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World Religion News: Despite the general sense that we live in an age of enlightenment, religious hostility was actually found to be on the rise in 2014. While one might be tempted to generalize that this statistic is due to global factors such as ISIS growing in displays of religious terrorism, the study was not conducted worldwide. Rather, it was based in America, the country founded on the principle of religious freedom.
US Daily Review: Today, Collin County District Court Judge Jill Willis ruled that members of a small Orthodox Jewish community have a right to continue meeting in a Plano home for private worship. After the Jewish families were sued by the then president of the Homeowner’s Association (“HOA”) and the HOA, Liberty Institute successfully defended the Jewish community’s right to freely exercise their religious beliefs.
Catholic Philly (CNS): A new report from the Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas, shows that incidents of “religious hostility” have more than doubled in the United States over the past three years.
Religion Clause: In Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation, Inc. v. Burwell, (MD FL, Feb. 3, 2015), a Florida federal district court granted a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of part of the latest rules accommodating religious non-profits’ objections to the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate.
News-Press: A federal ruling will allow a retirement community in Fort Myers and five other organizations to avoid providing employees with abortion-inducing drugs through their insurance plans.
CBS DFW: “This ordinance needs to be repealed. If it’s not repealed, then we’ll go to the courts, and we’ll spend and cause the city to incur tens of thousands of dollars,” said Jeff Mateer of the Liberty Institute.
New York student gets OK to start Christian club ‘Dare to Believe’ on campus after she was told it would be illegal
The Christian Post: A New York school district has decided to approve a student’s proposal to start a Christian club at her high school called “Dare to Believe” after she was initially told that her student organization would be a possible violation of the U.S. constitution.
The Christian Post: A New York high school has lifted its ban on a Christian student organization after first rejecting the students’ request for renewal.
One News Now: Sixteen-year-old Kendra Turner stood on her constitutional rights to free speech and religion when teacher Eva Kindle told her that “Bless you” was a forbidden phrase and there would be no “godly speaking” in her classroom. The incident occurred in a business class at Dyer County High School.
The Washington Times: A high school cheerleading squad has asked the Texas Supreme Court to weigh in on religious banners they want to make for football games.
Christian News Network: Cheerleaders in Texas have appealed a ruling finding a lawsuit against their local school district moot after it changed its policies surrounding the display of Bible banners during school sporting events.
The Christian Post: Cheerleaders from a Texas high school have appealed a decision that declared moot a lawsuit they filed to have the right to use banners with Bible verses during public school sporting events.
Christian News Network: A newspaper editor who was fired earlier this year for opining on his personal blog that the Queen James Bible is an attempt by homosexuals “to make their sinful nature ‘right with God’” has filed a complaint with the federal government.
Christian Post: A Florida school superintendent apologized for an incident involving a 12-year-old student who was told by his teacher that he could not read the Bible during a free-reading period in class.
Orlando Sentinel: “The girl, Gabriella Perez, re-enacted the prayer in the lunchroom at Carillon Elementary in Oviedo, said lawyer Jeremiah Dys of the Liberty Institute in Texas. Dys said that Gabriella also identified ‘the exact person who told her praying was wrong.’”
CBS: “The girl’s father, Marcos Perez, is outraged to the point where he is considering homeschooling his child. Today, the Liberty Institute sent a letter to the school administrators demanding they stop allowing religious discrimination, which is in violation of not only state, but federal law. The school denies the incident.”
Todd Starnes at Fox News: “There appears to be a double-standard at the Air Force Academy. The Academy is defending its promotion of an atheist event just a week after a Christian cadet was pressured into removing a Bible verse from his personal white board because it allegedly offended non-Christian cadets.”
The New American: “Gary McCaleb a coalition member as well as a vice president with the conservative legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, said that ‘suppressing religion is wrong whether it is done behind an Iron Curtain or in a dorm hallway. Certainly such raw anti-religious discrimination has no place in America’s Air Force.’”
Ken Klukowski at Breitbart: “Christians in the U.S. military are being told they must forfeit their First Amendment rights. Bible verses are being erased from cadets’ personal dorm-room white boards, and military lawyers claim that legal protections for religion only pertain to matters such as clothing and growing beards but do not extend to any religious expression such as talking about one’s faith or posting a Bible verse.”
Bible verse removal mobilizes conservative legal groups to prepare for battle with Air Force Academy | The Blaze
The Blaze: “Gary McCaleb, another coalition member who serves as chief solicitor and executive vice president for strategy implementation at Alliance Defending Freedom, added that ‘suppressing religion is wrong whether it is done behind an Iron Curtain or in a dorm hallway.’”
Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition offers legal aid to Bible verse cadets | ChristianNewsWire
Christian News Wire: “Gary McCaleb, Chief Solicitor and Executive Vice President for Strategy Implementation at Alliance Defending Freedom: ‘Suppressing religion is wrong whether it is done behind an Iron Curtain or in a dorm hallway. Certainly such raw anti-religious discrimination has no place in America’s Air Force.’”
Charisma News: “‘Suppressing religion is wrong whether it is done behind an Iron Curtain or in a dorm hallway. Certainly such raw anti-religious discrimination has no place in America’s Air Force,’ noted Gary McCaleb, chief solicitor and executive vice president for Strategy Implementation at Alliance Defending Freedom.”
Fox News: “The Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition, a group of two dozen like-minded religious liberty organizations, announced Thursday that they are ready to offer assistance to any Air Force Academy cadet who faces repercussions for writing Bible verses on their hallway whiteboards. . . . ‘Suppressing religion is wrong whether it is done behind an Iron Curtain or in a dorm hallway,’ said Gary McCaleb, of the Alliance Defending Freedom. ‘Certainly such raw anti-religious discrimination has no place in America’s Air Force.’”
Fox News: “The Air Force Academy removed a Bible verse posted on a cadet’s whiteboard after it determined the posting had offended other cadets, a spokesman for the academy said.”
Houston Chronicle: “Attorneys for former television sports analyst Craig James said Thursday that James’ employment discrimination claim against Fox Sports Southwest has been accepted for investigation by the Texas Workforce Commission.”
The Dallas Morning News (AP): “Former television college football analyst Craig James is complaining to the state that his firing by Fox Sports Southwest was an act of religious discrimination . . . James alleges a national Fox Sports spokesman told The Dallas Morning News that James was terminated from Fox Sports Southwest for religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.”
More information is available from the Liberty Institute here.
KOAM: “U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) and U.S. Representative Randy Forbes (Va.) led an effort today to fight for Americans’ First Amendment rights by filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.”
One News Now: The cards included the phrases “Merry Christmas” and “God bless you,” which created the opposition. It was a Christmas card project of Grace Academy of North Texas. Liberty Institute sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs demanding they rescind the discriminatory policy.
Beaumont Enterprise: The court is reviewing a recent round of briefs filed in the case. Beaumont Attorney David Starnes said the court ruled it didn’t need to hear oral arguments and is instead basing its decision on the briefs.
LA Times: It is a clearly Christian symbol on government-owned land, and the Supreme Court should order its removal.
Religion Clause Blog: According to AP, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission voted yesterday to impose a moratorium on requests for new displays on the statehouse grounds until a pending lawsuit over a Ten Commandments monument there is resolved.
Liberty Institute is pleased with the decision of the Bulloch County Board of Education to issue a notice last week supporting its teachers’ and staff’s religious liberty. The Board, however, continues to unnecessarily prohibit the teachers’ and staff’s religious expression in their email signatures.
Kelly Shackelford at Fox News: One of the favorite holiday tricks of organizations trying to push religious influence out of American society is to loudly yell, “There is no war on Christmas! It’s a right-wing myth!”– even as their movement wages that same war with Grinch-like zeal. For example, Rev. Barry Lynn, an attorney who heads Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), says he doesn’t see evidence of such a war. He must not be looking very hard. This year alone we’ve seen . . .
Breitbart: After 24 years of litigation, a federal court revealed in an emotional hearing that it has ordered the famous Mount Soledad Cross removed from a veterans memorial, holding it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. | Opinion: Trunk v. San Diego | How Appealing links to more coverage | Liberty Institute press release
Fox News: The Baby Jesus has been kicked off Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, according to an organization who relishes any opportunity to eradicate Christianity from the U.S. military.
Alliance Defending Freedom, Cornerstone Policy Research, and Liberty Institute have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the New Hampshire Supreme Court in defense of the state’s tax credit program for businesses that wish to help students attending private schools.
SCOTUS Blog: On Wednesday evening, Justice Alito hosted the fourth and final lecture in the Supreme Court Historical Society’s 2013 Leon Silverman Lecture Series. Once again the focus of the lecture was on litigants in landmark twentieth-century cases – this time, the petitioners in the 1969 caseTinker v. Des Moines Independent Community Schools District . . . Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute gave the evening’s lecture. Although his litigation focuses on religious freedom rather than freedom of speech, he told the audience that he relies on the case “every week” . . .
CBN: In May 2013, Hardin County Judge Steven Thomas granted an order permitting the Kountze cheerleaders to continue displaying run-through banners with Bible messages at sporting events. But now the Kountze School District has appealed the ruling, essentially claiming the cheerleaders are part of the government
FRC Action Video: Lt. Gen. William Boykin, Executive Vice President, Family Research Council, Former Commander, Delta Force Chaplain Ron Crews, Executive Director, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk Jeff Mateer, General Counsel, Liberty Institute Todd Starnes, Host, Fox News and Commentary; Contributor, Fox & Friends and FoxNews.com . . .
Watch the entire Summit online at http://valuesvotersummit.org/
10-Year-Old’s ‘God Is My Idol’ Assignment Now Accepted By Tenn. School; Given 100 Percent After Rejection Backlash
Christian Post: The school previously told the young student that she could not choose God as her idol, and was even told she had to remove her assignment from school premises. However, after intense media backlash and involvement from the Liberty Institute, the school has changed its mind and performed a U-turn.
Washington Times: Standing up for personal religious views is leading to trouble with authorities, several Christians said Saturday at a conference on faith and family values.
Tulsa World: The plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds are not proper parties to bring suit, the state claims in a brief filed Friday in Oklahoma County District Court.
San Antonio LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance passes 8-3, criticized as ‘unprecedented’ | Baptist Press
Baptist Press: “The ordinance is a cloudy and confusing collection of poorly thought out and conflicting statements that could have been more clearly and cleanly handled by simply including a broad religious liberty exemption to protect the free speech and religious liberty rights of both individuals and organizations that have religious objections to the requirements mandated by the ordinance,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, based in Plano, Texas.
One News Now: Hiram Sasser, an attorney with Liberty Institute, believes someone who opposes the memorial detonated the IED. “And they did so right next to a children’s play area in a public park,” he tells OneNewsNow.
One News Now: An Iowa church stands ready and waiting to assist small businesses and church officials targeted by “human rights” commission across the state.
Todd Starnes at Townhall: “Major Valenzuela asked SMSgt. Monk if he could agree with her belief that openly voicing a religious or moral opposition to same-sex marriage is discrimination,” the official complaint reads. “Because of SMSgt. Monk’s sincerely held religious belief, he could not agree with the major. As a direct result, Major Valenzuela immediately relieved SMSgt. Monk from his First Sergeant duties and reassigned him to a different unit.”
Tulsa World: The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma on Monday filed suit seeking to have a monument displaying the Ten Commandments removed from the Capitol grounds. | ACLU press release: ACLU of Oklahoma Challenges State Capitol Ten Commandments Monument | Complaint: Prescott v. Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission
Liberty Institute To Discuss The Constitutionality Of Public Prayer During League City City Council Meeting
PRNewswire: Tomorrow at 6 PM CT, Liberty Institute attorneys will attend the League City City Council Meeting to discuss the constitutionality of permitting invocations before the Council’s meetings, as it has done since 1962.
San Antonio Business Journal: The Liberty Institute, an evangelical Christian legal organization, wrote a letter to San Antonio leaders opposing a proposed ordinance that would ban individuals who hold anti-homosexual views from holding public office or performing city contracts.
KHOU.com: The Liberty Institute has offered to help leaders in League City craft an invocation policy that will protect the city’s practice of prayer at council meetings while avoiding mistakes made by other municipalities.
Religion Clause Blog: A dispute is simmering in Bossier Parish, Louisiana over the denial of further state-administered federal grant funding to two youth programs operated by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office.
WorldNetDaily: The Pentagon walked back its statement after the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records relating to Pentagon statements on the issue. “Members of our military should not be denied the very freedoms they fight to defend. Freedom of religion and speech are paramount among those freedoms,” said ADF Legal Counsel Joseph La Rue. “We appreciate the Pentagon’s clarification, but little or no evidence exists of coercive proselytization in the military, so we are still troubled over what motivated the original comments.
Townhall: A Sonoma State University student has filed a religious accommodation request after she said she was ordered to remove her cross necklace because it might offend other students.
NH Union Leader: n attorney for the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom said, “Parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children. New Hampshire’s program allows businesses to help make that happen, and nothing about that violates the state constitution, as the state’s legal history clearly demonstrates. “The arguments the ACLU is making against this program do not at all reflect the reality of what the state constitution clearly allows. The people who stand to suffer the most if the ACLU succeeds are New Hampshire’s students,” Gregory S. Baylor said. The Alliance, Cornerstone Policy Research, and the Liberty Institute filed a brief defending the law. Cornerstone Policy Research Executive Director Ashley Pratte was “appalled.”
“Parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children. New Hampshire’s program allows businesses to help make that happen, and nothing about that violates the state constitution, as the state’s legal history clearly demonstrates. The arguments the ACLU is making against this program do not at all reflect the reality of what the state constitution clearly allows. The people who stand to suffer the most if the ACLU succeeds are New Hampshire’s students.”
Star-Telegram: Joshua High School’s valedictorian had his microphone turned off during his speech when he began to talk about his faith, deviating from comments that school officials had approved before Thursday’s graduation ceremony.
Baptist Press: Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, criticized the district for continuing to spend taxpayer money on what he called unnecessary litigation. “I do not understand why the school district cannot simply accept that it lost and move on instead of continuing to fight against these cheerleaders who simply wanted to encourage the players with uplifting messages,” Sasser said.
The Supreme Court Takes the Case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, Which Raises the Questions Whether—And If So, How—a Town Board May Open Its Meetings With Prayer | Marci Hamilton at Justia.com
Marci Hamilton at Justia.com: They have the Alliance Defense Fund representing them, and an amicus brief has been filed on their behalf by the Foundation for Moral Law. (That foundation is led by Judge Roy Moore, who belligerently violated the Establishment Clause by bringing his own two-ton granite rendition of a version of the Ten Commandments into the lobby of the Alabama Supreme Court). Other amici include the Liberty Institute and the National Legal Foundation, which advertises itself as a “Christian public interest law firm”. It is no secret that these groups are aggressively seeking to re-introduce prayer in public schools, a movement that includes many who insist that this is a “Christian country.”
US Newswire at Wall Street Journal: Today, the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina granted a motion to include Liberty Institute’s clients, The American Legion and The American Legion Post 290 of King, N.C., in a pending lawsuit over the constitutionality of a veterans memorial in King’s Central Park. A copy of the order can be viewed at https://www.libertyinstitute.org/document.doc?id=81.
Religion Clause Blog: A Texas trial court yesterday decided a widely-followed Establishment Clause case. In Matthews v. Kountze Independent School District, (TX Dist. Ct., May 8, 2013), the court rejected an Establishment Clause challenge to high school cheerleaders displaying their own banners and “run-throughs” containing religious messages at football games and other sporting events.
Liberty Institute: Today, Hardin County District Court Judge Steven Thomas entered an order granting the Kountze Cheerleaders a victory in the seven-month-long case over the permissibility of displaying run-through banners with Bible messages at Kountze ISD sporting events.
Sacramento Bee: iberty Institute and Beaumont attorney David Starnes will accompany their clients, members of the Kountze High School and Middle School Cheerleaders and their parents during a media availability to discuss a Hardin County District Judge’s expected ruling tomorrow in the high-profile case over the constitutionality of the cheerleaders’ display of run-through banners with Bible messages at sporting events.
WorldNetDaily: The Liberty Institute has announced the launch of its Armed Forces Religious Liberty hotline – (972) 941-4543 – along with a petition to support Christian members of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force . . . The Pentagon walked back its statement after the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records relating to Pentagon statements on the issue. “Members of our military should not be denied the very freedoms they fight to defend. Freedom of religion and speech are paramount among those freedoms,” said ADF Legal Counsel Joseph La Rue. “We appreciate the Pentagon’s clarification, but little or no evidence exists of coercive proselytization in the military, so we are still troubled over what motivated the original comments.”
Liberty Institute: On Tuesday, Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer testified before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs in support of the Texas Religious Freedom Amendme
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty\: According to Landeen, the city has received offers from several organizations, including the Liberty Council, which has offered pro bono legal representation. Alliance Defending Freedom, the Liberty Institute and the American Center for Law and Justice have also contacted the city, he said.
Rapid City Journal: The vote means the city will continue to look at prayer as a tradition as it prepares for a potential lawsuit against the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a national nonprofit agency that has sent at least two letters to the city raising concerns about the practice . . . According to Landeen, the city has received offers from several organizations, including the Liberty Council, which has offered pro bono legal representation. Alliance Defending Freedom, the Liberty Institute and the American Center for Law and Justice have also contacted the city, he said.
WFMAZ.com: A substitute teacher who lost his job for showing his Bible to a student has filed a complaint against the Phillipsburg School District.
Liberty Institute is stepping in to help the city of Coos Bay, Oregon, after city leaders received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, demanding they remove a Vietnam Veterans memorial because it includes a cross.
AP: Hiram Sasser, an attorney with the Liberty Institute that helped defend the school, said Wednesday that the Hi-Y Club could file its own lawsuit for the right to display the portrait, but he didn’t know its plans.
Ken Klukowski at Breitbart: The nature of constitutional law is such that when I litigate or file briefs on religious liberty issues, I survey and cite to the Supreme Court’s decisions and religious liberty historical facts in this country going back to when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were first adopted. Doing so recently, it vividly struck me that in all of American history religious liberty has never been as gravely threatened as it is today, especially for Christians. One need only look at the cases being litigated by public-interest law firms, such as Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Institute, Becket Fund, and Liberty Counsel.
Rees Lloyd at News with Views: For the first time in some twelve years, Americans will be able to exercise their First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion rights by attending Easter Sunrise Services at the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial – with the Cross established there by veterans to honor veterans once again intact . . . “We want to thank all those who fought so hard to save the cross. The VFW. The American Legion. Liberty Institute. Alliance Defending Freedom. Thomas More Law Center. The California Legionnaires of the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project. And so many more,” said Mrs. Sandoz. “We are very, very grateful to them.”
Citizen Link: The American Family Association (AFA) in Tupelo says the mandate violates its religious freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law. AFA faces mounting fines if it chooses not to comply.
Vinton Daily: In Tuesday evening’s Jackson Board of Education meeting several business matters were discussed, but the focus of the meeting seemed to be what the Liberty Institute would disclose about the investigation they conducted regarding the portrait of Jesus Christ hanging in the Jackson Middle School foyer . . . The following morning Howard did not have too much to add to the numerous comments made by Liberty Institute, but was able to say that the demands of the FFRF and ACLU was not the only battle the district was facing. He said he had received a letter that morning from a group of attorneys representing Hi-Y Club members.