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Christian News Network: A Bible Belt state is among the latest to consider legalizing assisted suicide, in part due to the efforts of an activist who asserts that the choice to end one’s life is the “ultimate civil right.”
Court rules in favor of public school district sued by teachers for contracting with Christian school
Christian News Network: “Students should not be penalized because a few people fail to understand what the First Amendment actually requires,” said ADF Legal Counsel Rory Gray. “The Jefferson County School Board is committed to helping children in need and providing the best educational services. … The Constitution does not require government entities to shun all contact or cooperation with religious organizations.”
http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/9665: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled Thursday that the Jefferson County School Board can contract with a Christian academy to operate a non-religious alternative program for suspended or expelled students. The district made the move to save more than $171,000 per year so that it could reinvest the taxpayer money into its essential services to keep them afloat.
The Tennessean: Women seeking an abortion in Tennessee will now have to make two trips to a clinic, waiting 48 hours after getting in-person counseling from a doctor before being able to return for the procedure, under a new measure signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday.
National Right to Life: Ten days ago Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law requiring that all clinics performing more than 50 surgical abortions each year be regulated as outpatient surgery centers and inspected annually.
Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Bryan Beauman: “Since this nation’s founding, public meetings have been opened with prayer. We commend the court’s decision to affirm this freedom as constitutional, as 6th Circuit did in this case in 2013 and as the U.S. Supreme Court so recently did in a similar case. A prayer 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. Those who argue that it is are essentially arguing that America’s founders were violating the Constitution as they were writing it.”
Inquisitr: The school board chairman, Tim Spicer, met with the school board attorney as well as the Christian Law Association and Alliance Defending Freedom. He was told the Bible Man studies may possibly be allowed to continue, as long as they were conducted in a certain manner.
Religion News Service: A proposal to make the Bible the official state book of Tennessee, a measure the state attorney general had said would be unconstitutional, was effectively dropped for the year on Thursday (April 16) by the state Senate, officials said.
The Guardian: The Tennessee state house of representatives ignored serious constitutional concerns – and the wishes of Republican leaders in statehouse – in voting to make the Bible the official state book.
Christian Examiner: According to the Grundy County Herald, the school board consulted with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Christian Law Association.
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 Tennessean: Sarah Green remembers feeling like she didn’t belong in her own state after discovering that Tennessee’s constitution bars people who don’t believe in God from holding public office.
Religion Clause: Viewed in context, it is apparent that the legislative intent was for the exemption to apply to members of religious bodies which, like the Church of Christian Science, are established institutions with doctrines or customs that authorize healers within the church to perform spiritual treatment via prayer in lieu of medical care. Because the exemption is effectively limited to members of religious groups that closely resemble the Christian Science Church, the terms at issue are not so vague that the scope of the exemption “cannot be ascertained.”
LA Times: Tennessee state representative Jerry Sexton, a Republican from Bean Station, is only a month into his first term but he’s got big plans: He’d like to make the Bible the state’s official book.
Christian Today: Contrary to what its website temporarily displayed, the Westminster Presbyterian Church did not undergo a radical shift in religious views. The church’s website was hacked by the Islamic State or its supporters on Thursday and carried the statement “I love Islam and Jihadist,” a gruesome video, and some very disturbing language, Wate.com reported.
The Washington Post: An “informed consent” bill that would require women to receive information about their pregnancy and abortion alternatives before receiving an abortion has been introduced by a Tennessee lawmaker.
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.
The Christian Institute: A bill that requires women planning to have an abortion to undergo an ultrasound is to be considered in the US state of Tennessee.
The Daily Signal: Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overruled lower court decisions that had struck down state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
CNN: “The people of every state should remain free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws,” ADF senior counsel Byron Babione said in a statement.
The Christian Post: Byron Babione, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that the Sixth Circuit decision was consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Windsor vs. United States.
The New York Times: “The people of every state should remain free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws,” said Byron Babione, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group that has argued several same-sex marriage cases. “As the Sixth Circuit rightly concluded, the Constitution does not demand that one irreversible view of marriage be judicially imposed on everyone.”
The Tennessean: Tennessee voters by a solid margin backed Amendment 1, a measure that gives state lawmakers more power to restrict and regulate abortions.
Nashville Public Radio: Southern Baptists say they’ve gotten some things wrong on homosexuality, but they still see acceptance of same-sex marriage as a line that cannot be crossed.
The New York Times: The video was designed by abortion opponents here who believe that Tennessee has for too long been a Bible Belt outlier due to a State Supreme Court decision in 2000 that ruled that the state’s constitutional guarantee of a right to privacy includes the right to an abortion. Over the years, the ruling has served as a partial bulwark against the wave of abortion restrictions that have swept other conservatives states.
The Tennessean (AP): Students and administrators on the Johnson City campus of East Tennessee State University are wondering about the impact three days of sex education known as Sex Week may have on the campus.
National Review: Here are the facts: Unmarried Italian citizens—”L.G.” the “intended mother,” and “A.T.” the “intended father,” paid more than $73,000 to pay for “expenses” and “pain and suffering” to “J.J.E.,” the surrogate. She agreed to be artificially inseminated with A.T.’s sperm, to gestate any babies conceived, and then surrender the child and her parental rights to the intended parents. In other words, the baby would be the biological child of the intended father and the surrogate mother. In Tennessee such contracts are called “traditional surrogacy…”
Canon and Culture: Tish Warren’s recent essay in Christianity Today brought many questions back up to the surface for me and many Christians who have been associated with Vanderbilt University over the past few years. Did we do everything we could to stand up for truth in a loving and compassionate way during the debates over religious association policies? What role did we play as we urged administrators to realize we are not the equivalent of segregationists and we just want to ensure our Christian organization leaders are in fact followers of Christ? What lessons can other students at other schools learn from what we went through?
ABC News (AP): Weddings, court rulings and confusion are defining a week that started with the U.S. Supreme Court denying appeals from five states seeking to retain their marriage laws or amendments.
The Christian Post: Legal ministry Alliance Defending Freedom counters claims that prayer during public meetings violates the Establishment Clause. According to ADF, such assertions “intentionally mis-frames the analysis.” Instead, the ADF holds that “legislative prayers serve the legitimate secular purposes of solemnizing public occasions, expressing confidence in the future, and encouraging the recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in society, and have never been understood as conveying government approval of particular religious beliefs.”
Baptist Press: The war to protect unborn life in America has shifted in significant measure to the state level, with Tennessee and North Dakota emerging as key battlegrounds this fall.
The Daily Caller: Earlier this season, the university rejected the demands of anti-religion interest groups to stop Tennessee’s tradition of observing a moment of non-denominational prayer praying before kickoff. The group went so far as to refer to this tradition of pre-game prayer as “really very grating”. Such attacks on religion and prayer in the public square are not new.
Yahoo News (The Christian Science Monitor): In every season since 1930, the Oneida, Tenn., high school football games have begun with a prayer. But this year, based on legal advice, the school chose not to begin the games with an invocation via the public address system.
National Review: Rejecting incumbent Democrat Robert Cooper, the Tennessee supreme court has selected Herbert Slatery III, the first Republican in state history to serve as the state’s next attorney general, the Tennessean reports.
Mere Orthodoxy: Tish Harrison Warren, whose writing I admire a great deal, has an excellent piece over at Christianity Today on Vanderbilt University’s lamentable decision to prohibit campus groups from setting their own standards for student leadership. Harrison Warren was part of Intervarsity’s leadership during that season, and so had a seat on the front row.
Christianity Today: In May 2011, Vanderbilt’s director of religious life told me that the group I’d helped lead for two years, Graduate Christian Fellowship—a chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship—was on probation. We had to drop the requirement that student leaders affirm our doctrinal and purpose statement, or we would lose our status as a registered student organization.
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.
Student ‘suspended’ for saying ‘bless you’ in class; Assistant Principal claims it’s not ‘religious issue’
The Christian Post: On Monday, 17-year-old Kendra Turner said “bless you” to another student who sneezed during class. The phrase is reportedly banned from the teacher’s classroom, as each teacher is allowed to set rules and limits for his/her classroom. One student took a photo of the alleged board in the room, which states the rules for the room, which does list the phrase “bless you” along with others such as “my bad,” “stuff,” and “I don’t know.”
One News Now: For the first time since June 2013, and stemming the tide of dozens of federal, state and appeals court decisions striking down biblical marriage protection amendments that banned same-sex unions, a judge in Tennessee has ruled that his state’s marriage protection amendment promoting “family continuity and stability is certainly a legitimate state interest.”
Star-Telegram: News about court cases that involve same-sex marriages usually travels fast. But when a judge in Tennessee recently upheld that state’s constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, it went almost unnoticed.
The Christian Post: A judge has ruled that Tennessee’s constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage is legal, breaking a streak of judicial losses for the traditional marriage side.
The New York Times: The steady march of judicial approval for same-sex marriage over the past year ran into some skepticism here on Wednesday as a three-judge federal appeals panel heard arguments in six same-sex marriage cases from four states.
LA Times: A federal appeals court in Cincinnati began hearing arguments Wednesday from six same-sex marriage cases that have worked their way up from lower cases in four states.
Cincinnati.com: Same-sex marriage is a novel concept that is not as old as Google or Facebook, yet it is leading some courts to re-imagine the rights endowed by the U.S. Constitution and re-write human history.
The Daily Signal: After 33 years of marriage, Linda and Larry Drain of Maryville, Tenn., separated—but only so Linda could have health care coverage that was threatened by federal bureaucracy, according to The Tennessean.
SCOTUS Blog: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, set to review a same-sex marriage case from each of the four states in its geographic area, will consider all four of them before the same three-judge panel on August 6, the court said in orders issued Monday.
The Becket Fund: Today, in a significant victory for religious freedom, the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit attempting to shut down a Tennessee mosque, ending a two-year-old legal fight.
Life News: Seeking to demonize those pro-life people and rally abortion backers to oppose Amendment 1, a political group calling itself “Tennesseans for Preservation of Personal Privacy, Inc.” paid for large ads to be placed in papers across the state on Sunday. Each ad refers to pro-life Amendment 1 as the “Tennessee Taliban Amendment” and urges voters to vote NO.
Chicago Tribune: “Lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based Christian organization, are assisting in the defense of state bans in Oklahoma and Virginia and have submitted ‘friend of the court’ briefs in other cases, including the Tennessee dispute. Greg Scott, an Alliance spokesman, said his group seeks to counter sympathetic ‘micro’ narratives with a ‘macro’ argument. ‘What we argue is that marriage has a particular role in society as a whole,’ and that has historically meant only unions between a man and a woman.”
The Jackson Sun: “Union University has joined other faith-based institutions in filing a federal lawsuit that challenges an order to provide abortion-causing drugs as part of employee health care plans, the university said in a news release today. The suit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, according to the news release.” | Union University press release is here.
The Daily News Journal: “The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee sent a letter to the Cannon County REACH after-school program on behalf of a boy who said he wasn’t allowed to read his Bible during free time, according to a news release from the ACLU-TN.”
The Tennessean: “ICM attorney John Green of Murfreesboro convinced Corlew to back down because the chancellor previously ruled in a different case that the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission failed to provide adequate public notice before approving the congregation’s construction plans to build a new center on Veals Road.”
BuzzFeed: “A federal judge has denied Tennessee’s request to put the state’s recognition of three same-sex couples’ marriages on hold while state officials challenge the judge’s original decision.”
OneNewsNow: “‘And so [our client was] effectively shut out from engaging in any speech activities over a huge campus – and as anyone who’s been to the University of Tennessee knows it’s very large,’ says the ADF legal counsel [Jonathan Scruggs].”
The Tennessean: “As promised, the Tennessee Attorney General will ask the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a decision granting recognition to three same-sex married couples. . . . In addition to filing a notice of appeal on Tuesday, the AG also asked Trauger for a stay on her injunction.”
Defendants’ Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Stay Pending Appeal (March 18, 2014)
Religion Clause: “In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where opponents of an Islamic Center engaged in several years of high-profile litigation beginning in 2010,a new lawsuit has been filed challenging county approval of a Muslim cemetery on a portion of the Islamic Center’s property.”
BuzzFeed Politics: “A federal judge in Tennessee Friday ordered state officials to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples during the consideration of their lawsuit challenging the validity of the state’s ban on recognizing such marriages.” | How Appealing has a link to the ruling.
Knoxville News Sentinel: “Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero called on local clergy Tuesday to talk about Affordable Care Act insurance enrollment from a position of power: the pulpit.”
Associated Press: “The state House is scheduled to take up legislation Monday evening that would protect schools from lawsuits for allowing traditional winter celebrations, or religious displays.”
Reuters: “Lu Ann Ballew was found guilty of violating judicial canons regarding impartiality and bias by a six-member panel of the Tennessee Judicial Board of Conduct. She was fired in January after being cited for religious bias in her decision.”
“University administrators cannot pick and choose which viewpoints they will allow on campus. This settlement resolves that problem at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville by removing the vague policies that the 6th Circuit found to be unconstitutional. Confusing policies that don’t provide appropriate direction to both speakers and university officials don’t benefit anyone.”
News Channel 9: “State Senator Mike Bell stood before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday evening. That bill would have allowed businesses and organizations to refuse service to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.”
The Tennessean: “Tennessee lawmakers are taking up a bill that would let cake makers, florists and other vendors refuse service to same-sex couples who wish to marry, even if the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage is struck down.”
Thomas More Society: “Yesterday, the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based public interest law firm, together with Brentwood, Tennessee, attorney Larry Crain, of Crain, Schuette & Associates, filed a federal lawsuit in the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of Pharmacist Dr. Philip Hall against the Walgreen Company (‘Walgreens’).”
WREG: “State Senator Brian Kelsey wants to make sure businesses and others with strong religious beliefs against gay marriage are protected, but one gay and lesbian group says a new bill he is proposing would give them the right to discriminate.”
Chicago Tribune (Reuters): “A Tennessee judge who ordered a baby’s name changed from Messiah to Martin, saying the former was reserved for Jesus Christ, has been fired, court officials said on Tuesday.”
Daily News Journal: “Plaintiffs suing the county for approving the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case because of terrorism concerns, according to a file sent Wednesday night.”
Timesfreepress.com: A conservative group seeking to overturn a new domestic partner benefits ordinance has already managed to effectively stop enrollment planned for the spring.
Tennessean (includes video): The Catholic Diocese of Nashville and several affiliated organizations have filed suit against the federal government, claiming it is requiring them to violate their religious principles by offering health insurance that includes contraceptive services to employees, according to the lawsuit filed last week.