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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.’”
Orlando Sentinel: “The girl, Gabriella Perez, re-enacted the prayer in the lunchroom at Carillon Elementary in Oviedo, said lawyer Jeremiah Dys of the Liberty Institute in Texas. Dys said that Gabriella also identified ‘the exact person who told her praying was wrong.’”
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.”
NY town awaiting Supreme Court decision on prayers continues to pray before meetings | Christian Post
Christian Post: “David Cortman, senior counsel at ADF, said in a statement released last August that ‘Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray.’”
NPR: “Religious groups have been testing the limits on prayer in public school for decades. Now they think they’ve come up with a new strategy that will allow students to pray wherever and whenever they want. Bills have been moving in a number of states that would allow students to engage in prayer at school functions such as graduation.”
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.
CBS: “The girl’s father, Marcos Perez, is outraged to the point where he is considering homeschooling his child. Today, the Liberty Institute sent a letter to the school administrators demanding they stop allowing religious discrimination, which is in violation of not only state, but federal law. The school denies the incident.”
The Independent (Massillon, OH): “The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian organization helping to defend the Town of Greece, doesn’t think so. ‘Community members should have the freedom to pray without being censored,’ according to ADF senior counsel David Cortman.”
Religion Clause: “In Salemi v. Gloria’s Tribeca Inc., (NY App. Div., March 20, 2014), a New York appellate court upheld a jury verdict of $1.6 million in a suit alleging employment discrimination on the basis of religion and sexual orientation in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law.”
Associated Press: “A ruling could come any day now on whether the town violated the Constitution with its opening prayers because nearly every one in an 11-year span was overtly Christian. This month’s was no exception – a Baptist minister delivering a head-bowed, eyes-closed, 40-second invocation.”
Marie Griffith interviews Judge Guido Calabresi, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, at Religion and Politics: “What we faced first was the question of whether beginning town meetings with prayer was allowed. Much of the press on this case acted as if our answer was no; our case says the opposite. It says absolutely! What we are asking is: how can you do that without defining a town as being Christian, Judeo-Christian, Abrahamic? And that is a very difficult issue. Judge Wilkinson, Harvie Wilkinson of the Fourth Circuit, said—and, interestingly, caused no fuss at all—you can only do it if a prayer is non-sectarian. We took the position that a non-sectarian prayer is either a contradiction in terms or is an establishment.”
Baltimore Sun: “A day after a federal judge barred Carroll County commissioners from invoking Jesus Christ in their pre-meeting prayers, Commissioner Robin B. Frazier did just that — twice — saying she was willing to go to jail for her beliefs.”
Religion Clause: “In Hake v. Carroll County Maryland, (D MD, March 26, 2014), a Maryland federal district court granted a preliminary injunction barring Carroll County, Maryland commissioners opening their commission sessions with sectarian prayer.”
Silence is Golden: Moments of Silence, Legislative Prayers, and the Establishment Clause | Northwestern University Law Review
Segall, Eric, Silence is Golden: Moments of Silence, Legislative Prayers, and the Establishment Clause (2014). Northwestern University Law Review Online, Vol. 108, 2014. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2407683
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.
Times of Israel: “Jerusalem’s grand mufti on Sunday accused the Jerusalem Municipality of advancing legislation which would require mosques to lower the volume on loudspeakers as they call the faithful to pre-dawn prayers, and said only Muslims had the right to decide on such matters.”
The Virginian-Pilot: ”State Sen. Bill Carrico’s bill (SB236) passed the House of Delegates on a 64-34 vote Wednesday. It had earlier cleared the Senate, 20-18. Neither vote is enough to override a veto, which requires a two-thirds majority.”
Constitutional Challenges to State Sponsored Prayers at Local Government Meetings | UC Davis Law Review
Brownstein, Alan E., Town of Greece v. Galloway: Constitutional Challenges to State Sponsored Prayers at Local Government Meetings (February 10, 2014). 47 UC Davis Law Review, (2014 Forthcoming) ; UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 365. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2393550
“The Supreme Court heard arguments this Term in Town of Greece v. Galloway, a significant constitutional case in which the parties presented two very different views of the what the Establishment Clause requires in the public square.”
Cathryn Creno at The Arizona Republic: “An attorney for the pro-prayer Alliance Defending Freedom in Scottsdale, however, contends that Mesa Public Schools is within its rights to have prayer before — or after the start — of board meetings. Brett Harvey also says his organization is prepared to help the district if it winds up in court over the prayer issue. ‘Opening meetings with prayer is a time-honored tradition,’ Harvey said.”
UPI: “Nothing is closer to the hearts of people in the United States than local politics and prayer, usually Christian prayer. The U.S. Supreme Court may be about to rule on how closely the two can be combined. . . . The six Catholics and three Jews on the U.S. Supreme Court should be ruling on the issue soon. They heard argument in the case, Town of Greece vs. Galloway, Nov. 6, and a decision should be ready to drop soon, like ripe fruit.”
White House Press Office: “Now, here, as Americans, we affirm the freedoms endowed by our Creator, among them freedom of religion. And, yes, this freedom safeguards religion, allowing us to flourish as one of the most religious countries on Earth, but it works the other way, too — because religion strengthens America. Brave men and women of faith have challenged our conscience and brought us closer to our founding ideals, from the abolition of slavery to civil rights, workers’ rights.”
Arizona Republic: “Brett Harvey, legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, which describes itself on its website as a ‘legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith’ also spoke. . . . ‘Certainly there are some who dismiss the practice of opening with invocations, but that doesn’t make the practice unconstitutional,’ Harvey told the board.”
The Herald: “The Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society Scotland are preparing a joint plan to put to MSPs to replace religious assemblies in schools with a ‘Time for Reflection’ slot.”
AP: “The new police took effect Wednesday, and the waivers will be decided on a case-by-case basis, according to defense officials. Approval of the waiver will depend on where the service member is stationed and whether the change would affect military readiness or the mission.”
The Roanoke Times: “The Virginia Senate has passed legislation designed to protect the rights of public school students to voluntarily pray and participate in religious activities on school grounds, despite objections from lawmakers who said the proposal would invite lawsuits. . . . Carrico’s bill (SB 236) now goes to the Republican-dominated House of Delegates, where he expects it to get a friendly reception.”
ABA Journal: “Brigantti-Hughes had obtained permission to hold a Bible study and prayer group during lunch hour at the courthouse, but the requests for staff prayers were made at other times during regular business hours, the determination says.”
The Roanoke Times: “The approved policy — which Bedrosian wishes to remove — was modeled on a recommendation by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-based legal group. It makes several references to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction in Virginia and has ruled that sectarian government prayers are unconstitutional.”
Richard Wolf at USA Today: Issues ranging from same-sex marriage to legislative prayer also have offered justices a difficult question: How much weight should be given to centuries of historical practices?
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.
Democrat Tribune: With the complaint from FFRF, EPC school district had no choice but to stop the prayer. EPC school board members did decide to replace the prayer over loudspeaker with a moment of silence.
Times-Standard: The city of Eureka can continue the practice of opening its council meetings with non-secular invocations, a Humboldt County Superior Court judge has ruled.
AZ Central: The Mesa Public Schools governing board may reconsider a November decision to start meetings with a moment of silence instead of a non-denominational prayer. Board Clerk Mike Hughes said he expects board members to consider reinstating the prayer by inviting a wide range of religious leaders to share their traditions at the start of meetings.
OnIslam.net: A decision by different schools in India’s southern tropical state of Kerala to ban Muslim students from getting a permission to attend Friday prayer has triggered a row, after hundreds of parents opposed the discriminatory decision.
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
ConnectMidMissouri.com: Fayette Superintendent Tamara Kimball says district administrators haven’t considered ending the Friday morning sessions since the American Humanist Association filed a complaint in November. She says the district doesn’t believe it has done anything wrong by allowing the Fellowship of Christian Students to conduct the sessions.
Religion Clause Blog: In Beaton v. City of Eureka, (Humboldt Cty. Super. Ct., Dec. 24, 2013) the court held that the city’s policy allowing voluntary, nonsectarian invocations does not violate the California Constitution. However, the court held that plaintiff may challenge particular invocations . . .
Religion Clause Blog has posted its “Top 10 Church-State and Religious Liberty Developments in 2013.” The Alliance Defending Freedom has been directly involved in 8 of the 10 items mentioned and in many instances has played a leading role.
Terry Eastland at Weekly Standard: Dr. Brian Lee is pastor of Christ Reformed Church, a small church in downtown Washington, D.C., which he founded six years ago. Lee knows something about a topic not ordinarily discussed at his church, that of “legislative prayer.” As we’ll see, he has his doubts about it.
True Revolt: In an interview in April 2013, Phil Robertson told Sports Spectrum TV that A&E Network had attempted to cut mention of “Jesus” from the “Duck Dynasty” family prayer at the end of the show, but that he had fought them and won. “So they would just have me saying, ‘Thank you Lord for the food, thank you for loving us. Amen,” Robertson related. “So I said, ‘Why would you cut out ‘In Jesus’ name?’ They said, ‘Well those editors are probably doing that. They just think that they don’t want to offend some of the Muslims or something.”
AP: For decades, the religious Jews who bucked a rabbinic ban and visited a contested holy site in Jerusalem where the ancient Jewish temple once stood were seen by many as a fanatic fringe.
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.
Christian Post: Other organizations promoting this day of prayer include Alliance Defending Freedom, Concerned Women for America, Covenant Eyes, Enough is Enough and Family Research Council.
How will the court resolve the “problem” of sectarian legislative prayer? | Scott Gaylord at Constitution Daily
Scott Gaylord at Constitution Daily: Scott W. Gaylord from Elon University argues that there are four reasons why the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Town of Greece in next year’s big public prayer decision.
Christian Post (12/6/2013): Organizations lending their support for the Day of Prayer include Concerned Women for America (CWA), the Family Research Council, the Alliance Defending Freedom and Movieguide, a nonprofit entertainment-centered ministry and publication.
One News Now: The American Humanist Association is suing a public school teacher in Missouri because she prayed for an injured student, allegedly violating the Establishment Clause.
Joe Infranco on NE Family Alliance Radio to discuss the Town of Greece legislative prayer case pending at the U.S. Supreme Court. The audio aired in four segements from Nov. 12-15, 2013. | Installment 1 MP3 audio 2:29 mins (Nov. 12) | Installment 2 MP3 audio 2:29 mins (Nov. 13) | Installment 3 MP3 audio 2:29 mins (Nov. 14) | Installment 4 MP3 audio 2:29 mins (Nov. 15) | Alliance Defending Freedom information page
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
CBS: Officials with the Bellflower Unified School District have been asked to stop praying before district meetings, according to reports. The request comes from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) in a letter dated Nov. 27 . . .
Nate Kellum at Christian Post: Should a clergy’s prayers be subject to censorship if given to solemnize a public meeting? A powerful atheist group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), thinks so, and has convinced a federal appellate court to enforce this sort of oversight. But the question is now squarely before the U.S. Supreme Court, having heard oral arguments earlier this month.
Atlanta Daily World: Some of the groups allied with Morality in Media participating in this effort include Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Movieguide and many more.
Leader Post: “They bowed to public pressure and now I have no other choice,” said Ashu Solo, who filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission after Coun. Randy Donauer recited a Christian prayer at a volunteer appreciation banquet.
Carson Halloway at Public Discourse: Strict separation of church and state would require us to throw out Thanksgiving as a religious holiday proclaimed by the president. Instead, we should embrace Thanksgiving and throw out strict separationism as a misguided interpretation of the Constitution.
Fox News: The legal arm of the American Humanist Association filed a complaint filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, claiming that prayer sessions held at Fayette High School violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which says the government may not establish an official religion.
Religion Clause Blog: In Farah v. A-1 Careers, (D KA, Nov. 20, 2013), a Kansas federal district court dismissed a claim by a Muslim former employee of a temporary staffing agency that the agency unreasonably failed to accommodate his need to pray at noontime. The court held . . .
ChristianNews.net: Alliance Defense Fund, American Family Association, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and Movieguide are among the groups who are backing the effort.
The World: The City of Coos Bay is waiting to make a decision on the fate of the Vietnam War Memorial in Mingus Park until its involvement in a federal case is resolved. The city announced Thursday afternoon that the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the case involving the First Amendment’s establishment clause, must happen before the Coos Bay city council resumes discussions regarding the memorial’s status.
Raw Story: A coalition of conservative groups plans to hold a “National Day of Prayer” against smut. Morality in Media announced Friday that Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Movieguide and “many more” groups would participate in the event on December 10.
Religion Clause Blog: The American Humanist Association yesterday announced the filing of a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a weekly Christian prayer session sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Students at Fayette, Missouri High School. The complaint (full text) in American Humanist Association v. Fayette R-III School Distrct, (WD MO, filed 11/20/2013) . . .
Mirror of Justice: We tried to be fairly complete in our discussion of the case, and I hope that this podcast might be particularly useful for students and others interested in an introduction to the issue of legislative prayer and in some fairly detailed analysis of and commentary about the oral argument.
NorthJersey.com: It’s an issue that has bedeviled American communities for decades: Does God belong in government? North Jersey’s elected officials tackled that question last week as they awaited a U.S. Supreme Court decision on secular prayers at town meetings.
Craig Parshall at Christian Post: When Justices Breyer and Kagan (and I would surmise a few others on the Court as well) indicate that “peace and harmony” is the goal, then we can predict, ironically, that a very un-peaceful assault on faith will result.
MLive.com: In the wake of a federal lawsuit, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners must decide if it will continue to start its meetings with a prayer.
Faith Radio with Bob Crittendon: Kevin Theriot, Vice-President of Religious Liberty for the Alliance Defending Freedom, analyzed oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Town of Greece v. Galloway case, which deals with prayer before public governmental meetings. The ADF website is www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org. | Alliance Alert Archived MP3 audio 18:41 mins
Marci Hamilton at Justicia: There may have been a time, before mass immigration from all over the world, when it was not incoherent to talk about “nonsectarian” prayer as being monotheistic prayer (assuming that you set aside all of the Native American believers who predated the Europeans). The religious make-up of most of the country, once again, discounting the Native Americans, was Christian or Jewish. Those days are long gone, and never were the halcyon days of the unified prayer advocated by the Alliance Defending Freedom representing the town, as Massachusetts Puritans killed Quakers and Baptists for their beliefs, Pennsylvania Quakers forbade non-Quakers from holding office, and early American governments and people treated the Indians as non-citizens who had no rights – See more at: http://verdict.justia.com/2013/11/14/really-one-issue-town-greece-v-galloway#sthash.L5fZWtaW.dpuf
Fox News: Students at Rutgers University are rallying for the reinstatement of a campus bus driver who says he was pressured to resign after praying for a disabled passenger, but the company says he was ousted over a safety violation.
Calgary.tv: The Taber Public School Board has a difficult decision ahead as officials will be debating whether or not to drop the Lord’s Prayer from the daily routine in their classrooms.
Barry Lynn at Washington Post: Americans United for Separation of Church and State has represented two courageous women from Greece, N.Y., since 2007 when they came to us for advice about how to deal with their town board, which began all of its monthly business meetings with a Christian prayer.
AZ Republic (includes video): The Mesa Public Schools governing board has quietly ended its tradition of starting public meetings with a non-denominational prayer.
David Cortman of Alliance Defending Freedom and Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State appeared on Armstrong & Getty to discuss Town of Greece v. Galloway. | MP3 audio 11:24 mins
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.