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Washington Times: A group of abortion clinics, doctors and pro-choice groups are suing to block a North Carolina law that would require a pregnant woman to have an ultrasound and receive information about her fetus before she can obtain an abortion.
Catholic Culture: The Catholic Church will cease witnessing legal marriages if the government insists on equal treatment for same-sex couples, an Australian archbishop has warned.
Christian Post: Two Idaho homeless shelter residents failed in their attempt to sue a Christian mission shelter for allegedly forcing them to participate in religious activities.
Christian Concern: The Work and Pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has urged the Prime Minister today to recognise marriage in the tax system in an effort to encourage ‘couple formation’ and stable families.
Christian Concern: The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has announced that it will make changes to its passport application form in response to pressure from homosexual activists.
The Christian Institute: British courts are wrongfully penalising Christians through an “incorrect interpretation” of human rights laws, a Roman Catholic Archbishop has warned.
The Washington Post: President Barack Obama said Monday he does not regret a $528 million loan to a solar energy company that later collapsed, saying officials always knew a clean energy loan program would not back winners 100 percent of the time.
Brett Harvey at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: The majority opinion decided that legislative prayer is about “acknowledging the ways in which it can bring together citizens of all backgrounds and encourage them to participate in the workings of their government.”
XINHUANET.com: The head of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, refuted the existence of any extreme Islamists inside the NTC, saying Islamic sharia will be the main source of legislation in the new Libya.
Freedom From Religion Foundation: A national state/church watchdog has put town officials in Whiteville, Tenn., on notice that if they don’t remove the illegal cross atop the town’s water tower, it will file suit.
Jacksonville Daily News: I waited to write this column until Friday when the results of Elon University’s poll was to be released. I admit, I thought the results would be much different. Turns out, 56 percent of the residents in the Tarheel State don’t want a ban on gay marriage.
A group of mentally disabled women and their representatives were given the green light on Friday to file new claims of constitutional violations against the District of Columbia over abortions and other medical procedures performed on the women without the consent of legal representatives or a court order.
ABC News: Anchorage Superior Court Judge John Suddock on Friday rejected the state’s attempt to have certain issues tossed from a lawsuit to be heard Feb. 13.
ABC News: “I believe that marriage is between a man and woman,” Gingrich said in Fort Dodge, Iowa, today according to the Des Moines Register. “It has been for all of recorded history and I think this is a temporary aberration that will dissipate. I think that it is just fundamentally goes against everything we know.”
The Washington Post: Venerable talk show host Larry King, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, ice cream icons Ben and Jerry and presidential daughter Barbara Bush all stepped forward in New York, making attention-grabbing appearances in a long-running ad campaign.
News from The Associated Press: Transgender inmates who did not begin treatment prior to entering federal custody can now receive sex hormones specialized mental health counseling and possibly gender reassignment surgery while serving their sentences.
KETV Omaha (includes video): A sixth-grade girl said she was told that she can’t wear a necklace that resembles a rosary because it violates the dress code at the Fremont Public Schools.
Raymond Ibrahim at the Middle East Forum: Finding and connecting similar patterns of behavior throughout Islamic history is one of the most objective ways of determining whether something is or is not part of Muslim civilization.
The Chillicothe Gazette | chillicothegazette.com: Ohio House Bill 136, which was approved Sept. 22 by the House’s Education Committee, would expand the state’s private school voucher program to any student in any district whose family makes less than $95,000.
Michael Flaherty at WSJ.com: In case you needed further proof of the American education system’s failings, especially in poor and minority communities, consider the latest crime to spread across the country: educational theft. That’s the charge that has landed several parents, such as Ohio’s Kelley Williams-Bolar, in jail this year.
Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy: Wednesday, the Court will be hearing Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, an important religious freedom case.
Erwin Chemerinsky at the ABA Journal: Once more, as it has been for each of the last six years, it will be, from a practical perspective, the Anthony Kennedy Court. In ideologically divided cases, there are two blocs as distinct as any that have served on the court: Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. on the right; and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan on the left.
Jerusalem Post: The textbook, which warns students of democratic countries’ attempts to Westernize Muslim countries by advancing the United Nations’ human rights agenda, has received little attention in the media, where restrictive laws passed in response to the Arab Spring. The Saudi government can levy fines and jail sentences for criticizing government institutions.
Religion Clause: In Oregon City, Oregon last week, Dale and Shannon Hickman were convicted of second degree manslaughter in the death of their seriously ill infant son for whom they prayed and who they anointed with olive oil instead of seeking medical help.
LifeSiteNews.com: The Canadian National Post, which until the advent of SUN news network was thought to be the most conservative national mainstream media outlet in the country, has shocked conservatives by apologizing for running a pro-family advertisement.
LifeSiteNews.com: Religious leaders in the Indian state of Kerala are fighting a bill proposed by the government that would crack down on families with more than two offspring, as well as ban religious leaders from encouraging families to have more children.
The New American: A member of Britain’s Parliament has declared that Christian churches that do not perform homosexual “marriage” ceremonies should be denied the right for their pastors to contract a legally-binding marriage on behalf of the government.
LifeSiteNews.com: “It’s not only [about] changing the definition of marriage, its [about] changing the definition of what parenting is,” Tasmanian State Director Mark Brown told 6PR’s Howard Sattler. “It’s [about] saying gender doesn’t matter in the life of a child and how it is raised.” “This has implications for the whole of society.”
Wesley Smith at Secondhand Smoke | A First Things Blog: I have worried before that stopping the normal onset of puberty in boys who believe they are girls, is a form of human experimentation–and on children, no less. And now another case has surfaced of an 11-year-old boy who is being kept medically from entering puberty
CA: “The little boy who started a sex change aged eight because he (and his lesbian parents) knew he always wanted to be a girl”
Daily Mail: The lesbian parents of an 11-year-old boy who is undergoing the process of becoming a girl last night defended the decision, claiming it was better for a child to have a sex change when young. Thomas Lobel, who now calls himself Tammy, is undergoing controversial hormone blocking treatment in Berkeley, California to stop him going through puberty as a boy.
The Church Report: Poor New Jersey — derided for ‘Jersey Shore,’ aggressive driving and talking too fast. But when it comes to happily ever after, the Garden State is No. 1.
Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News: Sapir Prize winner Yoram Kaniuk sets legal precedent implying that all Israelis can self-determine their own religious identity.
The Church Report: A survey of more than 400,000 people by the Office for National Statistics found the proportion who said they were not religious rose from 20.5% in 2010 to 23.2% this year.
The Washington Post: The Supreme Court has turned away another appeal from an Ohio judge who wanted to display a poster containing the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.
Houston Chronicle: few weeks after Bell County Schools stopped its practice of having public prayer before high school football games, the crowd who came recited the Lord’s Prayer.
News from The Associated Press: Worries about vaccine safety were common even among parents whose kids were fully vaccinated: 1 in 5 among that group said they think delaying shots is safer than the recommended schedule.
Chuck Colson at the Christian Post: In April 2005, Katrina Effert, age nineteen, secretly gave birth to a baby boy in the downstairs bathroom. She then strangled the child, wrapped him in towels, and dropped him over the backyard fence behind a neighbor’s shed.
News from The Associated Press: Muslim death row inmate says the Ohio prison system is denying him meals prepared according to Islamic law while at the same time providing kosher meals to Jewish prisoners . . .
News from The Associated Press: Arsonists torched a mosque in an Arab village in northern Israel Monday, setting off protests by residents who clashed with police.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide: Eleven Iranian Christians who fled Iran in the wake of a government campaign against evangelical Christianity have received threats via email from ‘the unknown soldiers of the Hidden Imam’ calling on them to either repent or face extra-judicial execution. The ‘unknown soldiers’ are alleged to have links with Iranian security services.
News from The Associated Press: Civil rights lawyers asked a federal judge Monday to force the New York Police Department to turn over documents about its secret efforts to spy on and infiltrate the Muslim community.
News from The Associated Press: The Supreme Court will let a Muslim woman sue Southern California jailers for making her take off her head scarf in a courthouse holding cell.
Examiner.com: The Patriot-News recently published an article discussing non-believers – Ernest Perce, Carl Silverman and Mikki Weidman — who protested a “See You At The Pole” event at East Hanover Elementary School in which students gathered to pray. The article briefly mentions complaints that were voiced regarding this particular event, but it does not delve into great detail concerning the legal problems associated with the event.
LifeNews.com: The battle over yanking federal taxpayer funding of the Planned Parenthood abortion business is back in Congress as House Republicans have unveiled new legislation attempting to remove its Title X funding.
Politics in Minnesota: Supporters of marriage ban amendment hope to continue an unbroken string of victories nationwide
StarTribune.com: Anoka-Hennepin’s push to deter bullying and to clarify the district’s GLBT policy shows signs of working but has raised concerns from teachers.
Justices attend toned-down Red Mass; Ginsburg doesn’t attend – tired of “outrageously anti-abortion” sermons
CNN.com: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended Red Masses in the past, but has said she grew tired of being lectured by Catholic officials. Ginsburg, like Breyer and Associate Justice Elena Kagan, is Jewish. “I went one year, and I will never go again, because this sermon was outrageously anti-abortion,” Ginsburg said in the book “Stars of David: Prominent Jews talk About Being Jewish” by author Abigail Pogrebin. “Even the Scalias – although they’re much of that persuasion – were embarrassed for me.”
Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota: In northern Minnesota, the church where the Rev. Gus Booth has preached politics in the past took another swing on Sunday at goading the Internal Revenue Service into a fight . . . “The government should not tell houses of worship what they can and cannot say,” Booth said.
CBN News: The IRS cannot be a content manager or regulator,” Rev. Kevin Baird, Legacy Church in West Ashley, S.C., told The Post and Courier. “There is a legitimate intimidation factor that comes from the IRS and the Left to squelch conservative pastors,” he said.
“Pulpit Freedom Sunday blasted by group advocating separation of church and state” | The Colorado Independent
The Colorado Independent (includes video): The ADF doesn’t seem to be arguing that such political practices from the pulpit is legal, but that it should be legal. The group views the restrictions placed on church as a part of their tax-exempt status as an undue shackle, which they believe violates the constitutional right of free speech . . . Below, video of Bishop Phillip Porter, Jr., or Aurora, CO, speaking in favor of Pulpit Freedom Sunday . . .
OneNewsNow.com: “The federal judge did the right thing here by halting the enforcement of a city ordinance that effectively censors anyone who wishes to express his or her beliefs through the distribution of literature,” Kellum says. “That violates the constitutionally protected right to free speech in public areas at a free event that’s open to everyone.”
The Post and Courier, Charleston SC: The Rev. Kevin Baird of Legacy Church in West Ashley said pastors should be able to “teach the Scriptures and apply them to issues without fear of the Johnson amendment.” . . . “The IRS cannot be a content manager or regulator,” Baird said. “There is a legitimate intimidation factor that comes from the IRS and the left to squelch conservative pastors.” . . . The Alliance Defense Fund, an affiliation of Christian attorneys and organizations led by Alan Sears, is challenging the ban.
Beliefnet News: How many pastors participated? The Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit legal defense group, sponsors the annual event, which started with 33 pastors in 2008. This year spokespersons have called on 1,000 religious leaders to sign on. [embeds ADF video]
KansasCity.com: Erik Stanley, the lawyer for the defense fund, said churches have received property tax exemptions “from the beginning” because of the social services and other intangible benefits they provide.
New Hampshire NEWS06: The Colorado-based Alliance Defense Fund filed an official protest with the U.S. Department of Human Services and the federal Government Accountability Office on behalf of councilors Dan St. Hilaire, R-Concord; Ray Wieczorek, R-Manchester; and David Wheeler, R-Mason . . . In the protest, the ADF attorneys write “the Grant by HHS was improper, irregular, unnecessary, in contravention of the authority of the Executive Council and its duly elected members, and in disregard for the sovereignty of the State of New Hampshire.”
NYTimes.com: The Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit legal defense group whose founders include James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, sponsors the annual event, which started with 33 pastors in 2008. This year, Glenn Beck has been promoting it, calling for 1,000 religious leaders to sign on and generating additional interest at the beginning of a presidential election cycle . . . “It’s frustrating,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel at Alliance Defense. “The law is on the books but they don’t enforce it, leaving churches in limbo.”
“Pastors plan civil disobedience act October 2nd by preaching politics from the pulpit” | God Discussion
God Discussion: On October 2, 2011, pastors across the country are going to participate in a yearly act of civil disobedience: they’re going to risk their 501(c) 3 tax exempt status by openly endorsing or supporting political candidates from the pulpit on Sunday. [embeds ADF video]
The Tennessean | tennessean.com: “The issue of whether the IRS can censor what a pastor says in the pulpit has never been tested in court,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.
Gay City News > Anti-Gay Marriage NY Town Clerk Wangles Extraordinary Accommodation: “Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti gave a memo for Town Clerks who are opposed to processing same-sex marriage applications based on religious beliefs to the Town Board,” she wrote. “The memo was from the Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that defends the right to hear and speak the truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation. She informed the Town Board that she would be compromising her Christian moral conscience if she were to participate in the same-sex marriage licensing procedure.”
Examiner.com: “Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “Churches should be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to talk about. The IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status. No government-recognized status can be conditioned upon the surrender of a constitutionally protected right. That’s why ADF started Pulpit Freedom Sunday: to get the government out of the pulpits of America.”
TaxProf Blog: Today is the fourth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday, as 500 pastors plan to discuss politics and candidates in their sermons, flouting the law against campaigning by churches. New York Times, The Political Pulpit . . . (includes video)
Red County: What CARD wants is for Christian faith-based groups to be forced to hire atheists, should they apply, and Catholic or Orthodox Jewish groups to be forced to hire Muslims, Hindus, or Wicca Priestesses should they apply. CARD’s letter, and the request it makes of the President, is akin to the same God-hating logic we’ve seen groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State leverage inasmuch as CARD’s contention is that once a faith-based organization accepts federal money, they have to cash in their religious freedom.
Why pastors shouldn’t play politics from pulpit | Alaska Dispatch: As background, the Alliance Defense Fund argues that no house of worship should ever be taxed by government. And people who donate money to a church should be able to deduct such gifts on their income taxes. It is those donations that are at the heart of the constitutional battle.
Snoqualmie Valley Record: “The problem with those so-called free expression areas is you can’t really reach an audience,” said Alliance Defense Fund attorney Nate Kellum, the senior counsel for Ascherl’s case. “Nobody really came that close to where he was forced to be.”
More Pastors Sign on to Preach Politics From Pulpit, Christian News: This Sunday, more than 400 pastors will be using their pulpits to preach politics and challenge the Internal Revenue Service’s regulations that restrict religious leaders from endorsing candidates and discussing policies with their congregations . . . “Our goal has always been … to have the Johnson amendment declared unconstitutional,” Stanley said.
The Pitch News: The Alliance Defense Fund, a group that litigates on behalf of religious organizations, sued for two churches which argued that the fee is nothing more than a tax with a contrived name
ADF Attorney Michael J. Norton at the Christian Post Advancing Religious Liberty Blog: On behalf of the Executive Council of the State of New Hampshire, the Alliance Defense Fund has formally protested a grant of $1.1 million by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directly to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
Erik Stanley: “IRS has no business telling pastors how to choose their words: 1st Amendment comes before tax regulations”
To even suggest that any governmental agency or official has the right to punish a pastor because of something he says from the pulpit is not only offensive, but unconstitutional. No pastor should ever have to dance around an issue or to self-censor his sermon when he preaches from the pulpit because of an IRS rule. In America, we value everyone’s constitutionally protected right to free speech and free exercise of religion.