OneNewsNow: “‘We think clearly what the state is doing here is discriminating against churches, because they will not allow this daycare to participate in the recycled tire program simply because it’s connected to a church,’ [Joel Oster] offers. ‘If it were not connected to a church, it’s unquestioned they would be entitled to participate. So this is blatant discrimination.’”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit Tuesday in a federal lawsuit filed against Missouri officials on behalf of a Columbia Christian pre-school and daycare center.
Caffeinated Thoughts: “Joel Oster, the keynote speaker from Alliance Defending Freedom, said that there is a movement in the United States to change the concept of having freedom of religion to freedom of worship. Oster noted that our first right in the bill of rights is the free exercise of religion, not just worship.”
OneNewsNow: “After a staff member posted a controversial statement on a social media site, the Kansas Board of Regents voted to restrict free speech rights of university professors and staff. Alliance Defending Freedom intervened, as ADF Attorney David Hacker tells OneNewsNow. ‘Universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, but this policy aims to shut that down for Kansas professors as they engage in social media,’ he says.”
Caffeinated Thoughts: “‘Universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, but this policy aims to shut that down for Kansas professors when they engage in social media,’ said Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker.”
Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the Kansas Board of Regents Monday to explain the unconstitutionality of its new policy that restricts the free speech of university professors when they post to social media sites.
Joel Oster at Speak Up Movement: A South Carolina federal court ruled in favor of common sense and comfort when it decided that a fifth grade graduation ceremony can be held at a chapel of a nearby Christian university rather than the cramped “cafetorium” in the elementary school.
Joel Oster at Alliance Defending Freedom: On November 6, the United States Supreme Court will take up the issue of whether a town council can open its sessions with prayer in the case Town of Greece v. Galloway . . . History reminds us of who we were and who we are
Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney Joel Oster appeared on NPR News & Talk to discuss Town of Greece v. Galloway. A Rabbi and representative of Americans United for Separation of Church and State also appeared on the broadcast. | MP3 audio 32:16 mins (audio ends prematurely)
US Supreme Court to Hear Public Prayer, Abortion, ‘Obamacare’ Cases as New Term Begins | Christian Post
Christian Post: However, Joel Oster, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, who represented Greece in the court at the time, told The Christian Post earlier that the decision contradicted past Supreme Court rulings on the matter. “The U.S. Supreme Court already upheld the practice of prayers before deliberative bodies,” he said. “This opinion by the Second Circuit effectively undermines the Supreme Court’s opinion and places several roadblocks and obstacles for a town to permit legislative prayers.”
Christian Legal Group Alliance Defending Freedom Defends Colorado Day of Prayer Proclamations in State Supreme Court
Christian Post: “The governor should be as free to issue prayer proclamations as the founders of America and Colorado were,” commented ADF Senior Counsel Joel Oster. “State and federal courts all over the country have repeatedly upheld and recognized such proclamations as a deeply rooted part of American tradition and history.”
One News Now: Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Joel Oster supported the Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries that works with at-risk youth in East Baton Rouge . . . “And the Commission did the right thing in responding to the lawsuit. They changed their policy,” Oster tells OneNewsNow. “They do not discriminate based on religious uses anymore, and now our clients have free access to the park free from discrimination.” Oster emphasizes that in America Christians have the same rights as anyone else and should not have their voice silenced.
Louisiana Sunday School Ministry Allowed to Resume Outreaches in Public Park Following Lawsuit | ChristianNews.net
Christian News: “Faith-based groups shouldn’t be singled out for discrimination—especially a group like this that has provided such selfless service to at-risk youth and their parents for many years,” Oster wrote. “The Sidewalk Sunday School program has the same constitutionally protected right as any other community group to hold its activities at a public park. There’s no constitutional basis to throw them out, and it’s a mystery why the commission would even want to do so in light of the valuable work this group does for the community.”
The New American: But Joel Oster of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the town of Greece in the case, said that the appeals court ruling forces the city to become a prayer monitor in its meetings, and turns the reverent tradition of prayer into a government-supervised affirmative action program. “Since this nation’s founding, public meetings have been opened with prayers offered according to the conscience of the speaker,” noted Oster. “There is no legal reason why a town cannot engage in this practice today with people from within its own community. The district court rightly affirmed the constitutionality of the town’s policy.” He added that secular groups with a grudge against Christianity “cannot be allowed to force local governments to engage in strange hoops and hurdles that effectively eliminate prayers by making them too difficult to take place.”
Who Said That?: A Simple Question That May Change the Way Courts View Legislative Prayer | Brett Harvey and Joel Oster at Fed Soc
Brett Harvey and Joel Oster at the Federalist Society: Tension between the Supreme Court’s holding in Marsh and the dictum in Allegheny has created confusion in the lower courts regarding the proper standard(s) to use when evaluating legislative prayer practices. Central to the confusion is the government’s role in regulating the content of legislative prayers. For courts that apply the endorsement test to the context surrounding a legislative prayer practice, distinguishing between private expression and government expression is critical to the viability of the practice. For courts that apply a historical analysis, as in Marsh, the content of the prayer does not define the analysis absent evidence of government exploitation, irrespective of its classification as government or private expression. The First Amendment is a shield against a government-imposed civil orthodoxy. Legislative prayer is a historic tradition practiced across the country at every level of government. The circuits are irreconcilably conflicted about the application of fundamental, constitutional principles. The current disputes provide the Supreme Court with an opportunity to resolve these conflicts and provide clarity to the law.
U.S. House approves bill to include houses of worship in FEMA grants | Joel Oster at Speak Up Movement
Joel Oster at Speak Up Movement: On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed a bill to allow houses of worship to receive federal disaster aid from FEMA.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the exclusion of a Christian pre-school and daycare center from a Missouri program that provides recycled tires for children’s playgrounds. Although the state highly ranked the center as qualified for the program, it denied its application solely because it is run by a church.
Bangor Daily News: The church is represented by attorney Joel Oster from the Alliance Defending Freedom organization of Leawood, Kan. Oster said Monday that the church is pleased with the outcome but will need to do its due diligence to see if it can form the nonprofit charitable organization to allow for the land to be exempt.
Christian Civic League Faith Matters in Maine: Protect and prepare for any conflict that same sex marriage will bring to your church. Click here for part 2 of a two part “Faith Matters in Maine” interview with Joel Oster, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. Listen to Faith Matters in Maine with Carroll Conley, Jr. and Bob Emrich every Monday at 6:15 pm (WHCF 88.5, Hodgdon/Houlton 93.7, and Presque Isle 102.7)
Christian Civic League: Protect and prepare for any conflict that same sex marriage will bring to your church. Click here for part 1 of a two part “Faith Matters in Maine” interview with Joel Oster, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. Part 2 will air next Dec. 3 at 6:15 pm (WHCF 88.5, Hodgdon/Houlton 93.7, and Presque Isle 102.7)
One News Now: ADF attorney Joel Oster responds. “Faith-based groups shouldn’t be singled out for discrimination — especially a group like this that’s provided such selfless service to at-risk youth and their parents for many years,” says the attorney.
The New American: Oster pointed out that the U.S. Constitution “has never required any local government to engage in such gymnastics to have prayer, as is clearly seen by the prayers of America’s Founding Fathers. Prayer-givers have a right protected …
Fox News: The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group that presses faith-based cases in courts nationwide, represented the town in court. It said it will appeal the ruling.
Findlaw: “The court wants the town to be prayer monitors, to determine how many prayers in Jesus’ name are too many,” which would violate the Establishment Clause, the Alliance Defense Fund’s Joel Oster told Thomson Reuters News & Insight.
One News Now: . . . ADF attorney Joel Oster tells OneNewsNow prayers have been offered according to the “conscience of the speaker.” “There is no legal reason why a town cannot engage in this practice today with people from within its own community,” he asserts. “The district court rightly affirmed the constitutionality of the town’s policy, and we will appeal the Second Circuit’s decision. Secularist groups cannot be allowed to force local governments to engage in strange hoops and hurdles that effectively eliminate prayers by making them too difficult to take place.”
Federal News Radio: The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group that presses faith-based cases in courts nationwide, represented the town in court. It said it will appeal the ruling. Joel Oster, senior counsel for ADF who argued the town’s case, called the ruling “highly inconsistent” with what the Supreme Court has said on the issue and said it means towns will have to “complete an obstacle course” before they can qualify to say a prayer before a meeting. “The town has no obligation to go outside of its borders as if it’s an affirmative action program,” he said.
Reuters: Joel Oster of the Alliance Defense Fund, which represents Greece, said the town was prepared to appeal the case as far as the Supreme Court. “The court wants the town to be prayer monitors, to determine how many prayers in Jesus’ name are too many,” he said. That outcome violates the Establishment Clause, he said. Oster pointed to a 2008 ruling by the 11th Circuit in Pelphrey v. Cobb County, Georgia, upholding a county commission’s opening prayer policy.| Galloway v. Town of Greece, No. 10-3635-cv
Joel Oster at the ADF Blog: On Thursday, May 3, 2012, teachers, electricians, athletes, public officials, mothers, bankers, doctors, and indeed Christians from all walks of life will be seeking the face of God. On this 61st annual observance of the National Day of Prayer, Americans across this nation will join the millions who have done so before, and will seek His guidance, His blessings and His will for our nation. We at the Alliance Defense Fund encourage you to join with us, and the many others, in seeking Him on this special day.
One News Now: The church in Maine has been denied a tax exemption for its parking lot under the theory that a parking lot does not serve as a religious purpose,” Oster reports. “We, of course, think that is absurd. A church is a religious organization, and people who go to church, they park in their parking lot. That shows a very valid purpose for the operation and function of a church.”
Religion Clause Blog: At issue, according to a release from Alliance Defense Fund, is a decision by the city of Rockland to grant a local church a tax exemption only for its building and not for the parsonage it owns or for its parking lot.
Bangor Daily News: The lawsuit on behalf of Aldersgate United Methodist Church was filed Monday in Knox County Superior Court. The church is being represented by attorney Stephen Whiting of Portland as well as Joel Oster from the Alliance Defense Fund of Leawood, Kan. The Alliance Defense Fund states on its website that it is a legal alliance to defend religious freedom.
Joel Oster at Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Some people have no shame. The situation involving the demand to remove the crosses at Camp Pendleton is just such a situation. About nine years ago, seven Marines erected two crosses in a remote part of the camp, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Joel Oster at Townhall: In El Paso, Texas, Democrat Mayor John Cook is literally doing whatever he can to cram his political preferences down the throats of El Pasoans who voted against him.
“Churches and ministries shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for engaging in free speech protected by the First Amendment. The substance of our argument in that regard is alive and well at the Texas Supreme Court. All the high court decided was that it would not put a hold on the ruling from the Texas Court of Appeals. It has not yet ruled on the substance of our case or on our motion for an expedited appeal.”
One News Now: “We have more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens there in El Paso who are terrified that they may go to jail simply for engaging in legitimate political and free-speech efforts,” Oster reports. “The mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because he doesn’t like [that] they participated in a valid effort he doesn’t favor.”
Opposing Views by FRC: According to Attorney Joel Oster, ADF has “more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens who are terrified that they may go to jail for their legitimate political and free speech efforts.”"This is America,” Oster said, “and the mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because he doesn’t like the fact that they participated in a valid effort that he doesn’t favor.”
WorldNetDaily (includes video): “El Paso citizens should not live in fear of being arrested and jailed for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster, who argued before the appeals court on Jan. 24 in Cook v. Tom Brown Ministries. “We have more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens who are terrified that they may go to jail for their legitimate political and free speech efforts. This is America, and the mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because he doesn’t like the fact that they participated in a valid effort that he doesn’t favor,” said Oster.
FRC Washington Update: According to Attorney Joel Oster, ADF has “more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens who are terrified that they may go to jail for their legitimate political and free speech efforts.” “This is America,” Oster said, “and the mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because he doesn’t like the fact that they participated in a valid effort that he doesn’t favor.”
One News Now: “The appeals court in Texas has stopped the recall election because one of the supporters of the recall election was supposedly a church, and according to the Texas appeals court, a church cannot be involved in a recall election,” reports Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Joel Oster
Bloomberg: This is a blatant matter of abusing the rights of church officials to be involved in local affairs,” said Joel Oster, a lawyer in Kansas for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based group that represents religious organizations. “We are excited about this case because of the precedent that could be established.”
OneNewsNow.com: Alliance Defense Fund attorney Joel Oster was back in court this week to take on the cited law. “The appeals court in Texas heard our case about whether or not a church can speak out on local political matters. The case went really well,” he accounts. “The argument was well presented, and the court, I believe, understands that even a church has free-speech rights and has a right to petition their government for the redress of grievances.”
Arkansas Human Services issues proposed rules barring use of tax money to teach religion | The Republic (AP)
The Republic (AP): Harris said he forwarded the proposed rules to his attorney, Joel Oster of the Alliance Defense Fund, and will decide how to proceed after consulting with him.
KIVA.com ABC 7: Brown’s lawyers said there’s a more practical explanation. “It was late in the day (when we got the subpoena), and it said that we had to produce all of these documents the very next morning. This is like an 18-paragraph request for documents. There was not enough time to file all of these documents, so we filed a motion for a protective order. Under Texas law, when you file a protective order, you don’t have to produce the documents unless the court says you have to produce the documents. Once the court said to produce the documents, we produced the documents. Where’s the controversy?” said Brown’s Alliance Defense Fund lawyer, Joel Oster.
El Paso Times: Brown’s attorney, Joel Oster, said the document released by Walker on Monday is unimportant, calling it “a non-issue.” . . . But Oster, one of Brown’s attorneys, downplayed the document’s significance. “The minutes that you refer to are a non-issue,” Oster said in an email. “They were properly given to the other side pursuant to the subpoena and the court’s instructions. They don’t state that the church itself was involved. “In any event, the court already stated that it believes that the church circulated the petitions. … What the court held, however, was that First Amendment rights were at stake and it would not stop the election.”
NC Register: The Alliance Defense Fund and two local pro-bono attorneys are aiding petitioners. “We’re defending the church’s right to be fully engaged in the culture,” said ADF senior legal counsel Joel Oster. “Christians and their institutions are not second-class citizens who are banned from the democratic process.”
ADF attorney Joel Oster appeared on the “Pratt on Texas” show to discuss the situation. | MP3 audio 14:14 mins
National Catholic Register: “We’re defending the church’s right to be fully engaged in the culture,” said ADF senior legal counsel Joel Oster. “Christians and their institutions are not second-class citizens who are banned from the democratic process.”
Examiner.com: “Churches and ministries shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster, who argued before the court on behalf of the parties sued by Cook. “The mayor is seeking to silence those who oppose his policies because he doesn’t like their views, but that’s neither legal nor constitutional. The recall petitions were circulated and submitted in full accordance with the law, and he cannot stop the election just because he doesn’t like the fact that some groups participated in a legitimate effort that he doesn’t favor.”
El Paso Times: Joel Oster is senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a group dedicated to ending any limits on churches’ political activities. He came from Kansas to defend the recall group. Oster argues that it’s not a violation of Texas law for corporations to help circulate recall petitions. He also says that if it is, then that law violates the First Amendment. “This case is about stopping an election,” Oster said, later adding, “This is absolutely a free-speech case. It’s nothing more than a free-speech case.”
OneNewsNow.com: So, ADF is challenging the constitutionality of the measure, and attorney Joel Oster further explains the objection. “Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” he contends. “No law or government official can rob a faith group of its constitutionally protected rights just because that official would prefer not to be removed from office.”
WorldNetDaily: “Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster in a statement. “No law or government official can rob a faith group of its constitutionally protected rights just because that official would prefer not to be removed from office.”
Mayor John Cook and City Council recall: Residents plead fifth when asked about church ties at hearing
El Paso Times: Joel Oster, a lawyer for Brown and the recall group, said even if churches and their officers helped gather petitions, they didn’t violate state law. He also said that if they did, that law is unconstitutional after a Supreme Court ruling last year that says the government can’t limit some kinds of corporate political activities. [more]
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster will be available for media interviews following a hearing Monday that concerns El Paso Mayor John Cook’s attempt to stop a recall election against him and two city council members.
El Paso Times: But the lawyer, Joel Oster, said that did not mean the group violated Texas election law. And even if they did, the law is unconstitutional, he said . . . “We will concede,” said Oster, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, a national group dedicated to helping churches challenge legal limits to their political activity. “We admit that they had established in their petition clear and convincing evidence” of churches’ participation.
KVIA El Paso: Brown has maintained he did not break the law. Joel Oster, Brown’s newest attorney from the Alliance Defense Fund, argues that the Supreme Court decided that it is perfectly legal for the recall group to mount their campaign against Cook and the two city representatives because it falls under freedom of speech, even if that campaign was carried out through churches like Brown’s ministry. Brown’s attorneys also contend the election code itself is unconstitutional and should not be enforced.
OneNewsNow.com: Joel Oster, an attorney with ADF, tells OneNewsNow the mayor wants Brown jailed. “And in this particular case the state law says that the church cannot circulate a petition for the recall of a candidate, and if a church speaks out against an elected official in that way they are subjected to criminal punishment,” explains the attorney. “It almost makes you wonder if we’re in Communist China and not the United States of America.”
KTSM News Channel 9 (includes video): The law firm is called the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s a private organization that provides free legal service for people when they feel their first amendment right has been violated. Attorney Joel Oster based in Kansas City, MO will provide free legal counsel for Brown.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a counterclaim Friday against the mayor of El Paso, Texas in a lawsuit the mayor initiated against Tom Brown Ministries, the Word of Life Church of El Paso, El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, and other local citizens
ADF Attorney Joel Oster appeared on the Josh Tolley Show to discuss this: Will 2nd Circuit uphold right of NY town to allow prayer before public meetings? | MP3 audio 27:27 mins
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster will be available for media interviews Monday at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit following his oral argument at a hearing concerning the right of the Greece Town Board to open public meetings with prayers offered by invited clergy
ADF Attorney Joe Oster at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: But what if following the ways of this world could save your church from closing its doors, while doing the “right” thing could shut you down? For a church in Vienna, Virginia, this admonition was more than just an abstract hypothetical. And their response is a good reminder to all of us what the church should be about.
One News Now: “Christians shouldn’t be excluded and restricted from using public meeting rooms and other facilities simply because they plan to express a Christian viewpoint,” Oster says. “These government officials who changed their policies have done the right thing, acknowledging that the Constitution prohibits the government from deciding who can and cannot use space based upon the viewpoints to be discussed at gatherings.”
ADF battle against religious discrimination policies at public facilities marches past halfway point
Sonoran News: Christians shouldn’t be excluded and restricted from using public meeting rooms and other facilities simply because they plan to express a Christian viewpoint,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. “The government officials who changed their policies have done the right thing, acknowledging that the Constitution prohibits the government from deciding who can and cannot use space based upon the viewpoints to be discussed at gatherings. We hope the remaining officials will follow the lead of the others and uphold everyone’s First Amendment protected right of free speech.”