Advancing Religious Liberty

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Posted 4/23/14 at 5:44 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

European Court of Human Rights Issues Landmark Ruling Protecting Church Autonomy

Photo: Wikipedia/CherryX - Creative Commons
European Court of Human Rights

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Roger Kiska

Things operate a bit different in Europe when it comes to churches.

Europe does not have a history of a strict separation of church and state where the state does not interfere in the internal affairs of the church. In fact, some countries in Europe still have state churches, for example, the Church of England.

Despite the close relationship between church and state in Europe, there exists a very real threat for some countries to stifle religious freedom. Last year, Hungary passed a Church Act requiring churches to register with the State to have legal status and maintain tax exempt status, among other things.

Under the old law in Hungary, registering a church was a simple and straightforward task. But the 2013 Church Act changed that, adding several controversial provisions that stifled the right of churches in Hungary to even exist.

The Church Act de-registered all but a select and arbitrary listing of churches recognized by the parliament. Then, the churches that were de-registered were required to register anew under the new law that contained new criteria for registration. Those churches who did not meet the new criteria (despite the fact that several of the automatically registered churches did not meet the criteria) could no longer exist as churches and enjoy the benefits therein. The only means of appeal was to the Parliament itself. FULL POST

Posted 4/23/14 at 2:11 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom |


In Hawaii, Atheists “Lei” in Wait for Churches Meeting in Public Schools

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears

Tourists the world over like to think of Hawaii as “paradise,” but atheists on Oahu seem determined to make the island something else altogether for two innocent churches wanting nothing more than to do what your church does: serve and bless your community.

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.

In fact, the school districts have affirmed that the churches have consistently paid all agreed-upon rental charges for the use of their respective properties. There is no fraud to be found – and yet the atheists keep insisting that there is. FULL POST

Posted 4/22/14 at 6:53 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Pastors…Rise Up

AUTHOR: Pastor Nathan A. Cherry and Eric Porteous

By now you’ve probably heard of the florist in Washington, the baker in Colorado, and the photographer in New Mexico. Each of these brave and devout people have faced lawsuits for adhering to their religious convictions.

It’s a troubling time in our nation indeed. After all, these are just 3 cases, but there are many more just like them.

The right to act on what we believe and live out our faith are under attack.

And with so many in our congregations misinformed or uniformed, pastors…we need you to rise up.

We need you to boldly preach the Gospel in your churches.

100% Biblical Truth.

No wavering.

No fear of backlash, IRS codes, or threats from the government.

Pure God-given fortitude.

Have churches been intimidated and lied to regarding their speech rights since the adoption of the “Johnson Amendment” in 1954? FULL POST

Posted 4/22/14 at 12:50 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

The False Witness About SBA List and a “Right to Lie”

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox

The Supreme Court will hear arguments this week in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus. Media reports describe the case as testing whether the pro-life group has a “right to lie” about Representative Driehaus’s vote for Obamacare resulting in taxpayer funding of abortion. Addressing the Ohio electoral commission’s power to prevent SBA List’s speech in an election campaign, many of these commentators simply assume the falsehood of SBA List’s argument. FULL POST

Posted 4/22/14 at 11:41 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

A Reason for Hope

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Marketing Assistant Lorne Snyder

I love Easter! The changing weather, bright colors, three day weekend and knowing the semester is almost over brings something exciting to look forward to. Not only that, but I feel so lucky to be able to openly celebrate the single most important event that embodies my faith. Jesus rose from the dead over 2,000 years ago, just for me (and you)! If that isn’t something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

This allows us to have security in the knowledge that we are forgiven and we know where we will spend eternity. Without Christ’s great sacrifice and conquest of sin, we wouldn’t have the great hope we now have. Maybe that is part of the reason we bring out the bright colors around Easter, they symbolize hope and rejoicing!

I recently read about a criminology professor, Dr. Mike Adams, persecuted by the university he worked for because he expressed his Christian views in his books, opinion columns, and speeches. Even though he wasn’t expressing these opinions in class and had an impressive array of awards, recommendations, and accomplishments, the university used this excuse to deny him the promotion he had applied for. FULL POST

Posted 4/22/14 at 11:28 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

A Movie About Abandonment, Hook-ups, and Marriage You’ll Actually Want to See

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Web Writer Emily Conley

What is family? And does it matter?

For those of us Millennials or Generation X’ers, we’re really not sure.

We may know instinctively that marriage matters, we may even believe that marriage is sacred, but our experience of marriage has been anything but. Although we watched our grandparents grow old together, a large percentage of our parents got divorced when we were young, and we spent our weekends with dad and our school days with mom, just like our non-Christian friends next door.

Then we grew up. We survived the hook-up culture of college with just a few lasting scars, and then watched our friends get married, drift apart, and divorce.

The fallout of the family’s decline surrounds us. Poverty. Crime. Addictions. Abuse. And attempts to redefine and reimagine the family only make these problems worse. As we’re just beginning to discover, when the family is weakened, society suffers.

That’s why movies like Irreplaceable matter.

Strong families make the world a better place. Strong families are the future. And that’s what Irreplaceable is about. FULL POST

Posted 4/17/14 at 11:32 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Biased: A Tale of Two Schools

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsesl Alan Sears

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathaniel asked Phillip, when his friend first invited him to meet Jesus (John 1:46). As it turned out, something very good did, as Nathaniel himself would soon affirm – but not until Jesus helped him confront his entrenched bias against something he didn’t really understand.

The same kind of bias currently holds sway in the Nazareth Area School District in Pennsylvania,where officials recently censored a note a first-grader included in Valentines to his classmates, simply because the note mentioned God and quoted John 3:16.

The story followed a fairly familiar line to Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, who have filed a slew of similar cases in recent years. The first-grader brought his handmade cards to class to hand out to his classmates. His teacher noted the contents and took them to the principal, who ordered a cease and desist, telling the boy’s parents that the biblical references could be “offensive” to somebody. FULL POST

Posted 4/15/14 at 4:30 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom |

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BUS-ted: Pro-life Bus Ad Censored

In America, we like to think that city officials give everyone a fair shake, especially when their sole purpose is helping others. But as Women’s Health Link, a free healthcare referral service in Fort Wayne, Indiana recently discovered, that simply isn’t true.Providing things like childcare vouchers, referrals for free healthcare, information about health insurance, and essential baby items like car seats and strollers, Women’s Health Link is a charity on the front lines helping women in need.

To let women know about the free services it provides, Women’s Health Link applied twice to place public service announcements inside Fort Wayne’s city buses that simply told women they are “not alone.” City officials rejected the ad both times. Yes. This ad. The one below.

Why, you may ask would the city refuse this ad—an ad Women’s Health Link was ready to pay for—when it accepts so many others? Because unlike the ObamaCare and United Way healthcare programs the city is happy to let others promote, Women’s Health Link provides women with life-affirming healthcare options. City officials rejected this ad based on Women’s Health Link’s life-affirming viewpoint and relationship with a local pro-life group, saying the ad did not “educate the general public or raise awareness regarding a significant social issue in a viewpoint neutral manner.” FULL POST

Posted 4/15/14 at 1:35 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom |


Across America, We Are Fighting the Good Fight Against Killjoys

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears

Even after 20 years of defending religious freedom, we at Alliance Defending Freedom still marvel at the extraordinary lengths people will go to block even the mildest, most innocuous interactions between Christians and public schools. Three recent cases illustrate the kind of opposition you and your family face in trying to live out your faith in even the most simple, straightforward, non-threatening ways.

In Golden Valley, Minnesota, for instance, children from Robbinsdale Area Schools wanted to help volunteers at Calvary Lutheran Church prepare pre-packed meals to send to starving and malnourished children in Haiti. No worship services, no hymn singing, no Bible lessons – just people from the community working together to help other people.

But the American Humanist Association (AHA) heard about it, and decided feeding hungry people isn’t nearly as important as keeping youngsters away from what one of our attorneys calls the apparent “spiritual asbestos” of a church environment. They sent a letter of complaint. We have sent a letter of their own, reminding administrators that the First Amendment bars the kind of religious discrimination AHA is encouraging them to engage in. FULL POST

Posted 4/14/14 at 1:59 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom |

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Should Churches Be Tax Exempt?

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley

Why is your church tax exempt? Why should it continue to be tax exempt? If I were to sit down and ask you these questions, would you have a clear and coherent answer? I suspect this is something we seldom think about. After all, tax exemption for churches has always been given and we assume, because of its historical longevity, it always will be given.

The fact that most Americans cannot explain why their church is tax exempt indicates a forgotten history and is emblematic of a society that has systematically devalued the church as a beneficial societal institution.

Whenever I litigate a case about church tax exemption or Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the inevitable media comments go something like this: “Churches should pay taxes just like everyone else! They have tons of money, so why can’t they pay their fair share? Why should churches get a free ride? Make them pay!” Comments like these are more prevalent today than any other time I can remember. FULL POST

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