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Reuters: A U.S. judge dismissed a case on Tuesday filed by an atheist group that was seeking to remove a Ten Commandments monument from Oklahoma State Capitol grounds, saying the plaintiffs failed to show standing to bring the suit.
Deseret News: Below is a sampling of nine recent cases in which Americans’ rights of conscience and religious liberty were in question or on trial. It’s true that religious liberty may not be fighting an all out war, but it’s clear that “there is an absolutist streak among some secular civil-rights advocates” as The Atlantic’s Jonathan Rauch argued last July. As Rauch asserts, such attitudes have led some to flippantly dismiss “the unique role religion plays in American life and the unique protections it enjoys under the First Amendment.”
Religion News Service: A billboard posted in Arkansas as part of a campaign targeting “in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions during the holidays” prompted a local church to purchase an ad of their own to appear on the same digital display.
American Atheists’ ‘Skip Church’ This Christmas billboards aimed at non-believers in religious households, says AA president
The Christian Post: American Atheists President David Silverman has said that his group’s holiday billboards this year, with a message to “skip church” this Christmas, are aimed at atheists who are living with theists in mixed families and are under pressure to participate in religious activities.
American Atheists’ billboard campaign in Bible belt: ‘Skip Church’ this Christmas and stop listening to ‘Fairy Tales’
The Christian Post: American Atheists has launched a billboard campaign in several Bible Belt states urging people to skip church this Christmas and stop listening to “fairy tales.”
Religion Clause: In American Atheists, Inc. v. Thompson, (WD OK, May 22, 2014), an Oklahoma federal district court refused to dismiss an Establishment Clause challenge to a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol.
Associated Press: “Leaders of a national atheist group say the best spot to find a nonbeliever is in a place of faith.
CBS New York: “Arguments were heard Thursday in a case brought by an atheist group against placing what’s known as the World TradeCenter cross in the National September 11 Museum.”
Politico: “The Conservative Political Action Conference has rescinded its permission for American Atheists, a nonprofit that protects the civil rights of atheists, to sponsor an information booth at the conservative gathering next month.”
Religion Clause: “On Monday, the American Atheists filed a federal court lawsuit against the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission challenging the Ten Commandments monument erected in 2012 on the Oklahoma State Capitol Grounds.”
As State Mulls Review, Christians and Atheists Agree: Keep Florida Capitol a Free Speech Zone | FlaglerLive.com
FlaglerLive.com: Christians and atheists may have found a little common patch of ground, the rotunda of the Florida Capitol as a space to express themselves.
Nonprofit Quarterly: . . . 501(c) nonprofits file Form 990s and other documents, but religious organizations can be treated as the equivalent of public charities for tax-deductible donations without having to file 990s or fulfill other the administrative and procedural strictures required of 501(c)(3)s. American Atheists has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, demanding that the IRS require of churches the same transparency of donors, salaries, and other expenditures that’s required of secular nonprofits.
American Atheists: Oral arguments begin on Thursday at 10 AM CT in the case of American Atheists v. IRS. The nonprofit organization is suing the government tax-collection agency for discrimination, alleging that churches receive unconstitutional preferential treatment over other nonprofit organizations. If the IRS loses, it could mean churches would then have to publicly disclose the names of donors and staff, the amounts of pastor salaries, and mor
Christian Post: Many Americans believe that the threat to traditional Christmas values posed by outspoken Atheist groups is a serious issue, 47% saying ‘The War on Christmas’ exists in a recent pole.
AL.com: American Atheists Inc. is preparing to file a lawsuit against the city of Montgomery in the next few days if the city doesn’t disband its program that dispatches clergy to violent crime scenes or make it more inclusive.
Salt Lake Tribune: Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, is working on a bill patterned after a new law in Mississippi that he says will better protect the religious rights of students in public schools . . . Weiler has opened a bill file titled “Religious Freedom for Students.”
RT.com: The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has reversed its decision to deny an application for a customized license plate that says “ATHE1ST”, claiming that a clerk exceeded her authority by calling it offensive.
Tucson Citizen: The complaint is about permanent shrines located on ‘A Mountain.’ The shrines serve NO secular purpose and are located on city property. In short—they don’t belong there. In addition, religious shrines are inconsistent with the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
Charles Hanes at Washington Post: On March 28, a group of atheists in New York lost round one in their legal battle to keep the “Ground Zero Cross” out of the National September 11 Museum in lower Manhattan.
Religion Clause Blog: In American Atheists, Inc. v. Port Authority of NY and NJ, (SD NY, March 28, 2013), a New York federal district court rejected constitutional challenges to the inclusion of the World Trade Center Cross—two beams that survived the collapse of the World Trade Center—as part of the National September 11 Museum in lower Manhattan.
CNN: Todd Stiefel is far from a household name, and the odds he gets recognized on a street corner, even in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, are small . . . “What I am trying to accomplish is multifold, he told CNN. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”
Kentucky can still credit ‘Almighty God’ for its security as U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge
Courier Journal: The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to Kentucky laws giving official credit to Almighty God for its security.
Religion Clause Blog: A petition for certiorari (full text) was filed last week with the U.S. Supreme Court in American Atheists, Inc. v. Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, (cert. filed 11/13/2012).
Courier-Journal: Citizens represented by the group American Atheists are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their appeal of a lawsuit challenging a Kentucky law that credits Almighty God with homeland security.
CNYCentral.com: Amid the tears and solemn remembrances, a national group called American Atheists is sparking controversy by trying to block a museum exhibit. The group wants to prevent a large cross made of one of the Twin Tower’s T-beams from being displayed at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The New American: Attorney Brett Harvey of the conservative legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom applauded the ruling, noting that “since this nation’s founding, public meetings have been opened with prayer. There is no legal reason why Hamilton County’s citizens should be denied this freedom under the county’s policy.” Harvey emphasized that prayer “has always been lawful in America, and the district court rightly declined to stop the county from including prayer at its meetings. Secularist groups might not be happy with this, but an invocation offered according to the dictates of the giver’s conscience as part of a policy like Hamilton County’s is not an establishment of religion.”
National Catholic Reporter: A lawsuit that was filed by the group American Atheists to keep a revered cross out of the National September 11 Museum is being challenged by a conservative law firm that defends the public display of religious symbols. The American Center for Law and Justice filed a friend-of-the-court brief Monday on behalf of the suit’s two defendants, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.
Marine Corps Times: Two national atheist groups, and one advocating religious freedom, have complained to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus that officials at Camp Pendleton, Calif., continue to deny them access to the base while giving “preferential treatment” to Christian religious organizations, including a controversial church they say is steeped in “doomsday theology” and embroiled in sexual-abuse scandals.
Freedom from Religion Foundation: FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel drafted and sent a letter on July 5 on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and also signed by American Atheists, objecting to using U.S. soldiers to support Catholic Social Services of Augusta.
Religion Clause Blog: Now News4Jax reports that in order to avoid a costly legal battle, the county has directed the Community Men’s Fellowship, the group that sponsored the monument, to remove it. However the group has refused.
Michael Medved at DelmarvaNow: A simmering controversy surrounding the “Ground Zero Cross” exposes the intolerance and absolutism behind ongoing battles over religious symbols on public property. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not Christian conservatives who normally start these bitter disputes. It’s more often atheist activists who seek to alter the long-standing status quo
Standard-Examiner (AP): Over the past week, the 12-foot-high Roman crosses have been stripped of the brown and gold beehive-shaped logo of the Utah Highway Patrol, association attorney Frank Mylar said . . . “We’re hoping we can keep the memorials as much intact as possible but change them so that it complies with the (court),” Mylar said. “They really feel strongly that that without the cross there’s no memorial.”
ADF Attorney Doug Napier at Human Events: Two days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, smoke was still rising from the twisted and burnt material that used to be the World Trade Center. Untold numbers of first responders from around the country were converging on New York City to help look for survivors trapped in the rubble, and the nation as a whole was still somewhere between fear and unmitigated anger: somewhere between “woe is me” and “woe is thee.”
ADF attorneys Joe Infranco and Byron Babione at The American Spectator: The plain fact is that a memorial cross at this site does not “establish” a religion. The agenda of a few atheists should not diminish the sacrifice of the heroes and victims of 9/11. The place of this potent symbol of our shared tragedy and courage should remain for all time.
ADF attorneys Joe Infranco and Byron Babione at the NY Daily News: The lawsuit by American Atheists seeking to remove the World Trade Center cross from the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum badly distorts the meaning of the First Amendment, but it nonetheless provides an excellent opportunity for each of us to understand what the Constitution really prohibits as an “establishment” of religion.
ADF President and General Counsel Alan Sears at Townhall : Because the radical demands of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union run counter to common sense and the tenets of Western Civilization, they and their leftist allies and colleagues use fear, intimidation, and disinformation to accomplish their ends which generally mean a loss of liberty for everyone else. We see this in the way they rely on shame tactics, the court system, and behavior controls, like speech codes and “anti-bullying” regulations, to implement and protect their agenda.
ADF attorney Joe Infranco at The Speak Up Movement Church Blog: The cause of this kerfuffle is a girder resembling a cross, which will be included in the National 9/11 Memorial in New York. Yet, there is one highly unusual twist in this latest lawsuit in the campaign to expunge public symbols of our religious history: Human hands did not fashion the cross-shaped beams.
Mercatornet: Seriously. This is their legal complaint. Just like the American Center for Law and Justice, the Alliance Defense Fund is getting used to this.
Christian Post: Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) also insist that the cross’s placement in the museum is legally sound, and claim that the American Atheists’ lawsuit “is completely out of step with the Constitution.” “One atheist group’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifice made by the heroes of 9/11,” said ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione in a statement on the group’s website. “A cross like this one simply does not amount to a government establishment of religion under either the U.S. Constitution or the New York Constitution.” Babione added, “Nothing in the Constitution authorizes atheists to scour the landscape on a mission to seek and destroy memorial crosses.”
Post Chronicle: Lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) claim the group’s desire to have the cross removed from the 9/11 memorial museum is “completely out of step with the Constitution.”
LifeSiteNews.com: “One atheist group’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifice made by the heroes of 9/11,” said ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione, who argued that the cross “simply does not amount to a government establishment of religion.” “The cross is not only known far and wide as a religious symbol, but also as a symbol of death, remembrance, and honor for the dead. Americans have long recognized this. Nothing in the Constitution authorizes atheists to scour the landscape on a mission to seek and destroy memorial crosses.”
Deseret News: The group’s attorney, Brian M. Barnard, said there’s no reason for the nation’s highest court to hear the case because the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled the crosses violate the doctrine of separation of church and state. That court also declined to reconsider the decision in December 2010 and this past April.
Constitution does not prohibit cross at 9/11 memorial, ADF attorneys explain
CNN.com: A group of atheists has filed a lawsuit to stop the display of the World Trade Center cross at a memorial of the 9/11 terror attacks. | American Atheists press release | American Atheists v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
SCOTUSblog features the petitions for certiorari in Utah Highway Patrol Association v. American Atheists and Davenport v. American Atheists, Inc..
FRC: – Family Research Council (FRC) filed an amicus brief today in the U.S. Supreme Court case between Utah governmental officials and American Atheists, Inc. The case will determine whether 14 crosses bearing the names of fallen Utah state troopers that have been placed at the roadside locations where the troopers perished is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
Courier-Journal: “The Kentucky Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments Thursday morning in a challenge to a state law requiring that God be credited for Kentucky’s security.”
Blair Scott of American Atheists writing at Opposing Views: “The irony in all of this is that the churches are suddenly in favor of the separation of church and state! Alliance Defense Fund lawyer [Erik Stanley] said, ‘It makes no sense to tax churches and to limit their ability to provide their services, and it does damage to the constitutional separation between church and state.’”
Deseret News: “The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a request to have an entire panel of judges to rehear whether the 14 large, white crosses that currently commemorate fallen Utah Highway Patrol troopers are unconstitutional.” Order in American Atheists v. Davenport is here.
Mercury News (NYT): [T]he reaction from believers has been harsher than anyone in the nonbelievers’ club expected. Some black ministers organized a boycott of the buses, with limited success. Other clergy members are pressing the Fort Worth Transportation Authority for a ban on all religious advertising on public buses. In addition, a group of local businessmen paid for the van with the Christian message to chase the buses with atheist messages around town.”
Religion Clause: “A press release from American Atheists issued on Tuesday describes the latest jousting over holiday displays between the Atheist group and a Catholic organization that wants nativity scenes displayed this year in all 50 state capitols.”
Christian legal group sues Palm Beach State College on behalf of conservative student ejected from campus event
Palm Beach Post: “Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, filed suit today in U.S. District Court on behalf of Young Americans for Freedom, the conservative organization that the student was promoting. The suit alleges that college employees violated the constitutional rights of the group and its members.”
The Iowa Independent: “Citing a desire to build upon the excitement that has already been generated by state and regional groups, American Atheists announced Monday that they will ‘caucus in the heartland’ when they bring their national convention to Des Moines in April 2011.”
Texas Education Board Takes Up History/Social Studies: Experts and Educators Stand For Final Vote on Standards This Week
PR Newswire: “After almost 18 months of review, educators, experts, parents and members of the business community are sending a message: we don’t want the American Atheists and the ACLU in charge of writing our history standards and we don’t want a delay of the final vote,” said Jonathan Saenz, Esq., director of legislative affairs for Liberty Institute. ‘Liberal fringe efforts to complicate, obfuscate, and denigrate our heritage and history must be rejected. A vote delayed is a vote denied.’”
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate said . . . that references to a dependence on ‘Almighty God’ in the law that created the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security is akin to establishing a religion. . .
ADF attorney Erik Stanley appeared in this Opposing Views discussion to argue in favor of tax exemption for Churches. American Atheists and Americans United for Separation of Church and State also made appearances.
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Byron Babione will be available to answer questions from the media immediately following oral argument Monday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in American Atheists v. Davenport. ADF attorneys represent the Utah Highway Patrol Association in the case.
ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND MEDIA ADVISORY March 4, 2009 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT ADF MEDIA RELATIONS: (480) 444-0020 or www.telladf.org/pressroom ADF attorney available to media after hearing in atheist suit against Detroit agency WHO: ADF Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt WHAT: …