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Home » Archives » News Archives » 2010

2010 News Archives

December 10, 2010

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. READ MORE

December 10, 2010

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. READ MORE

December 7, 2010

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 Illinois," said Chicagoan Duane Holder. The state Senate approved the legislation 32-24, sending it to Governor Pat Quinn who promised to sign it. READ MORE

December 6, 2010

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 READ MORE

December 6, 2010

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. READ MORE

December 6, 2010

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. READ MORE

December 1, 2010

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. READ MORE

November 30, 2010

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? READ MORE

November 29, 2010

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 READ MORE

November 18, 2010

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. READ MORE

November 16, 2010

'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. READ MORE

November 15, 2010

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. READ MORE

November 9, 2010

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. READ MORE

November 3, 2010

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. READ MORE

November 3, 2010

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.. READ MORE

November 3, 2010

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. READ MORE

November 3, 2010

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". READ MORE

October 26, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 26, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 26, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 26, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 19, 2010

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.” READ MORE

October 11, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 11, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 8, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 1, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 1, 2010

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. READ MORE

October 1, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 29, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 29, 2010

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”). READ MORE

September 28, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 28, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 28, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 28, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 23, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 23, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 22, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 22, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 21, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 21, 2010

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.” READ MORE

September 16, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 14, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 14, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 14, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 13, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 13, 2010

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. READ MORE

September 6, 2010

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. READ MORE

August 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

August 20, 2010

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. READ MORE

August 20, 2010

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. READ MORE

August 20, 2010

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. READ MORE

August 12, 2010

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. READ MORE

August 12, 2010

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. READ MORE

August 9, 2010

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. READ MORE

August 9, 2010

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. READ MORE

July 1, 2010

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." READ MORE

June 28, 2010

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.” READ MORE

June 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 23, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 23, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 23, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 18, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 18, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 18, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 18, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 6, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 4, 2010

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. READ MORE

June 3, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 25, 2010

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.” READ MORE

May 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 19, 2010

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 READ MORE

May 19, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 19, 2010

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: READ MORE

May 14, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 14, 2010

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. READ MORE

May 10, 2010

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. READ MORE

April 7, 2010

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. READ MORE

April 7, 2010

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. READ MORE

April 6, 2010

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. READ MORE

April 6, 2010

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. READ MORE

April 1, 2010

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. READ MORE

April 1, 2010

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. READ MORE

March 31, 2010

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. READ MORE

March 31, 2010

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 READ MORE

March 31, 2010

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. READ MORE

March 31, 2010

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. READ MORE

March 11, 2010

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. READ MORE

March 10, 2010

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.” READ MORE

March 8, 2010

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 READ MORE

March 4, 2010

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. READ MORE

March 3, 2010

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. READ MORE

March 1, 2010

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. READ MORE

February 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

February 25, 2010

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.) READ MORE

February 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

February 25, 2010

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. READ MORE

February 24, 2010

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. READ MORE

February 23, 2010

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. READ MORE

February 23, 2010

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. READ MORE

February 16, 2010

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. READ MORE

February 9, 2010

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." READ MORE

February 9, 2010

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…” READ MORE

February 1, 2010

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. READ MORE

January 15, 2010

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. READ MORE

January 15, 2010

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." READ MORE

January 15, 2010

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. READ MORE

January 11, 2010

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 READ MORE