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Rory Gray at Speak Up Movement: Religious liberty scored a victory this month when the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 became law. Congress included a new provision this year—Section 533—that protects the religious freedom of our brave men and women in uniform. The Act instructs military commanders to “accommodate” the “conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs” of members of the armed forces and prohibits them, “in so far as practicable,” from using “such beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action.”
Union Leader: A sponsor of legislation to allow parents to opt out of sex education for their children says it will mean parents will no longer have to claim religious objections to the subject matter to keep their kids out of the classes.
The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade will draw thousands to the nation’s capital, including activists, lawyers, and journalists. The Law of Life Summit “3,” hosted by the Ave Maria School of Law, will be “Calling Out the Media!” on Thursday, January 24, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Washington DC’s Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill.
UVA: When University of Virginia law professor Toby Heytens was a law student, he was a self-described “law nerd” with a keen interest in constitutional law and the Supreme Court. Yet Heytens found the U.S. Office of the Solicitor General — which represents the federal government before the Supreme Court — to be a bit of a mystery.
Understanding standing: The Court’s Article III questions in the same-sex marriage cases (I) | SCOTUS Blog
Marty Lederman at SCOTUS Blog: As Lyle has explained, when it granted certiorari last month in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8 cases, the Court conspicuously chose to add Article III questions to be briefed and considered in each case, in addition to the merits questions posed by the petitioners.
Times of the India: In a first-of-its-kind step towards regulating the practice of surrogacy in India, the Union home ministry has issued stringent guidelines for visas being issued to foreigners seeking to rent a womb in India.
LifeNews: A formal complaint has been filed with the City of Wichita against Julie Burkhart and two associated business entities, which presents evidence that remodeling and other work is taking place illegally at a proposed new abortion clinic in Wichita without the proper permits. The complaint requests that an infraction notice be filed and a cease and desist order be issued to halt all construction at the building.
C-FAM: Perhaps as many as a million people marched in Paris last Sunday and at French embassies around the world against proposed legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in France. One of the surprises in the French campaign for traditional marriage is that homosexuals have joined pro-family leaders and activists in the effort.
Freedom from Religion Foundation: It is our understanding that Sanne, Pastor of the Calvary Chapel in Olympia, gave an invocation addressed to his “Heavenly Father,” asking the “Lord, [to] bring us back into line with the timeless truths and wisdom of Your Word [the Bible].” Sanne asked his god to “lead us to a blessing, being one nation, under You.” Sanne also took the opportunity to lobby the Senate to overturn the gay marriage bill and referendum, by inviting his deity to “strengthen marriage as You’ve ordained it for our good and Your Glory.” Sanne concluded: “We openly and humbly ask these things in the name of Your Son the Living Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Becky Garrison at the Washington Post: Therein lies the elephant in the room -the one that needs to be taken out of the closet. In mainline and more liberal religious settings, one finds the rise of an ecclesiology that embraces LGBT people in all aspects of the church’s rites including ordination and marriage. Central to this development is a refutation of “homosexuality” as a “sin” and an embrace of a more incarnational theology that views all of humanity as created good in the image of God.
Commentary Magazine: What we’re seeing is a rapid hollowing out of marriage in Middle America–with 44 percent of the children of moderately-educated mothers born outside of marriage. “We’re at a tipping point with Middle America,” W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading scholar on marriage, told National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, “insofar as Middle Americans are on the verge of losing their connection to marriage.”
Telegraph: One of Britain’s most prominent evangelical Christian leaders has broken ranks on the issue of homosexuality describing the traditional Church teaching on he issue as dangerous and unchristian.
Arkansas Times: The Arkansas affiliate of the ACLU has announced its opposition to a proposed $300,000 contract between the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock and the Union Rescue Mission to operate the city’s day center for the homeless, soon to open in a building acquired from Union Rescue on Confederate Boulevard. The ACLU said taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to pay a staff that will be hired in a way that discriminates on the basis of religion.
KWGN.com: Among a slew of new bills introduced in the state senate Wednesday is a measure from senate Republicans that seeks to ban abortion for purposes of gender selection.
Kansas City Star: The former Wichita clinic of slain abortion provider George Tiller is expected to open in the next few months with one full-time and two part-time doctors amid heightened security and community outreach efforts, its new owners said.
Lansing State Journal: Lawmakers have reintroduced a proposed overhaul of the state’s largest health insurer, this time without the “objectionable language” that led Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to veto the first package that cleared the Legislature last month.
Emirates247.com: A well-known Saudi Islamic scholar has issued a new fatwa (edict) saying holding elections for a president or another form of leadership is prohibited in Islam.
AP: A Virginia Senate Committee killed a bid to prevent Medicaid patients from having abortions when doctors determine the fetus has profound deformities that make survival unlikely.
LifeSiteNews: A Christian academy in South Africa has come under attack in the media for offering to help homosexual students leave the gay lifestyle.
LifeNews: A new report from Americans United for Life, that monitors changes to pro-life laws on abortion and bioethics and end-of-life issues named Louisiana the most pro-life state in the nation. Washington state came in at the bottom of the list of 50 states on abortion.
AP: Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights sought on Thursday to reassure American would-be adoptive parents that they will be allowed to take their children back to the United States. But some Americans with court rulings in their favor say they’re still in legal limbo.
Fox News: The 15-year prison sentence given to a woman and her seven children by an Egyptian court for converting to Christianity is a sign of things to come, according to alarmed human rights advocates who say the nation’s Islamist government is bad news for Christians in the North African country.
Reuters: The power of federal government agencies over local authorities was at issue before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, in two complex cases whose outcome could affect the spread of wireless telephone services nationwide.
State Court Administrator says Iowa Supreme Court has weathered the storm of anti-judicial sentiment
WCFCourier.com: State Court Administrator David Boyd said Wednesday he believes the Iowa Supreme Court has weathered a “perfect storm” of anti-judicial sentiment that brewed in 2010 following a controversial same-sex marriage decision and disruptive state budget cuts.
AZ Central: Despite winning many battles over the past four decades, anti-abortion forces may be losing the war.
Telegraph: The archbishop wrote: “While it is true, certainly within Catholic social teaching, that governments are not required to make all immoral actions illegal, to many it is unhelpful, unnecessary and indeed profoundly unwise for political action to do quite the opposite, namely to attempt through the law, by equating homosexual unions with heterosexual marriage, to render moral what is in itself morally defective.”
Democrat and Chronicle: David Cortman is senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which has represented Greece at no charge since the case was filed in 2009 by two Greece residents who objected to the prayers. He blasted the appellate court decision, noting a long history in the U.S. of opening legislative sessions with prayer. “The town of Greece had a constitutional practice of allowing citizens to voluntarily deliver a prayer according to the dictates of their own conscience,” he said via email. “While the district court upheld the practice, the appeals court found it unconstitutional because the town did not invite non-Christian clergy from outside its borders.”
No appeal to heaven unless a judge approves the prayer: Supreme Court asked to review atheist’s victory
Chris Gacek of FRC at the Washington Times: In May 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit issued an aggressive, secular ruling in a “legislative” prayer case arising from a small town in western New York. In Town of Greece v. Galloway . . . The court applied a totality-of-the-circumstances analysis that paid close attention to the content of the prayers. The court recognized the prayers “did not preach conversion, threaten damnation to nonbelievers, downgrade other faiths, or the like.” Nevertheless, the court balanced factors like the proportion of prayers offered by self-identified Christians, whether prayers “contained uniquely Christian references,” and finally whether the person offering the prayer used first-person plural pronouns (“we” or “us”).
Rasmussen: A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 18% of American Adults think the current level of difficulty to adopt in this country is about right. Forty-four percent (44%) feel it is too hard to adopt a child here. Only five percent (5%) believe it’s too easy.
Inquisitr.com: The Liberty Institute offered free legal service to an Ohio middle school’s fight to keep a portrait of Jesus Christ donated by a student group several decades ago. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded the image be removed from the rural southern Ohio school.
Assaulting Freedom on Religious Freedom Day: HHS litigation snapshot | Matt Bowman on the Hugh Hewitt Show
ACLU Blog: A small town in eastern Kentucky is making some big news. Vicco, Kentucky adopted a fairness ordinance, meaning one that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based upon a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Why is this a big deal? Vicco is now the FIRST town in Kentucky’s Appalachians to pass Fairness protections. Vicco is the FIRST Kentucky city in 10 years to approve an LGBT Fairness law. Vicco is also the FIRST rural Kentucky community to pass LGBT Fairness protections.
San Francisco Chronicle: Lincoln County schools officials say they are working with the American Civil Liberties Union to address a prayer controversy at the West Lincoln Attendance Center.
The New American: Roger Kiska, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which assisted in the cases of all four of the individuals, reacted to the rulings, pointing out that “Christian employees should not be singled out for discrimination. No one should have to hide their faith or act contrary to it. That type of intolerance is inconsistent with the values of civilized communities.” Kiska called the victory for Eweida “a significant step forward for religious freedom in Europe. However, it is extremely disappointing that the court ruled against the three other applicants. We hope they will appeal that decision to the Grand Chamber of the court.”
Christian Post: Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish. Regrettably, the administration does not want religious freedom to stand in the way of imposing ObamaCare,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman commented in an email to The Christian Post.
Christian Post: David Cortman, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Christian Post that the board punished Tutka for a crime he did not commit. “It is often said that the punishment should fit the crime. This doesn’t …
AP: Public nudity activists prompted a hearing scheduled for Thursday in San Francisco in which a federal judge will consider blocking a new city law requiring people to wear clothing.
Justin Shubow at Public Discourse: The plan of our nation’s capital and the architecture of its core buildings and monuments must carry on the classical vision the Founders intended as the physical manifestation of America’s form of government and political ideals.
Ilan H. Meyer at Balkinization: At the USCCR hearing I was taken by surprise when invitees of the Republican members of the Commission opposed such recommended interventions on behalf of LGBTQ youth. In particular, I was intrigued by concerns that efforts to improve the school environment for LGBTQ students, aimed at reducing stigma and prejudice, raised First Amendment concerns. I was particularly struck by Professor Eugene Volokh’s testimony, which singled out one of my statement to the committee, saying “[O]ne of the things that [Meyer noted] is that one of the dangers to the mental health of gay students is anti-gay stigma and prejudice. I think that’s probably right, but the consequence of that is that if you take that logic seriously, then again speech, whether on campus or off campus, that expresses and contributes to the stigma of prejudice would be punishable.” As a public health researcher I have never seen such concerns voiced.
Investors.com: The radical Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t just threaten Israel and Mideast peace. According to the Egyptian press, several of its operatives have infiltrated the U.S. government and are influencing policy here.
This casebook explores fundamental legal issues relating to how scientific and religious concepts of biological origins should be presented in public-school biology courses. Although numerous legal arguments are invoked, the Establishment Clause typically stands at or near the center of most disputes: Does teaching Darwinism or creationism, or disparaging them, in public schools promote or hinder religious belief in violation of the First Amendment? In grappling with this question in various forms as presented in differing fact situations over the past half century, American courts have examined the meaning of the Establishment Clause and sharpened their interpretation of it. This is the first and only casebook devoted to this topic, and it is ideal for use in education law programs, constitutional law seminars, and legal history courses.
Short, Donn, Queering Schools, GSAs and the Law: Taking on God (November 6, 2012). Donn Short, ‘Queering Schools and GSAs: Taking On God’ in Gerald Walton, ed, The Gay Agenda: Claiming Space, Identity & Justice (New York: Peter Lang, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2198683