Casey Mattox discusses Houston subpoenas and the SCOTUS same-sex marriage issue with Matthew Hawkins and Andrew Walker (audio)alliancealert.org
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.
SCOTUS Blog: For the first time in nearly fourteen months, a state’s marriage law has withstood a constitutional challenge in court.
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.
CNSNews: Four gay couples who filed a federal lawsuit last month challenging Tennessee’s refusal to recognize their same-sex marriages asked a federal judge for a preliminary injunction Wednesday to force the state to grant them marriage licenses while the case is being heard.
One News Now: Rory Gray of Alliance Defending Freedom says a friend-of-the-court brief has been filed with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.“We’re just trying to make sure that the courts don’t prevent using a provider because they’re religious, just because they happen to be a Christian school,” he tells OneNewsNow. “Obviously, that shouldn’t violate the establishment clause. This is a completely secular program and students are really learning completely secular subjects, and that should be the end of the matter.”
WBIR.com: A fast-growing, worldwide congregation for atheists called Sunday Assembly picked an unlikely spot to try and launch a new group. It’s Nashville. Where the Southern Baptist Convention is headquartered.
WBIR.com: In one year, Tennesseans will take to the polls to vote on a controversial abortion measure. If passed, Amendment 1 could give the state’s legislature the power to create abortion laws. Currently, it does not have that power.
Religion Clause Blog: The charges claim that Ballew violated rules requiring judges to promote confidence in the judiciary and avoid bias and prejudice based, among other things, on religion.
Matt Sharp at Alliance Defending Freedom: But what about students who are “ostracized and excluded” for wanting to pray at football games? Does the ACLU stand for their rights? What about players who want to huddle together on the field before games to pray for the safety of everyone? What about the student who, when selected to speak at graduation, wants to recite a blessing from the Bible? Not a word from the ACLU about these students’ rights.
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.
AP: 4 Same-sex Couples File Lawsuit In Tennessee Four same-sex couples legally married in other states have filed a lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s law that prohibits recognition of their marriages. National Center for Lesbian Rights press release: Same-Sex Couples File Marriage …
NewsChannel5: Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said she will add domestic partner benefit coverage for city workers, making Knoxville the second municipality in the state to offer such benefits.
OneNewsNow: Matt Sharp of Alliance Defending Freedom says ADF followed up with its own letter to correct that claim. Sharp, Matt (ADF)“And the troublesome thing is that a lot of schools, because they hear this constant drumbeat from the ACLU, may start to believe it and may start to take actions that would restrict the religious freedom of students,” he explains. “And that’s why whenever these things do pop up, we want to respond quickly.”
Matt Sharp appeared on the Drew Mariani Show to discuss this: Letter: Tenn. student-led game-day prayers constitutional. | MP3 audio 8:03 mins
Christian Legal Group Tackles ACLU’s Criticism of Student-Led Prayers at School Football Games | ChristianNews.net
ChristianNews.net: Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) crafted the letters as a counter to correspondence recently sent by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which complained about the prayers after it learned that a number of schools were allowing the invocations.
Tennessean: Tennessee GOP Chairman Chris Devaney says in a missive sent Thursday morning to superintendents across the state that the ACLU is trying “to intimidate Tennessee students and high school athletes from exercising their First Amendment rights” by praying at school functions. Devaney cites the same case the ACLU did, Santa Fe v. Doe, which said students may voluntarily pray anytime before, after or during the school day . . . The complete text of Devaney’s letter is available here.
WRCBTV.com: In the transcript of his 7-minute speech he mentions one bible verse and the word “God” six times. Weeks later the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to the school board calling Stewart’s speech a “serious concern” . . . “Inviting a pastor in the first place should have been a red flag for the school. Pastors only speak about religious issues for the most part,” Seidel says.
Christian Post: “There’s no legitimate basis for public school officials to shut down students’ private religious speech,” Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer Rory Gray said in a letter from the legal group to the school district. “Students who express their faith before, during or after the school day are exercising their constitutional freedoms. Atheist groups are attempting to browbeat schools into believing otherwise,” Gray added. The organization’s senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco added: “The Constitution should be the only permission slip students need to exercise their freedom of speech.” “We commend the school for not caving to the ACLU’s unwarranted demands but urge them to amend their outdated policies so that this does not happen in the future and students’ religious speech is protected,” he added.
WKMS.org: Praying for your high school football team is OK. But the American Civil Liberties Union says those before-game prayers should not be sponsored by public schools.
ACLU: School superintendents across the state today received letters from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee in response to recent reports of school-sponsored prayer in numerous public school football programs. The letter provides information on the First Amendment’s requirement that public schools refrain from endorsement of religion.
Crossville Chronicle: The agreement states Cumberland County Schools, “shall not authorize, sanction or knowingly allow the Gideons International, or any other organization not solely composed of and led by students, to distribute Bibles or other written materials of a primarily religious nature designed to proselytize public school students during instructional time in the classroom or during an organized assembly on school grounds during school hours.”
Religion Clause Blog: In State of Tennessee v. Crank, (TN Ct. Crim. App., Sept. 26, 2013), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction of Jacqueline Crank on one charge of child abuse or neglect related to the 2002 death of her teenage child. The mother turned to prayer instead of medical treatment for her daughter who eventually died of cancer.
The Baptist Standard (APB): The same day the government asked the Supreme Court to decide, lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom asked the high court to strike down the contraceptive mandate. The Arizona-based ADF represents Conestoga Wood Specialties, owned by a practicing Mennonite family who desire to conduct business in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious beliefs. “All Americans, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith,” said Senior Counsel David Cortman. “A major aspect of freedom is at stake. If the government can force the Hahns to violate their faith just to engage in their livelihood, then the government can do the same or worse to others.”
Baptist Press: “The question is whether the government can pick and choose what faith is, who the faithful are, and when and where they can exercise that faith,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Conestoga.
Obamcare at SCOTUS & 10 year old banned from writing about God | Jeremy Tedesco on the Frank Sontag Show
Jeremy Tedesco appeared on the Frank Sontag show to discuss the Conestoga challenge to the Obamacare abortion pill mandate and the case of a little girl in Tennessee who was banned from writing about God. | MP3 audio 6:19 mins
Tennessean: Gay couples who married in other states but live in Tennessee are running into a fresh legal hurdle — how to get their names changed on driver’s licenses.