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Conservative students appeal case, argue U. of Minn. used official policy to suppress, censor Ben Shapiro event

Alliance Defending Freedom

On behalf of the clients, ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit in July 2018 challenging the constitutionality of the policy, which university officials used to restrict, relocate, and downsize an academic lecture delivered by Shapiro and hosted by Young America’s Foundation and student group Students for a Conservative Voice. The university justified its discrimination because, as one official said, Shapiro’s speech would be “controversial.”
“No university official has the authority to suppress viewpoints simply because of how someone might respond to it,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.

Court bars Madison school district from deceiving parents about children’s claimed gender identity

Alliance Defending Freedom

The lawsuit, filed in February by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys together with lead counsel from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, challenges a school district policy that instructs district employees to assist children of any age to adopt a transgender identity at school upon the child’s request without notice to or consent from parents, to conceal from parents the fact that school personnel are doing this unless the child “consents” to the parents being told, and even instructs district employees to conceal these facts from parents. WILL and ADF attorneys represent multiple families at the school district in challenging the policy, which violates constitutionally protected parental rights.
“It should go without saying that school district staff should be honest with parents, especially when it comes to critical matters concerning their children, but we are pleased that the court has issued an order now requiring it,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks.

Families and children affected by Supreme Court case share their stories


“So many people don’t understand how hard it is to care for foster children—up to half of foster families quit within the first year. It’s no wonder that so many successful foster parents say that the support of their faith community and the religious agencies they partner with has been a vital resource,” said Naomi Schaefer Riley, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute specializing in child welfare and foster care issues. “ tells the stories of these families, bringing a face to an often faceless problem. This case is about ensuring the greatest number of stable, loving homes is available to our nation’s most vulnerable children.”

Supreme Court to decide the value of First Amendment rights


Becket has just filed a brief at the Supreme Court in support of a college student who was threatened with arrest by police at Georgia Gwinnett College when he tried to share his faith with his classmates. In Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, two campus police officers told Chike Uzuegbunam they would arrest him for disturbing the peace if he continued to speak and share religious literature with his classmates – even though Uzuegbunam was standing inside one of the college’s tiny “free speech zones” at the time, which make up less than 0.0015% of campus.

US Department of Defense Strengthens Religious Liberty Protections for Service Members

Christian News

The policy document, “Religious Liberty in the Military Services,” released earlier this month, states that the military “will accommodate individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) which do not have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, good order and discipline, or health and safety,” and “[a] service member’s expression of such beliefs may not, in so far as practicable, be used as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.”

There should be no religious test for the Supreme Court

Robert A. Sirico in Dallas Morning News

The nomination of Barrett is a challenge and opportunity for an America presently in need of soul-searching regarding the scars of intolerance and bigotry, which have been with us since the American founding. As we were commended by the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, we would do well to turn to the founding itself to overcome the tensions within it. After all, the Constitution itself speaks against religious bigotry in stating that, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Ought such a “religious test” now be used to disqualify nominees?

Religious liberty advocates have high hopes for Supreme Court cases

Washington Examiner

But a situation like that is unlikely to arise with Fulton, said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket. Because Trump's two nominees have increased the conservative majority — and because, in recent years, even liberal justice have sided with them on religious liberty — he expects a success for CSS in Fulton, with or without Trump's pick. "Religious liberty has not been a nail-biter, 5-4 issue at the court in recent years," he said. "It has been one that has been able to command super-majorities most of the time, and I would expect that to continue no matter who’s on the court."

COVID-19 exemptions continue to spark debate over religious liberty, public health

Dallas Morning News

Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sat next to Abbott during the freedom rally, added to the debate by issuing a guidance letter on July 17 stating that religious private schools can determine when to reopen without any government interference. Paxton said imposing mandates on religious private schools would violate the U.S. and Texas Constitution as well as the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Why Amy Coney Barrett will strengthen religious liberty

Kelly Shackleford in FOX News

Yet, there is a certain quality to Judge Barrett that likely caught the attention of President Trump and much of America: her quiet conviction born of rigorous thought. The judge, about whom Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., complained in 2017 for having “dogma” living “loudly within,” responded to such outrageous bigotry with peaceful resolve. In her three years on the bench, unlike Sen. Feinstein, she has been unbiased and fair.

Democrats’ Anti-Catholic Bigotry Is All about Abortion

National Review by Alexandra DeSanctis

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), referring to Barrett’s Catholic faith. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” Here, of course, Feinstein was hinting at the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

Americans prefer a rational, respectful discussion of the issues


A USA Today commentary entitled, "Transgender scare tactics are back on the Republican agenda" unfortunately employs scare tactics and loaded language ("harmful, cruel, and just factually inaccurate") to mischaracterize in one broad stroke what are often sincerely held differences of persuasion on transgender issues. For example, in a recent national survey, faith-oriented medical professionals note the importance of fact-based biology in treating patients while also affirming that they "care for all patients in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identification, or family makeup, with sensitivity and compassion."

First Amendment to the Constitution also protects the free exercise of no religious beliefs


Quoted in a news report, Atheists bash DeVos' campus free-speech rules, the president of American Atheists displays a perilous ignorance of how the First Amendment protects their own beliefs, foolishly lambasting a new Department of Education campus free speech and religious exercise rule. The rule simply requires public colleges and universities to provide religious student groups the same rights, benefits, and privileges that other student groups enjoy.

Watching China's persecution should cause us to protect religious freedom in the U.S.A.


If today the government can shut down religious belief, speech and exercise, tomorrow the government can shut down any other belief, speech and exercise. Just as we resolve to oppose China's ruthless suppression of religious freedom, so too we ought to advance religious freedom in our own country, regardless of our persuasions.

Life, Liberty, and the Supreme Court


On today’s episode, we present a recent panel discussion held by the North Carolina Family Policy Council examining the Supreme Court’s most recent decisions dealing with religious liberty, abortion, and gender identity. What are the implications for the Church, for law, for our culture? The host is John Rustin of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, with panelists John Stonestreet, Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation and Matt Sharp of the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Why (and How) Christians Should Vote


Second, we should compare their company, because every candidate comes with others. In particular, every president comes with a few thousand others: appointees who run departments, advisors who offer counsel, and judicial nominees who will be on the bench for decades. And just about every candidate comes with a political party, which has their own set of rules and expectations not to mention a platform that party intends to advance. Finally, we should compare candidates’ stated policies, because policy matters. Policies are based on ideas. Ideas have consequences. Bad policies built on bad ideas have victims.

New Dept. Ed rule: “Students should not be forced to choose between their faith and their education”

Freedom2Care blog

ollowing up on the President's executive order safeguarding students’ First Amendment rights on college campuses and universities, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has announced a final rule to protect students of faith on public and private campuses nationwide. As the White House explains, the rule contains four provisions to protect religious liberty and free speech.

Liberty and Justice for All: An Open Letter to Fellow Citizens in Defense of American Institutions

National Review

Civilization is fragile. If religious institutions and beliefs are marginalized and mocked, the indispensable civilizational supports for a free and decent life will quickly vanish. In a plural society like America, people are free to pursue their own paths to truth. But a truly plural society cannot abide the deliberate attempt to undermine, and even destroy, churches and synagogues. A pluralism that denies the legitimacy of religious faith and practice will not produce a “diverse” America; it will, instead, produce a tyrannical America in which the freedom of conscience is lost, the inherent dignity of the individual is denied, and the strongest support for just and moral living is erased. As Alexis de Tocqueville noted, despotism can do without religious faith, but freedom cannot.

Vaccine mandates vs. religious beliefs — the legal arguments for the upcoming coronavirus lawsuits

Paragould Daily Press

Recent guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests that a request to be exempted from an employer’s flu vaccination mandate based on “sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observances” would be protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The guidance doesn’t explicitly state that the same rule would apply for COVID-19 – because there is no COVID-19 vaccine at this time – but it seems clear that the commission would prefer that “employers consider simply encouraging employees” to get vaccinated.

Trump administration to implement free speech rules for colleges


The US Education Department on Wednesday promulgated rules which formally implement a March executive order from President Donald Trump seeking to ensure that students’ First Amendment rights are protected on college campuses. The Sept. 9 regulations require that a public institution “not deny a religious student organization any of the rights, benefits, or privileges that are otherwise afforded to other student organizations.” Under the new rules, public institutions who receive federal grants must comply with the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of speech, association, press, religion, assembly, petition, and academic freedom.

Religious Liberty Has Nothing To Do With The Satanic Temple’s Campaign To Tear Down Pro-Life Laws

The Federalist by Jordan Lorence

The Satanic Temple’s “Religious Reproductive Rights” campaign will expand to more states this fall. But contrary to the recent speculations of some, The Satanic Temple will continue to fail in its efforts to use religious liberty to strike down state laws regulating abortion, as it failed with its initial foray in Missouri, because of the group’s poor understanding of laws protecting religious freedom.

US Justice Department supports Indianapolis archdiocese in religious liberty case


After the archdiocese was sued by a former teacher at a Catholic school, who was fired after attempting to contract a same-sex marriage, a state trial court in May denied the archdiocese’s motion to dismiss the case, and in June ordered the archdiocese to turn over documentation related to the case. The archdiocese then appealed to the Indiana supreme court to dismiss the case.

“The United States has a substantial interest in religious liberty,” the DOJ said in its Sept. 8 brief in the case.

The continuing fight for religious liberty in the age of COVID-19

Courier Journal by Jeremy Dys

When U.S. District Judge Gregory Tatenhove placed a temporary restraining order on Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s unconstitutional attempt to halt in-person worship during the COVID-19 pandemic, he did so with the following moving language: “The Constitution will endure. It would be easy to put it on the shelf in times like this, to be pulled down and dusted off when more convenient. But that is not our tradition. Its enduring quality requires that it be respected even when it is hard.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Delivers on Promise to Protect Free Inquiry and Religious Liberty

U.S. Dept. of Education

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered on her promise to protect free inquiry and religious liberty on campus by publishing the Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities final rule. The new rule will ensure that public institutions of higher education uphold fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that private institutions of higher education adhere to their own policies regarding freedom of speech, including academic freedom. The final rule also ensures the equal treatment and constitutional rights of religious student organizations at public institutions and provides clarity for faith-based institutions with respect to Title IX.

Could religious exemptions trump a COVID-19 vaccine mandate?

The Conversation

Recent guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests that a request to be exempted from an employer’s flu vaccination mandate based on “sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observances” would be protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The guidance doesn’t explicitly state that the same rule would apply for COVID-19 – because there is no COVID-19 vaccine at this time – but it seems clear that the commission would prefer that “employers consider simply encouraging employees” to get vaccinated. That said, there is a provision under the law that would allow businesses not to honor this exemption if it created “undue hardship.”

University Shouldn’t Punish Me for Not Addressing Male Student as ‘Ms.’

Daily Signal by Nicholas Meriwether

I found it necessary to file a grievance against the university for violating my First Amendment protections of speech and religious freedom. My objections to the student’s request were based on my own philosophical and religious convictions, which the university blithely ignored. I also believe I should have a certain amount of freedom, within my own classroom, to determine the exact language I do and do not use when teaching my class. The university denied me that freedom, as well. And it also denied my grievance. That left me with no choice but to file suit through my Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys.

Why should the nonreligious care about religious freedom?

Freedom2Care by Jonathan Imbody

The Vatican's Faustian secret compact with China and the scandalous silence of Pope Francis regarding the plight of several Catholics who by contrast courageously stand against the tyrannical Chinese Communist Party raises a fair question: If religious organizations kowtow to tyrants at the peril of religious freedom, why should the nonreligious even care?

Judge refuses to stop MacArthur’s church from meeting


MacArthur filed a declaration just before the hearing calling the restrictions on worship a misuse of state power: “The utter unnecessary deprivation of all our people by completely shutting down the mutual love and care that sustains our people in all the exigencies, pressures, and challenges of life, was cruel.”

Religious Liberty Will Prevail Over the Pandemic | Opinion

Newsweek by Jeremy Dys

Churches, synagogues and mosques began carefully meeting in-person once again. It turns out, as Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove observed, "If social distancing is good enough for Home Depot and Kroger, it is good enough for in-person religious services which, unlike the foregoing, benefit from constitutional protection."

In new term, Supreme Court once again takes up religious liberty

National Catholic Reporter

"All of the court's religion-related decisions harmonized around the principle that, despite all our honest and deep-seated disagreements about important questions, robust protection for religious dissenters is essential to our living together in a pluralistic society," said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket, a religious liberty law firm, and law professor at The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law.

Why Religious Pluralism and Religious Literacy Matter for the Future of Religious Freedom in America

Public Discourse by Andrew Graham

Religious pluralism does not require one to abjure or even downplay any truth claim or cultural commitment. Rather, by “religious pluralism” I mean the condition where individuals, associations, and institutions in a diverse society may peacefully and publicly think, speak, and act according to their deepest beliefs and core values—whether stemming from traditional religion or secular conscience—without fear of social, political, or legal reprisal.

Why Finding Justices Who Will Overturn Roe v. Wade Hasn’t Been Easy, And What to Do About It

Public Discourse by Ed Whelan

I would divide prospective justices into two categories. Type 1 consists of candidates who like to be liked, or who desire to be admired, or who are eager or willing to go along to get along. Type 2 candidates are inner-directed and anchored, don’t care about being popular, and perhaps even enjoy being contrary or cantankerous.
...What these considerations suggest is that beyond ensuring that Supreme Court candidates have a sound judicial philosophy, those of us who aim to see Roe overturned should value character and courage above stellar credentials.

Can We Be Forced to Say Something We Don’t Believe? Ask This Teacher

Daily Signal podcast

Should people be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job? Can you be compelled to speak a message you don’t believe in?

Caleb Dalton, a counsel with the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom who represents the teacher, Peter Vlaming, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss the issues involved.

OCR Resolves Age and Disability Discrimination Complaint with Utah

U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services

Roger Severino, OCR Director said, "We've been pleased by the cooperation of states we have approached with civil rights concerns regarding their policies and Utah's plan is the best yet." Severino concluded, "Older persons and persons with disabilities have equal worth and dignity and should not be deprioritized for health care based on stereotypes and other impermissible factors."

Governors Can’t Use Coronavirus To Indefinitely Declare A State Of Emergency

The Federalist commentary by Molly McCann

To declare emergencies, to close businesses and confine Americans to their homes, to mandate masks, to limit access to churches, to suspend your civil liberties, the governors point to power enumerated by statute—that is, defined by the legislature. Where the legislature defined the terms, it can redefine the terms. Where they are empowered to do so, state legislatures must begin to declare the emergency at an end, rebuke the governors’ power grabs, and recalibrate the allocation of power to its proper balance among the branches.

Church Sues California After Being Threatened With Fines And Jail

Daily Wire

In the complaint made public Thursday, lawyers for the church argue that state and county officials are violating six parts of the California State Constitution with their indefinite lockdown orders against houses of worship. They also contrast the treatment of churches with that of the protesters whose demonstrations roiled the state.

‘Philadelphia Statement’ Defends Free Speech From Cancel Culture

Daily Signal by Fred Lucas

Called the Philadelphia Statement, the 845-word document says in part:

If we seek to change our country’s trajectory; if we desire unity rather than division; if we want a political life that is productive and inspiring; if we aspire to be a society that is pluralistic and free, one in which we can forge our own paths and live according to our own consciences, then we must renounce ideological blacklisting and recommit ourselves to steadfastly defending freedom of speech and passionately promoting robust civil discourse.

The statement’s top signatories include Alan Sears, former president of Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal aid group, and Adam J. White, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

21 States Move to Support Coach Kennedy for Round 2

Daily Signal by Nicole Russell

Remember the case of Joe Kennedy, the Marine Corps veteran-turned-high school football coach who was suspended, then fired, halfway through the season a few years ago for thanking God in silent prayer for his ability to be a coach? Well, he’s back in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, pleading again for his right to pray on a school football field.

This time, 21 states have filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the appeals court to find in Kennedy’s favor.

Gender-Transition Surgery Does Not Improve Mental Health after All


For these researchers to claim that their study “supports the decision to provide gender-affirming surgeries to transgender individuals who seek them” was no surprise. It likely wouldn’t have been published if they had not. Nor was it a surprise when the study received significant media coverage, touted as confirmation of the benefits of “gender-affirmation.”

On the other hand, writing at The Public Discourse, Paul Dirks has noted that some of the best-designed, most-rigorous, and time-tested studies suggest otherwise, specifically the efficacy of medical transition. Especially in the case of male-to-female transitions, other studies reveal much higher mortality rates due to suicide, AIDS, drug abuse, and even cardiovascular disease. In other words, the best studies tend to show the worst results when it comes to transition surgery. These studies, however, never seem to generate the same media coverage as those that confirm our current cultural predeterminations.

COVID-19 restrictions and the First Amendment

World and Everything In It podcast

On Legal Docket, Mary Reichard talks to Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband about the clash between COVID-19 restrictions and the First Amendment (go to 6:00 mark).

Religious freedom in America: popular and polarizing

ABC News

About 8 in 10 Americans said religious freedom issues are at least somewhat important to them, with 55% saying they are very important, according to a newly released poll conducted by The University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. While 35% of U.S. adults overall said they believe their own religious freedom is threatened at least somewhat, conservatives were more likely than liberals to say so.

Jeff Bezos Pressed On Why Amazon Allows Hate Group To Determine Eligible Charitable Donations

The Federalist

“I’m just wondering why you would place your confidence in a group that seems to be so out of step and seems to take mainstream Christian doctrine and label it as hate?” Gaetz asked Bezos after noting that Catholic Family News, American Family Association, and Jewish Defense League are all excluded from the list. In the past, organizations such as D. James Kennedy Ministries, the Family Research Council and the religious liberty law firm Alliance Defending Freedom were also excluded based on the “hate group” label attached by the SPLC.

Americans Are Turning Away From Religion Toward Dangerous Secular Cults

The Federalist

For years now, pollsters and demographers have been chronicling the decline of religion in America. And it’s not just religious affiliation that’s declining. Along with lower rates of church attendance, religious weddings and religious activities in the household are also waning. By every measure, America is becoming a less religious country, with huge implications for our political and cultural life. But the story of the decline of religion in America is incomplete. What has gone less noticed, and less studied, is the rise of ersatz religions in America—secular substitutes for traditional forms of faith. The fastest-growing of these pseudo-religions occupy either end of the political spectrum, and are themselves explicitly political.

USAID appointee alleges 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment' at agency

The Hill

Corrigan laid out her views explicitly on social media Monday in an explosive Twitter thread railing against same-sex marriage, transgender individuals and her view that U.S. taxpayer dollars are provided to countries that “celebrate sexual deviancy.”
She accused USAID of holding a “rampant anti-Christian sentiment” and said she was horrified by a document circulated at the agency that purportedly said people couldn't tell the gender of an individual just by looking at them.
“I watched with horror this week as USAID distributed taxpayer funded documents claiming 'we cannot tell someone’s sex or gender by looking at them' and that not calling oneself 'cis-gendered' is a microagression,” Corrigan wrote on Twitter. “I’m not cis-anything. I’m a woman.”

D.C. police arrest pro-lifers for chalking pro-life messages despite permit from city

Live Action

But according to Students for Life of America, after receiving a permit to paint “Black Preborn Lives Matter” on the street, the group arrived to find six police cars waiting for their planned 10 a.m. arrival in front of Planned Parenthood. They had planned to use temporary paint that would wash off as the police suggested, but were told they could not use it after all. When they asked if they could use sidewalk chalk, the police told them they would face arrest if they did.

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