Advancing Religious Liberty

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Posted 11/14/14 at 1:07 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Final Post

We have been honored to provide you with commentary here on the Advancing Religious Freedom blog on the subjects of religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family for the past several years! Although this is the last post of ours on this site, our blogging efforts will continue at blog.alliancedefendingfreedom.org. We encourage you to bookmark that site and continue to read us!

Posted 11/13/14 at 12:33 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF’s Top 10 Important European Cases

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Roger Kiska

ADF opened our first international office in 2012, in Vienna, Austria. Here are the top ten cases we’ve been a part of:

1. Taking Up Her Cross.

British Airways told Nadia Eweida, a check-in counter employee at London’s Heathrow Airport, she would have to cover up a small cross necklace around her neck even though the airline allowed other employees to wear symbols of their religion, such as turbans and hijabs. ADF provided funding for the case, and ADF Legal Counsel Paul Coleman joined Allied Attorney Paul Diamond at the counsel’s table during the hearings. The European Court of Human Rights upheld Eweida’s right to religious freedom as contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. The historic ruling marks the first time the United Kingdom has ever been found to be in violation of Article 9 of the Convention, on freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

2. The “Roe v. Wade of Europe.”

ADF intervened as a third party before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in A., B., and C. v. Ireland, a direct challenge to Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion which could have had an impact on the abortion legislation of all 47 Council of Europe member states. As a result, in part from ADF intervention, the Grand Chamber held that no right to abortion exists under the European Convention on Human Rights. FULL POST

Posted 11/12/14 at 4:17 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Boys Won’t Have to be Boys: The Push to Gender-Neutralize Public Bathrooms

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

The showdown in Houston, Texas of recent weeks – over efforts by city officials to subpoena the communications (including sermons and private emails between congregants) of five local pastors whom officials blame for inspiring opposition to their recent public bathroom law – is drawing wider national attention to the implications of that law and others like it.

More specifically, it has people wondering what giving members of both sexes open access to the other gender’s bathrooms will mean for men, women, and especially children impacted by such laws.

It’s a growing problem, as witness the fact that Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys recently had to send letters to school districts in three different states – Minnesota, Wisconsin and Rhode Island – urging administrators to reject new rules requiring schools to give children – yes, children – of both genders free access to each others’ bathrooms. FULL POST

Posted 11/7/14 at 5:30 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

News You Should Know: Brittany Maynard, Saira Blair, 6th Circuit Marriage Decision, and More

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Social Content Editor Emily Conley

It’s back! With the ERLC national conference, the Houston 5, and the Hitching Post pastors in Idaho, the 4 Stories round-up got bumped. But thanks to your positive feedback, I’ll do my best to keep it up going forward.

1. Brittany Maynard

Sadly, Brittany Maynard committed suicide November 1st.If you haven’t heard her story, 29 year-old Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer in January, just a year after getting married. When her doctors told her she only had six months to live, she and her husband moved to Oregon to procure life-ending drugs. In early October, she publicized her decision to commit suicide on November 1in conjunction with an assisted suicide advocacy organization called Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society). FULL POST

Posted 11/7/14 at 4:07 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

5 Things You Should Know About the Sixth Circuit Decision Upholding Freedom of States to Affirm Marriage

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Counsel Caleb Dalton

If you get one thing out of the Sixth Circuit’s recent opinion affirming that states are not constitutionally required to fundamentally alter the meaning of marriage, it should be this: people of good will may disagree on whether redefining marriage is good or bad policy, but the Constitution doesn’t answer the question, and it certainly doesn’t require that policy decisions be taken out of the hands of the people.

As Judge Sutton put it, “Of all the ways to resolve this question, one option is not available: a poll of the three judges on this panel, or for that matter all federal judges, about whether gay marriage is a good idea.”

That said, these five points are the Sixth Circuit’s opinion in a nutshell:

1. The Supreme Court already decided that states’ marriage laws don’t violate the Fourteenth Amendment, and lower courts are not allowed to ignore the Supreme Court. FULL POST

Posted 11/7/14 at 12:26 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

3 Reasons March for Life Should Not Be Forced to Pay for Abortion Pills (Besides the Obvious)

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Web Writer Marissa Poulson

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in the case of March for Life v. Burwell this week. This case is one of the many abortion-pill mandate lawsuits that have flooded the courts since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, but this case certainly has its own unique twist.

If you’re not familiar, March for Life is a nonprofit, pro-life organization that was founded in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade to legalize abortions. March for Life believes that human life begins at conception. For this reason, the organization cannot, in good conscience, provide insurance plans covering abortion-inducing drugs that can destroy human lives in their early development. FULL POST

Posted 11/6/14 at 6:19 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Strike Three: In California, Yet Another Government Assault on Churches

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

Over the last two weeks, I’ve told you about two clear threats to the religious freedom of all Americans – including you and your family – posed by recent direct and aggressive government intrusions on the legal rights of churches in Texas and Idaho. The good news: both of those threats seem to be diminishing. The bad news: other attacks on other churches continue.

The outrage at what’s been happening in Houston continues, even as the city leaders there appear to be backing down. They’ve been under heavy political fire for enacting a law allowing members of each sex open access to the other gender’s public bathrooms. Irked at the overwhelming opposition, including a slew of petitions demanding the issue be put to a vote, the mayor and city leaders filed a subpoena against five local pastors they blame for inspiring the opposition. FULL POST

Posted 11/6/14 at 10:12 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

What Happens When the NAACP is on the Wrong Side of Civil Rights?

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Web Writer Marissa Poulson

Ryan Bomberger is a staunch pro-life advocate. He and his wife, Bethany, founded The Radiance Foundation in 2009, a life-affirming, educational organization.

He is also black. You can imagine his surprise when, in 2013, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sued not only the foundation he worked so hard to build, but also him personally.

What was his crime, you ask? How did someone like Bomberger land on the NAACP’s radar, let alone, generate enough negative attention to bring about a personal lawsuit?

“The irony never ends—the nation’s second oldest civil rights group suing a black man for exercising his second most basic civil right—the freedom of speech,” he said.

Bomberger wrote and published a news article that detailed the NAACP’s actions promoting abortion to the black community and called attention to the disproportionate number of black babies aborted. To illustrate his point, he cleverly parodied the NAACP’s name.

But the NAACP did not find it funny, and sued. Bomberger was charged with “trademark infringement, confusion and dilution.” The irony was not lost on Bomberger. FULL POST

Posted 11/4/14 at 6:23 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage: A Perspective on the #ERLC2014 Message

 AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Vice President of Digital Communications Joshua Tijerina

Last week the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church, (ERLC) put on a national conference on The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage. I attended the conference, and was excited to see if there would be any new ways they were communicating the marriage message in light of recent legal and cultural developments on the issue.

Rightly so, the message was the same, but the tone was sincerely different. ERLC tried very hard to both represent the truth of marriage, and yet try to reach out to the LGBT community. This balance is difficult, but it is right. It requires a delicate effort in order to distinguish policy and person. The policy must always represent the truth that natural marriage—being both creative and diverse—is necessary for society to grow and prosper. But each LGBT person is a life, full of emotion, fear, hope, and struggle. ERLC did not offer an answer to this balance, but the fact that we are now talking about it is significant. FULL POST

Posted 11/3/14 at 5:29 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

City Backs Off from Forcing Idaho Pastors to Perform Same-Sex Ceremonies

AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Social Content Editor Emily Conley

The city attorney of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, now says the two pastors of The Hitching Post will not be forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

In his words, the whole thing was a “misperception.”

It doesn’t surprise us at all that the city is now backing away from the statements they made earlier. After all, lawsuits and massive public outcries have been known to have that effect.

To our clients Don and Evelynn Knapp, the city attorney’s comments are a great relief. The Knapps faced up to six months in jail, fines of up to $1,000, or both, for declining to perform a same-sex ceremony in violation of the city’s nondiscrimination public accommodation ordinance. And under the city’s ordinance, each day a violation continues is a separate offense, so the potential jail time and fines were accruing rapidly since the Knapps had already declined to perform two same-sex wedding ceremonies. FULL POST

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