Friends, The new Alliance Alert Daily Digest is finally here! You can subscribe to the daily e-mail here: Subscribe to our mailing list * indicates required Email Address * First Name * Last Name *
AZ Central: 9-0. That’s an impressive win for free speech and a small church in Gilbert. A philosophically divided U.S. Supreme Court exhibited rare unanimity in finding that the town violated the First Amendment in the ham-handed way it sought to regulate signs.
National Law Journal (Subscription Required): Befitting the First Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court’s two major free speech decisions issued on Thursday prompted strong and conflicting reaction on both sides in both cases.
Public Discourse: It’s not that in misery and suffering human beings grasp at foolish theories that give them some hope. Rather, amidst prosperity, human beings can blind themselves to the reality of the human condition and so never ask the questions that, once asked, cannot be plausibly answered except in theistic terms.
The Washington Post: The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down an Arizona town’s ordinance that treated signs directing people to a small church’s worship services differently than signs with other messages, such as a political candidate’s advertisement.
Huffington Post: Today, the Supreme Court issued a momentous First Amendment decision. In Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, a unanimous Court invalidated a town sign code that subjected certain signs to harsher restrictions than others, depending upon what messages they conveyed. In doing so, it made plain that such “content-based” restrictions on speech are presumptively unconstitutional and must undergo strict judicial scrutiny.
Supreme Court reaffirms broad prohibition on content-based speech restrictions, in today’s Reed v. Town of Gilbert decision
The Washington Post: The Supreme Court has often said that the government generally may not impose content-based speech restrictions. Content-neutral restrictions, such as evenhanded restrictions on sound amplification, on blocking traffic, and the like are often constitutional; and that extends to content-neutral restrictions aimed at promoting aesthetics, such as limits on the size and quantity of signs.
The Hill: The Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Arizona town violated the First Amendment when it prevented a local church from posting temporary signs for its church services.
Bloomberg Politics: The U.S. Supreme Court curbed the power of governments to enforce sign regulations, striking down a local Arizona law that hindered a small church seeking to direct people to its Sunday services.
PR Newswire: Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in favor of the church involved in the Reed v. Town of Gilbert case and in affirmation of the First Amendment.
ACLJ: Today, in the case of Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an important victory for free speech rights.
Los Angeles Times: The Supreme Court has freed states to control what appears on their specialty license plates, ruling Thursday that Texas authorities were justified in refusing to issue a plate bearing a Confederate battle flag.
The National Law Journal: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Texas can keep the Confederate flag off the specialty license plates it issues to drivers.
SCOTUS Blog: The license plate case — Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans — and the municipal sign case — Reed v. Town of Gilbert — came out separately on Thursday, and their release on the same day was only a coincidence, not a planned effort to compare or contrast their results.
The New York Times: The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled that an Arizona town had violated the First Amendment by placing limits on the size of signs announcing church services.
World Magazine (Subscription Required): Good News Community Church in Gilbert, Ariz., had no building of its own but met in different locations from week to week. Until today, the town of Gilbert restricted the itinerant church from posting signs showing where its Sunday morning services would be held.
National Review: Perhaps the ruling today that will merit the most careful study is Reed v. Town of Gilbert.
Fox 10 News (AP): The Supreme Court ruled Thursday for an Arizona church in a dispute over a town’s sign law in a decision that three justices said could threaten municipal sign regulations across the country.
The Daily Signal: In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court struck down a town’s sign ordinance as an unconstitutional, content-based regulation of speech.
Whitehead LLC: The Supreme Court issued an extraordinarily strong decision that protects the First Amendment rights of churches. This was a victory for small churches and church planters across America.
University of Virginia School of Law: “Regulation of speech must be content neutral; this principle has been central to the First Amendment. The Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert saved that principle from incoherence. The Ninth Circuit had held that a sign ordinance based squarely on the content of the signs isn’t really content based if the government has a good motive. That would have turned a relatively clear and administrable rule into a quagmire of difficult litigation about government motive, seriously eroding First Amendment protections. The Supreme Court held that ‘content based’ means what it says: does the application of the law depend on the content of what the speaker said?”
Religion Clause: Today in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, (Sup. Ct., June 18, 2015), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that an Arizona town’s sign ordinance that placed greater restrictions on temporary directional signs than on other signs violates the First Amendment.
Washington Examiner: A local ordinance that blocked an Arizona church from maintaining signs advertising its services was a violation of free speech, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday.
Here you can read the Supreme Court’s opinion in Reed v. Town of Gilbert.
Becket Fund: Moments ago, a Virginia district court heard arguments regarding the Navy’s decision not to admit secular atheists into its religious chaplaincy.
The Hill: The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Texas can ban a special license plate with the Confederate flag, in a decision that saw conservative Justice Clarence Thomas surprisingly side with his liberal colleagues.
Time: The Texas DMV was within its rights to reject a proposed license plate design that included the Confederate flag.
Religion Clause: Today in Walker v. Texas Division. Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., (Sup. Ct., June 18, 2015), the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision upheld a decision by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board to reject an application by Sons of Confederate Veterans for the issuance of a specialty license plate design featuring a Confederate battle flag.
Religion News Service: Americans have less confidence in organized religion today than ever measured before — a sign that the church could be “losing its footing as a pillar of moral leadership in the nation’s culture,” a new Gallup survey finds.
Religion News Service (USA Today): If the U.S. population is becoming less and less Christian, why does the Republican presidential campaign sometimes feel like a revival meeting?
National Review: I’ve split my professional life between two American cultures: half spent in the bluest-of-blue cities and the other half in the reddest-of-red rural South.
The FIRE: Last Monday, FIRE and the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) jointly applied for permission to file an amici curiae (friends-of-the-court) brief with the Kansas Court of Appeals in Yeasin v. University of Kansas.
The Hill: It pains me to say this as a veteran, but the American military is engaged in a terrible double standard. It claims to want to respect people for who they are, but in reality, it is involved in an almost cult-like determination to advance the hyper-homosexualization of the military, and as a result, it is tearing apart the good order and discipline which holds our armed forces together.
Public Discourse: There are some problems in the reasoning of Justice Scalia’s opinion in the 1990 religious freedom case. But in its holding, and in its rejection of a quarter century of jurisprudence that could not be squared with the First Amendment, the judgment was correct.
Ecumenical News:The Sheriff in Florida’s Polk County, Grady Judd, is under fire from a national group that fights for the separation of church and State and says several residents complained about him speaking at his local Baptist church.
Religion News Service: The largest Protestant denomination in the United States is meeting this week, but it’s not as large as it was last year, or the year before. Southern Baptists now number just under 15.5 million members, down from a peak of 16.3 million in 2003.
Church Law and Tax: After reviewing thousands of published and unpublished rulings by state appellate and federal courts in 2014 that pertain to churches, I am able to identify the top five reasons churches go to court.
The Gospel Coalition: We’re continuing our series through several of this year’s notable Commencement speeches. Last week, we looked at Stephen Colbert’s address to Wake Forest University. Today, we’re hearing from Ian McEwan, an acclaimed English novelist and screenwriter, who delivered a message to the graduates at Dickinson College.
National Law Journal (Access via Google): The Army cannot block a Sikh college student from enrolling in his school’s ROTC program because he wears a turban and has long hair and a beard, a federal district judge in Washington has ruled.
Breakpoint: June 15th marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta—a document that has been called “the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”
Christian News Network: Republicans in Idaho have proposed a resolution calling for support for using the Bible alongside public school curriculum.
Court rules in favor of public school district sued by teachers for contracting with Christian school
Christian News Network: “Students should not be penalized because a few people fail to understand what the First Amendment actually requires,” said ADF Legal Counsel Rory Gray. “The Jefferson County School Board is committed to helping children in need and providing the best educational services. … The Constitution does not require government entities to shun all contact or cooperation with religious organizations.”
The Weekly Standard: June, for conservatives, has been of late the “cruelest month” at the Supreme Court, as the decisions finally roll forth. Many expect—with a combination of apprehension and resignation—that in the critical case of Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy will furnish the fifth vote for installing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. But already, during the oral argument in the case in April, the solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, set off tremors in the land when Justice Samuel Alito raised the question of the precedent in the 1983 case of Bob Jones University.
MLive: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday quickly signed controversial legislation allowing adoption agencies that contract with the state to decline service to prospective parents on religious grounds.
Hey New York Times: Is North Carolina law really about ‘curtailing same-sex unions,’ or is religious freedom the issue?
Get Religion: The New York Times reports that North Carolina lawmakers passed a measure Thursday “aimed at curtailing same-sex unions.” Here’s my pesky question for the Times: Can you provide any facts — any facts at all — to back up that claim?
The Washington Post: The North Carolina legislature on Wednesday overrode a veto by Gov. Pat McCrory to enact a new law that will allow court officials to be excused from performing weddings if they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
The Daily Signal: Earlier today, the North Carolina House voted to override the veto of S.B. 2, a bill that protects the religious liberty of civil servants in that state. Because the Senate had already voted to override the veto as well, the bill is now law. This is good public policy, and it is a shame that it was vetoed in the first place.
The Detroit News: Lawmakers continued a Michigan battle over religious and civil rights Wednesday with the passage of legislation allowing faith-based agencies to turn away gay and lesbian couples seeking state-supported adoptions.
One News Now: Samantha Harris of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, says the policy suffers from a “common defect” among colleges and universities, which is conflicting definitions within the same set of rules.
Christian News Network: Administrators from Christian and Catholic schools nationwide have signed on to a letter urging Congress to pass a law that would protect religious schools from punishment over their biblical beliefs on marriage.
Acton Institute: Large cities in the northeast like Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and so on, are often caricatured as wastelands of non-religious, unchurched, overtly secular theaters. Caricatures of this type seem odd given the fact that many of America’s oldest religious institutions are actively operating in those regions. One of my friends is quick to point out that every week people sit on church pews in northeastern churches that older than many states out west. For example, by looking at the Christian presence in the New York City area alone, research shows that the northeast might not be as religiously barren as many believe.
First Things: According to the recent study from the Pew Research Center, 22.8 percent of U.S. adults and 35 percent of millennials are religiously unaffiliated. The nones are by all indications a diverse group. Among the nones are all the familiar categories of unbelief or quasi-belief: committed atheists, agnostics, the “spiritual but not religious,” and active seekers.
NC Register: President Barack Obama is addressing the future of health care at the Catholic Health Association’s annual assembly today. The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) has had a tense relationship with the Catholic Church since its passing in 2009 and subsequent implementation. The controversy has centered especially on the provision of contraceptives in health-insurance plans and a lack of the “robust conscience” protections promised by the president prior to the law’s passing.
National Law Journal (Access via Google): The U.S. Supreme Court on June 1 made it easier for job applicants and employees to prevail on claims of religious discrimination in the workplace, but those cases remain difficult to win, employment litigators said.
Conservative Review: There is a deep sense of urgency among the GOP elite in Washington to implement “an Obamacare fix” and place the Republican stamp of approval on subsidies in the event that the Supreme Court invalidates them in King v. Burwell. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, there is no such urgency to implement a religious liberty fix in the event that the Court mandates a new civil right for homosexual couples.
Canon and Culture: Ministry and mission opportunities have taken me to several “closed” countries, nations whose governments consistently silence Christianity. I have seen how routinely and brutally those in power attempt to intimidate Christians into silence. I have returned from each of those experiences with a greater appreciation of the democratic and representative republic in which I live, but also with a deeper resolve to exercise the rights and responsibilities of my citizenship.
The Becket Fund: After a scathing Supreme Court decision against the state of Arkansas for not respecting religious freedom, last Thursday a federal district court issued a permanent injunction against the state.
The New York Times: THE 2016 presidential race is already upon us. Do you find that prospect exciting or exhausting? If you chose the latter, I’m willing to wager it’s in part because of the destructive rhetoric that threatens to accompany the election. At least half of American adults felt that the last presidential campaign was too negative.
First Things: In thirty years as a professor, of graduate seminars, academic conferences, committee meetings, lunches and dinners, and conversations short and long, I have heard God mentioned rarely, and when he is mentioned he is never talked of in a way that assumes his reality.
World Magazine (Subscription Required): What was billed as both an anti-Islam and pro-free speech rally in Phoenix turned into a peaceful, but heated, religious debate Friday night.
World Magazine (Subscription Required): Supreme Court rules in favor of Muslim job applicant in religious discrimination case.
World Magazine (Subscription Required): Faith-based organizations worry dire consequences could follow the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling.
The Weekly Standard: Well, if a decade ago America lacked “serious debate” on how to reconcile faith with democracy (or, one might add, on how to reconcile democracy with faith), then Obama surely has spent the intervening years doing everything possible to force what he might call a “national conversation.” That conversation is not just about faith and democracy, but also about the non-democratic parts of our government, the administrative agencies promulgating new laws and the courts creating new civil rights, which in turn collide with religious freedom, raising questions our country is only beginning to grapple with.
Christian News Network: A federal judge in Washington has ruled partly in favor of a high school student who was repeatedly suspended last year over his evangelistic activities on campus, ordering the punishments on his record to be expunged.
Christian News Network: The North Carolina Senate has voted to override the governor’s veto of a bill that would allow some judges to opt out of participating in same-sex ceremonies.
The Becket Fund: After a scathing Supreme Court decision against the state of Arkansas for not respecting religious freedom, today a federal district court issued a permanent injunction against the state. Arkansas agreed to the injunction, which requires the state to allow a prisoner to grow a religiously-mandated beard.
Acton Institute: What is the best test of the common good? How do you know if you have a society characterized by the flourishing of persons in community? Andy Crouch argues that we should look at the flourishing of the most vulnerable.
Christianity Today: Last year, the National Association of Evangelicals asked its members if they included denominational affiliation in the name of their church. Well over half—63 percent—said they did not.
Law and Religion Australia: The outcome of the decision is that Supreme Court, by an 8-1 majority, over-ruled the decision of the lower, Tenth Circuit, appeal court that A&F could not be held liable because Ms Elauf had not explicitly requested a religious accommodation.
USCCB: The Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2015, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the “freedom to bear witness” to the truth of the Gospel.
The Daily Signal: In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s impending decision on the gay marriage case, Sen. Mike Lee is attempting to protect religious non-profits by passing legislation that would prohibit the federal government from “discriminating” against faith-based institutions.
Vox: Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.
Canon and Culture: The 1950s and 1960s marked the beginning of sweeping societal upheaval in the United States. The most sensational headlines have always gone to sex (the sexual revolution), drugs (the pharmacological revolution), and rock and roll (the musical revolution), but alongside this well-known triumvirate the Baby Boomers also brought us fast food and frozen dinners (the culinary revolution). These revolutions are all related. They have cross-pollinated one another and they share common dependencies. They all endure, with any of the four of them likely to steal the headlines on any given day. They have not, however, progressed all at the same pace.