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Manual tells how Christian churches, schools can protect themselves from LGBT ‘discrimination’ lawsuits in US
Christian Today: The Southern Baptist Convention and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have released a manual which contains instructions on how churches, Christian schools and Christian ministries can protect themselves from potential sexual-orientation and gender identity lawsuits in the United States.
The Columbus Dispatch: Being made available at the annual meeting are copies of Protecting Your Ministry, from the convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the Alliance Defending Freedom, to provide a legal resource for churches regarding same-sex marriage issues. Floyd said the commission is on hand to help congregations prepare.
The Gospel Herald: Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the issue of same-sex marriage, one Christian denomination has a plan to skirt around anti-discrimination laws, particularly in regards to the LGBT community. The Southern Baptists Convention have released their plan online.
Legal resource offers guidelines to ensure religious freedom protection for churches and Christian organizations
Christianity Daily: Two organizations collaborated to create a free legal resource for churches, ministries, and schools to protect themselves if issues related to religious liberty were to occur.
BR Now: Christiana Holcomb, litigation counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said churches that do not have specific and clear policies leave “gray areas that can be exploited.”
How can Christian organizations protect their religious freedom? Russell Moore and ADF offer guidance
Christian Post: The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Alliance Defending Freedom published legal guidance to help Christian groups prepare for the religious freedom challenges likely to result from sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination ordinances, and the legalization of gay marriage.
BR Now: ADF President Alan Sears said his organization is honored to cooperate with the ERLC “as fellow servants of churches and gospel ministers across America who are looking for answers to the challenges against our fundamental freedoms of religion, speech and conscience.”
ERLC: “The ERLC is an indispensable champion for religious freedom and human dignity and a strong, steady voice of hope,” said ADF CEO, Alan Sears. “ADF is honored to partner with the ERLC as fellow servants of churches and Gospel ministers across America who are looking for answers to the challenges against our fundamental freedoms of religion, speech and conscience.”
Canon and Culture: Ministry and mission opportunities have taken me to several “closed” countries, nations whose governments consistently silence Christianity. I have seen how routinely and brutally those in power attempt to intimidate Christians into silence. I have returned from each of those experiences with a greater appreciation of the democratic and representative republic in which I live, but also with a deeper resolve to exercise the rights and responsibilities of my citizenship.
The Washington Post: “We’re identifying those places where we understand that people are going to need protection on religious-freedom and freedom-of-conscience grounds, and engaging allies in those states,” said Greg Scott, an Alliance spokesman.
Ecumenical News: The Malaysian church which took down its cross in April after Muslim protesters pressured it to do so has vowed to put the symbol back on its building.
BP News: Passage of the only surviving religious liberty bill in the 84th session of the Texas Legislature gives pastors some legal protection against litigation should they refuse to preside over a same-sex marriage. Senate Bill 2065, the Pastor Protection bill, passed overwhelmingly May 21.
YouTube (CitizenLink): The Supreme Court is considering redefining marriage. What happens to churches if the court finds a constitutional right to same-sex marriage? CitizenLink has free resources to help protect your church or ministry. Please visit the following link to download these resources.
World Magazine (Subscription required): Attorney Jim Campbell, who handles various constitutional cases for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has a working list written down at his office in Scottsdale, Ariz. The list details benefits religious nonprofits could lose if the Supreme Court makes gay marriage a constitutional right. When he arrived at work recently, he read it off: 501(c)3 status, tax benefits, government licensing, accreditation, and government contracts or grants, among others.
Winnipeg Free Press (AP): China’s president warned in a key policy speech that religions must be independent from foreign influence, as the government asks domestic religious groups to pledge loyalty to the state.
Christian Today: China has long been considered one of the worst countries for religious liberty. Designated a country of particular concern by the US since 1999, the latest report from the Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found an “alarming increase in systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses” in 2014.
Law and Religion UK: Civil Society News reports that the Charity Commission is investigating allegations that members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church provided campaigning and leafleting support for Conservative candidates and held prayer services for a Conservative victory at the General Election.
Reuters: Germany’s Roman Catholic Church, an influential voice for reforms prompted by Pope Francis, has decided lay employees who divorce and remarry or form gay civil unions should no longer automatically lose their jobs.
One News Now: Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom, seeking documents about a lawsuit settled between the IRS and an atheist group, the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
Life Site News: ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb told LifeSiteNews that “the IRS has put us off, month after month, and finally, in April, we said, ‘Enough is enough. You have intentionally ignored all of your statutorily mandated deadlines,’ so we filed a lawsuit against the IRS.”
The Salt-Lake Tribune (AP): A Chinese province where authorities have forcibly removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries.
Newsmax: Proof of this can be found in the latest unlawful cover-up that resulted in Judicial Watch filing an important Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama IRS on behalf of the Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF).
Denny Burk: For that reason, I want to highlight an important resource created by The Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group that defends religious liberty claims across the country. It’s a 44-page booklet titled Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Lawsuits. It’s a legal guide explaining how churches, Christian schools, and Christian ministries can get ready for the inevitable challenges to come. This booklet is very practical and provides a checklist that leaders should work through based on the kind of organization they serve.
Judicial Watch files FOIA lawsuit on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom on IRS investigations into churches and religious groups
Standard Newswire: Judicial Watch announced it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to obtain the release of documents regarding the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) recent decision, following a lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, to reevaluate criteria for determining whether churches and other nonprofit organizations can claim tax-exempt status.
Canada Free Press: Judicial Watch announced it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to obtain the release of documents regarding the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) recent decision, following a lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, to reevaluate criteria for determining whether churches and other nonprofit organizations can claim tax-exempt status.
News Max: Judicial Watch contends that the lawsuit was necessary because the IRS failed to comply with a July 2014 Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). In its request, the alliance sought documents related to “existing, proposed, new, or adopted procedures for church tax inquiries or examinations, changes to Treasury regulations as well as all documents related to new IRS policies or procedures.”
McClatchy DC: “It is an honor for Judicial Watch to represent Alliance Defending Freedom, which is so effective as a protector of the First Amendment, which recognizes the truth of God-given rights of Americans to both freely exercise their religion and participate in politics,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in a statement announcing the suit. “The IRS is using a lot of energy to cover-up details of its illicit targeting of churches.”
Christian News Network: She told Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which provided a report on Groll’s story on Friday, that she witnessed the outreach making an impact on the lives that it touched.
The Jerusalem Post: Christians are currently experiencing record numbers of abuse and persecution due to a state-sponsored crackdown on dissent.
Religion Clause: In Turkey yesterday, the Armenian Christian church filed suit in Turkey’s Constitutional Court seeking to regain ownership of its historic headquarters, the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia.
Alliance Defending Freedom: As Rachael parked her minivan along the street in the Gill Village housing project, a group of ten kids gathered nearby caught her attention. “They were sharing a box of Bisquick – not even pancakes, they had no water – they were just eating the dry mix,” she told me.
Worthy News: An Arizona-based legal group has filed a lawsuit in federal court demanding that the Internal Revenue Service divulge information about an agreement it made with an atheist organization regarding the monitoring of churches, the Christian Post reported.
Fresno Bee: The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative group based in Arizona, sued the IRS this week to learn more about the agency’s election year plans. The lawsuit alleges the IRS is refusing to disclose details of an agreement it made with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist group, to enforce a law that would strip a church of its tax-exempt status if it were involved in obvious political activity.
UCA News: The scale of a church demolition campaign in China’s Zhejiang province may be much greater than previously reported, US-based China Aid warned this week.
Western Journalism: As National Review reported Monday, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Judicial Watch sued the IRS on April 9 to force the release of documents pertaining to churches out of favor with the agency after it refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
National Review: To fight this combined assault on religious liberty and on government transparency, conservative legal stalwarts Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Judicial Watch together filed suit April 9 to force release of the IRS documents. ADF asserts that the IRS already has shared the documents with the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). Once again, the IRS bends over backwards on behalf of leftists while harassing and ignoring the rights, on multiple levels, of conservative groups or faith communities.
The Telegraph: Hopes that a government demolition campaign targeting Chinese churches had ended have been dashed after the crosses were stripped from at least three places of worship in recent days.
Charisma News: “Americans deserve to know what the IRS is up to,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The agency’s unwillingness to produce these records only furthers the perception that it makes secret deals with activists that it wishes to hide from the public. The IRS’s delays make no sense because we only asked for the same information that it already provided to Freedom From Religion Foundation. The IRS has forced us to file this lawsuit just so we can obtain what the agency is already legally obligated to produce.”
The Global Dispatch: “Americans deserve to know what the IRS is up to,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The agency’s unwillingness to produce these records only furthers the perception that it makes secret deals with activists that it wishes to hide from the public. The IRS’s delays make no sense because we only asked for the same information that it already provided to Freedom From Religion Foundation. The IRS has forced us to file this lawsuit just so we can obtain what the agency is already legally obligated to produce.”
Christian News Network: “The IRS’s delays make no sense because we only asked for the same information that it already provided to Freedom From Religion Foundation,” ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The IRS has forced us to file this lawsuit just so we can obtain what the agency is already legally obligated to produce.”
American Clarion: “Americans deserve to know what the IRS is up to,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The agency’s unwillingness to produce these records only furthers the perception that it makes secret deals with activists that it wishes to hide from the public. The IRS’s delays make no sense because we only asked for the same information that it already provided to Freedom From Religion Foundation. The IRS has forced us to file this lawsuit just so we can obtain what the agency is already legally obligated to produce.”
One News Now: “Churches don’t have to give up their freedom of speech to remain tax-exempt any more than they have to give up their protection against illegal search and seizure,” Erik Stanley argues.
ADF Media: Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Internal Revenue Service for failing to produce records on its secret deal with an activist group to investigate churches. Federal law requires the tax agency to produce the records that ADF requested under the Freedom of Information Act in July 2014, but the IRS missed its legally required deadline months ago and has continued to stonewall the request.
ABC2News (AP): Calvin Morrow, one of the leaders of a Christian group which supported repeal, says local “churches were startled and alarmed” and got involved in the campaign. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group, said at least one Springfield pastor had urged his congregation to vote to repeal the ordinance.
The Gospel Coalition: America is in the midst of a seismic cultural shift in matters of faith, family, and freedom.
ADF Media: Alliance Defending Freedom has sent Missouri pastors a letter to debunk critics who have wrongly asserted that churches can lose their tax-exempt status if they urge their congregations to vote in favor of repealing a city law.
Phoenix New Times: The Arizona Senate yesterday passed a bill that creates a new tax break for certain religious groups.
Missouri Family Policy Council: A Missouri law designed to protect church worship services from disruption by protest groups has been struck down by a federal appeals court. A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the House of Worship Protection Act violates the freedom of speech guarantees of the First Amendment.
APD (translated via Google): The valid in Turkey restrictions on Christian churches are “contrary to European law,” said the deputy director of the Vienna ADF offices, Roger Kiska, in an interview with the News Agency “Zenit”. His organization had no hostile intentions against Turkey, it’m only a matter of Christian churches in the country – “that is so rich in Christian history” – to make life easier.
Kathweb (translated via Google): The valid in Turkey restrictions on Christian churches are “contrary to European law,” said the deputy director of the Vienna ADF offices, Roger Kiska, in an interview with the News Agency “Zenit”. His organization had no hostile intentions against Turkey, it concerned only about the churches in the country – “that is so rich in Christian history” – to make life easier.
Western Journalism: Pastors and parishioners across Lake Worth, Fla., are up in arms following a recent city decision to begin forcing churches to secure permits or risk hefty fines and the possibility of being forced to close.
Alliance Defending Freedom: If some California legislators are to be believed, Catholic schools that enforce a teacher code of conduct that is consistent with the Catholic faith are in danger of discriminating.
AL Monitor: An Egyptian administrative court on Feb. 18 upheld the Ministry of Religious Endowments’ decision issued in September 2013 to close down neighborhood places of worship of less than 80 square meters (861 square feet), a move intended to protect young people from the militancy and extremism that can prevail in such places, which lack the legal standing to hold Friday prayers.
CBS 12: Members of several Lake Worth congregations say they’re being targeted by city officials and are asking if there is a war on religion?
The Christian Institute: The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is backing the idea of a Bill to introduce a conscience clause in Northern Ireland.
The Christian Institute: The Roman Catholic Church in Northern Ireland has lent its support to the principle behind a Bill to introduce a conscience clause in the Province.
Desert Dispatch: For the last several years, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has led the campaign to challenge the ban on clergy influencing legislation or favoring or opposing candidates.
First Things: In January of this year, the U.S. Supreme court declined to intervene in a case in which the prosecutor wants to force Fr. Jeff Bayhi, a priest of the diocese of Baton Rouge, to testify about a confession in court. He allegedly told a fourteen year-old in 2008 to forget about the sexual abuse she had suffered from a family member. If Fr. Bayhi indeed did this, he will have to take responsibility for this despicable and unpastoral act at a higher, heavenly court—but he cannot be expected to discuss the contents of a confession in a U.S. court of law.
The Weekly Standard: In an effort to sign up as many consumers as possible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), the Obama administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to partner with churches and other faith-based groups, even publishing sample church bulletin inserts, flyers, and scripts for announcements, as well as “talking points.” These materials are part of the “Second Sunday & Faith Weekend of Action Toolkit,” which is available on the website of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
CNN: A neglected, weed-strewn field in a small Cuban town where there are more horses than cars seems an unlikely setting for a major shift in government policy.
National Law Journal (Subscription Required): A federal appeals court on Monday will hear arguments for the first time on how to apply recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent to a federal statute that protects religious groups from unconstitutionally restrictive land-use regulations.
Asia News: The authorities in Chin State, western Myanmar, have issued a demolition order for a 16-metre cross (pictured) built by a group of Christians on a hill overlooking Hakha. They are also pressing ahead with charges against a local Christian, Tial Cem, a Chin elder who was involved in building the Christian symbol.
Asia News: Authorities in the Chinese province of Zhejiang have arrested, questioned and then released a Hong Kong journalist, who was in the area for a report on the campaign of demolition of churches and crosses ordered by the local government.
Patheos: Evidently, the Louisiana State Supreme Court woke up one morning and decided to K-O the legal protection for the seal of the confessional.
Baltimore Sun: The legal fight over land playing out between the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and a tiny Middle River church is one of the rare lawsuits filed against the denomination in the state. But it’s one of dozens of such cases across the nation over 30 years that have turned on Constitutional questions that the Supreme Court has attempted to answer more than once.
UCA News: Repression in China has worsened since Xi Jinping became president in 2013, according to a report published by Freedom House on Tuesday, a sign that the Communist Party is struggling to maintain legitimacy and control despite China’s rise.
NewsBusters: Friday is National Religious Freedom Day, and what better time to consider where threats to American religious freedom originate. (Hint – it’s not with Bible-thumping Baptist preachers or dogmatic Catholic cardinals.)
Detroit News: A Detroit minister has sued Michigan in federal court, alleging state law violates his right to religious freedom by barring him from conducting same-sex and polygamous marriages.
Religion News Service: “Whatever the role in which you serve within the Archdiocese, you publicly represent the Catholic Church and the Archdiocese in everything you do and say,” Wenski wrote in the memo, which was reported by the local NBC station.
The Christian Institute: Ed Miliband has apologised to Christians who feel marginalised in society and expressed his belief that churches should not have to carry out same-sex marriages.
Lawyers representing the Anglican Church in Sudan and 12 tenants in one of the church’s properties in Omdurman, Khartoum State, lodged a constitutional appeal on 8 December after The Ministry of Justice issued a one-week eviction notice following a dispute over ownership of the property.