Advancing Religious Liberty

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Posted 3/2/12 at 12:47 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

When Scientists Are Censored

Author: ADF Legal Counsel David J. Hacker

Inside Higher Ed reports that evolutionists have censored a forthcoming book on intelligent design.

Score one for science this week. Evolutionary biologists were horrified by the news that a scholarly press was going to publish a work in favor of intelligent design. But a spokesman for the publishing house confirmed to Inside Higher Ed Wednesday that the book’s publication is on hold as it is subjected to further peer review.

Earlier this week, the Panda’s Thumb, a blog about evolutionary theory, posted an item about a forthcoming book from Springer called Biological Information: New Perspectives. The blog-poster and other commenters said the book was a compilation of articles by creationists and intelligent-design proponents and Springer had no business publishing such “creationist pseudoscience.” FULL POST

Posted 3/2/12 at 12:43 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Federal Appeals Court: Churches Can Continue Meeting in NYC Schools until Late Summer

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence

In a major but interim defeat for the New York City Department of Education, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit  has denied the city’s request to stay the preliminary injunction. The Second Circuit gave detailed instructions to the parties and to the lower court on how to proceed with the litigation, requiring the District Court to issue a final decision by mid-June, so that the appeals court could rule on the constitutionality of the policy before school starts in the fall. This means that the churches and other religious groups will be able to meet through the end of the summer at least and possibly longer.

This week, the NYC Department of Education has been rejecting applications by churches to use the schools unless they have a disclaimer on their churches’ websites saying that the churches’ speech is not endorsed by the Department of Education. This is petty because it unrealistically assumes that people reading the churches’ websites will mistakenly interpret a statement that the church “meets Sunday morning at P.S. XYZ in Brooklyn” to mean government endorsement of the churches’ speech. Many churches are putting the disclaimer on their websites and reapplying to meet in the schools. FULL POST

Posted 3/2/12 at 12:39 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

The 0.1%: Ohio College the Latest to Unconstitutionally Confine Free Speech on Campus

Author: ADF Legal Counsel David J. Hacker

Just last month, ADF announced the repeal of a speech zone at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon. Chemeketa had told a Christian student that he could not hold pro-life signs in the open, park-like areas of campus. Instead, college policy limited student speech to a small folding table in the student center. Chemeketa also required students to request use of the folding table a week in advance of their expected activity. ADF wrote to Chemeketa, informed it of controlling constitutional principles, and asked it to open its campus to free speech. Thankfully, Chemeketa did the right thing and worked with us to revise its speech policies. Now students may engage in free speech outside in the campus quads, where most students walk to and from class. (Students can still reserve the folding table if they want to.) The marketplace of ideas is in business once again. FULL POST

Posted 3/2/12 at 12:34 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Obama Administration Mandate Poses Massive Threat to Religious Liberty: Alliance Defense Fund Sues to Defend Baptist, Presbyterian Colleges

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

The Obama administration’s most recent mandate is also its most radical. It directs insurers for most employers – including religious ministries and organizations – to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception at “no cost” to employees, regardless of the employers’ religious or moral objections.

It’s a policy that’s stirring up a hurricane of controversy in political and religious circles – and rightly so. The mandate is immoral and unconstitutional, dictating not only which “drugs and procedures” an employer pays for, but how much Christian employers, in particular, are allowed to carry out their business according to their faith and conscience.

This cuts to the very essence of our religious freedom, and it’s no overstatement to say this is one of the greatest threats in our nation’s history to your right, as a Christian, to live and practice your faith. FULL POST

Posted 3/2/12 at 12:26 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Are Churches Subject to Section 501(c)(3) of the Tax Code?

Author: ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley

Every time I talk about Pulpit Freedom Sunday, I inevitably get a comment from an audience member that goes something like this, “You know, if churches just unincorporated, they wouldn’t be subject to the IRS,” or “Because churches aren’t required to apply for tax exemption, they aren’t subject to 501(c)(3) of the tax code.” People have told me that churches have willingly gagged themselves in exchange for tax exemption and that they should just unincorporate or give up their exemption letter from the IRS and they could then be free to do what they want. Behind these questions and statements lies an admirable heart for the independence of the church. But these also demonstrate a fundamental and potentially dangerous misunderstanding of the law. FULL POST

Posted 3/2/12 at 12:18 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Court Orders NYC to Let the Churches Back into the School Buildings

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence

Churches and other religious groups will be able to return to New York City public schools for their worship services, because of a preliminary injunction granted by Chief Judge Loretta Preska late last Friday afternoon in Manhattan. The court ruled that NYC’s ban on private worship services meeting during non-school hours violates the Free Exercise of Religion Clause of the First Amendment, and NYC cannot justify its policy by claiming that it is needed to avoid an Establishment Clause violation. This is a great victory for religious liberty.

NYC will undoubtedly appeal the preliminary injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and also ask that court to stop the preliminary injunction pending the appeal. ADF attorneys stand ready to respond to that appeal and to fight any attempt to stop this court order that protects religious freedom. FULL POST

Posted 3/2/12 at 12:14 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

Barry Lynn to Vanderbilt Christians: Stop Whining and Enjoy the Catacombs

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence

Barry Lynn, the inexhaustible head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, did not disappoint when he strongly endorsed Vanderbilt’s policy of requiring student religious groups to accept nonbelievers as members and officers. Lynn, speaking at the annual public policy debate at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, said he supported Vanderbilt’s decision to adopt an “all comers policy” for student group membership. According to an article in the Christian Post, Lynn said that Christian groups must “get over” themselves and open up their leadership positions to all people regardless of their beliefs (you know, like having Holocaust deniers lead Jewish groups and cattle ranchers lead Hindu groups).

Lynn urged the Christians at Vanderbilt to start meeting in homes off campus. He illustrated his advice by saying that home churches “kept Christianity alive during the darkest days of communist China.” He’s got a point. That’s the way to teach students about the importance of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Vanderbilt can justify its policy by saying it is not as bad at Vandy as it is in North Korea (yet!). FULL POST

Posted 3/2/12 at 12:05 PM | Alliance Defending Freedom

ACLU claims another “victory” by exposing more children to porn

Author: ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman

Hats off to the ACLU. After all a victory should be celebrated, shouldn’t it? Well, I guess it all depends on what the victory is.

You see, the ACLU has launched a national campaign called “Don’t Filter Me,” that seeks to remove internet filters from elementary, middle and high school computers. They claim that some national homosexual advocacy groups, such as Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and the Trevor Project, were being “discriminated against” because their LGBT websites were being filtered by schools.

As one of their first targets, they filed a lawsuit against Camdenton School District in Missouri. They cleverly wrapped their argument in free speech garb and claimed that students were missing out on an important pro-homosexual “viewpoint.” What filter did the ACLU want to remove, you ask? The “sexuality” filter. That’s right, the filter that blocks thousands of pornographic, obscene and explicit websites during the day on school computers. FULL POST

Posted 2/22/12 at 11:43 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

In Missouri, Zombie Posters Trump Pro-Life Messages in Public Schools

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

Missouri may be famous as the “Show Me” state, but there are some things public school administrators there would prefer go unseen.

A student at Dixon High School learned that last fall when she put up posters promoting the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity in some high-traffic areas of her campus. The school district has always allowed that kind of publicity before, encouraging students, student groups, and community organizations to post fliers, drawings, and other materials “in areas of the school which are generally frequented by students.” In the same vein, Dixon administrators have traditionally allowed students to make P.A. announcements at designated times to promote upcoming activities and opportunities of interest to students. FULL POST

Posted 2/22/12 at 11:38 AM | Alliance Defending Freedom

NYC Churches Endure Tumultuous Week in the Courts

Author: ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence

We reported the good news that last Thursday, the federal district court in Manhattan issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop New York City’s Department of Education from enforcing its policy banning private worship services. However, things went a bit askew Friday evening. During the day on Friday, NYC filed an emergency motion with the federal appeals court in NYC, called the Second Circuit, requesting that it stop the TRO so that NYC could continue banning the worship services. About 6:30 pm Friday evening, we received an order from the Second Circuit. The appeals court rejected NYC’s request to stop the TRO from going into effect (good news) but ruled that the TRO only applied to the named party in the lawsuit, Bronx Household of Faith (n0t good news)! So NYC then sent out emails to churches on Friday night revoking the permits it had issued in the last two days in response to the district court’s TRO.

Bronx Household of Faith did hold its meeting in the NYC public school where it has been meeting, but others did not. For example, Heavenly Vision Christian Center, a church that meets in the Washington Heights area of northern Manhattan and ministers to the immigrants in the area from the Dominican Republic, worshiped on the sidewalk near the public school where the 1000-member congregation meets (IS 52). The pastor of Crossroads Church in Staten Island, Ray Parascando, got the late night email revoking his permit, so he held a press conference outside the school on Sunday morning, and his church met in a different church building that evening. FULL POST

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