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Explaining at the Supreme Court why kids at churches need public safety protection, too

Freedom2Care - Supreme Court presentation by Jonathan Imbody

April 20, 2017

Much of the hostility seems to focus on the fact that people of faith often hold convictions on hotly debated topics like abortion, sex and marriage-convictions that differ from some people who do not share in that faith. So if you don't like those convictions, what is the easiest way to beat your religious opponents on these issues? Shut them up, marginalize them, exclude them from the public square. Make them the one group that it's okay to discriminate against. And I would suggest that that way of thinking has resulted in a concerted pressure to reduce religious freedom to something more like religious permission. Religious permission means, okay, you can believe whatever you want-but only as long as you keep it inside the four walls of your church, synagogue or mosque. Your religious views will not be allowed in public. Religious permission means you can sing your little religious songs, pray to whatever gods you imagine inside your head, talk about love and peace and sing around the campfire. But actually living out your religious beliefs, your conscience, your convictions in the public square? Well, that's where religious permission draws the line.

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Filed under: Religious freedomChristian Medical AssociationEducation

Tempers flare at Supreme Court over religious liberty case

Washington Examiner

April 19, 2017

"You say this affects free exercise [of religion], you seem to be confusing money with free exercise," Sotomayor told Cortman. "I'm not sure how this is a free exercise question." Justice Samuel Alito soon after interjected and called out Sotomayor by name, prompting the equivalent of an intellectual food fight. Alito asked Cortman whether he agreed with Sotomayor's suggestion that the Missouri Constitution's provision prohibiting direct or indirect funding to churches represented an "admirable tradition," which gave Cortman the opportunity to talk about the provision's roots in "anti-Catholic bigotry. Alito questioned Layton at length with hypothetical examples from friend of the court briefs to see where Layton drew the line on who may receive government funding. Alito asked whether Missouri would approve of synagogues or mosques at risk as targets of terrorism receiving Department of Homeland Security grants to have security mechanisms in place akin to those at the high court. Layton answered "no." Layton's answer drew skeptical questions from Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, who asked how police and fire department services are provided to protect churches.

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomEducation

What the playground can teach the government about fair play

USA Today commentary by David Cortman

April 19, 2017

Now that raises an important constitutional question: May the government - having chosen to offer neutrally available, secular benefits to the public - withhold those benefits from faith-based groups simply because they're religious? Allowing the government to discriminate against religious groups when it provides nonreligious benefits raises some very concerning questions. For example, if a little girl is hurt on Trinity's playground, can the county hospital send an ambulance? Or if the city provides fire extinguishers to all preschools, can it give some to Trinity? How about if the state begins a program to remove asbestos from all public and private school buildings, can the government ensure that Trinity's students are safe from that dangerous substance? The late Justice Antonin Scalia already recognized that "when the State withholds [a neutrally available] benefit from some individuals solely on the basis of religion, it violates the [Constitution's] Free Exercise Clause."

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Filed under: CourtsAlliance Defending FreedomEducation

Trinity Lutheran Child Learning Center - video

ADF video

April 18, 2017

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent a church that runs a preschool and daycare center, which was excluded from a Missouri program that provides grants to purchase rubberized surface material (made of recycled tires) for children's playgrounds. Although the state highly ranked the center as qualified for the program, it denied the center's application solely because a church runs the daycare.

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Filed under: VideoAlliance Defending FreedomEducation

Gay rights organizations hail court ruling as "game changer"

Washington Post

April 5, 2017

In an opinion concurring with the majority, Judge Richard Posner wrote that changing norms call for a change in interpretation of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex. "I don't see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she's a woman," wrote the judge, who was appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan. The dissenting opinion - written by Judge Diane Sykes, a conservative who was on Trump's list of possible Supreme Court appointees - said the majority were stretching the meaning of the law's text too far. "We are not authorized to infuse the text with a new or unconventional meaning or to update it to respond to changed social, economic, or political conditions." The dissent alludes to the judicial philosophy of Trump's high-court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who advocates sticking with the original legislative texts in deciding legal disputes.

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Filed under: CourtsHomosexualityGender

Christians: Stop Fighting the Culture and Start Caring for It

Christian Post commentary by Eric Metaxas

April 4, 2017

If the main contribution that Christians make to culture is complaining about it, we're doing something wrong. That's what my friend Makoto Fujimura says in his new book, "Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life." You may have heard me interview Fujimura before. He's a brilliant artist and writer who has thought long and hard about the relationship between faith and the arts. "Culture," he argues, "is not a territory to be won or lost but a resource we are called to steward with care. Culture is a garden to be cultivated." In other words, Fujimura wants us to shift our thinking away from the "culture wars" model, in which we think of culture as a battleground. Of course we need to have convictions about culture, and to stand by them. But Fujimura wants to offer a better way for us to influence culture for good. His image of a garden is just one of many he draws from nature, to show how we can carefully and patiently help to cultivate that cultural environment and make good things grow in it. Pub. 3/28/17

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Christianity in Iraq Appears Doomed to Extinction

FRC commentary by Chris Gacek

April 4, 2017

oday, there are virtually no Jews in the country-fewer than ten live in Baghdad at present. Thus, complete population extinctions that are not caused by disease can take place. White described the situation for Christians as follows: "The time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some say Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited." The stories of persecution and killing (in some cases by crucifixion) of Christians to compel their conversion to Islam are commonplace. The level of barbarism can hardly be described with any word other than "demonic." The United States government is not without some influence in the area. Although nobody seems to know it, the U.S. has over 10,000 service members fighting in Syria and Iraq. However, our foreign policy establishment has made little effort to require protections for religious minorities. The Trump administration must go in a new direction.

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Filed under: Family Research CouncilPersecution

Chaplains to Army: Cease training that assaults biblical beliefs

Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty

April 1, 2017

Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty has sent a letter to the acting Secretary of the Army regarding the outgoing Secretary of the Army's decision to sign a directive just hours before his resignation that wastes valuable resources on a plan to provide "training on implicit or unconscious bias." "The military exists to protect our nation, not to be used as a laboratory for social engineering-and especially not from an outgoing official's 11th hour order," said Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USA (Retired), executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. "This directive does nothing to increase military readiness but wastes valuable training time just to promote a political agenda." Pub. 3/27/17

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Filed under: Religious freedomMilitary

A Justice Gorsuch will defend religious liberty

The Hill commentary by Amy Vitale

April 1, 2017

Congress has passed two pieces of legislation protecting religious freedom with overwhelming bipartisan support: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). These laws strike a sensible balance so no American-particularly those who are politically unpopular-can be unnecessarily forced by the government to violate their faith. These laws have been pivotal in protecting religious freedom for individuals of many faiths, including Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, and Native Americans. The balance required by these laws is put in the hands of judges, and so it is crucial that any Supreme Court nominee demonstrate a knowledge of how they function. Judge Gorsuch's reasoned and thorough understanding of RFRA and RLUIPA has been well documented and is vividly demonstrated in his Yellowbear v. Lampert decision that protected a Native American man's right to practice his faith while in prison. Pub. 3/26/17

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomBecket Law

Religious Liberty: An Introduction to Our Freedom to Believe

FRC resource by Travis Weber

April 1, 2017

The cultural ideal of individual sexual autonomy, which has slowly and steadily grown since first significantly emerging during the sexual revolution of the 1960s, has rapidly expanded into a powerful cultural and political force, primarily embodied in the lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/transgender (LGBT) advocacy movement. As this occurred, largely Christian segments of the country found their beliefs being displaced in law to give way to LGBT policies. The minority faiths who have always needed religious liberty protections still need them. But now, in addition, perhaps for the first time in American history, Christians need religious liberty protections-as their beliefs are adversely impacted by federal, state, and local laws and government actions. (.pdf file)

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Filed under: Religious freedomFamily Research Council

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