Advancing Religious LibertyTweet
Posted 12/10/13 at 4:42 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
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. Not only was this decision a victory for comfort and common sense, it reinforced the legal principle that churches and religious institutions, like universities, should not be discriminated against solely because of their religious identity.
Mountain View Elementary School, within the Greenville County School District in South Carolina, had held its fifth grade graduation ceremonies in a “cafetorium”, a cafeteria that is transformed into a stage and auditorium and where parents and friends can witness special events. And if you have ever attended one of these events in the south, with the heat, cramped space and the overflowing crowds, “crematorium” might also be a word that comes to mind. The crowds are so bad for the graduation ceremonies that families are limited to just 3 people per student to attend the event. And to make this scene even more comical, the adults were required to sit at tables in elementary-sized chairs. FULL POST
Posted 12/9/13 at 1:14 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
A major legal showdown – pitting the rights of conscience and religious liberty on the one hand, against the Obama administration on the other – will soon come to a head. The face-off involves the Affordable Care Act’s abortion pill mandate, and is a legal battle with profound significance for the religious freedom of our nation’s Christian schools, ministries, and business owners – indeed, for every American.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to review a lawsuit challenging the mandate filed by Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania family-owned custom cabinets business. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the Hahns, a Mennonite family, and, in their lawsuit, is asking the court to declare the mandate illegal and unconstitutional.
This mandate is unlike anything in our nation’s 237-year history. It forces employers, against their religious or moral convictions, to pay for insurance coverage of their workers’ abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception – or face heavy, crippling financial penalties. FULL POST
Posted 12/4/13 at 7:11 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
When Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography turned down a request from a potential client, they had little idea that they were walking into the center of a firestorm.
Because of her sincerely held beliefs about marriage, Elaine declined to use her artistic talents to celebrate and promote a same-sex ceremony for Vanessa Willock. Although Willock easily found another photographer to do the job, she nevertheless filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, which issued an order for Elaine and Jonathan to pay $6,637 to the two women who filed the complaint.
After we appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court on behalf of the Huguenins, the court ruled against them last August. While the ruling itself was shocking, perhaps the most shocking aspect of the case came in a written opinion from one of the justices. He wrote that compelling the Huguenins to violate their deeply held religious beliefs on the definition of marriage was simply “the price of citizenship.” FULL POST
Posted 12/2/13 at 3:42 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
Sad to say, the coming of Christmas signals the coming of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, whose attorneys seem terrified at the prospect that someone, somewhere, might construe the celebrations of this season as having something remotely to do with Jesus Christ. In fact, these groups are so intimidating that in some cases, they don’t have to actually say anything at all to persuade school officials to accommodate their anti-Christmas agenda.
In Rock Hill, South Carolina, for instance, the band director at York Preparatory Academy, a public charter school, forbade his student musicians to perform “Joy To The World” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful” – after having given them the privilege of choosing what songs they would perform for the school’s “Winter Concert.” The students had already begun practicing the two carols they chose when the director announced that the school had received communication from an unidentified legal group warning them that the concert might be monitored, and the school might be sued, if traditional carols were performed. FULL POST
Posted 11/27/13 at 4:19 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
We are thrilled that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear both the Hahn and Green family’s challenges to Obamacare’sHHS Mandate. (Learn about the HHS Mandate here!) The ball is now in the highest court of our nation to determine whether American businesses can still operate with a moral conscience.
As a result of the HHS Mandate, the Hahns, a family of Mennonite cabinetmakers who founded and own Conestoga Wood Specialties, and the Greens, the Christian founders and owners of Hobby Lobby, would be required to fund abortion-inducing drugs through their insurance as a result of the HHS mandate.
Both family-owned companies would be fined $100 per day, per employee if they don’t agree to violate their conscience in the way they run their businesses.
At that rate, the Hahns will be out of business in a month. Hobby Lobby would be crippled with fines of $1.3 million a day.
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties are prime examples of the American dream – both began from humble beginnings in the garage. Conestoga has a 50 year legacy of expert craftsmanship, and Hobby Lobby is one of the largest arts and crafts retailers in the country. Both companies employ thousands of other Americans. Their faith has guided their business practices from the inception until now. FULL POST
Posted 11/27/13 at 4:14 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
By Kellie Fiedorek
Reflecting on this week of Thanksgiving, I am particularly grateful for my mother and father who gave me life. And not only did they give me life, but I have had the opportunity to grow up knowing who my mother and father are.
I have a deeper appreciation for this relationship because, in the area of reproductive technology, some scientific innovations have significantly jeopardized the best interests of children. Sexual intimacy has been severed from reproduction, and children are being intentionally denied the opportunity of even knowing who their biological mother and father are. This is because the growing trend and mindset in this arena focuses on adults and essentially ignores the needs and legal rights of the child.
These realities raise some key questions.
Does it matter if you are the result of love and passion between your biological mom and dad? Or are you okay with your parents being donor numbers 548 and 2143? Would it hurt you to never know—or even have the opportunity to know—who your biological parents are? FULL POST
Posted 11/26/13 at 5:11 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
On Friday, November, 22, 2013, federal district court judge Barbara Crabb from the Western District of Wisconsin issued an order declaring the minister’s housing allowance in the IRS Code unconstitutional. The minister’s housing allowance is contained in section 107 of the Income Tax Code and allows ministers to exclude from gross income the value of housing. Hundreds of thousands of ministers across the country take advantage of the minister’s housing allowance and churches make the housing allowance a standard part of the compensation package for their pastors.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit claiming that the minister’s housing allowance violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution because, they argued, the housing allowance only benefits ministers of the gospel and does not include atheists who are not ministers. The Judge agreed and struck down the housing allowance as unconstitutional. FULL POST
Posted 11/26/13 at 1:21 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, but Do You Hear What I Hear? This Oh Holy Night is interrupted by the ACLU pressuring school districts to ask, “What Child is This?” Many school administrators no longer allow any mention of the event that brought Sweet Little Baby Jesus Boy to rest Away in the Manger. Once in Royal David’s City, Angels were Heard on High, but today, misinformation about the Establishment Clause and the separation of church and state keeps many Angels From the Realms of Glory.
Go Tell it On The Mountain, they say, but keep religion out of the public sphere. God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen, but the First Amendment restricts the government from establishing a religion, not from including cultural music and holidays in public education. A Christmas Carol poses no threat to the freedoms of others, but if Santa Clause is Coming to Town, O Come, O come, Emmanuel.
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, Alliance Defending Freedom wrote letters to the school districts in Wisconsin, New Jersey, and California that explained the ramifications of not allowing the Carol of the Bells to Ding Dong Merrily on High. FULL POST
Posted 11/22/13 at 1:35 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
This week, Illinois became the 16th state to redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to “marry.” These types of actions should never go without a response by the Church. Throughout American history, pastors have stood in their pulpits and proclaimed truth to politics and the culture. Pastors have not hesitated to call out unrighteousness and to clearly expound God’s truth. But this type of prophetic proclamation requires pastors to know what is going on in their communities, states, and country.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, the Catholic Bishop of Springfield, Illinois, was not asleep at the wheel when Illinois’ Governor signed a law redefining marriage. In response to the new law Bishop Paprocki preached a homily entitled “Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-Sex Marriage.” Even if you are not Catholic or disagree with Catholic theology, the homily is worth reading in its entirety. You can read it on the Diocese website. FULL POST
Posted 11/22/13 at 1:19 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom
Cities, towns, villages, and hamlets across the country often permit a wide array of signs—especially political signs—to be placed within their borders. Yet all too often these local governments apply different, and far more restrictive, rules to signs placed by churches. In legal terms this is called “content-based discrimination,” and it is forbidden by the First Amendment.
Alliance Defending Freedom represents an Arizona church facing exactly this type of discrimination. In Gilbert, AZ, the town’s sign code broadly permits the display of political, ideological, and other types of signs. The jumble of political signs depicted below is a common sight on many street corners in Gilbert throughout the year.
While Gilbert broadly permits this dizzying array of signs, it severely restricts signs inviting people to a church’s services. It does so by requiring church signs to be, among other things, far smaller in size and displayed for a shorter duration than other similar signs. The graphic below (which is drawn to scale) shows the differences in size: FULL POST