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Al Jazeera: A transgender teen will be allowed to return to the local DMV and take a new driver’s license photo wearing the makeup the teen puts on daily, after the teen’s lawyers struck a settlement with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday.
Free Times: On April 28, the Court will hear oral arguments on whether same-sex marriage should be legal across the country.
Baptist Joint Committee: Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly states, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It is one of the few direct references to religion in our founding documents, outside the First Amendment.
The Washington Post: In response to two male athletes on its volleyball team coming out in an article published on OutSports.com last year, the college, which is aligned with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian tradition, released a strongly worded denouncement of homosexuality on campus that many read to be a behavioral ban.
Journal Scene: “We had one school district who told a teacher she could not play Christian Christmas carols in the classroom during class changes in the school,” he said, adding his team is working with a legal team, Alliance Defending Freedom, the same group that was involved in the Hobby Lobby case, to pass legislation that will allow people to celebrate Christmas in public schools.
The State (Greenville News): The proposed policy is based on one that the U.S. Supreme Court approved in a case involving the town of Greece, New York, that state Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a letter to the Pickens County School Board’s attorney provides “a road map” for the board to follow.
FIRE: Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, religious student organizations at colleges and universities across the country have struggled with a dilemma: accept all students as voting leaders or members in accordance with so-called “all-comers” policies, regardless of their agreement with the club’s beliefs, or forego official recognition by the college and all the resources that comes with such recognition. In response to this ongoing dilemma, South Carolina’s Republican members of Congress have signed on to a letter urging universities in the state to protect religious student groups by allowing them to limit membership or leadership positions to those who are fully committed to the mission of the group. Other student organizations should take note, because the same principles of freedom of association should protect all political or belief-based groups.
Christian Today: A humanist group in Greenville County, South Carolina is seeking summary judgment in its case against the use of prayers in public schools in the county.
The State: Republicans in South Carolina’s congressional delegation, worried about battles over religious freedom in other states, are warning colleges in the state not to interfere with campus religious groups.
WYFF4: A lawsuit challenging Greenville County Schools’ use of prayer could skip trial and go straight to judgement.
National Right to Life: On Thursday, January 22, the 42nd anniversary of the lethal Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, a South Carolina House panel unanimously voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
Christian News Network: A number of atheist organizations are seeking to remove long-standing language from seven state Constitutions that bans secularists from holding public office.
One News Now: The founder of Liberty Counsel says public schools aren’t prohibited by law from using religious facilities for events, despite the argument being made by a humanist group in a South Carolina lawsuit.
Fox News (AP): The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block same-sex marriages in South Carolina.
SCOTUS Blog: With two Justices dissenting, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to delay same-sex marriages in South Carolina, leaving intact a federal judge’s order that goes into effect at noon and strikes down the state’s law. Neither the Court nor the dissenters gave any explanation.
Atheist suit against SC school for hosting graduation in Christian chapel to be reheard in district court
The Christian Post: A lawsuit accusing a South Carolina public elementary school of proselytizing Christianity by hosting its fifth grade graduation ceremonies in a Christian chapel and encouraging student speakers to include prayer in graduation speeches, will be reheard in U.S. District Court after an appeals court remanded an earlier district court ruling that sided with the school district.
The State: “I contacted and showed the policy to one of the attorneys that defended Greece, N.Y. (Alliance Defending Freedom) and he liked the policy with some minor changes, and those changes were incorporated in the policy,” Saitta added. “In total I’ve talked to six or seven attorneys on this issue.”
Wyff4 (WCSC): The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered state probate courts not to issue same-sex marriage licenses until a federal judge decides whether the state constitution’s marriage law is legal.
The Washington Times: South Carolina’s attorney general said the state’s marriage law is still in place and he will continue to fight a lawsuit trying to overturn it despite a ruling by a federal appeals court with jurisdiction over South Carolina.
The Christian Post: A South Carolina school board is considering a return to a prayer policy similar to Town of Greece, New York after the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of sectarian prayers at public meetings.
WYFF4: An Upstate school district is one step closer to changing its prayer policy for the second time in less than 18 months and it all started with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Life News: The South Carolina House has passed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks based on scientific evidence showing unborn children feel pain and now the state Senate is soon expected to follow suit.
WLTX: Clemson University claims that the Freedom From Religion Foundation misstated the law in a complaint filed against the university’s football coach.
Winthrop University’s Socialist Student Union stuck wire hangers into the ground on a main campus lawn as part of a display ridiculing pro-life advocates’ efforts of putting up flags to represent unborn children who have been aborted.
Associated Press: “A state Senate panel advanced legislation Thursday that opponents warn could outlaw abortion and emergency contraception in South Carolina. The panel also took testimony on a separate bill that would outlaw all abortions and most contraception by giving legal rights to fertilized eggs.”
OneNewsNow: “If Mountain View Elementary had to hold ceremonies at its own school, students would be limited to three attendees who would sit in cramped chairs designed for small children, says Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Sharp.”
Reuters: “A bill that recently passed the state House to designate the Columbian Mammoth as the state fossil stalled in the Senate after Republican Senator Kevin Bryant added two verses from the book of Genesis.”
Associated Press: “The Senate Medical Affairs Committee voted 8-6 Thursday to send the bill to full Senate, but Democratic Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg says he’ll block it.”
Reuters: “South Carolina’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, moving the state closer to becoming the latest to limit access to the procedure.”
Charisma News: “‘America’s Founding Fathers regularly opened public ceremonies with prayer, and federal appeals courts have ruled that students can do the same at graduation ceremonies because the speech is the student’s, not the school’s,’ says legal counsel Matthew Sharp. ‘In America, we tolerate a diversity of opinions and beliefs, and that includes the views of elementary students chosen to speak at a graduation celebration.’”
Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that rebuts the claims of an atheist group that sued a South Carolina school district over one of its school’s 5th-grade graduation ceremonies and lost.
WYFF: “A lawsuit filed in Greenville this week could challenge the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Cathy Swicegood, of Mauldin, is seeking a divorce from her female partner of 13 years. But because Swicegood was never legally married, she has no legal protections under South Carolina law . . . ‘We are seeking the courts to issue an order that says both South Carolina laws that ban same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, not only under the South Carolina constitution, but more importantly under the United States constitution,’ he said.”
Associated Press: “Conservative legislators’ strong push to end abortions in South Carolina was boosted Thursday when a state Senate panel advanced a bill that would require doctors who perform the procedure to have privileges to admit patients to nearby hospitals, which sometimes can be difficult.”
WLTX (AP): “The House Judiciary Committee voted 13-8 Tuesday to advance the proposal. Doctors who disregard the ban could be charged with a felony.”
The Post and Courier: “Abortions should be banned when a fetus reaches 20 weeks, and doctors who perform such procedures should face criminal prosecution, according to an S.C. House bill that was discussed Thursday.”
The State: “The historic duel in which an associate chief justice has challenged a sitting chief justice was undecided Tuesday, and – unless one of the two candidates withdraws from the race – the issue will go to a vote Wednesday in the Legislature.”
The Post and Courier: “A bill to prevent workplace discrimination against gays — not to legalize gay marriage —will be the top priority of South Carolina’s gay community as the Legislature begins work this year.”
Insurance Company Must Defend South Carolina Episcopal Church In Trademark Suit By Breakaway Diocese
Religion Clause Blog: In The Episcopal Church in South Carolina v. Church Insurance Company of Vermont, (D SC, Jan. 6, 2014), a South Carolina federal district court held that an commercial liability insurance policy issued by Church Insurance Company of Vermont requires the insurance company to defend The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TEC-SC) . . .
Free-Times.com: In South Carolina’s General Assembly, it’s usually the Republican-driven legislation that draws courtroom challenges and cries of “unconstitutional.” But in the past week, seven Democratic sponsors of a bill calling for classroom prayer in public schools have attracted that judging glare of mainstream America more often directed at their colleagues across the aisle.
Lohud.com (Gannett): I urge school officials to stand up for the constitutional right of our children to sing Christmas carols at school concerts, and to read the letter sent by the Alliance Defending Freedom to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide explaining this constitutional right (available online at www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/content/docs/issues/school/Memo-Christmas.pdf).
Raw Story: State lawmakers in South Carolina are pushing for legislation that would mandate prayer sessions in schools. The bill, H. 3526, would require teachers to lead a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day, during which the teacher would be allowed to deliver a prayer
One News Now: Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom says the American Humanists’ allegation that the school cannot work with religious organizations is wrong. Tedesco, Jeremy (ADF)“What the American Humanist Association is basically saying is that schools have to exclude religious people, religious organizations, from all their programs,” he explains. “And that’s unconstitutional hostility toward religion, not neutrality.”
Secularists Still Trying To Bully Christmas From The Public Square | Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom: And, despite news stories you might have seen in which various Christian leaders try to downplay that conflict, the truth remains that any effort to bring out the real meaning of the season in the public square – and in particular, in our public schools – is being met with legal intimidation from those who most aggressively reject the Baby in the manger … and His message.
Matt Sharp appeared on the Zeb Bell Show to discuss attacks on Christmas including this one: Atheist group seeks to deny poor children Christmas gifts. | MP3 audio 16:23 mins
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.
Charisma News: “Public schools should provide students with as many community service opportunities as possible and not engage in unconstitutional discrimination,” says senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The American Humanist Association is incorrect that neutrality toward religion requires schools to discriminate against beneficial programs simply because they are run by Christians. That is not neutrality but targeted religious discrimination forbidden by the First Amendment.”
Alliance Defending Freedom sent East Point Academy a letter offering free legal assistance after an atheist group threatened to file a lawsuit against the school for including a community service project sponsored by a religious organization as one of the many programs its students may voluntarily participate in.
Fox Carolina: A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Greenville County Schools can continue to allow student-led prayer and can continue to hold school events in places of worship, at least for now. | ZZ: American Humanist Association v. Greenville County School Dist. | American Humanist Association press release: Case Challenging Prayers, Chapel Use For Public School Graduation Continues In South Carolina
One News Now: Yeah, there’s no equal treatment requirement when it comes to that,” says Tedesco. “I mean, they can play other religious songs if they want to [but] the Constitution doesn’t require them to do so – and it’s not a big surprise that Christian-themed music would dominate a performance that occurs during Christmas time.” ADF has sent a letter to more than 13,000 school districts across the country explaining it’s constitutional to perform Christian carols at Christmas concerts.
Group Working to Spread the Truth About the Constitutionality of Christmas | Doug Napier on O’Reilly Factor Video
Fox News O’Reilly Factor Talking Points Memo (12/2/2013): So once again this year, I will keep an eye on the situation. Helping me is the Alliance Defending Freedom Organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have been very successful in defending traditional rights in the courts. Therefore I say to them God bless you, each and every one, with apologies to Dickens.
Anti-faith Humbugs Ensure ‘tis The Season To Be … Litigious | Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom: “Schools shouldn’t have to think twice about whether they can allow their bands to play the music to time-honored Christmas carols like these,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray. “School districts can and should allow religious Christmas carols to be part of their school productions.”
Lisa Beth Folch at Sunshine State News: Those who oppose the religious side of Christmas say it violates separation of church and state. This is one of the many fallacies put to rest by Alliance Defending Freedom, which has stepped in to clarify many misconceptions about the constitutionality of celebrating Christmas in a public arena. Roughly 13,000 letters were sent to school districts all over the nation, including in Florida, explaining the Constitution and debunking typical myths. For example, they said OK to sing traditional Christmas carols and say, “Merry Christmas,” even at school . . . Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told Sunshine State News, “In the past few weeks, Alliance Defending Freedom sent letters to three schools that had banned religious Christmas carols from their music programs. Each school quickly reversed its decision. As these three victories demonstrate, we often find that once schools are educated about the law in this area they are more than willing to stand up against the fear and misinformation spread by groups like the ACLU.” [more]
One News Now: Yeah, there’s no equal treatment requirement when it comes to that,” says Tedesco. “I mean, they can play other religious songs if they want to [but] the Constitution doesn’t require them to do so – and it’s not a big surprise that Christian-themed music would dominate a performance that occurs during Christmas time.”
The State: After the songs were yanked from the program, the family of a freshman band student contacted the Alliance Defending Freedom – an Arizona-based nonprofit that has a team of lawyers to advocate for “religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” In a letter to the charter school, the alliance’s attorneys said they “would be happy to defend the academy free of charge.” . . . But Victoria Middleton, the ACLU’s S.C. director, told The Herald that the organization did not send a news release or letter to the school. The ACLU’s website says the organization gets blamed for driving the “war on Christmas” – when, really, it supports the right to celebrate Christmas in public or private.
Charisma News: “Schools shouldn’t have to think twice about whether they can allow Christmas carols, including ones with Christian themes that are naturally a part of the holiday,” says ADF litigation staff counsel Rory Gray. “We commend the school for quickly reversing the prohibition on such songs. It’s a shame that the pervasive climate of fear about Christmas that secularist groups have spread over the last several decades led some at the school to think that they had to ‘preemptively’ censor Christmas expression.”
Herald Online: Concerned by the removal of the songs from the concert, Phillip Dean’s family contacted the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based legal organization that describes itself as “advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” The group sent York Prep officials a letter outlining why the school could keep the songs in the performance, said Rory Gray, an Atlanta attorney for the Alliance. The group offered to represent the school without charge if anyone sued it over the religiously themed music. The Alliance also issued a press release, which prompted response online by people like Todd Starnes, a commentator on Fox News Radio.
Jeremy Tedesco appeared on WQSC 1340 with Rocky D to discuss this: SC school lifts ban on religious Christmas carols and this: ADF to 13,000+ school districts: Christmas is constitutional | MP3 audio 13:20 mins
Caffeinated Thoughts: “Schools shouldn’t have to think twice about whether they can allow Christmas carols, including ones with Christian themes that are naturally a part of the holiday,” said Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray. “We commend the school for quickly reversing the prohibition on such songs. It’s a shame that the pervasive climate of fear about Christmas that secularist groups have spread over the last several decades led some at the school to think that they had to ‘pre-emptively’ censor Christmas expression.” . . . The Constitution clearly allows the inclusion of religious Christmas carols in school productions,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. [more]
WRHI.com: This week, FOX News Radio commentator Todd Starnes penned an online column, challenging the school had banned the performance of “Joy to the World” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Starnes sourced the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal firm that specializes religious liberty cases. “York Preparatory Academy has a policy banning religious music at holiday performance — even if the music his instrumental,” Starnes wrote.
FITSNews: Anyway, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom – a group which provides “a strong, coordinated legal defense against growing attacks on religious freedom” – the exclusion of religious-themed Christmas music represents an “impermissible hostility toward religion.”
NC Register: “Schools can offer Operation Christmas Child as one of many choices of community-service projects students can voluntarily participate in, without violating the Constitution,” Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told CNA Nov. 20. “The AHA is spreading a view of the Establishment Clause and what they think it requires,” he said, “this absolutely complete separation between church and state, which has really put schools in the position of being hostile to religion.” [more]
Washington Times: “The Academy’s principal confirmed the receipt of the ACLU’s or similar group’s communication [threatening suit] and suggested that in order for students to play traditional Christmas carols they would need to play songs from other religions as well,” ADF attorney Rory Gray said, to Mr. Starnes on Fox News. Mr. Gray opposes the demands, saying schools shouldn’t be pressured to halt “time-honored Christmas carols,” The Blaze reported.
‘The Definition Of Bullying’: Church Vs. State Threat Leads Another School To Cut Ties With ‘operation Christmas Child’ | The Blaze
The Blaze: The email reportedly claimed that the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group, had advised the school that due to an error in their handling of the Operation Christmas Child situation, participation was not permissible. But a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom told KUSA that it is possible for schools to participate in the outreach within the confines of the law.
Charter School Reportedly Bans Students From Performing ‘joy To The World’ And ‘oh Come All Ye Faithful’ | The Blaze
The Blaze: “The Academy’s principal confirmed the receipt of the ACLU’s or similar group’s communication and suggested that in order for students to play traditional Christmas carols they would need to play songs from other religions as well,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Rory Gray told Starnes.
Charisma News: On behalf of concerned parents, Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Tuesday to a South Carolina public charter school whose band director prohibited students from performing the music to “Joy to the World” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
BizPacReview: Rory Gray, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal firm that specializes in religious liberty cases, said students in the band were given a choice of musical selections for the upcoming winter concert. “The students chose two songs that included the melodies from Joy to the World and Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” Gray said.
South Carolina School Bans Christmas Carols From Concert After Receiving Legal Threat From Secularist Organization | Christian Post
Christian Post: “The Constitution clearly allows the inclusion of religious Christmas carols in school productions,” said Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for the ADF, in a statement. “We hope our letter will help clear up the misinformation that this school apparently received and that it will lift its unnecessary and unconstitutional ban.”
On behalf of concerned parents, Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Tuesday to a South Carolina public charter school whose band director prohibited students from performing the music to “Joy to the World” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” A student also provided the letter to the school at a board meetingTuesday night.