Advancing Religious Liberty

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Posted 1/13/12 at 1:50 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

NYC Pastors Fight for Equal Access to Conduct Worship Services in NYC Government Buildings

New York City pastors are leading a growing movement opposing the New York City Department of Education’s policy banning worship services conducted by religious groups. Today several NYC pastors and NYC Councilman Fernando Cabrera were arrested for trespassing when they prayed in front of the door of the building where the City’s Law Department has its offices. The seven arrested did so to draw attention to New York City’s efforts to expand the ban on worship services to public buildings beyond public schools.

Last month, two churches meeting in community centers connected to public housing projects in the Bronx were told that they would have to stop meeting for worship services at the end of December while the New York City Housing Authority considered adopting a policy similar to the NYC Department of Education banning worship services. The Housing Authority officials told the pastors they were doing so in light of the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear ADF’s Bronx Household of Faith case, which upheld the NYC Department of Education’s policy prohibiting community groups from conducting worship services in public schools during off hours. ADF attorneys successfully convinced the Housing Authority to delay the order for the churches to leave until the end of February. ADF has been strongly urging the Housing Authority to allow the churches to remain and not to adopt the anti-worship policy like the public schools have. FULL POST

Posted 1/13/12 at 1:38 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Without Religious Freedom, There Is No Other Liberty

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot

The Supreme Court recently refused to hear a case with important religious freedom implications — Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education, City of New York.ADF asked the Supreme Court to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s incredible holding that the New York City Board of Education can allow schools to be rented for meetings encouraging everything from atheism to zodiac watching, but deny use for a worship service. Briefly stated, the court held that school officials can prohibit churches from renting school facilities to hold worship services, as long as they allow churches in for other types of events.

The court’s ruling has serious legal implications for religious freedom. We at ADF were hopeful the Supreme Court would review this case and resolve the very difficult position in which the Second Circuit has placed churches (and school officials) in the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. Now, if a church needs to rent the school auditorium for a Christmas play, it must decide whether to describe the event as a worship service because it includes songs and a prayer, or merely a celebration of a national holiday from a Christian point of view. Is it dishonest to not refer to it as a worship service? And God help the school principals charged with reviewing such applications. How are they to determine if a Christmas play violates a school’s policy banning worship? It certainly would have been nice to get some direction from the Supreme Court on these questions. Hopefully the Court will see fit to take another similar case soon. FULL POST

Posted 12/23/11 at 6:17 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Peace on Earth

Over at Townhall.com, ADF attorney Benjamin Bull has authored a column titled "Peace on Earth" in which he writes about little Domenic Johansson and how the Swedish government took him away from his parents simply because they home-schooled him. The Swedish government forcibly removed Domenic 2.5 years ago!

Mr. Bull proceeds to tell the story of other Christians around the world who have been oppressed, silenced, and even murdered for their faith. You can read the entire article here.

“Extremists, here and abroad, believe there can be no peace until everyone believes the same thing. In fact, peace depends not on a brutally enforced unity, but on thoughtfully cultivated freedom. In this season, as so many of us are thinking – as we should – of the children who don’t have toys or a turkey for Christmas, let us also remember those children who long not just for something to eat or play with, but for the freedom to honor the deepest convictions of their souls.” FULL POST

Posted 12/23/11 at 6:13 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Washington Times: HAGELIN: We Need Christmas Now More Than Ever

On Dec. 18, there was an article in The Washington Times about the continued attacks on Christmas and how we need Christmas now more than ever. Read the whole article here.

This post originally appeared here.

Posted 12/23/11 at 6:09 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Another National Day of Prayer Victory

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot

On December 12, Judge Silver, a federal judge in Arizona, threw out a claim that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer violated the Establishment Clause by issuing day of prayer proclamations in observance of the National Day of Prayer. The court cited the Seventh Circuit’s recent ruling in FFRF v. Obama, saying “hurt feelings” don’t give someone standing to bring a federal case. The Court also said that no constitutional injury results from plaintiffs getting up to turn off the TV or avoiding conversations with people because they don’t want to hear about the prayer proclamations.

Judge Silver got it exactly right. The Establishment Clause doesn’t give anti-religionists license to roam the country or channel surf looking for things to be offended by, and then making a federal case out of them. There is no right not to be offended in America. This decision, like the Seventh Circuit’s decision in FFRF v. Obama in which ADF represented Mrs. Dobson and the National Day of Prayer Task Force, is another very important step in limiting the ability of anti-religion activist groups like FFRF to harass state and local government officials who simply want to acknowledge our nation’s religious heritage. These groups often use lawsuits and the attorney fees that come with them as a vehicle to intimidate government officials into silence about their own religious beliefs, as well as those of our Founding Fathers and the vast majority of present day Americans. FULL POST

Posted 12/23/11 at 6:06 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

We Wish You a Merry...Bill of Rights Day!

Author: ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham

December 15th. At first glance, this date seems utterly insignificant, a fleeting reminder that we have only have ten days to finish our Christmas shopping. Yet it stands with July 4th as one of our most important historical anniversaries. For it is on this date that the Bill of Rights turns two hundred twenty years old.

In the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers proclaimed that we are “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable rights,” rights that no government can take away. In the Constitution, they built a government designed to secure those liberties. But because all governments tend to abuse power, they specifically identified some of those rights in the Bill of Rights, providing an extra layer of protection for our freedoms.

In Federalist 51, James Madison outlined—without necessarily intending to do so—why the Bill of Rights is so critical:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. FULL POST

Posted 12/23/11 at 5:53 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Pa. Supreme Court Hands Down Early Christmas Present to the Preborn

Author:  ADF-allied attorney Randy Wenger

This time last year, the Independence Law Center, an ally of the Alliance Defense Fund, filed an amici brief on behalf of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, and about 60 state legislators in a case called In the Interest of Jane Doe, which involved a minor seeking an abortion. State law requires a minor to get a court order (called a judicial bypass) prior to having an abortion unless one of the child’s parents agrees to the abortion. Up until now, our courts have routinely granted these bypasses; however, this is not to be a rubber stamp. Instead, a court is to give a bypass only when the child shows the maturity necessary to make the choice or if the abortion is somehow deemed to be in the child’s “best interests.” FULL POST

Posted 12/23/11 at 4:26 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

DC Agency: Single-Sex Dorms at Catholic U Don’t Violate Law

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor

The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights has held that John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America did not violate a District law banning sex discrimination by returning the institution he leads to single-sex dormitories. As I mentioned in a summer blog post, George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf filed a charge of discrimination against President Garvey. FULL POST

Posted 12/20/11 at 6:06 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Christmas Reflections on Causes for Thanks, and Challenges to Pray For

Author: ADF President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears

The coming of Christmas is always a time for prayerful reflection … on the year now closing, on the year now just ahead.

And there’s so much to reflect upon. So many major legal victories God blessed us with this year, in crucial cases like ACSTO v. Winn, where the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the ACLU’s challenge to the right of parents to determine the best education for their children — including religious schools — through Arizona’s tuition tax credit program …

… or A, B, & C vs. Ireland, where the most powerful court in Europe reaffirmed that the European Convention on Human Rights does not contain a “right” to abortion – a decision that impacted 47 countries (and countless preborn children) across that continent and which will reverberate here in the United States. FULL POST

Posted 12/13/11 at 11:45 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Even in Public Schools

Author: ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. For the most part, people seem, well, a bit more jolly. It’s a time to be generous and to give, to decorate with bright lights, and to bring glad tidings of great joy to others. At least that’s still okay in most places in the country. But how about in public schools?

Sometimes it seems as though that is where the Grinch who stole Christmas lives. During this Christmas season, as every year, we read about schools giving the ol’ "bah humbug" to Christmas. Like in a Stockton, California school where teachers have allegedly been forbidden to display Santa, Christmas trees, or even a poinsettia. It’s allegedly to prevent any “association with any religious affiliation” of Christmas. But isn’t Christmas itself a “religious affiliation?” FULL POST

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