternoon. The caucus -- 11 of the 12 members attended this morning -- voted to oppose the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act, which allows same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses.

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Church taps Leslie as Adventist point person in Washington, D.C.

9 Feb 2011, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States Bettina Krause/PARL/ANN staff Veteran attorney and business leader Dwayne Leslie will serve as the Seventh-day Adventist Church's voice in Washington, D.C., following a vote taken yesterday by the world church's Executive Committee. As associate director for the world church's department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) and director of Legislative Affairs, Leslie will represent the world church and its concerns on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and among Washington's diplomatic community. Leslie replaces attorney James Standish, who served in the department for eight years. One of his first goals, Leslie said, is to "expand the relationships that James has established, and to build on the great job he's done in representing the church." During a career spanning both the corporate and legal worlds, Leslie has focused on legislative and healthcare issues and has represented a diverse range of clients, from biotechnology companies to media organizations. Leslie said he will draw inspiration in his new role from the activism of the early Adventist Church which, despite its small size, frequently spoke publically on issues of temperance, freedom of conscience and human rights. "Today, we still have so much to contribute to the public discourse -- on health, education, and issues of justice and conscience," Leslie said. "But how can we speak if we don't have a seat at the table?" "The story of Adventism will be told -- but the question is: Will we choose to tell it ourselves? Or will we allow others to define our church and its agenda for us?" he said. Leslie brings a broad range of experience and abilities to his new role, said John Graz, PARL director. "But more than this, he brings a strong desire to serve his church and advocate on its behalf," Graz said. After studying economics and political science at Andrews University, Leslie went on to earn a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He began his legal career at the international law firm of Jones Day before moving to Mintz Levin, where his practice focused on healthcare, pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients. Most recently, he served as CEO of Phase V Pharmaceuticals. When asked what prompted him to accept the position, Leslie said he believes the Adventist Church has a unique mission "to defend religious freedom, to be an advocate for justice, to be a voice for the voiceless." Delbert Baker, a general vice president of the world church and advisor to PARL, called Leslie's appointment a "decisive step" toward strengthening the church's presence and impact in the public sphere. "This is a key position," Baker said. "Mr. Leslie will have the opportunity to amplify the church's voice on issues that are central to our mission." For more information about the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the Adventist Church, visit www.adventistliberty.org and www.irla.org.

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Discrimination charges soar in down economy

Six Hawaii inmates in private prisons in Arizona are suing the state of Hawaii and the prison operator for allegedly violating their constitutional rights by denying them free exercise of their native Hawaiian religious practices. Inmates Richard Kapela Davis, Michael Hughes, Damien Kaahu, Robert A. Holbron, James Kane III and Ellington Keawe say the staffs at Saguaro and Red Rock correctional centers, both in Eloy, Ariz., have consistently denied written requests to practice their religion, to establish a sacred place in the prison yard and to have access to a spiritual adviser and sacred items.

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Appeal to Indonesia to protect religious freedom

On Tuesday, three churches in Temanggung, Central Java, were attacked by a mob of extremist Islamists after a court judge sentenced a Christian man, Antonius Bawengan, to five years in prison for blaspheming against Islam. The extremists were angry that the sentence was too lenient and went on the rampage, burning two churches and damaging a third, attacking the police outside the courthouse, vandalizing cars, and demanding the death penalty for blasphemy charges

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Organizations to Hold Prayer Vigil in Front of White House

Faith organizations plan to hold a prayer vigil in front of the White House in support of persecuted Christians and religious freedom for all in Iraq. The groups will be joined by staff from the Embassy of Iraq and Christians in Iraq via a conference call.

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Suit Claiming Health Care Mandates Violate Religious Freedom Tossed

WASHINGTON (February 23, 2011)--A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that claims a requirement of President Barack Obama's health care law that all Americans have health insurance violates the religious freedom of those who rely on God to protect them. Three of the plaintiffs were Christians who said they believed God would heal their afflictions, and that being forced to buy insurance would conflict with their faith.

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Church and State Separation: The Challenge and Debate

This link is a full-length lesson plan on the 1st Amendment and the establishment clause. It provides many links to Supreme Court cases involving religious freedom as well as other links to current issues in regards to the separation of church of state. The step by step approach can be implemented in your classroom today and generate much debate and class discussion.

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Church and State Separation: The Challenge and Debate

Grade level: 10-12 Subjects: U.S. Government, Civics Introduction The United States Constitution's First Amendment prohibits the government from favoring a specific religion or passing legislation to establish an official, national religion. This clause is known as the separation of church and state. Because of the clause's vague language, there is an interpretive element that has resulted in myriad legal battles. Some of the most recent center on issues such as abortion, school prayer, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, same-sex marriage, and the right to die. These challenge the Supreme Court to make sometimes controversial decisions as it deciphers the clause in order to protect individuals' freedom of religion rights. These issues are likely to arise during the 2004 presidential election, as well.

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Winds of Freedom in the Middle East, Part I

Attorney James Standish, emeritus director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, discussing the implications for religious freedom of the recent uprisings.

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Winds of Freedom in the Middle East, Part II

Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., Executive Director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, discussing the recent uprisings in the Middle East, and the implications for religious freedom.

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Winds of Freedom in the Middle East, Part III

Liberty Magazine editor, Lincoln Steed, discussing the problems of promoting democracy in a region prone to restricting religious freedom.

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Festival of Religious Freedom

Host Alan J. Reinach, Esq., describing the upcoming Festival of Religious Freedom, September 4, 2011, one week before the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

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Violation of religious freedom

KUCHING: The Kuching Pastors Federation (KPF) has described the impounding of the 30,000 Bibles on Jan 12 by the Home Ministry as an infringement of Sarawakians’ right to religious freedom.

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Federal religious freedom statute applies to county courthouse holding facilities

Detainees at a county courthouse holding facility are covered by a federal law prohibiting the government from imposing a substantial burden on the religious exercise of such individuals, the 9th Circuit has ruled. The case involved a Muslim woman who was ordered to remove her “hijab,” or headscarf, while she was detained. After she was so ordered while being held in an Orange County courthouse facility in Santa Ana, Calif., Souhair Khatib filed suit claiming her religious rights had been violated.

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Jailers erred in removal of Muslim's scarf

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court says Southern California jailers violated the religious freedom of a Muslim woman who was ordered to take off her headscarf in a courthouse holding cell. An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday filed by Souhair Khatib in 2007 against Orange County.

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Confining Manning and Falling Into the Outer Darkness

For a brief moment, December’s WikiLeaks scandal caused us to remember the forgotten Private Bradley Manning who was arrested in June 2010 and to this very day languishes in a perpetually lit white box, forbidden virtually all sentient stimulation or social contact. In February, Manning’s lawyer announced that his client’s condition was “deteriorating” and this past weekend a few small groups gathered to protest the conditions of his confinement. Although the foreign press has reported on Manning’s isolation, the U.S. press has by and large ignored the matter except to report on the firing of State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley who had dared to remark to a small academic audience that Manning’s confinement was “counter-productive and stupid.”

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Supreme Court Grants Review In "Ministerial Exception" Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari in a case involving the scope of the "ministerial exception" to federal anti-discrimination laws. The case is Hosanna- Tabor Church v. EEOC, (Docket No. 10-553, cert. granted 3/28/2011). (Order List.) In the case, the 6th Circuit held that parochial school teachers who teach primarily secular subjects are covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act and are not "ministerial employees" who are excepted from coverage.

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Lift High the Cross? Religion In Public Spaces

The European Court of Human Rights has just upheld Italy's policy of displaying crucifixes in its public school classrooms. In Lautsi v. Italy, an atheistic mother of two public school children challenged this policy, in place since 1924. After losing in the Italian courts, she appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the presence of these crucifixes in public schools violated her and her children's rights to religious freedom and to a secular education guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. On Nov. 3, 2009, an unanimous seven-judge chamber of the European Court held for Ms. Lautsi. On March 18, the Grand Chamber

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European Court OKs display of crucifixes in Italian classrooms

A March 18 decision by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has affirmed the right of Italy's public schools to display crucifixes in classrooms, overturning a 2009 ruling calling for their removal. Sole Lautsi, an Italian atheist, first brought the case in a local Italian court in 2005. Dora Bognandi Pellegrini, religious liberty director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy, said the ruling was an unfortunate "end to the story of an icon that for years caused much opposition."

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Prospects Dim for Religious Freedom in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal, March 29 (CDN) — A new constitution that Nepal’s parliament is scheduled to put into effect before May 28 may not include the right to propagate one’s faith. The draft constitution, aimed at completing the ....

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Court: Eagle feathers only for American Indians

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Restricting use of eagle parts and feathers to members of federally recognized American Indian tribes for religious purposes does not violate the religious freedoms of non-Indians seeking the same right, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The Denver-based U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that such a prohibition, under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, does not violate the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Tuesday's ruling comes after several cases in which non-Indians, and one man from a tribe that is no longer recognized by the federal government, sought the right to use feathers in their religious practices.

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New U.N. Resolution on Religious Freedom Drops 'Defamation' Concept

Last Thursday the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a new resolution on worldwide religious intolerance while taking a significant step away from the controversial, restrictive "Defamation of Religions" resolution. The new resolution refers to the Charter of the United Nations, reiterating the right to freedom of religion or belief. The resolution also reaffirms the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has, while expressing concern about incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on their religion or belief in all regions of the world. Additionally, the resolution strongly deplores all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centers or places of worship. It recognizes that open public debate of ideas can be the best protection against religious intolerance.

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Protests Raise Questions About Labor Unions

Host Alan J. Reinach, Esq. discussing the biblical issues involved in the labor movement, and its conflict with capital.

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Religious Harassment in the Military

Chris Rada, Research Director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, discussing the problem of religious harassment in the military, and the policy problems when missionaries follow the American military in Muslim lands.

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Tax Credits for Education at the Supreme Court

Constitutional Law Professor Douglas Laycock, of the University of Virginia, discussing the case of Garriott v. Winn, challenging an Arizona tax credit system to aid private and religious schools.

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Spotlight on Religious Liberty Award Winners

Liberty Magazine editor, Lincoln Steed, highlighting the accomplishments of two recent award winners, Dr. John Graz and Asmir Jahangir who were honored by the First Freedom Foundation.

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Foursquare Gospel Church Wins Important Land Use Case

Attorney Dan Dalton discussing an important appeals court victory in California, involving a city’s attempt to restrict the location where churches can locate.

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Rights group slams Vietnam on religious freedom

HANOI, Vietnam —A human rights group is urging Washington to put Vietnam back on a list of the world's worst abusers of religious freedoms for allegedly clamping down on minority Christian groups and forcing them to renounce their faith.

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Coalition Files Second Lawsuit Against California Prison System

The Sikh Coalition has filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on behalf of Sukhjinder Singh Basra, a Sikh detainee, who suffered repeated disciplinary sanctions for keeping his religiously-mandated beard uncut. The lawsuit was filed in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union

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An Improbable Alliance

he most recent meeting of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) witnessed not just another theological discus-sion, but the birth of an alliance that only two decades ago would have seemed improbable. Here were Catholic and evangelical theologians seeking common ground on religious liberty, an issue that has caused frequent strife between the two groups.

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Dangerous trends in religious freedom

PROVO — People across the world are suffering from persecution. "And why are they suffering?" John Graz said. "Are they dangerous for their country? Are they bad people? No, most of the time they are good people. But they are suffering, they are discriminated against, they are excluded only because of their religion."

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High court won't hear appeal from Ky. Baptist Homes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Supreme Court has refused to hear a long-running dispute over public funding of a faith-based organization in Kentucky. Lawyers for the former Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children had appealed to the high court after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 that the lawsuit could proceed. The suit was filed in 2000 by three taxpayers and Alicia Pedreira, a lesbian who claimed religious discrimination in her firing from the center.

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School wars over religion heating up (again)

Just when First Amendment principles seem to be working in public education, new fights over student religious speech threaten to reignite culture-war battles in schools across the country. It’s little known that many public schools made significant progress toward getting religion right over the past decade. Thanks to consensus guidelines supported by advocacy groups from left to right, I have found that constitutionally protected student religious expression is way up in schools — and unconstitutional school promotion of religion is way down.

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Senate confirms religious-freedom ambassador

WASHINGTON (ABP) – It took 10 months, but on April 14 the U.S. Senate approved President Obama’s nomination of a new ambassador at large for international religious freedom. Obama originally nominated Suzan Johnson Cook, an American Baptist pastor, Christian author and motivational speaker, last June. The Senate let the nomination expire, amid questions about her lack of experience with foreign policy. The president resubmitted the nomination Feb. 7, and the Congressional Record reported Senate approval on April 14.

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Inmates lose a remedy for religion-rights violations

WASHINGTON — Prison inmates may be left without an effective remedy for violations of their religious freedom as a result of a Supreme Court ruling yesterday, civil rights advocates say. The Court ruled in Sossamon v. Texas that states may not be sued for money damages under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a 2000 federal law aimed in part at protecting the First Amendment right of prisoners to practice their religion.

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Throw Out the Money Changers

James 5 and Revelation 18 powerfully proclaim the judgment of God on a greedy and materialistic civilization that oppresses the working classes. Here is a secular voice sounding a prophetic tone. While the Church State Council does not join in his call for civil disobedience, we hear an inspired commentary on the state of our civilization, and one that is consistent with the biblical indictment.

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Hosanna-Tabor case to test our church-state divide

The Supreme Court’s religious-freedom decisions are usually about symbols, speech and spending: war memorial crosses in the desert and Ten Commandments monuments near public buildings, scholarships that allow poor kids to attend parochial schools and funding for “faith-based” social services, Pledge of Allegiance, and so on.

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Supreme Court: States Not Subject to Monetary Damages When Violating Religious Freedom Law

The Supreme Court has released its decision in Sossamon v. Texas. By a 6-2 vote (Justice Kagan did not participate), the court ruled that the State of Texas is not liable for monetary damages after violating the religious freedom rights of inmates under RLUIPA. At issue was whether states waive their sovereign immunity under that law by accepting federal funds. Writing for the majority, Justice Thomas argued (pdf) that because the law only mentions "appropriate remedies", without being more specific, RLUIPA does not open states to monetary damage claims.

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US Commission Cites Egypt for Violating Religious Freedoms

For the first time, an independent U.S. commission is recommending Egypt be added to a list of the world’s worst violators of religious liberty. The recommendation was contained in the Commission on International Religious Freedom's annual report. The bipartisan commission says Egypt’s religious minorities, like Coptic Christians, have faced severe repression before and after the departure of former President Hosni Mubarak.

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Same-sex marriage and religious freedom are now joined at the hip

Charles Haynes, Courier Post Online—Winners and losers in the battle over gay marriage in New York can agree on at least one thing: Without robust protections for religious groups, the law legalizing same-sex marriages would not have passed.

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INTERNATIONAL DIGEST: Iran pastor to be executed?

Mark Kelly, Baptist Press—NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Christians in Iran have challenged news reports that the death penalty for pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has been annulled, saying that in reality the country's supreme court appears to have added a precondition requiring him to renounce his faith or face execution. "There has still been no written confirmation of the court's decision on Pastor Nadarkhani's appeal against a death sentence for apostasy, despite efforts to source this," according to a July 5 statement from Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organization.

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Sudan: The choice for freedom

By William Shaw and Nina Shea: Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom —On July 9, the world will witness the birth of a new nation and a triumph for religious freedom and related rights. The people of South Sudan chose independence in a January referendum mandated by a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA), of which the United States was the primary broker. Signed in 2005, the agreement ended Sudan’s 22-year north/south civil war.

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Efforts to Ban Circumcision Gain Traction in California

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — When a group of activists proposed banning circumcision in San Francisco last fall, many people simply brushed them aside. Even in that liberal seaside city, it seemed implausible that thousands of people would support an effort to outlaw an ancient ritual that Jews and Muslims believe fulfills a commandment issued by God. But last month, the group collected the more than 7,100 signatures needed to get a measure on the fall ballot that would make it illegal to snip the foreskin of a minor within city limits. Now a similar effort is under way in Santa Monica to get such a measure on the ballot for November 2012.

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Church State Council Decries Proposed San Francisco Circumcision Ban as Religious Oppression

The Church State Council condemns this effort as brazen religious oppression.

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Euro-Africa religious liberty director dies in swimming accident

Karel Nowak, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church's Euro-Africa Division, died while swimming in the ocean off the coast of Australia this morning. Nowak, 60, was snorkeling with colleagues off the coast of Cairn, Queensland. A rescue helicopter brought him to Cairns Base Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Corrado Cozzi, Communication director for the Euro-Africa Division, based in Berne, Switzerland.

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Catholic Church vs. Chicago Over Gay Adoptions

By Baptist Press on Aug 21, 2011 - SPRINGFIELD, IL -- In what could be another example of a same-sex law trumping religious freedom, an Illinois judge has ruled the state can end its adoption and foster care relationship with Catholic Charities, which refuses to place children with gay couples.

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Clergy Sues To Stop Alabama's Immigration Law

By Debbie Elliott – Alabama's new immigration law gets its first test in federal court Wednesday. The Justice Department and civil rights groups are suing to stop what's considered to be the toughest illegal immigration crackdown coming out of the states. But the law is also being challenged from a Bible Belt institution. 'It Goes Against Tenets Of Our Christian Faith'

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Adventist leaders say 'Religious freedom divide' is troubling, not surprising

24 Aug 2011, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States Bettina Krause/IRLA/ANN – The global religious freedom "forecast" looks grim for the 2.2 billion people around the world who suffer discrimination or persecution because of their faith, according to the results of a recent study by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life.

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09-24-11 Religious Freedom in the Military

Daniel Blomberg, staff counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, www.telladf.org, discussing the problems for religious freedom posed by new government policy that gays can serve openly in the military, and efforts to introduce legislation in Congress to remedy the problem.

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10-01-11 San Francisco Ballot Initiative to Ban Circumcision

Abby Porth, Associate Director, Jewish Community Relations Council – on the national/local attack on this ancient religious practice, and the court decision striking down the ballot initiative under California law. Also see: www.jcrc.org; www.stopcircban.com

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10-08-11 Tribute to Karel Nowak

Barry Bussey, emeritus director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, celebrating the life of a great Christian diplomat and champion of religious freedom. Barry’s blog about Elder Nowak is posted at: www.lawandconscience.wordpress.com.

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10-15-11 Countering Public Hostility to Religion

Joel Oster, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, www.telladf.org , on an ADF letter campaign to public facilities to urge their compliance with First Amendment requirements that they do not exclude religious content and viewpoints from public meeting facilities.

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10-22-11 New York Balances Same Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom?

Charles Haynes, senior scholar, First Amendment Center, on the significant religious freedom protections in the newly enacted NY State same sex marriage law.

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10-29-11 Italy Bans the Burqa

Barry Bussey, , emeritus director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, on Italy’s recent law essentially banning Muslim women from appearing in public, and ironically, in the name of protecting women’s rights and freedom of choice.

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Arizona church Phoenix Goddess Temple taking religious freedom too far?

A six month investigation resulted in the arrest of 20 women and men who worked there, police say. Is it a church, or a cathouse? Exactly how far should religious protections extend? These questions are being asked in the wake of the raid of the Phoenix Goddess Temple, which we reported on a few days ago. They tried to run the temple under guise of being a church, which makes this case especially unique.

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US sounds alarm on threats to religious freedom in post-revolt Arab nations

By Associated Press, Published: September 13 - WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is warning of growing religious intolerance and violence in Arab nations undergoing popular revolts. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that the overthrow of autocratic leaders in the Middle East and North Africa was inspiring but had also exposed religious and ethnic minorities to new dangers that threaten democratic transitions. She urged the people of the region not to “trade one form of repression for another.”

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Pakistan escapes list of states violating religious freedom

By Anwar Iqbal | From the Newspaper - WASHINGTON: The US State Department has not included Pakistan in a list of eight “countries of particular concern” whose governments have engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The omission, however, angered another federal government agency, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which demanded on Wednesday to put Pakistan on the list.

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Theology becomes a hot issue on the campaign trail

Rache Zoll - Associated Press Writer - Politicians are navigating a landscape in which rifts over faith and policy have become chasms. An outlook that appeals to one group enrages another. Campaigns are desperate to find language generic enough for a broad constituency that also conveys an unshakable faith.

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'Jesus loves nukes': US Air Force taught the Christian Just War Theory

To the men and women burdened with the ultimate responsibility of launching America’s nuclear missiles it was known as the “Jesus loves nukes” lesson. For 20 years the course on “Christian Just War Theory” was taught by chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to those who would turn the key should World War III break out. The training, which used passages from the Bible and religious imagery to demonstrate the moral justification for atomic warfare, has now been suspended.

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Big Day in Voting

Yesterday was an “off year” election, so there was not much going on of interest. However, thanks to my friend and colleague Kevin James, from the Southern Union Conference, for gathering the articles below, highlighting the most significant developments.

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Supreme Court Hears Critical Religion Case: Hosana Tabor

Attorney Luke Goodrich, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, discusses the oral arguments before the Supreme Court recently in a case involving the right of churches and church schools to determine who is qualified to transmit faith and values, free from judicial second-guessing.

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11-12-11 Faith and Presidential Politics

J. Brent Walker, Esq., Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, on the legal and practical boundaries of faith in the current political cycle.

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11-19-11 Christmas in Public Schools: the perennial battleground

Charles Haynes, Senior Scholar at the Freedom Forum of the First Amendment Center, on the right way to celebrate the reason for the season in public schools. Check out “Finding Common Ground” under publications: www.firstamendmentcenter.org.

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11-26-11 Free Speech Win for Intelligent Design

Attorney Bill Becker reports on a settlement against the California Science Center, that had cancelled a showing of

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12-3-11 Should Christians Vote?

Kevin James, Associate Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, on the biblical foundations of Christians exercising the rights and privileges of citizenship.

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12-10-11 Graduate Student Expelled for Her Faith

David Cortman, Sr. Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently heard arguments in a case involving the expulsion of a Michigan graduate student who was expelled from her counseling program because of her Christian beliefs.

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12-17-11 Congressional Staff Briefed on Institutional Religious Freedom

Stanley Carlson Thies, founder and director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, www.irfalliance.org, discussing his recent briefing of Congressional officials on important religious freedom issues.

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12-24-11 The Vatican’s Call for a Global Central Bank

Nicholass P. Miller, Executive Director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, discussing the implications for religious freedom of the Vatican’s latest foray into international finance.

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12-24-11 The Vatican’s Call for a Global Central Bank

Nicholass P. Miller, Executive Director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, discussing the implications for religious freedom of the Vatican’s latest foray into international finance.

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12-24-11 The Vatican’s Call for a Global Central Bank

Nicholass P. Miller, Executive Director of the Andrews University International Religious Freedom Institute, discussing the implications for religious freedom of the Vatican’s latest foray into international finance.

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12-31-11 Personhood Amendment Fails in Mississippi

Kevin James, Associate Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Atlanta regional office, discussing the recent Mississippi rejection of a ballot initiative that would have designated the unborn as a “person.”

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1-7-12 Egregious Case of Religious Discrimination Appealed to Supreme Court

Attorney Robert Tyler, director of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, www.faith-freedom.com, discussing the claims of Chad Farnan, who, as a high school student, was mocked and belittled for his Christian faith by his science teacher.

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1-14-12 Religious Objection to Labor Unions

Matt McReynolds, staff attorney of the Pacific Justice Institute, www.pji.org, discussing the increase in religious objectors to labor union membership.

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1-21-12 No First Amendment Rights for Catholic Charities of Illinois – Forced to Close Adoption/Foster Care Agency

Attorney James Sweeney, counsel to the California Conference of Catholic Bishops, discussing a court decision preferring sexual freedom over the religious freedom of a Catholic adoption agency to place children only in homes with a father and a mother.

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1-28-12 2011 Year in Review

J. Brent Walker, Esq., Executive Director, Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, www.bjconline.org, doing a year end wrap up of the most significant religious freedom developments of 2011. More topics can be found online.

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2-4-12 2011 Books in Review

Greg Hamilton, President, Northwest Religious Liberty Association, discussing his recommended reading list of the best books of 2011, including: John Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order; Robert Kaplan, Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power; and Niall Ferguson, Civilization, The West and the Rest:

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2-11-12 75th Anniversary of Baptist Joint Committee

Executive Director J. Brent Walker, Esq., joins us for a retrospective on 75 years of Baptist advocacy in our nation’s capitol in support of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. www.bjconline.org.

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2-18-12 2011 Land Use Review

Dan Dalton, Esq., discussing the trends in religious land use cases and conflicts impacting your right to have a church, and to use property for religious purposes.

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2-25-12 The Devil’s in the Details

Stanley Carlson-Thies, director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, discussing a little known provision in the Health Care law requiring employers to provide coverage that includes the “morning after” pills, regarded by some as causing abortions, and violating religious convictions. www.irfalliance.org.

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3-4-12 Hungary Law Restricts Churches

Joe Grieboski, President of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, www.religionandpolicy.org, discussing the recent law depriving all but 14 religions of their legal status in Hungary.

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3-11-12 Christianity is Discrimination!

Jeremy Tedesco, senior staff attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund discussing the decision of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Alpha Delta Chi v. Reed, holding that a public university can deny recognition to a student group that restricts membership to Christians, because the group engages in illegal discrimination. www.telladf.org.

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The US Is No Longer the Land of the Free

A column in the Washington post addresses how the continued rollbacks on civil liberties in the United States conflicts with the view of the country as the land of the free. If we are going to adopt Chinese legal principles, we should at least have the integrity to adopt one Chinese proverb: "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names."

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The President Should Speak Out Against Religious Persecution

On January 24, during his State of the Union Address, the president of the United States has a chance to expose the plight of religious minorities living in Muslim majority nations. Doing so would not only shed light on one of the most ignored humanitarian crises of the 21st century; it would help alleviate it.

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Registration for Government Relations Day 2012

Join us in Sacramento, California on April 16th. All who value religious freedom are welcome to participate.

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Mo Senate Debates Separation of Church and State

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) - A Senate proposal would allow state funding to go to religious institutions. The possibility is sparking debate over its impact on the separation of church and state.

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Arizona proposes school Bible course

PHOENIX — Arizona's public and charter high-school students soon could earn credit for learning about the influence of the Old Testament on art or how biblical references are found throughout literature.

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Torturer’s Apprentice

The new science of interrogation is not, in fact, so new at all: “extraordinary rendition” and “enhanced interrogation” and “waterboarding” all spring directly from the practices of the medieval Roman Catholic Church.

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Court says student’s faith may have led to expulsion

A counseling student who declined to advise a gay client might have been expelled from her university because of her faith, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday (Jan. 27).

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Same-Sex Marriage Bills Coming to State Legislatures

Same-sex marriage is back in the national spotlight this week as Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington are expected to vote on bills to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Movie house as chapel: NYC congregations, evicted from schools, seek new space for worship

NEW YORK — Scores of religious congregations are scrounging for cheap space in New York City as they prepare to be evicted, on constitutional grounds, from rooms they've been renting at public schools.

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An Adventist Response to the U.S. Health and Human Services Contraception Insurance Regulation

What principles should guide the Adventist Church's response to the current debate in the United States about government-mandated health insurance coverage for contraception? The General Conference Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, along with the Office of General Counsel, reviews some long-standing values that will help chart our course.

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Holder Spells Out Why Drones Target U.S. Citizens

By Carrie Johnson. It's one of the most serious actions the U.S. government could ever take: targeting one of its own citizens with lethal force. Since last year, U.S. drones have killed three Americans overseas. But Attorney General Eric Holder says the ongoing fight against al-Qaida means those kinds of deadly strikes are now a way of life.

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Drones Over U.S. Get OK By Congress

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s … a drone, and it’s watching you. That’s what privacy advocates fear from a bill Congress passed this week to make it easier for the government to fly unmanned spy planes in U.S. airspace.

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Stuck In Arbitration

Compulsory arbitration deprives thousands of consumers and employees of their rights. The Church State Council has been repeatedly forced into arbitration on behalf of those suffering religious discrimination, and we have found such compulsory arbitration to be a uniquely unfair and unsatisfying procedure. The Civil Rights Act provisions outlawing religious discrimination in employment implement cherished First Amendment religious freedom. The article below provides a valuable contribution to understanding the issue of compulsory arbitration.

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Religious leaders to participate in massive nationwide protests against Obama Administration’s contraception mandate

Bishops from opposite ends of the state are scheduled to participate March 23 in “religious freedom” rallies, part of similar events planned nationwide to protest the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate.

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USCIRF urges international standards for Religious Freedom

USCIRF has released a new document urging international standards for Religious Freedom Protections in national constitutions.

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Dr. John Graz, Secretary-General of the International Religious Liberty Association, www.irla.org, discussing the case of Pastor Youcef Nadharkani, who has been convicted of apostasy and sentenced with execution unless he recants his faith in Christ, and professes Islam.

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Eric Baxter, attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, www.becketfund.org, discussing the liberty of conscience problems in the health care law.

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Lincoln Steed, editor, Liberty magazine, www.libertymagazine.org, discussing the new provision for indefinite detention of American citizens

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Alan J. Reinach, Esq., host of Freedom’s Ring, analyzing the battle over contraception in terms of the polarization between left and right.

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Jim Campbell, attorney, Alliance Defense Fund, www.telladf.org, discussing a critically important case where a religious property was subjected to public accommodations laws, and fined for refusing to permit a same sex commitment service to be held in one of its pavilions used for religious services.

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Lincoln Steed, editor, Liberty magazine, www.libertymagazine.org,, on the dismal prospects for religious and civil liberties in Arab nations where secular autocrats are likely to be replaced by “democracies” dominated by Islamic religious parties.

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Gerry Chipeur, constitutional lawyer with Miller, Thomsen, in Calgary, B.C., discussing a recent win in the B.C.Supreme Court upholding criminal laws banning polygamy.

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Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 Clears First Policy Committee

SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D – Davis) was joined by dozens of representatives from the interfaith community as she presented AB 1964 the Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012.

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A Global Assault On Religious Liberty

A Global Assault On Religious Liberty + Comment now By Doug Bandow Dictators have been falling in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean freedom is inevitably expanding. Unfortunately, the Arab Spring has turned into something far different than hoped. Especially for religious minorities.

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Torturer’s Apprentice

Torturer’s Apprentice - Magazine - The Atlantic

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Church State Council Legislative Update!

Thanks in no small measure to your phone calls, emails and letters, a bill to strengthen laws requiring employers to provide religious accommodation for workers passed with strong bi partisan support in the Assembly Judiciary Committee today.

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May 6, 2012 California Workplace Religious Freedom Act

Rajneesh Singh, Director of Law and Policy, The Sikh Coalition, promoting California Assembly Bill 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, designed to remedy the most significant religious liberty issue in America: people of faith losing jobs, or failing to be hired, because of their faith. www.sikhcoalition.org; http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1607/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=118457

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May 13, 2012 Religion in Political Campaigns

Michael Lieberman, Washington Counsel for the Anti Defamation League, on the need for political candidates to avoid sowing religious discord in elections. An interfaith group prepared a document: Religion in Political Campaigns - An Interfaith Statement of Principles, which can be found at: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/RelChStSep_90/6246_90.htm

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May 20, 2012 Constitutional Standards for Religious Freedom?

Knox Thames, Director of Policy and Research at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, discussing an effort to promote international constitutional protections for religious freedom, as many countries are preparing to adopt new constitutions. The document can be found at: : http://yalejournal.org/2011/12/international-standards-for-constitutional-religious-freedom-protections/. Mr. Thames bio is at: http://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/professional-staff.html#Knox_Thames.

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May 27, 2012 Zombie Muhammed and the Judge

Lincoln Steed, editor, Liberty, a Magazine of Religious Freedom, on the story of the judge who dismissed a case of assault against a Muslim who beat up a Halloween parader dressed as a Zombie Muhammed in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. See the video clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP-X3hpCfR8&feature=related

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June 3, 2012 Defining Religious Organizations?

Ned Dolesji, Executive Director of the Catholic California Conference, discussing the narrow definition of religious organization in the national health care law, constituting an offensive government definition of what is a legitimate religious organization. http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/issues2/religious-liberty/368-hhs-mandate-an-unwarranted-government-definition-of-religion

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June 10, 2012 Global Systems Decline Threaten Religious Freedom

Scott Christiansen, author of a new book, Planet in Distress, on how the decline and collapse of global systems pose unique threats to religious freedom.

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June 17, 2012 Discrimination Against Campus Religious Clubs

Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University, discussing how campus requirements that religious clubs allow both members and officers who do not share the club’s religious beliefs are driving religious clubs off campus.

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7th World Congress - Special Edition

More than 800 people from around the world traveled to Punta Cana to attend the 7th World Congress.

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7th World Congress - 'basic to all human rights'

"We're here today, because we believe that freedom of religion is basic to all human rights."

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Special World Congress Edition

The reading of the Resolutions of the 7th World Congress this afternoon was greeted with a standing ovation from attendees.

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SPECIAL WORLD CONGRESS EDITION - APRIL 27, 2012

'The end of the 7th World congress is really a beginning,’ says IRLA president

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Religious freedom festival in Indonesia recognizes government, faith leaders

A recent festival of religious freedom cements the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Indonesia as a leading proponent of free expression of religion in the country.

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Iranian rapper expected his song calling on a Shiite saint to save Iran to stir up controversy

Mr. Najafi says he doesn't regret the song and refuses to apologize, arguing that invoking a saint's name is a freedom of expression and not a religious insult

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Federal judge: Terror law violates 1st Amendment

A judge on Wednesday struck down a portion of a law giving the government wide powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists, saying it left journalists, scholars and political activists facing the prospect of indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights.

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Workplace Religious Freedom Act Passed by the Sate Assembly

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D – Davis) presented AB 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012, on the floor of the State Assembly. AB 1964 clarifies the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to ensure that religion receives equal protection under law. AB 1964 passed out off the Assembly Floor with strong bipartisan support and now moves to the State Senate.

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June 24, 2012 Pastors in Prison in Iraq

Tina Ramirez, Director, International and Government Relations at the Becket Fund. www.becketfund.org. Pastor Abde Ali Hamza is languishing in prison in Kurdistan, part of Iraq, held by security forces and tortured to recant his faith. For more info on what you can do to help, contact tramirez@becketfund.org.

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July 1, 2012 Bill to Outlaw Sexual Orientation Change Therapy

Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., discussing California’s SB 1172 that restricts access to professional counseling by gay teens.

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July 8, 2012 Marriage on Trial in Hawaii

Attorney Jim Hochberg, representing the Hawaii Family Forum, in a Federal Court challenge to the state law restricting marriage to a man and a woman.

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July 15, 2012 Feeding Hungry Banned in American Cities

Andy Bales, CEO Union Rescue Mission, in Los Angeles, discussing a national problem of increased regulation preventing ministries to the hungry and homeless.

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July 22, 2012 Liberty Dinner

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty magazine, discussing the institution of an annual banquet on Capitol Hill promoting religious freedom, and the significant role of diplomacy, in particular, the growing role of Canada in promoting religious freedom.

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July 29, 2012 California Workplace Religious Freedom Act

Rajneesh Singh, Director of Law and Policy, The Sikh Coalition, promoting California Assembly Bill 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, designed to remedy the most significant religious liberty issue in America: people of faith losing jobs, or failing to be hired, because of their faith. www.sikhcoalition.org; http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1607/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=118457

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August 4, 2012 Recant or Die!

Dr. John Graz, Secretary-General of the International Religious Liberty Association, www.irla.org, discussing the case of Pastor Youcef Nadharkani, who has been convicted of apostasy and sentenced with execution unless he recants his faith in Christ, and professes Islam.

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August 11, 2012 Discrimination Against Campus Religious Clubs

Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University, discussing how campus requirements that religious clubs allow both members and officers who do not share the club’s religious beliefs are driving religious clubs off campus.

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Assemblymember Yamada’s Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 Passed by the State Assembly

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D – Davis) presented AB 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012, on the floor of the State Assembly. AB 1964 clarifies the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to ensure that religion receives equal protection under law. AB 1964 passed out off the Assembly Floor with strong bipartisan support and now moves to the State Senate.

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AB 1964 Postponed

Vote has been postponed until June 26, so there is still time to act!

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Hasidic Jew Fired From NYPD Over Beard Length

An Orthodox Jew who was weeks away from becoming a New York City police officer said he has been kicked out of the police academy for refusing to trim his beard.

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August 18, 2012 Zombie Muhammed and the Judge

Lincoln Steed, editor, Liberty, a Magazine of Religious Freedom, on the story of the judge who dismissed a case of assault against a Muslim who beat up a Halloween parader dressed as a Zombie Muhammed. See the video clip here:

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August 18, 2012 Zombie Muhammed and the Judge

Lincoln Steed, editor, Liberty, a Magazine of Religious Freedom, on the story of the judge who dismissed a case of assault against a Muslim who beat up a Halloween parader dressed as a Zombie Muhammed. See the video clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP-X3hpCfR8&feature=related

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August 25, 2012 Feeding Hungry Banned in American Cities

Andy Bales, CEO Union Rescue Mission, in Los Angeles, discussing a national problem of increased regulation preventing ministries to the hungry and homeless.

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September 1, 2012 Secularism: threat to religious freedom?

Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., discussing the recent World Congress of the International Religious Liberty Associaiton, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and his own presentation on the clash between secularism and religious freedom.

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September 8, 2012 Unconstitutional Universities?

Kevin Theriot, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, on the ADF initiative to combat unconstitutional policies on public university campuses, i.e., speech codes, restrictive free speech zones, and restrictions on student clubs. www.speakupmovement.org.

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Victory for California Independent Colleges and Universities (ICCU).

On Wednesday, June 27, the Legislature will vote on a revised spending plan with the following changes to the Cal Grant program for students enrolled at ICCU institutions:

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September 15, 2012 World Congress on Religious Liberty

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty magazine, discussing International Religious Liberty Association’s World Congress, held every five years, and the significant role it plays in promoting religious freedom around the world.

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September 22, 2012 Dr. Ben Carson Under Attack!

Timothy G. Standish, Ph.d, Research Scientist, Geoscience Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, discussing an intolerant attack on Dr. Ben Carson when he was giving a commencement address at Emory University.

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September 29, 2012 Pastors in Prison in Iraq

Tina Ramirez, Director, International and Government Relations at the Becket Fund. www.becketfund.org. Pastor Abde Ali Hamza is languishing in prison in Kurdistan, part of Iraq, held by security forces and tortured to recant his faith. For more info on what you can do to help, contact tramirez@becketfund.org

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October 6, 2012 California Human Trafficking Ballot Measure

Rosario Dowling, Regional Director, Northern California, California Against Slavery, discussing a California ballot initiative to toughen laws against Human trafficking, especially in the sex trade.

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October 13, 2012 Public funding of Religious Schools?

High School Principal Tim Erich, discussing his Ph.d thesis on public funding of religious schools.

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Yamada’s Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 Advances

SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D – Davis) was joined today by representatives from the interfaith and civil rights community as AB 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. AB 1964 strengthens the religious accommodation standard under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and ensures that employees need not make a choice between the observance of their faith and keeping their jobs.

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Jail 'em - Don't pay, go to Jail!

CHILDERSBURG, Ala. — Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked.

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Iranian ayatollah promises Russian Church to solicit pardon for convicted pastor

Iran will probably pardon Protestant pastor Jusef Nadarkhani, sentenced to death for his recantation of Islam and coming to Christianity

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Legislative Update

Constituent phone calls and emails have been heard. To date AB 1964 has successfully passed though four committees with very little opposition.

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Church State Council Condemns Religious Violence and Intolerance in Wisconsin

As Christians and Americans, we are shocked and outraged at the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin

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DON’T JUST MOURN ANTI-RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE! SHOW YOUR OUTRAGE

DON’T JUST MOURN ANTI-RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE! SHOW YOUR OUTRAGE BY URGING YOUR CALIFORNIA STATE SENATOR TO VOTE FOR AB 1964—THE WORKPLACE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT

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Sikh Temple Shooting Victims Described By Families And Friends

MILWAUKEE -- A religious leader willing to do anything for his beloved, tight-knit Sikh community.

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Principled Freedom: Religious Liberty Plays Musical Chairs

It is time to examine a position that provides a principled freedom, both religious and civil, the possibility of a public morality, and a common language with which to discuss and debate the issues.

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Ab 1964 Update

The bill was scheduled to be heard on Monday August 6th in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This did not happen. This means that our bill has minimal fiscal cost and it now moves directly to the Senate Floor within the next week or so. Then on to the Governor’s office for his signature

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Disney says Muslim woman had options in head scarf dispute

Disney officials say they presented "multiple options" to accommodate the religious beliefs of a Muslim woman who is now suing the entertainment giant and claims she unfairly lost her job at a Disneyland Resort café after refusing to remove her head scarf at work

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Alabaster Seventh-Day Adventists File Suit Over Door-To-Door Solicitations

Alabaster Seventhday Adventist BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) Seventh-day Adventists have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of two ordinances in an Alabama city that the church says bars it and other religious groups from door-to-door solicitations unless they first register and pay license fees.

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"Make a Stand! Lemonade: The Sweet Taste of Freedom."

One little girl in California has figured out the key to success when it comes to lemonade stands. She recently raised $30,000. Harr wants to help stop human trafficking and slavery.

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AB 1964 Update

AB 1964 passed the Senate and the Assembly and now will be going to the Governor to sign.

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Biometric identification and tracking

Currently state identification and social security cards are the norm for identification. However, biometric identification programs—such as the Next Generation Identification (NGI) initiative—would make it so that the body itself would become the identification.

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‘American Taliban’ seeks group prayer in Ind. prison

INDIANAPOLIS — An American-born Taliban fighter imprisoned in Indiana will try to convince a federal judge in a trial starting today that his religious freedom trumps security concerns.

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Yamada’s Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 On Governor’s Desk

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) announced that AB 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA) of 2012 is on the Governor’s desk. The final vote on the measure was on August 29 when the Assembly concurred in Senate Amendments with strong bipartisan support, 74-4.

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VICTORY - AB 1964 Signed by Governor Brown

“This bill is dedicated to all those who have suffered the indignities of ignorance and discrimination in the workplace because of the tenets of their faith,” stated Assemblymember Yamada. “No longer will it be legal to segregate a worker from public view because their appearance did not fit a corporate image.”

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Comments from Alan J. Reinach, Esq on signing of AB 1964

“AB 1964 will send a clear signal to companies that they have to provide religious accommodation to their workers,” concludes Alan J. Reinach, Esq. “Hopefully, fewer Californians will lose their jobs, and Seventh-day Adventists will be more secure in their right to keep holy the Sabbath day.”

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Bill protects religious garb, grooming in the workplace

Under AB 1964 signed by Gov. Brown, California employers face new restrictions against shunting Sikh and Muslim workers out of public view for wearing turbans, beards and hijabs.

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Celebrating AB1964, California’s new religious freedom law

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill providing workers in his state the nation’s strongest protections against religious discrimination. Spearheaded by Sikhs, AB1964—the Workplace Religious Freedom Act—guarantees equal employment opportunity to millions of Californians, regardless of their religion.

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AB 1772 died in the California State Assembly - September 9, 2012

AB 1772 would have encroached upon parental rights by making kindergarten mandatory before taking the first grade, forcing the addition of one more year to a child’s education.

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Southern Baptist Teacher Cheryll Harvey Killed in Irbid, Jordan

IRBID, Jordan (BP) -- A warm breeze whips sand around cars creeping down the main street of Irbid, Jordan. A man gestures to catch the attention of a carload of Americans, then lays his hand over his heart. He knows there is only one place they can be going. It seems the whole city is mourning the death of Southern Baptist representative Cheryll Harvey.

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October 20, 2012 Remembering Wisconsin Temple Massacre

Attorney Rajdeep Singh, Director of Public Policy, the Sikh Coalition, reflecting on how we can respond constructively to the massacre in building bridges with one another, and combat intolerance.

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October 27, 2012 Gov. Brown Signs California Workplace Religious Freedom Act

Attorney Rajdeep Singh, Director of Public Policy, the Sikh Coalition, celebrating with host, Alan Reinach, their mutual victory in passing the Workplace Religious Freedom Act into law, and discussing the major provisions of the bill.

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November 4, 2012 Bellwether Case to be Heard by New Mexico Supreme Court

Attorney Jim Campbell, Alliance Defending Freedom, reviewing the decision to hear an appeal from the wedding photographer who was fined for refusing to provide artistic photography services for a same sex commitment ceremony.

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November 11, 2012 The Bible Belt Strangling Religious Freedom?

Attorney Charles Kester discussing a case out of Alabaster, Alabama, where the city clings to flagrantly unconstitutional city codes regulating free speech activities, and preventing door-to-door witnessing activities.

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November 18, 2012 Must Reading!

Nicholas Miller, director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, discussing two new books: Religious Roots of the First Amendment, he authored, and published by Oxford University Press, and Homosexuality, Marriage and the Church, which he edited, published by Andrews University Press.

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November 25, 2012 Religious Freedom and Healthcare

Attorney Kim Daniels, coordinator of Catholic Voices, USA, discussing the ongoing constitutional issues and clash of rights in the various court cases over the mandates in the health care bill.

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Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion

This is the third in a series of reports by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life analyzing the extent to which governments and societies around the world impinge on religious beliefs and practices.

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Measure U Unfairly targets Pacific Union College

Measure U Unfairly targets Pacific Union College (PUC), a treasured institution of higher education that is closely affiliated with St. Helena Hospital and has called Angwin and Napa County home since 1909.

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Freedom Classroom 2012- 2013 - Essay Topics

The Details: • Essays must be submitted postmarked no later than November 30, 2012 • Essay length should be between 1250 and 2000 words • Applicants to Freedom’s Classroom must also submit a letter of recommendation from a Pastor or Teacher • Scholarships will be awarded by January 7th, and must be accepted by February 15th • Cost: the expected cost of the trip to Washington, D.C. is $1,200. Students are encouraged to raise additional funds from churches, and professionals • For more information: contact Natalie Eva: 916-446-2552

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AB 2203

AB 2203 would have been detrimental to the right of parents to protect their children by coercively lowering the compulsory education age from 6 to 5 years of age, in effect making kindergarten mandatory. This bill is similar to, but different from AB 1772

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Fla. school erred in barring Easter fliers, judge says

Tampa Bay Times: U.S. magistrate judge rules that denying a fourth-grader permission to hand out invitations to an Easter-egg hunt violated his First Amendment rights.

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Fla. ballot initiative stirs school-voucher debate

Backers say proposed constitutional amendment has nothing to do with using tax dollars to pay for students to attend private schools, but opponents say it’s a veiled effort to get vouchers approved.

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Preaching Politics from the Pulpit

During every election cycle, some churches and other religious groups wonder what role, if any, they can play in the political process. This guide explains the IRS limits on political activity by tax-exempt organizations, including religious ones.

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Adventist Pastor Jailed in Togo on “Dubious” Charges

Seventh-day Adventist lawyers and human rights advocates are calling for the immediate release of an Adventist pastor imprisoned in Togo on what they say are spurious charges.

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Ex-church pianist covered by ministerial exception

The former music director of a Catholic Church in Austin, Texas, had his employment discrimination suit rejected by a federal appeals court, because the court determined he qualified as a “minister” within the meaning of the “ministerial exception” legal concept

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Ky. high court upholds Amish men’s convictions under old law

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Supreme Court yesterday upheld a state law that required a conservative Amish group to post orange safety symbols on horse-drawn buggies, but the General Assembly has since changed the law to accommodate religious objections to the bright triangle.

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Indiana town set to sell land with large cross

On Nov. 5, the Dugger Town Council will sell the small piece of land that has been the center of controversy since July. The highest bidder will not only receive real estate that welcomes Indiana 54 travelers into the town’s west side, they will also get a near three-story cross that proclaims “Jesus Saves.”

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Soldiers were discriminated, discharged for religious reasons

The soldiers were reportedly discriminated against and discharged because of their religious beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists

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Same-Sex Marriage Wins on the Ballot for the First Time in American History

In this year's general election, four states' ballots offered voters an opportunity to weigh in on marriage rights for same-sex couples

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December 1, 2012 Religion Thriving in Public Schools!

Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/, with an encouraging assessment of the status of religion in the public schools.

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December 8, 2012 Pastor Arrested in Blood Libel

Attorney Todd McFarland, Associate General Counsel for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, talking about the plight of Pastor Antonio Monteiro, imprisoned in Togo, awaiting trial for a scandalous accusation of having women murdered, and using their blood in religious rituals.

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December 15, 2012 Missouri Prayer Amendment

Holly Holleman, general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, www.bjconline.org. , on a constitutional prayer amendment adopted by 80% of voters.

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Attorney John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, www.rutherford.org, who represents Pastor Michael Salmon, a man arrested and jailed for the crime of hosting a weekly Bible study in his home in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Casey Mattox, senior counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org, on corporate challenges to the mandates of the Affordable Care Act.

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Jordan Sekulow, the Director of Policy and International Operations for the American Center for Law and Justice, www.aclj.org, discussing the international effort to secure the release of a Christian pastor convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to be hanged, but recently released in Iran.

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Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics In Wahington (CREW) Asks IRS To Probe Catholic Bishops

A public watchdog group is charging the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops with openly politicking on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and it wants the Internal Revenue Service to explore revoking the hierarchy's tax-exempt status.

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Calif. district allows Sikh students to carry religious daggers

JURUPA VALLEY, Calif. — A Southern California school district is allowing some Sikh students to carry an article of their faith — a dagger-like blade called a kirpan.

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Mich. company wins round in dispute over contraception mandate

DETROIT — A Detroit-area company challenging the federal health-care law’s mandated contraception coverage won an early round in its lawsuit against the Obama administration.

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Catholic Church and Obama Care

Cardinal Dolan, the nation's top bishop, made clear that the Roman Catholic church will not comply with the Obama administration requirement regarding contraception coverage and will continue to fight it.

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AB 1964

Religious Dress and Grooming (AB 1964). AB 1964 amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and states that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant based on religious dress and grooming practices that are expressions of religious belief or observance.

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Prominent Atheists Lash Out at DNC’s Reinstatement of ‘God’

Prominent Atheists Lash Out at DNC’s Reinstatement of ‘God’: ‘Precisely What Our Founders Aimed to Avoid’

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U.N. report: The most troubling violation of human rights

Restrictions on religious conversion have “become a human rights problem of great concern,” according to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

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Mount Rubidoux: Riverside (and California) history in the crosshairs

For Sale? A piece of Riverside and California history: Serra cross (replacement of 1907 original), Father Junipero Serra plaque (right) dedicated by President Taft, plaque commemorating Easter sunrise service (center), the oldest in U.S. Not shown: Plaque commemorating 1907 dedication of the Serra Cross. City fears lawsuit. Everything must go!

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Day of Prayer

On December 1, join the Seventh-day Adventist world church in a day of prayer and fasting for two Adventists imprisoned in Togo. Pastor Antonio Monteiro and church member Bruno Amah have been falsely detained for eight months. Even though there is no evidence of guilt, the men have been held without hope of bail or a trial. This December 1, Adventists around the world are gathering for a day of prayer and fasting for the safety of the men and their families and a speedy release from prison. To listen to Freedom's Ring interview with Attorney Todd McFarland, Associate General Counsel for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, go to http://www.churchstate.org/index.php?id=49. The interview is scheduled to air on December 8, 2012.

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Politicking From the Pulpit and the Tax Man

Consider it a refreshing postelection case of strange bedfellows. For four years, a Christian group called the Alliance Defending Freedom has tried to get courts to review a law that prohibits churches from electioneering.

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NEW PBS DOCUMENTARY “FIRST FREEDOM”

“FIRST FREEDOM: The Fight for Religious Liberty” is a 90-minute documentary that examines how the most basic of human freedoms — freedom of conscience — was codified for the first time in human history by America’s Founding Fathers as an inalienable human right protected by law, instigating a landmark and lasting shift in human history.

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ACLUs Bill of Rights dinner

Monday night, my wife and I attended the ACLUs Bill of Rights dinner. Now before some of you conservatives make a rush to judgment, let me explain.

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‘Gay-conversion therapy’: Is it speech or conduct?

Two opposing federal rulings on new California law prohibiting sexual-orientation change therapy for minors illustrate important distinction in First Amendment cases.

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2 Minn. preachers win access to holiday tour of lights

Federal judge issues emergency order allowing men inside event at Bayfront Park; Duluth officials had sought to restrict them to First Amendment zone.

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Capital High School morning observance policy gets changed

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Capital High School is changing its policy so students will no longer be required to stand for the playing of the national anthem, pledge or anything else played over the loudspeaker during morning observances.

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Miami-Dade Commission reinstitutes prayer before meetings

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said a lawsuit was ‘inevitable’ after commissioners voted to replace the current moment of silence with a prayer.

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Federal jury sides with Ariz. jail in dispute over beard

PHOENIX — A federal jury has ruled the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office didn’t discriminate against a Muslim man who claims he lost his job as a jail detention officer over a dispute about his beard.

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CBS special looks at religious freedom, diversity, threats

This show looks at new challenges facing our country when it comes to religious minorities and their rights as citizens to practice their faith with dignity and without fear

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Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate

WASHINGTON (BP) -- A federal appeals court has delivered an important victory to religious nonprofit organizations that oppose the Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate

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Murdoch Tried to Buy US Presidency

The Church State Council is the Public Affairs & Religious Liberty ministry arm of the Adventist Church in the southwest. Most of the articles we post specifically address religious freedom issues. Occasionally, a significant issue arises in the public affairs arena that has no direct connection with religious freedom, but deserves a wider audience. The article below fits the bill. Many American Christians rely on Fox News for their insight into public affairs, and should be encouraged to understand the values and goals that drive this company.

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Assemblymember Mariko Yamada speaks with student organization at Pacific Union College

Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, sponsor of AB 1964, spoke about her public service and answered students’ questions at an event sponsored by the College Democrats student organization at Pacific Union College on Friday, September 12, 2012.

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Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Returned to Prison on Christmas Day

Church of Iran pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was returned to prison on Christmas Day to complete the remainder of his three-year sentence—that is, 45 days of it.

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James Madison - Property

Article by James Madison on Property from which the quote comes: Conscience is the most sacred of all property

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Chicago cardinal leads new fight against gay marriage

(RNS) Chicago Cardinal Francis George has launched a last-ditch campaign to convince the lame-duck Illinois legislature not to legalize same-sex marriage, saying that government “has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.”

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Ariz. divorce case hits snag after marriage's validity questioned because husband gave birth

An Arizona couple seeking a divorce hit an unusual snag that could prevent the marriage from legally being dissolved.

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January 12, 2013 Hate Speech in Canada

Attorney Gerry Chipeur, discussing a recent victory on behalf of Pastor Boissoin who was charged with hate speech for publishing a letter in the local paper critical of the policy of public school instruction about homosexuality, and urging Christians to oppose the policy.

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January 19, 2013 Arab Spring or Nightmare?

Liberty Magazine editor Lincoln Steed presents a very sobering perspective on the wholesale expulsion of the Christian community from the middle east in conjunction with the falsely so-called “Arab Spring.”

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January 26, 2013 Liberty Magazine Update

Liberty Magazine editor Lincoln Steed on the influence and importance of Liberty Magazine in a world where religious conflicts have taken on geopolitical significance

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EEOC Settles Seventh Day Adventist Religious Discrimination Suit

A Birmingham, Alabama-based manufacturing company has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly refusing to hire a Seventh Day Adventist, the agency said.

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Adventist attorney to be awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Barry Bussey, a Canadian Adventist attorney, who will be awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal for his involvement in the religious liberty work in Canada and internationally. The award ceremony will be on January 30 at the House of Commons, Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Barry has served as the Adventist Church's liaison to the US government on Capitol Hill and is now the Vice President for Legal Affairs for the Canadian Counsel of Christian Charities.

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Entreating the legislature on school prayer

Of all the conservative social issues that threaten to divert the General Assembly's attention, the most unfathomable is the suggestion to mandate the Lord's Prayer in schools.

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Schools, ACLU remain in talks on prayer issue

The Lincoln County School District remains in talks with the American Civil Liberties Union about charges of persistent, unconstitutional prayers offered by school staff at West Lincoln Attendance Center.

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UK continues systematic oppression of Christians

The European Court of Human Rights has today given its judgment in the cases of four Britons who alleged they suffered discrimination as a result of their Christian faith.

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Breaking Light Bulbs

" Marianna Maukovich recounts the time when her father demanded her to break all the light bulbs in the house so she and her mother couldn't read their Bibles, or any devotional material.

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113th Congress Most Religiously Diverse Ever -- and Why It Matters

share this story 73 11 2 Submit this story The U.S. Senate's current focus on potential filibuster reform spotlights an important question: Where do the rights of minority groups begin and end?

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British Airways Christian employee Nadia Eweida wins case

A British Airways employee suffered discrimination at work over her Christian beliefs, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.

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Vatican Works To Stop Sunday Shopping In Italy

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Roman Catholic Church, trade unions and small business associations have joined forces in a bid to save Sundays.

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Study: Catholic, Protestant Support for In-School Prayer Falls

Catholic and mainstream Protestant support for prayer in schools has sharply declined since the 1970s, while Evangelical support for the practice has remained steady according to a new study released Thursday.

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At Stanford, Clinical Training for Defense of Religious Liberty

Read this New York Times news article that quotes Alan J Reinach.

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Christian school in Thousand Oaks files religious liberty lawsuit

A Christian school in Thousand Oaks and two former teachers are fighting over the school's demand that its employees provide proof of faith.

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February 2, 2013 California's Senate Bill 1172

Attorney Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty School of Law, discussing the extraordinary restrictions on the freedom of licensed counselors to help those struggling with same sex attractions imposed by California law, and court cases challenging the constitutionality of the bill.

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February 9, 2013 - Compulsory Worship in America?

Brady Henderson, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, discussing a challenge filed against a sentence imposed on a 17 year old found guilty of DUI manslaughter that included ten years of compulsory church attendance as part of his probation.

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February 16, 2013 - Christian Anti-Semitism in America?

Pastor Jeff Zaremsky, pastor of two Messianic Adventist congregations in Florida, discussing the very troubling issue of Christian anti-semitism. www.shalomadventure.com

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"Issues in Religious Liberty" series

"Issues in Religious Liberty", a series presented by Alan Reinach. This series was recorded at the 2012 Redwood Camp Meeting and is now available in multiple media formats.

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Congress Starts Examining Changes to Charitable Tax Break

U.S. lawmakers are considering changes to the tax deductibility of charitable contributions, scrutinizing a benefit that is expected to allow 38.7 million households to claim a deduction for 2012.

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Chairman David Camp Announces Hearing on Tax Reform and Charitable

ContributionsCongressman Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Committee will hold a hearing to examine the itemized deduction for charitable contributions as part of the Committee’s work on comprehensive tax reform. The hearing will take place on Thursday, February 14, 2013, in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 9:30 A.M.

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Virginia legislature passes bill protecting religious freedom of student organizations

By votes of 80-19 and 21-18, the Virginia house and senate have passed legislation that “permits, to the extent allowed by law, religious or political student organizations at public institutions of higher education to determine that only persons committed to the organization's mission may conduct certain activities.”

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Waco's Assault on Religious Toleration

Twenty years ago, on Feb. 28, 1993, a firefight near Waco, Texas, began a weeks-long confrontation between members of the Branch Davidian sect and agents of the federal government. The conflict culminated at the sect's compound known as Mount Carmel on April 19, with the deaths, as a fire spread through the buildings, of 80 sect members, including 20 children.

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February 23, 2013 Pastor In Prison in Togo

Dr. John Graz, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, discussing efforts to release Pastor Monteiro from prison in Togo, Africa, where he has been wrongly accused of conspiracy in a murder/blood trafficking case. Write to Pastor Monteiro, or on his behalf, check out link at: http://news.adventist.org/en/archive/category/category/religious-liberty.

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March 2, 2013 Placerville Church Wins Right to Minister to Homeless

Attorney Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute, www.pji.org, discussing a recent victory in a northern California town where a church was denied permission by the local planning commission to conduct homeless ministry.

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March 9, 2013 Hurricane Sandy Aid to Churches?

Attorney Richard Foltin, national and legislative director of the American Jewish Committee, www.ajc.org, discussing the contentious issue of whether FEMA grants and loans should flow to religious bodies damaged in the storm.

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March 16, 2013 Key Victory for Religious Liberty in Julea Ward Case

Attorney Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org, reporting on the outcome of a case brought by a Christian counseling student who was expelled from her graduate school for inquiring whether she should refer a client seeking counsel about a same-sex relationship.

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March 23, 2013 Religious Liberty in America

Attorney Nicholas P. Miller, Director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, and professor of church history at Andrews University discussing challenges to religious liberty following the re-election of President Barack Obama, and the historical Protestant approach to religious freedom.

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March 30, 2013 The Papal Election and Religious Freedom

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty, a Magazine of Religious Freedom, www.libertymagazine.org, discussing the prospects for a new pope and the role of the church with respect to religious freedom.

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April 6, 2013 California Targets Religious Institutions – SB 131

Ned Dolesji, Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference, discussing California’s efforts to reopen the statute of limitations – not against perpetrators of child abuse – but against private institutions only, not public ones.

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April 13, 2013 Right to Work Laws a Boon to Religious Freedom

Professor Bruce Cameron, Senior Counsel with the National Right to Work Foundation Legal Defense Fund, discussing recent “right to work” laws in Michigan and Indiana, and a modified law in Wisconsin, and how these laws protect the religious conscience of believers who object to labor union membership.

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Pakistani mobs use blasphemy as excuse to persecute, say Christians

In Pakistan, the mere accusation of blasphemy is enough to spur angry mobs to violence, and human rights advocates say the victims are usually Christians.

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Anger over violence against Pakistani Christians

Government authorities in Pakistan stand accused of failing to protect a vulnerable community who fled their Christian quarter and watched helplessly as their homes were robbed and set ablaze.

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Bullying Christians over ‘blasphemy’ in Pakistan

Pakistan again hit the world media headlines this week when “unknown” rioters set ablaze over 150 houses and shops of Christians living in a shanty settlement in the downtown Lahore, capital of country’s biggest province, Punjab

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Christians decry mob violence in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan — Hundreds of Christians clashed with police across Pakistan on Sunday, a day after a Muslim mob burned dozens of homes owned by members of the minority religious group in retaliation for alleged insults against Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

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Residents of a Christian community in eastern Pakistan, among them Seventh-day Adventists, are reeling after a mob torched their homes and businesses in response to alleged insults against Muhammad.

Church property and the homes of Adventist members, however, sustained “tremendous damage,” church leaders said. The rented home of local Adventist Pastor Afzal Bhatti and his family was destroyed along with the homes and belongings of at least 40 Adventists.

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April 20, 2013 California implementation of Affordable Care Act Acknowledges Spiritual Methods of Care

Eric Nelson, Media and Legislative Spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California, www.christianscience.com, and Eric writes a regular blog at: www.norcalcs.org on how California has addressed the needs of his faith community in application of the Affordable Care Act mandates.

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April 27, 2013 Religious Worldview of American Revolutionaries

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty, a Magazine of Religious Freedom, www.libertymagazine.org, Discussing a new book, American Insurgents, American Patriots, by scholar T.H. Breen.

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May 4, 2013 Czech Republic in Historic Settlement with Churches

Mark Kellner, News Editor, Adventist Review, Adventist World Magazine, www.adventistreview.org, discussing the Czech Republic’s payment of reparations amounting to some 37 billion dollars over 30 years to 17 churches, including 45 million dollars to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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Stanford Law Students Help Seventh-day Adventist

The story below is about Rick Pink and Elliott Coker who are represented by Church State Council executive director, Alan J. Reinach, who referred them to the Stanford U. Law School Clinic. Mr. Coker is incorrectly identified in the article as a Seventh-day Adventist. He is a Sabbatarian but not an Adventist. Reinach continues to represent the two clients and helps supervise the students at the Clinic who are working on the case.

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The Easter Message of Religious Freedom

As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Easter, they reflect on God's purposes amid suffering and death. They look forward to the hope of the resurrection. Yet there is another aspect to the Easter story that should be as important to the skeptic as it is to the believer: its message of religious toleration. Whether read as history or allegory, the resurrection stories in the gospels offer an approach to faith that challenges the militant religions of our own day.

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Catholic Gonzaga University won’t allow Catholic students to form Catholic group

Roman Catholic, Jesuit-affiliated Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington has refused to recognize the Knights of Columbus as an official student group because — wait for it — the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic organization.

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Governor signs Kan. religious freedom measure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation Wednesday that supporters believe will shield Kansas residents from government infringement on religious liberties.

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Defense Department classifies Catholics, evangelicals as extremists

The Defense Department came under fire Thursday for a U.S. Army Reserve presentation that classified Catholics and Evangelical Protestants as “extremist” religious groups alongside al Qaeda and the Ku Klux Klan.

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Liberty Dinner

The Seventh-day Adventist Church sponsors the only event in our nation’s capitol devoted to religious freedom. Special guest speakers in past years have included Senators John McCain, John Kerry, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. This year’s Liberty Dinner, was hosted at the Canadian Embassy. Some pictures of the event are linked. Kudos to the team organizing this important public affirmation of religious freedom.

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May 11, 2013 State Religious Freedom Bills

Tim Schultz, state legislative director of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., discussing recent momentum in enacting State RFRA bills in Kansas, Kentucky, and a bill with strong support in Nevada. For more info: www.religiousliberty.org.

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May 18, 2013 Marriage in the Supreme Court

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty Magazine, discussing the Supreme Court’s hearing of cases involving marriage. www.libertymagazine.org

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May 25, 2013 Seeking Refuge

Tina Ramirez, Director of International Relations, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, www.becketfund.org. discusses her article in the March/April issue of Liberty magazine on the plight of Christian refugees denied asylum status because of the bizarre implementation of the USA Patriot Act. http://www.libertymagazine.org/index.php?id=1901

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June 1, 2013 Implementing Workplace Religious Freedom

Phyllis Cheng, Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, discusses the intensive activity in adopting new regulations, training, and education following the passage of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. www.dfeh.ca.gov

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June 8, 2013 Expulsion of Christians from Middle East

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty Magazine, reflecting on what he views as the final expulsion of Christians from some middle eastern nations. www.libertymagazine.org

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June 15, 2013 Relief for Student Religious Clubs

Kim Colby, senior staff counsel, Center for Law and Religious Freedom of the Christian Legal Society, on recent state legislation to require public universities to permit religious clubs to retain statements of faith and other religious requirements for officers.

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Elevated by the common good

The Rev. Jim Wallis is a man of the left — perhaps the defining figure of the evangelical left. So it is not surprising that I should find some of the policy views expressed in his new book, “On God’s Side,” badly mistaken. But this does not prevent Wallis from being resoundingly right in his central premise: that American politics would be elevated by a renewed commitment to the common good.

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Constitution of Fiji

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is grateful to the government of the Republic of Fiji for the opportunity to participate in helping to draft the Constitution of Fiji. It has been an honor to participate in these fundamental and historical discussions leading up to a constitution for a nation. It symbolizes the government’s recognition of the significance and worth of its major stakeholders, such as churches and religious organizations, in nation-building of these islands. Special recognition goes to James Standish, drafter, with input from Nick Miller and Alan J. Reinach. In the coming days the Fiji ambassador will be visiting the General Conference offices.

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Ethics and Public Policy Center

On Thursday, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington, D.C. based “think tank” will be hosting a National Religious Freedom Conference, to be broadcast on C-Span. Church State Council executive director, Alan J. Reinach, Esq., will be a panelist for a discussion of religious freedom in the state legislatures.

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Religious Freedom: A Civil-Rights Issue

Our friend (and frequent Corner contributor) Peter Kirsanow serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which recently turned its focus to religious freedom in the United States. Peter talks to National Review Online about what the commission learned, in advance of a report.

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Ball State University Professor Awaiting Decision for Teaching Creationism

An Indiana physics professor who has been accused of pushing a religious agenda in his coursework is awaiting a decision from Ball State University officials.

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Why Calvinists and Arminians (and Those in Between) Can Unite for Religious Liberty

Next week my denomination will receive the report from a special committee tasked with seeking unity between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention. The report concludes what I’ve long suspected: we have much more uniting us across these questions than dividing us, and most of us are ready to love one another and work together.

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Along with political speech, many companies also claim they have religious liberty rights

Corporations, like individuals, have the right to engage in political speech, the U.S. Supreme Court said three years ago. The “corporate identity” of a speaker did not justify a reduced level of free speech protection, wrote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

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Legislative Alert - June 21, 2013

The fight continues. SB 131 was heard on Tuesday morning, June 18, 2013 in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. With a 6-1 vote the bill was passed to the floor of the Assembly. This bill is harmful to Adventist Church schools. The bill is being vigorously opposed by the California Association of Private School Organizations (CAPSO). Seventh-day Adventist schools are affiliated with CAPSO.

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The new battle over religion in schools

CHURCHES have called for "non-faith" secular schools to be set up in Scotland in the face of growing demands to change the way pupils participate in religious activities such as prayers and services.

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Islamic Law's Foothold in German Legal System

An appeals court in northwestern Germany has decided a contentious divorce case based on Islamic Sharia law.

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Responding to lawsuit, Florida to offer kosher food in all prisons

The kosher food service is slated to begin in July at a large institution in northern Florida, and will expand to 60 corrections facilities throughout the state by the end of 2013, James Upchurch, assistant Department of Corrections secretary for institutions, told a hearing in federal court on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

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"Comparing Religious Liberty: A Roundtable Discussion."

On April 3, 2013, Stanford's Constitutional Law Center hosted "Comparing Religious Liberty: A Roundtable Discussion." The discussion, which focused on religious liberty in France, Turkey and the U.S., was moderated by Jim Sonne, director of Stanford's Religious Liberty Clinic with Stanford Law School Professors Michael McConnell & Jack Rakove, Assistant Professor Kabir Tambar from Stanford's Department of Anthropology and Denis Lacorne from SciencesPo Paris serving as featured speakers. Watch it on Youtube by clicking here.

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Religious Freedom: A Civil-Rights Issue

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently held hearings on and took comments about religious freedom in the U.S. What made it a commission priority? How is religious freedom a civil-rights issue today?

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Examining the government’s record on implementing the International Religious Freedom Act

Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project, presented testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security

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Iran’s War Against its Religious Minorities

Iran’s human rights violations are most evident in its discrimination and intolerance against religious minorities. Recent demonstrations and the self-immolation of two followers of the Yarsan faith, also known as Ahl –e- Haq, against Iran’s severe penal codes and abusive practices raised the alarm about the sufferings of this religious minority.

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June 22, 2013 Fazaga v. FBI

Reem Salahi, attorney with the prominent Pasadena, California civil rights firm, Hadsell, Stormer, Richardson and Renick, LLP, discussing a lawsuit against the FBI and agents for their illegal wiretaps, and infiltration of mosques and the Islamic community in Southern California.

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June 29, 2013 Big Sky Colony v. Montana Dept. of Labor

Attorney Sandra Hagood, discussing a petition filed with the Supreme Court on behalf of the Hutterites, who, for the first time in nearly a century, are being subjected to the state’s workers compensation system, even though they have religious beliefs against accepting public assistance, and will not use the system

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July 7, 2013 Prayer goes back to the Supreme Court

Joel Oster, Senior Litigation Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, discussing the case of Galliway v. Greece, which the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear, involving a challenge to prayer before a city council meeting in the city of Greece, New York.

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July 14, 2013 Annual Report on Religious Freedom from USCIRF

Elizabeth Cassidy, Deputy Director for Policy and Research, at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, http://www.uscirf.gov , discussing the major religious freedom problems, globally, rise in violence from terrorist groups, i.e., “non state actors,” increasing enforcement of blasphemy laws; prosecution of conscientious objectors, legal restrictions on religions in post Soviet central Asian nations, etc.

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July 21, 2013 Religious Freedom Coming to a State Near You!

Tim Schultz, State Legislative Policy Director, American Religious Freedom Program, www.Religiousfreedom.org. discussing a new initiative to recruit state legislators into religious freedom caucuses, to build state coalitions to support religious freedom, and to promote religious freedom at the state level.

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July 28, 2013 Swedish Homeschooling Family

Roger Kiska serves as senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom and is based in Vienna, Austria, where he specializes in international litigation with a focus on European law Domenic Johansson has been separated from his parents for more than three years, because his parents wanted to educate him at home. The case is now before the European Court of Human Rights, as the Swedish courts have refused to restore Domenic to his family.

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August 4, 2013 Hate Speech in Canada?

Attorney Gerry Chipeur, discussing a recent victory on behalf of Pastor Boissoin who was charged with hate speech for publishing a letter in the local paper critical of the policy of public school instruction about homosexuality, and urging Christians to oppose the policy.

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August 11, 2013 Pastor In Prison in Togo

Dr. John Graz, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, discussing efforts to release Pastor Monteiro from prison in Togo, Africa, where he has been wrongly accused of conspiracy in a murder/blood trafficking case. Write to Pastor Monteiro, or on his behalf, check out link at: http://news.adventist.org/en/archive/category/category/religious-liberty.

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August 18, 2013 Religious Liberty in America

Attorney Nicholas P. Miller, Director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, and professor of church history at Andrews University discussing challenges to religious liberty following the re-election of President Barack Obama, and the historical Protestant approach to religious freedom.

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August 25, 2013 Expulsion of Christians from Middle East

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty Magazine, reflecting on what he views as the final expulsion of Christians from some middle eastern nations. www.libertymagazine.org.

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Playing Politics With Religion

“Civilized society is perpetually threatened with disintegration,” wrote Sigmund Freud in “Civilization and Its Discontents.” So it is with the sectarian violence that tears at the Middle East today. The strife that pits Sunnis against Shiites is a product of sustained internal and external pressures that have manipulated and made toxic what has long been one of the hallmarks of Levantine societies, their religious diversity.

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Day of Prayer, July 27, 2013

Saturday, July 27, Worldwide day of prayer for Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Antonio Monteiro's wrongful imprisonment

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September 1, 2013 - Fazaga v. FBI

Reem Salahi, attorney with the prominent Pasadena, California civil rights firm, Hadsell, Stormer, Richardson and Renick, LLP, discussing a lawsuit against the FBI and agents for their illegal wiretaps, and infiltration of mosques and the Islamic community in Southern California.

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September 8, 2013 - Religious Liberty Caravan in Romania

Greg Hamilton, President, Northwest Religious Freedom Association, on the web at www.nrla.com , discussing his visit to Romania, meeting with government leaders, academics, and warning about the dangers of blasphemy laws, etc.

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September 15, 2013 - Tyndale House and Obamacare

Matt Bowman, Senior Legal Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom , www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org, A Bible publisher wins a round in court with respect to its free exercise of religion, and the right to be exempt from regulations requiring it to provide insurance coverage for certain types of contraception considered by some to be abortive agents.

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Legislative Alert - August 15, 2013

SB 131 fell three votes short in an Assembly committee Wednesday amid fierce lobbying. To date SB 131 has failed in the Appropriations committed but was granted reconsideration next week.

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Legislative Update August 21, 2013

This week, SB 131 passed out of the Appropriations Committee and will be going to the Assembly Floor next week.

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SB 323

A California bill that could strip tax-exempt status from Little League, the Boy Scouts of America and other “discriminatory” nonprofit youth-serving groups could come up for a final vote this week. Some of you that attended our lobby day will remember it as we lobbied on this bill back in April. Click here to read the Washington Times article that our Executive Director, Alan J. Reinach, Esq. was interviewed for.

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Keynote speaker for a panel on diversity for the San Diego Bar

Alan J. Reinach, Esq. the Executive Director of Church State Council will be the keynote speaker for a panel on diversity for the San Diego Bar on September 12th. Here is an excerpt of his speech that has been submitted for publication by the County Bar.

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Denying Sabbath Off May Hammer Dollar General

Dollar General may be liable for firing a manager who refused to work on the Sabbath because he is a Seventh-Day Adventist, a federal judge ruled.

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Evangelicals' New Chief Says Days Of Moral Majority Over

Russell Moore is considered the public face of Evangelical Christians, as the new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Moore speaks with host Michel Martin about what it will take to bridge the racial gap in the Church and deal with some hot-button topics like immigration and abortion.

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Canada Concerned by Reports of Forced Conversions of Syrian Christians

September 9, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:

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September 22, 2013 Egypt Explodes Again

Liberty Magazine editor, Lincoln Steed, discussing the persecution of Christians in Egypt, and how the political volatility there continues to impact religious freedom.

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September 29, 2013 Same Sex Marriage in the Supreme Court

Same Sex Marriage in the Supreme Court Attorney Dean Broyles, Founder and President of the National Center for Law and Policy, discussing the religious liberty implications of the Supreme Court rulings on California’s Proposition 8, and the Defense of Marriage Act [“DOMA”].

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October 6, 2013 Welcome to a new NARLA Director!

Attorney Orlan Johnson, is our incoming Executive Director of NARLA, discussing his perspectives on the importance of preserving religious freedom for all.

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October 13, 2013 The State of the First Amendment – A Survey

Gene Policinski, CEO of the Newseum, a museum of the First Amendment in Washington, D.C., discussing the First Amendment Center’s recent survey on American attitudes toward the First Amendment. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/

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October 20, 2013 Banning Speech on Campus: Intelligent Design outlawed

Attorney Casey Luskin, Discovery Institute, discussing two cases of intolerance toward scientific discussion of Intelligent Design, at Ball State U. and in Amarillo, Texas. http://www.discovery.org/

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October 27, 2013 Pastor Arrested for Bible Reading

Robert Tyler, President of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, discussing his successful defense of a pastor and elder who were arrested for reading the Bible publicly outside an office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. http://www.faith-freedom.com/contact/

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Adventist Church files lawsuit against U.S. city for ‘blatant’ religious liberty violation

The Seventh-day Adventist Church last week filed a lawsuit against the city of Las Cruces in the U.S. state of New Mexico over an ordinance church lawyers say violates religious expression and unfairly targets pastor-led faith groups, especially Latino churches.

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Conscience Freedoms Denied by Liberal Courts

Two recent court cases illustrate the incoherence and remarkable intolerance of “liberal” views regarding conscience.

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Christianity in danger of becoming extinct in its birthplace

Last month, World Watch Monitor released a report, Beyond Count, highlighting the alarming frequency with which Christians are fleeing the Middle East. Now a British historian has added his voice to those concerns.

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The Separation of Church and Hate

In light of Exodus International's decision to halt its operations and apologize for its actions, here's a look at the current state of bigotry and the Church.

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Give Us This Day, Our Daily Senate Scolding

“Save us from the madness,” the chaplain, a Seventh-day Adventist, former Navy rear admiral and collector of brightly colored bow ties named Barry C. Black, said one day late last week as he warmed up into what became an epic ministerial scolding.

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Jerry Brown Vetoes Calif. Statute of Limitations Bill

Brown bluntly criticized the state Legislature for sending him the bill, which would have opened a new one-year window in which people who believed they had suffered sexual abuse years ago but had not sought relief during the legally established statute of limitations could again sue the employing private institutions — predominantly Catholic schools in California.

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Governor Brown Vetoes SB 131

Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 131, a bill that we have worked very hard to defeat.

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Governor Brown Vetoes SB 131

Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 131, a bill that we have worked very hard to defeat

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Protecting the Speech We Hate

Should one-on-one advice and counseling be protected as free speech? It sounds like a no-brainer. Of course it should be. But a recent decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit says otherwise.

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NM valedictorian won't attend graduation

The Cuba Independent School District recently moved graduation to Saturdays - which is a problem for her religion. "That will be my Sabbath Day. I believe it's important to put God first, but still, I would really, really want to walk with my classmates," said Cuba High School senior Liberty Thompson, who is a devout Seventh Day Adventist.

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Are workplace flexibility laws the wave of the future?

Flexibility in scheduling and other alternative work arrangements are crucial tools that enable working families to reconcile work and family responsibilities. Many industrialized countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, have enacted laws that guarantee employees the right to ask for flexible work schedules, without fear of retaliation. These laws also require that employers seriously consider a request for flexible working arrangements, and provide a business justification for any request that is denied.

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Pope Francis Takes Aim At Ideologically Obsessed Christians, Says They Have Illness

Clearly, Pope Francis isn’t fond of the extreme ideals of the Christian Right. Now, he’s calling right-wing, fundamentalist Christianity an “illness.”

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November 3, 2013 - Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court’s Marriage decisions

Attorney Alan J. Reinach, host of Freedom’s Ring, discussing the holdings in the two marriage cases decided by the Supreme Court, and their potential impact on religious freedom.

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November 10, 2013 - Blasphemy in Pakistan

Liberty Magazine editor, Lincoln Steed, discussing the recent application of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, including the story of a Seventh-day Adventist imprisoned on an accusation of blasphemy.

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November 17, 2013 - Religion in the Public Schools: Yoga?

Attorney Dean Broyles, Founder and President of the National Center for Law and Policy, on a pending case challenging the teaching of Ashtanga Yoga in public schools as inherently religious.

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November 17, 2013- Religion in the Public Schools: Yoga?

Attorney Dean Broyles, Founder and President of the National Center for Law and Policy, on a pending case challenging the teaching of Ashtanga Yoga in public schools as inherently religious.

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November 24, 2013 - When Speech is Conduct

Attorney Kevin Snyder, Pacific Justice Institute, www.pji.org, discussing a legal challenge to a California law restricting what licensed counselors can discuss with minors about their sexual orientation.

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November 24, 2013 - When Speech is Conduct

Attorney Kevin Snyder, Pacific Justice Institute, www.pji.org, discussing a legal challenge to a California law restricting what licensed counselors can discuss with minors about their sexual orientation.

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December 1, 2013 - No Remedy for Discrimination?

Employee rights attorney, David DeRubertis, member of the Executive Committee of the California Employment Lawyers Association, discussing a recent California decision, Harris v. City of Santa Monica, holding that in some circumstances, workers who lose their jobs on account of discrimination will not be entitled to any damages.

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December 8, 2013 - Human Rights Comes Home, Part One

Attorney Nicholas P. Miller, Director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, discussing the case of Pastor Monteiro, imprisoned in Togo, and the importance of habeas corpus, and its application to the situation at Guantanamo Bay.

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Law professor Douglas Laycock says culture-war issues pitting religion against sex are turning many Americans against religious liberty.

Religious liberty is becoming a casualty of America’s culture wars, a leading expert on the separation of church and state told an audience Nov. 7 at the Newseum in Washington.

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Effort to fight 'bathroom bill' in CA has signatures for ballot initiative

Proponents seeking to overturn California's transgender bathroom bill announced they've submitted over 620,000 signatures to election officials. The Privacy For All Students coalition wants to qualify a referendum allowing California voters to decide on the transgender bathroom bill. - See more at: http://onenewsnow.com//culture/2013/11/12/effort-to-fight-bathroom-bill-in-ca-has-signatures-for-ballot-initiative#.UoPIeTDQtAc

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DOJ Settles Sabbath Accommodation Suit Against Birmingham Police Department

The Civil Rights Division announced on September 25 that it had reached a settlement with the Birmingham, Alabama Police Department in a suit alleging a failure to accommodate the Sabbath of a Messianic Jewish employee.

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Editorial: Court should end Quebec's trampling of religious freedoms

Lost amid all the clamour about Quebec's xenophobic Charter of Values is a case set to be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada next March about another aspect of religious freedom in that province.

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Court of Appeals: Federal Government Burdened Sikh Religious Liberty

Washington, D.C. – Today the federal court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in a unanimous decision that the Department of Homeland Security had put a “substantial burden” on the religious exercise of a Sikh IRS accountant by prohibiting her from working at the Houston federal building due to her faith.

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Judge: Workplace lecture was religious harassment

DES MOINES, Iowa -- An Iowa grocery store owner who lectured an employee on her religious beliefs must pay her unemployment benefits, a state judge has ruled.

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Why a Lesbian Lawmaker Voted Against Hawaii's Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Hawaii overtook Illinois yesterday as the latest American state to legalize same-sex marriage (raising the total to nearly 1 in 3 states). But more unexpectedly, given that Hawaii was one of the first states where the issue surfaced, a Hawaii state representative has caused waves for becoming the first openly gay lawmaker to vote against a state's same-sex marriage bill.

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Religious liberty bill will protect rights of all Mainers

PORTLAND, Maine — Gay rights advocates gathered in Portland on Wednesday to point out that there is “nothing falling from the sky” in the year since Mainers legalized same-sex marriage, and to rally opposition to a proposed state law they say could undermine years of anti-discrimination work....

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December 15, 2013 - Human Rights Comes Home, Part Two

Attorney Nicholas P. Miller, Director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, discussing the case of Pastor Monteiro, imprisoned in Togo, and the importance of habeas corpus, and its application to the situation at Guantanamo Bay.

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December 22, 2013 - Religious Land Use

New Hampshire Attorney, Michael Tierney, discussing the importance of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, and the explosion of conflicts over religious land use since 2008.

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December 29, 2013 - The Bishops and the Religious Right

Journalist Frederick Clarkson discussing the growing alliance between the Catholic Bishops and the Protestant Right.

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In Defense Of Special Tax Treatment For Clergy

Ministers are allowed to exclude the portion of their compensation designated as a housing allowance from their taxable income. Quite a few people question the constitutionality of this provision and it looks like it may be finally put to the test.

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Millett, Who Helped Author Important RFRA Brief, Confirmed For D.C. Circuit

As reported by the Washington Post, the U.S. Senate today, by a vote of 56-38, confirmed Patricia Millett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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Compulsory arbitration violates liberty of conscience

Compulsory arbitration violates liberty of conscience, liberty of contract, and deprives workers of their civil rights. Those who suffer religious discrimination can lose their right to a day in court, instead, having a day before a “neutral” arbitrator paid by the company that fired them, and likely to be hired again and paid again, if they rule in the company’s favor.

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What has happened to Religious Liberty in America?

For a succinct summary of what has happened to religious liberty in America, the article below nails it:

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Pastor Monteiro released from prison

Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Antonio Monteiro was released from prison this afternoon in Lomé, Togo

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Holding steadfast to religious freedom: Guest commentary

Our nation has strong debates over how and when either a religious or a secular position should prevail. I offer my own thoughts for a truly libertarian understanding of religious freedom.

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In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday

Whatever your politics, I believe the article accurately documents Dr. King’s perspective, and this perspective is one that we should be aware of when we take advantage of the day for rest, family, etc.

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January 5, 2014 When Speech is Conduct, part two

Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, www.cato.org, discussing the libertarian defense of free speech in the California case involving the statutory restriction on professional counseling of teens regarding their sexual orientation.

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January 12, 2014 - Pakistan

Attorney Dwayne Leslie, Legislative Affairs Director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, discussing the religious freedom situation in Pakistan, and the importance of Americans contacting their elected officials to urge their influence for human rights and religious freedom.

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January 19, 2014 2013 – Religious Liberty in Review

Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., director of the Andrews University Religious Liberty Institute, reviews the top stories and trends of the past year in religious liberty. What a year!

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January 26, 2014 2013 – Freedom People

Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., director of the Andrews University Religious Liberty Institute, discussing three individuals who shaped the news this past year, whose lives have greatly impacted our freedoms.

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NARLA Chapters

Are you interested in starting a NARLA (North American Religious Liberty Associaiton) chapter at your church. Watch this video and see how easy it is.

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Religious objections to Obamacare

IT HAS not been a relaxing 2014 for Donald Verrilli, the solicitor-general. On Tuesday, nine hours before she pressed the crystal button initiating the ball-drop in Times Square, Sonia Sotomayor gave Mr Verrilli a holiday-week assignment: by Friday the government had to respond to a Catholic charity's objections to the Obamacare provision requiring employers to cover birth control in their health plans. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a home for the elderly in Colorado, claimed that its religious liberty was unduly burdened by the mandate, and Justice Sotomayor granted a temporary injunction on the provision.

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A Nation at Waste: The long-term unemployed and job discrimination

This issue profoundly impacts Seventh-day Adventists who observe the Sabbath, since so many companies screen out applicants who are unavailable to work on any given day. Hence, those with regular religious commitments tend to be unemployed longer, and have greater difficulty obtaining employment.

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February 2, 2014 - Liberty Magazine in Review

Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty magazine, discussing the wide ranging topics in the January/February issue of the magazine.

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February 9, 2014 - Ocean Grove: the town that FEMA forgot

Jonathan V. Last, senior writer, the Weekly Standard, tells the story of a community rejected for FEMA aid because of its historic ties to a Methodist campmeeting association.

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February 16, 2014 - To Pray or not to pray? At Town Councils, that is

Professor Alan Brownstein, U.C. Davis School of Law, discussing the Supreme Court case involving prayer before town council meetings in Greece, New York.

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February 23, 2014 - Loyola High School in Canadian Supreme Court

Attorney Gerry Chipeur discusses Quebec’s requirement that religious schools teach a required course on ethics and religion from a religiously neutral perspective, i.e., Catholic schools cannot teach from a Catholic perspective.

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March 2, 2014 - Culture of Death-Euthanasia Comes to Quebec

Attorney Gerry Chipeur discusses a pending case in Quebec seeking to overturn the ban on physician assisted killing of patients.

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March 9, 2014 Hardwired - Engaging youth to effect change

Tina Ramirez – Founder and President, of Hardwired, Inc., on the web at www.hardwiredglobal.org., discussing a new organization she established to engage young people in addressing religious persecution, and to support training leaders among the youth of other nations.

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March 16, 2014 Hardwired in Sudan

Tina Ramirez – Founder and President, of Hardwired, Inc., on the web at www.hardwiredglobal.org., a new organization to engage young people in addressing religious persecution, discussing her work in Sudan to train leaders to break down barriers between Muslims and Christians, and build social commitment to religious freedom for all.

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Challenges To North Carolina School Vouchers Clear First Hurdle

Yesterday, a North Carolina state trial court refused to dismiss on the pleadings two related lawsuits challenging the state's Opportunity Scholarship Program.

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Marriage

This legal brief makes very good reading explaining the state’s interest in preserving marriage as a man and a woman.

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31 states have heightened religious freedom protections

The recent flurry of state bills giving religious exemptions from certain laws -- including the Arizona law that Gov. Jan Brewer (R) just vetoed -- raises a question: How many states already provide heightened protection for the exercise of religion?

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Top Law Professors: Arizona Religious Freedom Bill Has Been 'Egregiously Misrepresented'

A bipartisan group of law professors, including both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, has sent Arizona governor Jan Brewer a letter explaining the religious freedom bill now sitting on her desk has been "egregiously misrepresented" by its critics.

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Religious Liberty After Arizona

Government, properly understood, is an agent of force. It can cause people to not do things they would otherwise do, and can compel them to do things they otherwise would not do. It does this in small ways and big ways, in nudges and at the end of a gun. At its best, as limited government conservatives and libertarians alike understand, government causes and compels only in those arenas it must, invading the scope of human life as little as possible. At its worst, government becomes, in Saint Augustine’s phrase, a system of “great robberies” where plunder is divided by the law agreed on, and people are subdued by force in accordance to the whims of the powerful elite.

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Consistency in the Treatment of Religious Liberty Claims

In the space below, we offer some unconventional thoughts about the highly-anticipated Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. cases that will be argued in the Supreme Court next month, and that involve challenges under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers must provide contraceptive services in their healthcare policies offered to employees.

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March 23, 2014 - No Free Speech at Abortion Clinics?

Steve Aden, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, discussing the Supreme Court case of McCullen v. Coakley, involving a free speech challenge to a Massachusetts law that restricts the speech of those who wish to counsel women outside abortion clinics to choose an alternative.

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March 30, 2014 - Barack Obama Preaches Religious Freedom at Prayer Breakfast

Barack Obama Preaches Religious Freedom at Prayer Breakfast Orlan Johnson, Attorney and Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the Seventh – Day Adventist Church, president, and President of the North American Religious Liberty Association, producer of Freedom’s Ring, discussing President Barack Obama’s speech to the Presidential Prayer Breakfast emphasizing religious freedom as critical to national security.

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April 6, 2014 - Proposed Executive Order re: not discriminating in Federal contracts against LGBT

Stanley Carlson-Thies, director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, discussing the implications for religious ministries and social service agencies, hospitals, schools, aid organizations, of a pending Executive Order to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Federal contracts.

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April 13, 2014 - Is it a crime to lie about politicians?

Professor Robert Destro, Catholic University School of Law, discussing a Supreme Court case challenging an Ohio statute punishing false political speech.

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April 20, 2014 - Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws and the case of Asia Bibi

Special guest Attorney Waqqas Mir, a lawyer in Pakistan, discussing the case of Asia Bibi, who has been given the death penalty for blasphemy, and whose case is on appeal.

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April 27, 2014 - Religious Accommodation in Hiring on Appeal

Attorney Todd McFarland, Associate General Counsel for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, discussing an important case before the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals involving a Muslim woman applicant to work at Abercrombie & Fitch who was denied employment because she wore a head scarf.

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May 4, 2014 - New Department of Defense Policy on Religious Freedom

Attorney John Wells discussing a new DOD policy that is very respectful of the religious freedoms of enlisted personnel.

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May 11, 2014 - Will the Mt. Soledad Cross Come Down?

Dan Mach, Director of ACLU program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, discussing recent rulings in the 25 year old court case challenging a cross on public land in San Diego, CA.

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May 18, 2014 - Must Churches Obtain Permits in America?

Attorney Todd McFarland, Associate General Counsel for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, discussing a Federal Court challenge to a Las Cruces, New Mexico ordinance.

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Why Uganda Should Consider the Greatest Commandment

It may be the single most challenging concept for those who believe passionately in God, Allah or any other deity: How are we to behave in the face of behavior, attitudes or laws with which we disagree? When we feel in the core of our soul that what we are witnessing is not only inappropriate, but also forbidden by our Holy Book?

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Hobby Lobby case creates unexpected allies in Dershowitz and Starr

When it comes to tackling complicated legal issues, one would be hard-pressed to conjure a less likely partnership than Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Baylor University President Ken Starr.

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If a Company Can Be African American, Can’t It Be Religious?

Did you know that a for-profit corporation can be African American? Actually, a court recently ruled that a corporation can be an African American person under federal law.

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It's Time for the Senate to Support the Religious Freedom Envoy to Middle East, Central Asia

When the U.S. House of Representatives resoundingly passed a bipartisan bill last year (402 - 22) that would allow President Obama to appoint a special envoy to promote religious freedom in the Middle East and central Asia, it appeared the Senate would quickly follow suit. America would then be well on its way to reminding the world about how highly we value religious freedom and remind them that we are paying attention, even in the furthest corners of the globe.

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Seventh-day Adventist claims she was fired for her faith

SACRAMENTO - A Seventh-day Adventist claims she was fired from her prison nursing job because she refused to work on Saturdays.

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It worked—U.S. city reverses ordinance after Adventist Church’s complaint

Texico Conference last year filed suit on religious liberty grounds

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ADVENTIST LEADERS HOST MORMON LEADERS, HIGHLIGHTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM COMMITMENT

Top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered a preview of an upcoming social media campaign in a visit last week with leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church headquarters, a meeting that underscored each denomination’s commitment to religious freedom.

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FL Teacher Orders Student to Call Parents for Reading Bible

A Florida teachers is facing a lawsuit after forcing a 12-year-old student to call his parents for reading his Bible during free reading time. Giovanni Rubeo, a student at Park Lakes Elementary School in Ft. Lauderdale had brought out his Bible for free reading time in February and March of this year, and had been told to put it away.

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After Supreme Court ruling, do religious minorities have a prayer?

In a 5-4 decision written by Kennedy, the Supreme Court allowed Greece, New York, to continue hosting prayers before its monthly town board meetings - even though an atheist and a Jewish citizen complained that the benedictions are almost always explicitly Christian.

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Yoga in the public schools as religious indoctrination

A fascinating case, challenging the use of yoga in the public schools as religious indoctrination in violation of the Establishment Clause. The lower court held that Yoga was religious, but was nevertheless permitted to be taught in public school, even though the purpose of the yoga practice was to connect with God!

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May 25, 2014 - State Legislative Efforts to Protect Religious Freedom

Tim Schultz, State Legislative Policy Director, American Religious Freedom Program, Ethics and Public Policy Center. Discussing the increasingly hostile legislative climate religious freedom has encountered in state efforts in Kansas and Arizona.

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June 1, 2014 - Hobby Lobby and the Religious Freedom of Corporations

Nicholas P. Miller, Esq., attorney, professor of church state studies, and director of the Andrews University International Religious Liberty Institute, discussing the Supreme Court case of the year, asking whether business people must forfeit their religious freedom when they enter the business world.

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June 8, 2014 - Conflict in Crimea – the untold religious history

Liberty magazine editor Lincoln Steed, www.libertymagazine.org, discussing the history of great world conflict in Crimea, the battleground where three world religions have contested for power for centuries.

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June 15, 2014 Churches Kicked out of Public Schools?

Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel and Vice President of Alliance Defending Freedom, www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org, discussing the case of Bronx Household of Faith, where the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently held the City of New York can lawfully exclude worship activities from renting public school facilities.

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June 22, 2014 - United States v. City of Birmingham

Attorney Louis Whitsett, Senior Trial Attorney in the U.S. Justice Department, Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section, discussing a case against the City of Birmingham, Alabama police department, resulting in the adoption of a religious accommodation policy, and reinstatement for a Messianic Jewish Sabbath observer who had been denied a scheduling accommodation for her Sabbath observance.

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June 29, 2014 - Council of Europe Resolution on Religious Freedom

Dr. Tiziano Rimoldi, professor of church state studies, and President of the Italian Adventist College, discussing a recent resolution in the Council of Europe intended to restrict religious sects, but in the end, offering further protection for religious minorities.

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July 6, 2014 - The End of Protestantism?

Liberty magazine editor Lincoln Steed, www.libertymagazine.org, discussing the political influence of Pope Francis, and in particular, the support from prominent Protestants declaring the end of the Reformation, and calling for a return to Christian unity, as promoted by Pope Francis.

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July 13, 2014 - Religious Freedom in the State Legislatures

Kevin James, Associate Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the southern U.S., discussing state religious freedom bills in Mississippi and Georgia.

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July 20, 2014 - Polygamy Legal?

Nan Futrell, staff council of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, www.bjconline.org, discussing the case of Brown v. Buhman, striking down a Utah statute criminalizing “religious cohabitation,” but restricting the right to obtain multiple marriage licenses.

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Christian Students Win Equal Access

Leesburg, FL - Last night the Lake County, Florida, School Board voted unanimously to enter into a Consent Decree granting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at Mount Dora High School the same rights as other non-curricular student clubs.

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The 12th Annual Religious Liberty Dinner

It was a great pleasure and an honor for me to present the 2014 International Religious Liberty Award to Knox Thames, Director of Policy and Research at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. It happened during the 12th Annual Religious Liberty Award Dinner held in the Willard InterContinental hotel, in Washington DC.

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NARLA HONORS U.S. SENATOR WITH CONGRESSIONAL AWARD FOR PROMOTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

The North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA) presented its Congressional Award this week to a United States senator known for his advocacy of religious freedom, and who is urging fellow lawmakers to create a unique position to help protect religious minorities in Asia.

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2014 Religious Liberty Summit

Join us September 5-8 in Silver Spring, MD for an inspiring weekend filled with religious liberty training and information sessions, spiritual emphasis and testimony, American history tour, Capitol Hill legislative office visits, and a banquet at the Seventh-day Adventist Church headquarters. Register by July 1 and receive a 25% discount.

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Church tax breaks a house of cards

Worried about losing thousands of dollars in religious property tax exemptions, clergy members are seeking a resolution with county Assessor, Dan Goodwin, that will let them keep their doors open to certain community groups.

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CORONA: Questions linger about Christian school's firings over religion

Caroline O’Neill, 52, who has children in eighth and ninth grade at Crossroads, said students sometimes ask instructors — including those teaching secular subjects such as math — questions about religion and she wants to make sure the teachers give answers in line with her beliefs.

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Assessor, churches don't resolve tax dispute

County Assessor Dan Goodwin and dozens of clergy remained split over the way he is applying property tax law to churches and synagogues after an hour long meeting Tuesday aimed at reaching resolution.

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LGBT activists take U.Va. professor to task for stance on cases

Beware. Those who advocate for religious freedom. Even if you also support same sex marriage. This article is a cautionary tale. Laycock is the foremost legal scholar in the nation today on religious freedom.

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School Board Members Met Privately On Bible Class

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A school board that approved a Bible-based curriculum for pupils next fall broke into small groups and met privately with the program's chief backer, the president of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts store chain, to get around an Oklahoma law that requires government bodies to be open to the public, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.

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RLUIPA Suit Challenges City's Refusal To Allow Homeless Ministry To Continue

A suit was filed last week in a California federal district court by the Stanford Law School Religious Liberty Clinic on behalf of a church in San Buenaventura, California that was denied a permit to continue to operate its ministry to the homeless in its current location.

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Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her Christianity gives birth in prison

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, delivered her baby Monday at a women's prison in Khartoum, but her husband was not allowed to be present for the birth, sources told CNN. They asked not to be named for safety reasons. To sign the petition go to: http://www.change.org/petitions/government-of-sudan-don-t-execute-meriam-yehya-ibrahim-for-being-christian-savemeriam?utm_campaign=new_signature&utm_medium=email&utm_source=signature_receipt#share

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Religious Freedom Linked to Economic Growth, Finds Global Study

MAY 29, 2014: Religious freedom is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth, according to a new study by researchers at Georgetown University and Brigham Young University. The study looked at GDP growth for 173 countries in 2011 and controlled for two-dozen different financial, social, and regulatory influences.

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American Tourist Arrested in North Korea for 'Hostile Activities' After Leaving Bible at Hotel

A U.S. tourist who reportedly left a Bible in a hotel was detained in North Korea Friday for "hostile activities." The tourist, Jeffrey Edward Fowle, now joins two other Americans, 24-year-old Matthew Todd Miller and Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, who are being held under North Korea's reclusive regime.

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Religious freedom linked to economic growth and innovation

Countries that allow greater religious freedom are more likely to be innovative and experience economic growth, researchers have found.

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Wisconsin same-sex marriage ban ruled invalid

Finding a close link between a right to marry and equality of citizenship, a federal judge in Wisconsin on Friday afternoon struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage along with a ban on recognizing marriages of such couples performed in other states. The ruling was the latest in an unbroken series of federal trial court decisions against those restrictions in recent months.

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NC House OKs bill on religion rules in schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Legislation designed to make clear how North Carolina public school students and teachers may participate in religious activities or expression has passed the state House by a wide margin following lengthy debate over faith and constitutional rights.

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Long Island business forced workers into Onionhead 'religion,' lawsuit claims

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on behalf of three former employees contending that United Health Programs of America and its parent, Cost Containment Group, punished people who balked at having to discuss 'divine plans' and 'moral codes' as part of the Onionhead practice.

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Sudanese Muslims Risking Their Lives For A Christian Woman Sentenced to Death: Hardwired Helps Fight Religious Oppression in Sudan

"We are witnessing a historic movement among the Sudanese people for freedom, as evidenced by their support for Mariem's religious freedom, and if we are successful we can end the religious oppression of President Bashir's government" - Safwan Abd Almoniem, Hardwired Sudan Legal Advisor

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Iraq's beleaguered Christians make final stand on the Mosul frontline

Some Christian families from Mosul have sought refuge in St Matthew’s Monastery, writes Richard Spencer. Others vow to take a stand against the Islamists - whatever the cost.

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Pope Francis condemns the ‘evil’ of legalizing drugs

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Friday (June 20) strongly condemned the legalization of recreational drugs, saying all drug use was “evil” and deserved no type of compromise.

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Escalating crisis drives surge in Iraq's messianic movements

The radicalization of Iraqi politics that has contributed to the current crisis in the country can be better understood with an appreciation of the role of Islamic messianism, especially among Iraqi Shiites. This trend may even be more prominent, because if there is a battle for Baghdad, it will be fought along religious and sectarian lines.

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FRENCH JEWS LEAVE FOR ISRAEL IN INCREASING NUMBERS

PARIS (AP) — Increasing numbers of French Jews are leaving for Israel, citing dim economic prospects and a sense of being caught between an increasingly influential far right and militant Islam. More than 5,000 are on track to leave this year, the most since after the Six-Day War in 1967.

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Marriage stabilizing for society, activists proclaim

Washington D.C., Jun 19, 2014 / 02:48 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Political leaders told crowds at the March for Marriage to not be afraid to speak the truth about marriage and the unique and essential role both a father and a mother play in a child’s life.

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Meriam Ibrahim has been re-arrested in Sudan

Join with 104,082 others. Meriam Ibrahim has been re-arrested in Sudan and is being held in a national security facility with her American husband and young American children. We are taking action to urge the Obama Administration and the world community to demand her release. Stand with Meriam today. SIGN THE PETITION HERE

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Update on Meriam Ibrahim

Meriam Ibrahim: Sudanese woman freed from apostasy death sentence is re-arrested at airport... and then released again

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RULING SHOWS CRACK IN LEGAL GAY MARRIAGE UNANIMITY

DENVER (AP) — A federal appeals court's gay marriage ruling contained two historic firsts: It was the first appellate decision for gay marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act one year ago, and it also marked the first time since then a federal judge has argued for keeping a state ban on same-sex marriages.

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The European Court of Human Rights Again Condemns Russia for Its Failure to Respect Freedom of Religion

On June 26, 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their right to worship without unlawful interference from the Russian authorities. In its unanimous judgment, the Court found that Russia violated Articles 5 (right to liberty and security) and 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention) when police overwhelmed a religious service with an illegal raid on the night of April 12, 2006.

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European court upholds France’s ban on face veils

PARIS (RNS) Europe’s top human rights court has rejected a petition by a young Muslim woman who claimed France’s 2010 veil ban violated her rights to freedom of expression and religion and amounted to discrimination.

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Dozens killed and churches burned in latest Boko Haram attack

Lagos (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The dead from yesterday's attack waged by Boko Haram on villages near Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria are feared to be over 100. It is the same area from where the group kidnapped more than 200 girls in April. Initial reports from the attack yesterday also speak of five churches and several houses burned.

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Yogyakarta, to cries of "Allah is great" unknown assailants attack Sacred Heart parish

Three groups of unidentified persons on board motorcycles, launch attack during mass. Objects and posters damaged. Reasons for the violence unknown. Tighter controls around the place of worship. After decades of peaceful coexistence, Yogyakarta becomes center of anti-Christian violence and abuse.

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July 27, 2014 - Hardwired -- Engaging youth to effect change

Tina Ramirez – Founder and President, of Hardwired, Inc., on the web at www.hardwiredglobal.org., discussing a new organization she established to engage young people in addressing religious persecution, and to support training leaders among the youth of other nations.

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August 3, 2014 – Barack Obama Preaches Religious Freedom at Prayer Breakfast

Orlan Johnson, Attorney and Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the Seventh – Day Adventist Church, president, and President of the North American Religious Liberty Association, producer of Freedom’s Ring, discussing President Barack Obama’s speech to the Presidential Prayer Breakfast emphasizing religious freedom as critical to national security.

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August 10, 2014 -To Pray or not to pray? At Town Councils, that is

Professor Alan Brownstein, U.C. Davis School of Law, discussing the Supreme Court case involving prayer before town council meetings in Greece, New York.

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August 17, 2014 - Ocean Grove: the town that FEMA forgot

Jonathan V. Last, senior writer, the Weekly Standard, tells the story of a community rejected for FEMA aid because of its historic ties to a Methodist campmeeting association.

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August 24, 2014 - Hardwired in Sudan

Tina Ramirez – Founder and President, of Hardwired, Inc., on the web at www.hardwiredglobal.org., a new organization to engage young people in addressing religious persecution, discussing her work in Sudan to train leaders to break down barriers between Muslims and Christians, and build social commitment to religious freedom for all.

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August 31, 2014 – Churches Kicked out of Public Schools?

Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel and Vice President of Alliance Defending Freedom, www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org, discussing the case of Bronx Household of Faith, where the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently held the City of New York can lawfully exclude worship activities from renting public school facilities.

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The European Court reaffirms the right to autonomy of religious organisations

On June 12, 2014, the European Court of Human Rights pronounced a judgement on the important case, Fernández-Martínez v. Spain (no 56030/07). Adopted by a very small minority (9 votes to 8), the Grand Chamber reaffirms the principle of the institutional autonomy of religious communities with regard to the State.

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Europe must face up to the new antisemites

The rising tide of hostility towards Jews across Europe must be stopped. We can all help in the fightback

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UN Committee Concerned Over Child Trafficking For Religious Rituals In Britain

As reported by AFP, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child yesterday released its observations on the report of Great Britain relating to child trafficking. (Full text of UN document), Among other things, the U.N. committee expressed particular concern about trafficking of children for use in religious rituals:

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EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS FAILS TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Threat of Full-face Veil to “Open, Personal Relationships” Trumps Human Rights

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Gay rights groups withdrawing support of ENDA after contraceptive decision

Several major gay rights groups withdrew support Tuesday for legislation that would bolster gay and transgender rights in the workplace, saying they fear that private companies will use a recent Supreme Court ruling to claim religious exemptions from the bill.

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Pope: No-work Sundays good, not just for faithful

CAMPOBASSO — Pope Francis has lamented the abandoning of the traditionally Christian practice of not working on Sundays, saying it has a negative impact on families and friendships.

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Meriam Ibrahim Safe in Italy!

Praise God. Thank you for your prayers for Meriam and her family. Earlier today, she and her children landed safely in Rome, Italy. They will be living in a safe house in Italy until they are able to get the appropriate papers to come to the USA.

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Meriam Ibrahim, finally freed from Sudan, meets with Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis met Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman spared a death sentence for apostasy in Sudan, at the Vatican on Thursday (July 24) after she was flown to Rome by the Italian government following a vigorous international campaign to free her.

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15% Of The World's Countries Require Their Heads Of State To Be From A Certain Religion

A Muslim person has no hope of winning the presidency in Lebanon due to a requirement that the executive leader be a member of the Maronite Christian Church. Such a rule might seem extreme from the perspective of religious freedom, but Lebanon is not alone.

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'They are savages,' say Christians forced to flee Mosul by Isis

Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee the northern city of Mosul under threat of forced conversion or execution by jihadists have spoken of their terror as churches were turned into mosques and their homes and property confiscated.

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EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT: NO RIGHT TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

The highest human rights court in Europe has told European LGBTs that they have no human right to same-sex marriage, in a case that also shows how complicated sexual and marital norms have become in this new transsexual world.

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Does Jonah's tomb signal the death of Christianity in Iraq?

Despite the expression of typical modern skepticism about the biblical book of Jonah, the article is otherwise worthwhile.

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ADVENTIST LEADERS APPLAUD ANNOUNCEMENT FOR NOMINEE OF U.S. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM POST

Seventh-day Adventist leaders said they applauded the announcement of a nominee for a religious freedom advocacy position at the U.S. Department of State, a post that has been vacant since October.

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Why jogging or going to church can get you arrested (in Burundi)

Since 2013, the small Central African nation of Burundi has seen a gradual but serious contraction of political rights and social freedoms. The government has even targeted leisure activities.

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Echoes of apocalypse in Iraq conflict

When George W. Bush invaded Iraq, he was criticized, including for being motivated by eschatology (the aspect of theology that deals with the end of days) and desiring to push a right-wing Christian agenda in terms of the Christian prophecy regarding armageddon. Yet in 2003, no one foresaw the current conflict in Iraq that would lead many among the conflicting Iraqi parties to see the events as part of the prophecy of the end times, which could have an extensive impact on the conflict.

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European Court: Gay Marriage is not a Human Right

The highest human rights court in Europe shattered hopes that it would judicially impose same-sex marriage when it told a male to female transsexual and his wife that a civil union should be good enough for them.

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Seventh-day Adventist leader calls on family experiences to tackle challenges facing the church

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Nothing — not surviving a car wreck en route to his wedding, nor being a Seventh-day Adventist missionary, nor years in the pulpit — had prepared Dan Jackson for the challenge his daughter threw at him on a Saturday afternoon.

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Religious College That Expelled Transgender Student Not Covered By Unruh Act

In Cabading v. California Baptist University, (CA Super. Ct., July 11, 2014), a California trial court held that a private religious college did not violate California's Unruh Civil Rights Act when it expelled Domainlor Javier Cabading, a pre-operative male-to-female transgender person who had been admitted to the school on a merit scholarship.

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Lebanon’s Christians react to crisis in Mosul

The tragedy that befell the Christian population in Mosul has raised concern in Lebanon, leading to a state of alert on the ecclesiastical and official levels and daily meetings on the matter.

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As persecution of faithful rises, so does the religious response

As persecution of faithful rises, so does the religious response. Even as reports show a global rise in restrictions on religion, those of faith are defending those of other faiths. This helps confirm why freedom of religion is a universal right.

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House churches in China report on rapid growth

EAST ASIA — Liu Qiang* remembers 12 years ago bicycling past churches in the countryside. Believers there in China met behind boarded up doors and windows.

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REMAINING IRAQI CHRISTIANS EXPELLED

The most prominent Christian landmark in Iraq was emptied of its Christians on Sunday. Mar Behnam is a Syriac Catholic church that was built by a fourth-century Assyrian king. The church was his penance for killing his son, a Christian convert.

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Gold, diamonds feed Central African religious violence

Three young rebels, their AK47s propped against wooden stools in the afternoon heat, guard the entrance to the giant Ndassima goldmine carved deep into a forested hilltop in Central African Republic

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New report says 2013 was 'the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory'

A new report from the U.S. State Department details the status of religious freedom around the world, painting a grim picture of what it calls "the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory."

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The Expulsion of Mosul’s Christians, part 1: The Account of the Kidnapped Nuns

This account doesn’t contain any ground-shaking revelations, but the details will be interesting for those interested in what happened. The two nuns were well-known for their many years of work among Mosul’s needy.

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Islamic extremists impose reign of terror on Iraq

BAGHDAD — Police cars have been repainted to say “Islamic police.” Women are forbidden from wearing bright colors and prints. The homes of Shiites and others have signs stating they are property of the Islamic State. And everyone walks in fear amid a new reign of terror.

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Islamic extremists impose reign of terror on Iraq

BAGHDAD — Police cars have been repainted to say “Islamic police.” Women are forbidden from wearing bright colors and prints. The homes of Shiites and others have signs stating they are property of the Islamic State. And everyone walks in fear amid a new reign of terror.

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Boko Haram attacks five churches in Northern Nigeria

Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has attacked at least five churches Borno State, northern Nigeria, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports.

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More than 8-in-10 People Hold Religious Beliefs, and It's Rising, Finds New Book

Research from the Yearbook of International Religious Demography (Brill, 2014)* shows religious adherents of all faiths are globally on the rise. More than eight-in-ten people today follow a religion, and even among those who don’t, many still hold some spiritual beliefs or engage in some religious practices. Continued growth of religious populations appears strong, as they are younger on average than the world’s religiously unaffiliated population.

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Exodus: Why Europe's Jews Are Fleeing Once Again

The mob howled for vengeance, the missiles raining down on the synagogue walls as the worshippers huddled inside. It was a scene from Europe in the 1930s – except this was eastern Paris on the evening of July 13th, 2014

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Freedom of Religion and the Freedom of the Church

It is widely accepted—in American law, in other countries’ laws, and in human-rights law generally—that “freedom of religion” is fundamental and that it should be protected, respected, and promoted. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, for example, called on all political communities to “promote respect” for the right to religious freedom and to “secure [its] universal and effective recognition and observance.”

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Workplace Religious Discrimination Encountered by 1-in-3

36% of Americans report experiencing or witnessing workplace religious discrimination, according to a recent Tanenbaum survey, "What American Workers Really Think about Religion."

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Exploring RFRA in light of Hobby Lobby’s narrow victory

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the consolidated cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell has generated more interest in religious-liberty law than any other decision in decades.

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Administration Proposes New Health Rules Addressing Religious Objections

EDGARTOWN, Mass. — The Obama administration on Friday proposed new regulations intended to address the religious objections that some nonprofit organizations and private companies have to providing contraceptive coverage for their employees.

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Trial Court Strikes Down North Carolina School Voucher Program

In North Carolina yesterday, a state trial court judge struck down on state constitutional grounds North Carolina's Opportunity Scholarship program. As reported by Reuters, Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the voucher program diverts funds which can constitutionally be used only for public schools. Also some of the funding is going to schools that discriminate on the basis of religion.

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How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops

In recent years, the court has made it very difficult, and often impossible, to hold police officers and the governments that employ them accountable for civil rights violations.

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A Prisoner’s Beard Offers the Next Test of Religious Liberty for the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court comes back from its summer break next month, it will pick up where it left off, returning to the subject of religious freedom. But the court’s focus will shift from corporations to prisoners.

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Pastors in Iran Could Face Death Penalty

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – Three pastors in Iran are facing charges that could lead to the death penalty for activities in the house-church movement in an unprecedented crackdown on converts from Islam, according to human rights groups.

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September 6, 2014 -Religious Liberty Fifty Years Later: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

A multi-part series. As the Church State Council celebrates its 50th anniversary, we also look back on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Professor Alan E. Brownstein, U.C. Davis School of Law,

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September 13, 2014 - A Government of Wolves

John Whitehead, founder and director of the Rutherford Institute, discussing his book about the emerging national security state.

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September 20, 2014 - Religious Liberty Fifty Years Later: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

A multi-part series. As the Church State Council celebrates its 50th anniversary, we also look back on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. J. Brent Walker, Executive Director, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, www.bjconline.org.

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September 27, 2014 - Genocide in Iraq

Tina Ramirez, Founder and Executive Director of Hardwired Global, www.hardwiredglobal.org.

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October 4, 2014 - Religious Liberty Fifty Years Later: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Part One

Religious Liberty Fifty Years Later: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A multi-part series. As the Church State Council celebrates its 50th anniversary, we also look back on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Tim Schultz , president of The First Amendment Partnership www.1stamendmentpartnership.org.

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October 11, 2014 - Religious Liberty Fifty Years Later: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Part Two

As the Church State Council celebrates its 50th anniversary, we also look back on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Richard Foltin, Legislative Affairs Director, American Jewish Committee www.ajc.org.

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October 18, 2014 - Religious Liberty Fifty Years Later: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

A multi-part series. As the Church State Council celebrates its 50th anniversary, we also look back on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Tim Schultz , President of The First Amendment Partnership www.1stamendmentpartnership.org

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October 25, 2014 - Prophetic Dimensions to Middle East Conflict

Tim Roosenberg, author of “Islam and Christianity in Prophecy, www.islamandchristianity.org

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Guess How Many Bibles Have Arrived at the Office of the Houston Mayor After She Subpoenaed Pastors’ Sermons

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has received a flood of Bibles — somewhere between 500 and 1,000 according to a spokesman for the mayor’s office — after the city subpoenaed the church sermons of five local faith leaders opposed to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which the mayor signed in May.

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Iraq: Survivors Describe Mosque Massacre

Victims of a massacre in a mosque in Diyala province by Iraqi pro-government militias and security forces recognized the attackers and knew them by name.

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Iraq: ISIS Executed Hundreds of Prison Inmates

Gunmen from the Sunni extremist group Islamic State systematically executed some 600 male inmates from a prison outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on June 10, 2014, according to survivors’ accounts. The vast majority of those killed were Shia.

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The Right to Say ‘God’ Divides a Diverse Nation

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia — As the students knelt in a circle at a Christian kindergarten near the shores of the South China Sea, a 6-year-old girl in pigtails read out a chapter from a children’s Bible: “Sepuluh hukum dari Allah” — God’s Ten Commandments.

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Issues of Interest on State Ballots

Here are some of the ballot issues in various states that may be of interest to Religion Clause readers:

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Religion is Not the Main Cause of Conflict Today, Finds New Study

Religion is not the main cause of conflict today, according to the latest research report from the Institute for Economics and Peace carried out in conjunction with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

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USCIRF Helps Launch International Parliamentary Coalition to Advance Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the face of escalating violations worldwide of religious freedom, an initiative that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) promoted was launched on November 8 to create a global religious freedom coalition.

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Berkeley's no longer home to free speech

TV host and comedian Bill Maher's recent comments about Islam sparked a petition to remove him as the commencement speaker at the University of California, Berkeley. The petition noted that "Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values of UC Berkeley students and administration."

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The State Of International Religious Freedom and Why It Matters

I truly am honored to be speaking here at FPRI, a stellar organization that is dedicated to providing sound research and analysis to aid in the conduct of the foreign policy of this nation

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REMEMBRANCE: BOOTHBY, 81, WAS A BULLDOG LAWYER WHO DEFENDED SABBATH

CHURCH-STATE LITIGATOR WAS FIRST OF HIS KIND IN ADVENTIST CHURCH It was a privilege to attend and participate in the funeral services for Lee Boothby earlier this week. Lee was a mentor and a friend, an Adventist attorney who pioneered trying cases involving religious discrimination, and the separation of church and state. Others would file briefs, but Lee fought cases. Lee was an inspiration to me. He will be remembered fondly, and sorely missed. Alan J. Reinach, Esq.

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November 1, 2014 - Free Speech on Campus?

David Hacker, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, alliancedefendingfreedom.org, discussing his work to combat free speech zones restricting student speech on college campuses.

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November 8, 2014 - Supremes Don’t Court Marriage

Jim Campbell, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org, on the Supreme Court’s decision not to review any cases holding that state laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman are unconstitutional.

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November 15, 2014 - Conflict of Rights in the Northwest

Charles Steinberg, Vice President, Northwest Religious Liberty Association, www.nrla.com, What do flowers and wedding cakes have in common? Two cases where small business owners were charged with discrimination for refusing to participate in same sex weddings.

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November 22, 2014 - Muslims in the Supreme Court

Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) San Francisco Bay Area Office, discussing the Supreme Court’s decision to hear two cases involving the religious freedom of Muslims, an employee and a prisoner.

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November 29, 2014 - The December Dilemma Revisited

Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, and senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, www.firstamendmentcenter.org. The battle over Christmas in public schools, and the right way to honor the winter holidays. Finding Common Ground – a collection of consensus statements. Religiousfreedomcenter.org, under publications.

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December 6, 2014 - EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch

Attorney Gene Schaerr, discusses this year’s major religion case before the Supreme Court, involving the company’s failure to hire a Muslim teen because she wore a head scarf.

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December 13, 2014 - Faith at Work?

Dwayne Leslie, Legislative Affairs Director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, discussing the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case of EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch, involving the refusal to hire a Muslim woman wearing a head covering.

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December 20, 2014 - RFRA at Risk (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act)

Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, and senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, www.firstamendmentcenter.org. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, there are a growing number of calls to repeal RFRA. Why is RFRA important, and will it survive?

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December 27, 2014 - Kumar v. Gate Gourmet

Charles Steinberg, Vice President, Northwest Religious Liberty Association, www.nrla.com. When airline food is a religious liberty issue, not just a culinary disaster!

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Statement on Reaction to Brown and Garner Grand Jury Decisions

The president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, Daniel R. Jackson, issued the following statement on December 8, 2014 in response to the growing number of demonstrations following the grand jury decisions rendered in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in N.Y.:

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A Celebration of the Civil Rights Movement

An Isaac Backus American Freedoms Event to be held on February 7, 2015. For more information:

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Testimony of Praise

Crisanto Ciau's testimony of praise after being forced to resign from a commercial plant nursery when he would no longer work on Sabbath. He was assisted by the Church State Council, resulting in a very successful settlement of his case.

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NARLA Summit 2015

We are excited to announce that the 2015 Religious Liberty Summit is scheduled for May 15-18, beginning with vespers at Burnt Mills Church in Silver Spring. Come join us!

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‘TROUBLING TIMES FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’

ANNUAL RELIGIOUS LIBERTY DINNER DRAWS THOUGHT LEADERS, POLICYMAKERS

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AB 357 - Fair Scheduling

Given the trend toward just-in-time work shifts, AB 357 is a prudent protection for California workers and their families.

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AB 357

Contact your Legislator now and ask them to support AB 357.

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Analysis of Same Sex Marriage

Below are some articles analyzing the Supreme Court’s same sex marriage decision. The first two discuss religious liberty concerns. The third one is a defense of the majority decision. I was disappointed in Professor Dorf’s column, because I was hoping to read something that would actually provide a substantive critique of the dissents. I found the dissents compelling, legally, and when I read such a weak critique, it doesn’t increase my respect for the legal foundation of the majority decision. I will continue to look for an analysis that demonstrates why the court’s decision is legally sound. Whether it is good policy, or not, many have strong opinions about. One of the dissents discussed at great length the historic meaning of the term “liberty,” as that term appears in the fifth and fourteenth amendments, protecting life, liberty and property , requiring due process of law. Liberty means freedom from governmental restraint. At least it did. Now, it appears to mean freedom to obtain government benefits, such as the tax advantages of marriage. There are many benefits people might like to have, as a constitutional right, provided by the government. At least Professor Smith, in the fourth item below, clearly explains why he thinks the court’s analysis is spot on: because it utilizes equal protection doctrine to expand the rights of a group historically discriminated against. What I find ironic is his invocation of Windsor, in which the court held that marriage was the province of the states, and that’s why the Federal DOMA was struck down. Forgive me if I see a bit of an analytical shell game here.

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Ontario court upholds Law Society’s decision not to accredit Trinity Western University

An Ontario court has upheld the Law Society of Upper Canada’s decision not to accredit an evangelical Christian law school that forbids students from having sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

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5 reasons why Christians should stay in the Middle East

A well-intentioned argument is developing among some Westerners, urging the evacuation of Christians from the Middle East. These Westerners reason that because no one will defend the Middle Eastern Christians, they should be resettled elsewhere.

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Church Suicide Bomber Kills Priest and 4 Others Amid Weeks of Boko Haram Attacks Leaving Over 100 Dead During Ramadan

A suicide bomber with possible ties to the radical Islamic terror group Boko Haram blew himself up inside a church in the Nigerian town of Potiskum on Sunday, killing a priest and four other Christians in an attack that mirrors past bombings by the organization that has allied itself with ISIS.

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“Liberty,” “Marriage,” and Religious Freedom

Religious freedom is only obliquely addressed in Obergefell v Hodges. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion mainly declaims on something that he dubiously calls “liberty,” and on an august institution (albeit one that seemingly eludes definition) that he chooses to call “marriage.” The dissenting opinions mainly denounce the judicial usurpation of democratic self-governance. Still, the decision has important, if unpredictable implications for religious freedom, and it is our painful duty to contemplate—“through a glass, darkly,” so to speak—what these might be.

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What Are the Limits of ‘Religious Liberty’?

‘‘I can’t. It’s against my religion.’’ Americans tend to handle religious objections with care, personally and politically.

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Will This Battle Mean the ‘End of Freedom of Religion in Canada’?

The attorney handling the case in the story below is a Seventh day Adventist. Here him discuss this case on an upcoming Freedom’s Ring radio show, which should be available in early August.

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Pope Francis apologizes for church's "sins" against indigenous peoples

As a theological matter, confession needs to be specific, not general. Pope Francis surely understands this. So a speech like this is a good start, and no doubt meant in all sincerity, but nowhere did Pope Francis identify the specific sins of the church during the colonial era, nor did he define the temporal scope of what he referred to as “the colonial era,” which, to be frank, extended into the twentieth century, and maybe even to century’s end.

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AB 987

Governor Jerry Brown just signed AB 987, confirming that employee requests for religious accommodation are legally protected, such that employers cannot fire workers who ask to be accommodated for their disability or religion. The Church State Council sponsored this bill together with the California Employment Lawyers Association. Our thanks to Assembly Member Marc Levine, from Marin County, for authoring the bill, and to Melissa Ramirez, his staff assistant who worked hard with us to get this passed. Special thanks, also to Mariko Yoshihara, my friend and colleague at CELA, and to Menaka Fernando, a CELA lawyer from San Francisco, who gave effective and articulate testimony at both Assembly and Senate committee hearings in support.

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Please Pray For Asia Bibi of Pakistan

Over the past several years, I have written a series of articles on these pages regarding the plight of Asia Bibi. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian, and a married mother of five, who was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam.

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The personality that's most vulnerable to Islamic State recruitment in the West

image: http://media.bonnint.net/dn/2/219/21911.jpg 3 photos > SLIDESHOW In the summer of 1995, Mubin Shaikh traveled throughout Pakistan, volunteering with a missionary group in the sweltering summer heat.

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Two Christian women found guilty of public indecency

Two of the 12 women arrested when leaving church in Sudan on suspicion of committing "public indecency" for violating the dress code have been found guilty and fined.

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Opinion: TWU Law School case was expected; we just didn’t know when

All this week in the quiet, almost reverent courtroom in downtown Vancouver, Chief Justice Hinkson is hearing the case of Trinity Western University (TWU) vs. The Law Society of British Columbia (the “Law Society”).

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Muslims defend Christians’ freedom in Beirut Declaration

Muslim leaders are sometimes criticized for not speaking out forcefully enough against violence and in favor of religious freedom. In Lebanon, Sunni Muslim leaders have spoken out decisively, a very positive development:

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Controversial film about Muhammad to premiere tonight

A controversial film about Muhammad's life is to premiere in Iran tonight, despite expected criticism from Muslims angered by its depiction of the prophet.

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Montreal Businessman Buys Freedom for 128 ISIS Sex Slaves

Montreal businessman Steve Maman said his Jewish background has stirred his efforts to save Yazidi and Christian children from ISIS

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ADVENTIST SEMINAR ADDRESSES NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN BANGLADESH

Adventists recently responded to the challenge of domestic violence which is a national concern in Bangladesh.

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ROME OFFICIALLY COMMEMORATES MARTIN LUTHER SQUARE

BEFORE UNVEILING THE PLAQUE, IGNAZIO MARINO, MAYOR OF ROME, QUOTED THE LAST WORDS WRITTEN BY LUTHER: "WE ARE ALL BEGGARS, THIS IS TRUE."

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AN UNLIKELY ALLIANCE OF GLOBAL LAWMAKERS CALL TO END RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

REPRESENTATIVES FROM NEARLY 50 COUNTRIES EXPLORE WAYS TO RAISE AWARENESS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CHALLENGES.

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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TAKES CENTER STAGE IN MADAGASCAR AT ADVENTIST-SPONSORED FESTIVAL

MORE THAN 17,000 PARTICIPATE IN THE DAY-LONG EVENT, WHICH WAS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND FOR THE TERRITORY.

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Pakistan's top court upholds death sentence in blasphemy murder case

A former police bodyguard revered as a hero by Pakistani conservatives for killing a politician who criticised the country’s blasphemy laws has had his death sentence upheld.

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Imam network launches site to counter Isis propaganda

Imams and Muslim community leaders have launched an online magazine in an effort to counteract “poisonous” views peddled by Islamic State.

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Islamic State kills three Assyrian Christian captives: activists

Islamic State militants have killed three Assyrian Christian captives who were among nearly 200 Christians abducted earlier this year in northeastern Syria, two human rights monitoring groups said on Thursday.

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Could Christianity be facing extinction in the Middle East?

At a conference earlier this year, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York used forceful language in a speech about the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

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Religious freedom under threat in Vietnam

This month, Vietnam’s National Assembly will debate the Law on Belief and Religion. Religious leaders have voiced their concerns that this law will restrict religious freedom. Vietnam must tackle human rights abuses if it wants to safeguard its emerging economy.

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China's atheist leaders confront the growth of religion

The world's most-populated nation has a problem. China's people are becoming more religious.

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Kim Davis’s Lost Cause

When state authorities released Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis from jail in September, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee received her and her overalls-wearing husband on a platform erected right outside the detention center. Davis, looking every bit the Appalachian Pentecostal that she is, took the stage to the propulsive rock beat of the 1982 chart-topper “Eye of the Tiger.”

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Baptist Joint Committee Lectures in Pasadena

On Nov. 12-13, the Baptist Joint Committee is bringing a new lecture series to California. Join us and spread the word about the BJC's Lectures on Social Justice and Religious Liberty in Pasadena at Fuller Theological Seminary.

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Burma’s Million-Strong Rohingya Population Faces ‘Final Stages of Genocide,’ Says Report

The long-persecuted ethnicity is on the verge of "mass annihilation," say experts, with new evidence indicating government complicity

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Pakistan's Supreme Court Warns Against False Blasphemy Allegations

Earlier this week, Pakistan's Supreme Court published the opinion of its 3-judge panel which earlier this month upheld the death sentence that had been imposed on Mumtaz Qadri, a former elite force guard who in 2011 killed Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab Province.

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Clerical Battles over Legally Sanctioned Retaliatory Killings and Stoning Continues in Iran

A battle over the necessity of strict adherence to Islamic law, including Quranic punishments that in modern times have been designated by the UN as tantamount to torture, has been underway in Iran since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

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Push to make Buddhism state religion

Several Buddhist groups are again hoping the constitution drafters will include Buddhism as the official state religion.

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UN Commissioner: Time running out for Christianity in the Middle East

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres told an audience at the National Press Club Oct. 27 that the world is in danger of experiencing "an amputation in the DNA of Christianity and in the DNA of the Middle East" if the world does not act soon.

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Ben Carson’s Church: We Don’t Worship Him

Ben Carson doesn’t have a lot of time to go to Saturday services at the Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church anymore but his fellow Seventh-day Adventists are fine with the glare of the presidential race being far away.

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Cellist says symphony fired her over her Sabbath beliefs

A professional cellist says she was terminated from her job with the Asheville Symphony because of her religious beliefs.

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Iceland: New religion aims to cut church-state ties

In recent weeks hundreds of people have registered as Zuist, a relatively new religion based on ancient Sumerian beliefs, the Iceland Monitor website reports. While it is officially recognised as a religious organisation in Iceland, its main aim is to achieve a legislative change - to abolish state funding for religious groups, apportioned from citizens' income taxes and known as parish fees.

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Trinity Western law school decision overturned by B.C. Supreme Court

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has overturned the B.C. Law Society referendum denying accreditation to graduates from Trinity Western University.

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In Myanmar, a training course to promote inter-religious harmony

Myanmar’s Sitagu International Buddhist Academy and the Institute for Global Engagement have introduced a 10-day Religion and Rule of Law certificate programme to promote peace building efforts in the country.

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Acts of Faith Religious leaders are especially alarmed by anti-Muslim rhetoric

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s recent declaration that he would ban Muslims from entering the country served as a tipping point for many leaders, uniting a range of politically and theologically diverse clerics who are denouncing anti-Muslim sentiments.

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Worker Claims He Was Fired for a Baptism

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The National Park Service fired a maintenance man for baptizing someone in the Pacific Ocean and wouldn't let him read the Bible on his lunch breaks, the man claims in court.

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Adventists File Lawsuit Against U.S. City for Banning Literature Evangelism

A U.S. conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and two of its members filed a lawsuit against an Arkansas city on Jan. 19 over a local ordinance that prevents door-to-door literature evangelism.

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PROTECTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS "GOOD FOR BUSINESS," SAYS ADVENTIST LEADER

DWAYNE LESLIE EMPHASIZED THE IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES AND THE CORPORATE SECTOR DURING THE “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND BUSINESS: A WAY FORWARD,” EVENT IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

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Politics and the Pulpit

It’s an election year, and passions run high. The attached article is an important reminder about the dos and don’ts of elections and church. Remember: we are Christians first, and our unity is in Christ. Let’s resist the tendency to divide and judge one another based on our politics.

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Barry W. Bussey: On assisted dying, government should respect the beliefs of religious hospitals

If, as individuals, we can believe, then why is it so difficult to think that institutions cannot have the same beliefs as its creators? If a group believes that animals are entitled to basic health care, would we be surprised that they would found a hospital based on those beliefs?

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May 23 & 24 Religious Liberty Summit: 3 events in 1

Each year NARLA hosts a Religious Liberty Summit in Washington, D.C. It’s a chance for local members to play an active role in our Church’s religious liberty advocacy work. This year’s event will be an exceptional opportunity for attendees: our two day summit will coincide with our annual Religious Liberty Dinner, as well as a one day International Religious Liberty Conference. Three individually impactful events combined into one!

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Legislative Alert - SB 1146 - California

This bill represents a threat to religious colleges and universities, many of which will be forced either to secularize or to shutter.

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Should your boss know that you keep the Sabbath?

Sabbath observers who work somewhere that doesn't close down on the weekend, such as a restaurant, hotel, hospital or factory, have always risked having to work on their holy day of rest. Increasingly, white-collar workers are facing similar challenges, as technological advancements like smartphones keep people connected to their employer 24/7.

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ADVENTIST LEADER DISCUSSES SEXUALITY AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE

Ganoune Diop, the top religious freedom advocate of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke to a high-level United Nations conference about the various views of human sexuality in light of the Bible’s teachings and emphasized that the Christian imperative is to treat every human being with dignity and respect.

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State Senator drops proposal that angered Religious Universities in California

Faced with intense opposition from religious colleges in California, a state Senator said Wednesday he has decided to amend a bill by dropping a provision that would have allowed gay and transgender students to more easily sue private universities for discrimination if they are disciplined for violating church teachings.

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Legislative Update - 1146

Thank you to all who have helped to oppose provisions in California’s Senate Bill 1146 that would have destroyed the religious freedom of religious colleges and universities. The offending clauses have been removed from the bill!

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The deeply troubling federal report targeting religious freedom

Nearly 225 years after the ratification of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the cause of conscience protected by the principles of “no establishment” and “free exercise” may be losing support in the minds and hearts of the American people.

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Creationist receives six-figure legal settlement from public university

A creationist scholar recently received a six-figure settlement from California State University Northridge, a payout that resolved a 2-year-old lawsuit that alleged the scholar had been fired after discovering soft tissue on a triceratops horn and publishing his findings.

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Adventist leaders mark Religious Freedom Day

The church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director calls for church members to reject complacency in the face of growing global challenges to religious freedom

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Adventists welcome new US International Religious Freedom law

Church leaders encourage governments in every country to protect and promote freedom of religion and belief.

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Rio Linda SDA Church

Jeanice Warden Washington will be preaching for Religious Liberty Sabbath.

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Repealing the Johnson Amendment Would Harm Religious Freedom

The Johnson Amendment was an IRS tax reform bill that was successfully passed in Congress by Senator Lyndon Johnson in 1954, the same man who would later become President in 1963 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

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