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On April 7, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys asked a Hawaii court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two atheists against One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu. The lawsuit falsely accuses the two churches of defrauding the government by paying what the atheists call “substandard” rent to the public schools in which they meet.
Rhode Island will host a “Day of Reason” on May 1st. Governor Lincoln Chafee declared that the “Day of Reason” will happen on the same day as the Day of Prayer, thanks to lobbying from unnamed atheist groups.
Providence Journal: “The Humanists of RI and The Secular Coalition for RI say Chafee signed the proclamation at their request to help ‘raise awareness throughout the State of Rhode Island of the importance of Reason as a guiding principle of our secular democracy.’ Chafee spokeswoman Faye Zuckerman did not dispute this characterization on Monday.”
Christian Post: “The Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison expressed their intentions Wednesday in response to Mustang Public Schools approving a Bible class elective championed by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green.”
Associated Press: “Leaders of a national atheist group say the best spot to find a nonbeliever is in a place of faith.
South Jersey Times: “A Cumberland County woman argues that the state Motor Vehicle Commission’s alleged denial of issuing an ’8theist’ license plate violated her First Amendment rights, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday.”
Detroit Free Press: “Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has turned down an atheist’s request to place a ‘reason station’ inside city hall for one year, saying it would disrupt an existing prayer station allowed by the city.”
Baltimore Sun: “A divided Carroll County board of commissioners voted Tuesday to no longer invoke Jesus Christ in prayers before government sessions, a measure one commissioner said ‘binds me to an act of disobedience against my Christian faith.’”
Associated Press: “Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom filed another motion to dismiss the lawsuit earlier this month, reiterating its previous argument that the state Department of Education knew how the facilities were being used. ‘The substance of it is basically the same,’ one of the group’s attorneys, Erik Stanley, said Monday. ‘There’s really nothing new in the amended complaint.’”
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.”
Washington Post: “A group of Carroll County residents has asked a federal judge to find county commissioners in contempt and to fine them $30,000 for allowing explicit prayers to be said at government meetings. The residents and the American Humanist Association filed the request with a U.S. District Court in Maryland on Tuesday, a week after a judge from that court ordered the five-member commission to halt sectarian prayers while a case over the issue proceeds.” | AHA press release.
Robert Tracinski at The Federalist: “There is a crude majoritarian triumphalism to this argument. The attitude is: we won the culture war, our views are now the accepted norm, and so they must become the rule for everybody. You have no right to resist, no right even to retreat into your own private sphere and ask to be left alone. We must reach into that private sphere and require your active endorsement of the new social consensus. . . . The idea that you can be compelled to conform to the social consensus unleashes the basic principle of totalitarianism.”
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.”
Baptist Press: “Among other headlines, a Hawaii court dismissed two churches in January from a lawsuit brought by atheists alleging that five congregations committed fraud by paying substandard rent to the public schools where they met. Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who represented the exonerated congregations, called the lawsuit an attempt to ‘bully churches into settlements when they did nothing wrong.’”
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.’”
Terry Eagleton at Commonweal: “In an age in which the concept of certainty smacks of the tyrant and technocrat, a certain agnosticism becomes a virtue. Indeterminacy and undecidability are accounted goods in themselves. Conviction suggests a consistency of self that does not sit easily with the volatile, adaptive subject of advanced capitalism. Besides, too much doctrine is bad for consumption. Beliefs are potentially contentious affairs, which is good neither for business nor for political stability. They are also commercially superfluous. The fervent ideological rhetoric needed to found the system thus fades as it unfolds. As long as its citizens roll into work, pay their taxes, and refrain from assaulting police officers, they can believe pretty much what they like.”
David French at National Review: “Unless, of course, you’re an offended atheist. Then, the same pop culture that mocks Christian sensibilities will treat seriously your utterly vile outrage at a mourning mother’s expression of love for her fallen son. Then, that means the same federal courts that have consistently held that outrage alone does not constitute a recognizable injury will grant ‘offended observers’ special status to challenge displays of perceived religious symbols on public land. In other words, an atheist’s subjective discomfort is sufficient grounds for a federal lawsuit.” | See the Alliance Alert’s “Monuments” for more.
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.”
OneNewsNow: “‘Two well-known atheists in Hawaii have accused several churches of defrauding the government by leasing space for Sunday services in school buildings,’ Schowengerdt relays. ‘They’re saying that the churches should’ve paid more than they did, even though they paid everything that the government asked them to pay. So … they’re baseless lawsuits.’”
Hawaii church reaches settlement in atheist lawsuit over public school rentals | Christian News Network
Christian News Network: “‘Hawaii’s False Claims Act was never intended to bully churches into settlements when they did nothing wrong,’ wrote ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley in a press release about the settlement.”
San Francisco Chronicle (AP): “‘Hawaii’s False Claims Act was never intended to bully churches into settlements when they did nothing wrong. Despite the settlement by some of the churches, this lawsuit never should have been brought in the first place,’ Erik Stanley, an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney, said in a statement.”
“Hawaii’s False Claims Act was never intended to bully churches into settlements when they did nothing wrong. Despite the settlement by some of the churches, this lawsuit never should have been brought in the first place. The court rightfully dismissed One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu from this suit. They have committed no fraud, and any allegations that they did will be met with a strong defense.”
Religion News Service: “Local officials in Florida this week rejected an atheist monument proposed for a courthouse lawn, another example of the hurdles religious minorities will face as they continue to press for equal access to displays on public lands.”
Greenfield Reporter (AP): “The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a federal judge’s decision that allowed the U.S. Forest Service to renew a 10-year permit for a statue of Jesus that was placed on a northwestern Montana ski hill six decades ago.” | FFRF Press Release
Associated Press: “Lawyers for a young Afghan man say he has been granted asylum in Britain because he is an atheist who could face death in his homeland.”
Charisma News: “‘Congregations serving the neediest in their communities should be welcomed, not driven out by bogus accusations resulting from a clear hostility to churches,’ said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who argued before the court last month.”
Christian Post: “The court found that atheists Mitchell Kahle and Holly Huber failed to sufficiently allege that One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu committed fraud by paying substandard rent to the public schools in which they meet, Alliance Defending Freedom, whose attorneys represented the two congregations, said in a statement Friday.”
A Hawaii court has dismissed two churches from a lawsuit that two atheists brought against five congregations in the Aloha State. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent the two churches, One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu, which the atheists falsely accused of defrauding the government.
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.”
The Garden Island: Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom is representing two of the churches. Attorney Erik Stanley says the group will file another motion to dismiss if the lawsuit is refiled. The group argues the churches aren’t doing anything wrong and the state knows how the facilities are being used.
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.
Christmas Displays Debate: Jeremy Tedesco of ADF vs. Dan Barker of FFRF | The Good Neighbor, WCCO Radio MN
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
Hawaii News Now (AP): Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the churches aren’t doing anything wrong and the state knows how the facilities are being used.
Hawaii churches in court Thursday to seek dismissal of atheists’ baseless lawsuit | Alliance Defending Freedom
The suit claims the churches committed fraud by paying substandard rent to the public schools in which they meet even though the school districts agree that the churches have consistently paid all agreed-upon rents.
Christian Post: A church in Wisconsin has filed a motion against an atheist group suing the Internal Revenue Service over its alleged refusal to enforce a ban on church politicking . . . Holy Cross Anglican is represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, whose legal counsel Daniel Blomberg dubbed the FFRF lawsuit “censorship | Becket Fund: Abbot, Small Church Fight Atheists’ Bid to Force IRS to Censor Church Sermons
The Blaze: “Keep Christ in Christmas” sign in a New Jersey borough has sparked a two-year fight over church-state separatism — one that has led the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a secular activist group, to post a holiday response on a nearby billboard.
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.
Green Bay Press Gazette: In contrast, the Madison-based Freedom from Religion Foundation has its own “natural nativity” scene celebrating the winter solstice. Its sign proclaims that “Religion is but myth and superstition.”
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.
Lancaster Online: We all should defend the rights of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Atheists. But when atheists expect their speech to be respected, while calling for Christian speech to be removed from public life, from the workplace and even from the pages of this newspaper, confined to churches or the privacy of one’s own home, then a dangerous line has been crossed.
Washington Times: Atheists interrupted a planned prayer vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court during the Town of Greece v. Galloway case last week, as they argued prayer has no place in public service.
CBS (AP): Despite a public declaration that he’s an atheist, the student body president of a Christian university in Eugene isn’t in trouble with his school.
Christian Post: The Sunday Assembly, the atheist “megachurch” started in the U.K., sold out its inaugural event in Los Angeles with more than 400 attendees, and launched a “40 Dates, 40 Nights” tour around the U.S. and Australia seeking to raise donations for its cause.
News.com.au: IT looks like a typical Sunday morning at any megachurch, except there’s one thing missing – God. Sunday Assembly, Britain’s atheist church, is a gathering for the non-believers and it’s making its way to Australia.
Christian Post: Evangelist Ray Comfort has had his official Twitter account taken over by an unknown atheist who has given Comfort an ultimatum: stop “denigrating” nonbelievers or you won’t get your Twitter account back.
Phyllis Schlafly at GOP USA: The major strike force working to accomplish this consists of the American Civil Liberties Union plus various atheist groups. They are always ready to file lawsuits to get some supremacist judge to restrict religious expression. This effort is magnified by two other organizations that have a major impact on our culture: the military, who feel the temptation to be politically correct, and the liberal bureaucrats in public schools, who now feel free to teach their left-wing views.
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.
Brian Resnick at National Journal: Is there 1 prayer to make Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Polytheists, Wiccans, and Devil Worshippers all happy?
CNSNews: “One thing I would like to say to my fellow atheists is, we need to come out of the closet. Atheists are starting to come out of the closet now, after 9-11. There are many, many of us, and we have to follow the lead of the LGBT community, and we have to make our voices herad. We can’t be shy about this, because it’s important. We need to included in this town government and government at all levels, and unless we speak up, we’re not going to be.” –
Vern L. Bengston at Salon: Millennials are much less attached to religion than their elders — the politicization of the church might be why
Business Insider Australia (includes Oprah video): Some adults who describe themselves as atheists also say they do believe in God or a universal spirit, according to Pew Research Center surveys. At the same time, some people who identify with a religion (e.g., say they are Protestant, Catholic or Jewish) say they do not believe in God.
RNS: Like lots of college students, Lauren has a smartphone loaded with some of the most popular apps around — Facebook, Twitter and eBay. And like a lot of unbelievers, she asked to not use her full name because her family doesn’t know about her closet atheism. One of the apps she uses most regularly is YouVersion, a free Bible app that puts a library’s worth of translations — more than 700 — in the palm of her hand. Close to 115 million people have downloaded YouVersion, making it among the most popular apps of all time.
Christian Institute: The new godless Girlguide promise is “divisive and hurtful” and should be scrapped, Churches in Northern Ireland have said. Meanwhile a Church of England vicar in Newcastle has said the Girlguides sponsored at his church will continue to use the old promise.
Washington Times: “Simply put, a healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian male receives many unearned advantages of social privilege, whereas a black, homosexual, atheist female in poor health receives many unearned disadvantages of social privilege,” reads a statement in the manual created by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI).
Herb Silverman of the Secular Coalition at Washington Post: Many atheists have long been barking at how our mainstream culture seems wrapped in religion, and most religious people have simply ignored the atheists. However, it appears that atheists are getting closer to “catching” the mainstream culture, and should consider strategies and ramifications.
World Magazine (subscription required): On the other hand, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents two of the churches, said the churches have been truthful about their …
FRC Washington Update: During the debate in the Hawaii legislature, some of these same churches have been outspoken proponents of marriage. Could it be that they’ve been targeted for exercising those rights from the pulpit? Alliance Defending Freedom’s (ADF) Erik Stanley, who’s helping to defend the congregations, is stunned that the atheists would attack such a primary source of Oahu’s public service and charity. “Churches who serve the neediest in their communities should be welcomed, not driven out by false accusations. The claims in the lawsuits are false and are driven by an atheistic agenda that is hostile to churches. The undeniable fact is that these churches were at all times truthful, and they have paid all the required rent to the schools. These churches have not only faithfully paid all of their rent, they’ve sacrificially given much more in service and funding to the schools and communities they love.”
Charisma News: “Churches who serve the neediest in their communities should be welcomed, not driven out by false accusations,” says Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Erik Stanley. “The claims in the lawsuit are false and are driven by an atheistic agenda that is hostile to churches. The undeniable fact is that these churches were at all times truthful, and they have paid all required rent to the schools.” “These churches have not only faithfully paid all of their rent, they’ve sacrificially given much more in service and funding to the schools and communities they love,” adds co-counsel James Hochberg of Honolulu, one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This lawsuit’s accusations are not only false; they are downright shameful.”
One News Now: “Churches who serve the neediest in their communities should be welcomed, not driven out by false accusations,” says ADF attorney Erik Stanley. “The claims in the lawsuit are false and are driven by an atheistic agenda that’s hostile to churches. The undeniable fact is that these churches were at all times truthful, and they’ve paid all required rent to the schools.”
Honolulu Star Advertiser: Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion to dismiss Wednesday, arguing the lawsuit relies on public documents that don’t show any wrongdoing. Attorney Erik Stanley says records show the state knew what was going on, so the lawsuit isn’t exposing alleged fraud.
Education Week: Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion on Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit by Mitchell Kahle, founder of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State, and public advocate Holly Huber. They claim New Hope International Ministries, One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu owe more than $5.6 million in unpaid or underpaid rental fees.
WorldNetDaily: “These churches have not only faithfully paid all of their rent, they’ve sacrificially given much more in service and funding to the schools and communities they love,” said James Hochberg of Honolulu, co-counsel in the case. “This lawsuit’s accusations are not only false; they are downright shameful.” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said churches that “serve the neediest in their communities should be welcomed, not driven out by false accusations.” “The claims in the lawsuit are false and are driven by an atheistic agenda that is hostile to churches,” he said. “The undeniable fact is that these churches were at all times truthful, and they have paid all required rent to the schools.”
Honolulu Star Advertiser (AP): Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion to dismiss Wednesday, arguing the lawsuit relies on public documents that don’t show any wrongdoing. Attorney Erik Stanley says records show the state knew what was going on, so the lawsuit isn’t exposing alleged fraud.
Hawaii Reporter: Churches who serve the neediest in their communities should be welcomed, not driven out by false accusations,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “The claims in the lawsuit are false and are driven by an atheistic agenda that is hostile to churches. The undeniable fact is that these churches were at all times truthful, and they have paid all required rent to the schools.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys Wednesday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against two Oahu churches that are among five which two atheists have falsely accused of defrauding the government.
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom: It is impossible for any reasonable observer not to note the crucial role faith plays in our American culture – and yet there will always be those who want to push that role offstage. This fall, as usual, the attorneys of Alliance Defending Freedom are working vigorously on your behalf to block aggressive efforts to silence the voice of faith in the public square.
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.
Caleb Dalton at Townhall: Thus the current chaplaincy offers these non-religious services on the same basis to armed forces members of any faith or no faith at all. An atheist “chaplain,” however, simply cannot offer the religious services required of a chaplain anymore than a square can declare itself to be circle.