Advancing Religious Liberty

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Posted 1/17/12 at 5:44 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

VIDEO: A Right to Worship

From Odyssey Networks: Nearly 200 politicians, pastors, and church members protested a recent court ruling that allows the City of New York to deny churches and other religious organizations after hours access to public school facilities.

Mayor Bloomberg plans to evict the church groups on February 12.

There will be more rallies between now and February 12. Please continue to pray for the churches in New York City. And contact Mayor Bloomberg, urging him to repeal this policy.

Without Religious Freedom There Is No Other Liberty

Rest assured that we at ADF are not going to stand idly by and accept this serious attack on the religious freedom of churches.

This post originally appeared here.

Posted 1/17/12 at 5:37 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Jim Garlow Says: Don’t Worry About Being ‘Too Political’ in the Pulpit

Jim Garlow has an article on MinistryToday.com entitled Preach It! His article is well worth the read.

Jim talks about how for “57 years, people have believed a cultural myth that “pastors cannot speak out about politics.” Such is the nature of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which suddenly stripped way from American pulpits what they had enjoyed for more than 160 years—no governmental intrusion in the pulpit. Not only is this “pastors-can’t-talk-about-politics” myth unconstitutional—check out the First Amendment—but it flies in the face of biblical authority.”

He rightly makes the observation that “If I would have said 40 years ago that tearing up a baby in a womb was wrong, everyone would have said, “Of course.” Say it today, and you are too political. What has happened? Caesar demanded that which is God’s. Tragically, some pastors have retreated as the line was moved.” FULL POST

Posted 1/17/12 at 5:33 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

In South Dakota, Strengthened Legal Efforts to Protect Preborn Children

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

A federal court has granted the motion of an Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney permitting two South Dakota pregnancy centers to intervene in defense of a new state law – already under attack from Planned Parenthood – that would ensure crucial protections for mothers and their preborn children.

Under that law, no woman could schedule an abortion without obtaining first a screening for coercion by a physician, then an assessment of that coercion and free counseling from a local pregnancy help center. To ensure that each mother has time to think through her decision with all the facts clearly presented, the law further requires a minimum 72-hour waiting period between a doctor’s assessment and the actual abortion procedure. FULL POST

Posted 1/17/12 at 5:27 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Students for Life Convention Next Sunday: RSVP to watch the nation’s largest pro-life conference LIVE!

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence

The 2012 Students for Life National Pro-Life Conference is little more than a week away, and ADF is excited to once again partner with Students for Life to hold the biggest pro-life student conference anywhere. I went for the first time last year, and I was blown away by the quality of the speakers and their presentations. Those attending will learn from many experienced experts about many aspects of the pro-life movement. Dr. John Bruchalski is one I am looking forward to hearing from. Former Governor Mike Huckabee will speak and introduce a new movie, called ”The Gift of Life.” FULL POST

Posted 1/17/12 at 5:20 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Supreme Court Case Offers Protection for Pastors’ Sermons

Author: ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley

Earlier, Kevin Theriot blogged about the Supreme Court’s decision in EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor. The case was a phenomenal win for religious freedom and has far-reaching implications. In analyzing the opinion, one important implication is that the Supreme Court has announced heightened protection for the internal affairs of a church and for situations that affect the faith and mission of the church.

In a court decision from 1990 called Employment Division v. Smith, the Court allowed the government greater latitude to restrict the free exercise of religion. The Court held in Smith that if a law was neutral as to religion and if it was generally applicable to all people, then the government was allowed to burden the free exercise of religion. The Smith case marked a drastic departure from the Supreme Court’s earlier precedents which uniformly held that any law, even if that law was neutral and generally applicable, could not burden the free exercise of religion unless the law was justified by a compelling governmental interest that was advanced in the least restrictive means available. This test is the strongest test available under the constitution. In applying this test over the years, the Court candidly acknowledged that the test was strong medicine and that many laws burdening the free exercise of religion did not meet this test and were invalidated because they violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. FULL POST

Posted 1/16/12 at 2:43 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF Launches Program for College Upperclassmen and Graduate Students

In 2000, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) started the Blackstone Legal Fellowship program. Named in honor of Sir William Blackstone, whose Commentaries on the Laws of England were a basis for the U.S. Constitution and have had a profound impact on jurisprudence since their release in the 1760s, the aim of the program was to augment the training law students receive so as to ground them more firmly in natural law principles, real world experience in bringing needed change to the current legal system, reasoned defenses of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family.Through this program, ADF has had the opportunity to train and deploy more than a thousand men and women of Christian conviction, passion, and intelligence to restore freedom and bring about change in our culture.

And this year, ADF is launching a new program designed to reach college upperclassmen and those who have recently graduated from college who are pursuing future careers as a leaders in law and public policy. Launching this summer, and aptly named the Alliance Defense Fund Collegiate Academy, the aim of the program will be to envision, equip, and deploy students who are distinctly Christian and whose faith permeates and encompasses the whole of their lives. FULL POST

Posted 1/16/12 at 2:38 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Churches – What Are They Good For?

Author: ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman

Churches: What are they good for?

Besides the (hopefully) obvious benefit that churches provide to those who are already part of the flock, so to speak, churches also provide many benefits to others in the community. These include both the spiritual and physical kind. So why is it that some government officials insist on treating churches and other religious groups as unwelcomed members of the community?

There are many instances of discrimination against churches across the country, but I’ll just discuss two. The first takes place in New York City where the school district has opened up its facilities to community groups when not in use. There are nearly 1,200 individual school facilities that are opened up to nearly 10,000 separate community uses each year. Uses by groups such as J&R Pizza (an essential, coming from an Italian), Mouse, Inc. (afraid to ask), Peoples Rights (that must be important), Groove With Me (yeah, dude), Big Apple Circus (clowns are a bit creepy, but that’s a whole other thing), Crafty Ladies (I am assuming this is not ladies who are crafty, but who make crafts), Safe Space (of course), American Martyrs (not sure how long this group will last), Sex and the City filming (what can I say), and Dodge Ball Champions (they need a home, too). There are also several churches, such as the Bronx Household of Faith, and other religious organizations from a variety of faiths that use these facilities for their worship services, or at least have for the past more than fifteen years, until recently, that is. FULL POST

Posted 1/16/12 at 2:31 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Pastors and Hundreds More Gather to Urge NYC Mayor to Stop Expulsion of Churches Set for Feb.12

Cold winds and rain did not stop pastors, elected officials, and other people of faith from gathering over a three-hour period Thursday in the Bronx to urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reverse the order by his Department of Education expelling all churches and other religious groups from meeting for worship services in the public schools after February 12. Mayor Bloomberg gave his annual State of the City speech at Morris High School in the Bronx (I don’t know whether a church meets there or not on Sunday mornings). People came and joined the rally throughout the three hours, alternatively praying, singing and listening to speakers who spoke through a bullhorn to the crowd. Approximately 200 gathered at the height of the rally. Approximately 43 crossed police lines to pray peacefully to draw attention to the unjust policy. The police arrested the 43 for disorderly conduct.

Here are some observations from yesterday’s rally: FULL POST

Posted 1/16/12 at 2:22 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Supreme Court Affirms – A Church Should Determine Who Its Ministers Are, Not the Gov’t

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot

The Supreme Court has handed down a fantastic ruling affirming the right of churches to employ only those individuals that share their beliefs and live their lives according to the teaching of the church. As you may have read in previous posts here and here, a church school in Redford, Michigan, was dealt a blow to its independence from government control by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2010. Hosanna-Tabor is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and operated a church and school. All the school teachers lead weekly chapel services, taught a 30-minute religion class four days per week, lead prayer three times per day, and taught a morning devotional. In fact, many of the teachers were commissioned as ministers. So when a teacher threatened to sue the church in violation of church doctrine, the church naturally believed that it had the freedom to dismiss her from employment. Lower courts have long recognized the “ministerial exception,” which prohibits government from getting involved in the relationship between a religious organization and its ministers – though the Supreme Court has never officially acknowledged this exception till now. FULL POST

Posted 1/16/12 at 11:21 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

In New Jersey: A Big Victory for Health Workers’ Rights of Conscience

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

On December 23, 12 nurses in the Garden State received their best Christmas present of the year: the freedom to follow their conscience.

In the aftermath of a federal court hearing that day on the nurses’ lawsuit against the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), the hospital agreed – in compliance with state and federal law – not to force the nurses to assist with abortion cases, not to replace them with other nurses who would perform abortions, and not to reduce their hours.

“No pro-life medical personnel should be forced to assist or train in services related to abortions,” says Alliance Defense Fund Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, who represented the nurses before the court that day. “The hospital has finally done the right thing in agreeing to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs. The hospital agreed not to penalize our clients in any way because they choose, according to their legal rights, not to participate in abortion.” FULL POST

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