In the aftermath of evidence that the IRS has been targeting conservative non-profit groups for hostile and intrusive scrutiny, congressional hearings have focused on possible "political bias" inside that tax agency, to borrow a phrase from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in Tuesday's hearing. While that is a valid question, there is an even larger threat at play here – one that strikes at the heart of religious freedom: IRS harassment of Christian ministries.The problem stretches back to an IRS letter in 2007 and its aftermath.
Amidst the flurry of recent reports that a large number of Tea Party non-profits had been mercilessly grilled by IRS agents as part of a mine sweep for conservative organizations, news has also surfaced that National Religious Broadcaster member groups had also been caught up in this dragnet.
Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, says that his groups were also investigated during that same time period, and he has suggested this may be, in his words, a government attempt at "intimidating us." Likewise, Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk Action non-profit group, when it applied for tax-exempt status, was advised by the IRS that it might not qualify, because it was a "partisan right wing group" that had "criticized President Obama." more >>
Texas' "Merry Christmas Bill," which is intended to defend free speech on the issue of "traditional holidays," reached Governor Rick Perry's desk on Wednesday, and he is expected to sign it despite critics saying that the bill violates the separation between church and state.
The bill would permit officials like teachers in public schools to say "Merry Christmas" and put up religious symbols, so long as they do not constitute a state preference for one particular religion.
Russell Glasser, co-host of the Austin public-access TV show "The Atheist Experience," in an interview with www.rawstory.com, contends the bill is an offensive tactic by Christians. "They use this as an excuse all the time to pass laws that basically codify Christianity and make sure that everybody hears about it as often as possible," he said. more >>
Evolutionists and atheist activists who recently complained about a Ball State University assistant professor teaching creationism may be missing a broader view of education, according to popular Christian apologist Lee Strobel, who says that colleges should be a place where students can explore both Darwinism and creationism fully and freely.
"I believe we should give teachers, scientists, and students the right to pursue the evidence wherever it takes them – even if it takes them to the politically incorrect conclusion that there's an Intelligent Designer," Strobel told The Christian Post via email. "In other words, let's test the evidence in the marketplace of ideas.
"As two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling said, 'Science is the search for the truth.' At least, it should be. Personally, I even believe we should teach more on Darwinism," he added. "That's right – more. That's because today students are given only a cursory and one-sided explanation of evolution. On this surface level, the theory's grandest claims seem to hold together pretty well. Yet if students are encouraged to dig deeper – in fact, to examine all of the evidence, pro and con – they begin to recognize its fatal flaws." more >>
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case regarding public prayer in government meetings which, depending on the verdict, could greatly alter the future of public religious expression in the United States.
The Supreme Court justices announced Monday that they will be hearing the case of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway, Susan, a 2008 case filed by Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, residents of Greece, N.Y., who sued the city, arguing that it had violated the First Amendment rule of separation of church and state by allowing predominately Christian prayers to be held at government meetings.
Galloway and Stephens argued that the majority of prayers held at Greece government meetings from 1999 to 2010 were delivered by Christian clergy, and therefore the city was endorsing the religion. more >>
National Religious Broadcasters President & CEO Dr. Frank Wright asked members of Congress investigating the IRS over its alleged inappropriate scrutiny of conservative and faith-based groups to focus on First Amendment protection for such organizations.
"As Congress investigates these incidents at the IRS, and others that may surface in the days ahead, I ask that you emphasize the First Amendment rights of non-profit religious organizations and churches, which gives them constitutional authority to operate free from government entanglement," wrote Wright in a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner and other Congressional leaders, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
"Pernicious targeting of faith-based organizations by any state actor must not be tolerated," Wright added. "These IRS cases before the nation today appear to be just such entangling, oppressive, and constitutionally unsound situations that must be protected against." more >>
In order to avoid a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the school district in Muldrow, Okla., will be removing its Ten Commandment displays from all schools after an atheist teen student addressed legal concerns.
In spite of this decision on behalf of the school board, the small community of Muldrow has rallied around its Christian beliefs, urging the district to hold strong to its religious freedom and keep the Ten Commandments in place.
After a meeting held Monday night, the Muldrow School District board members opted to have the Ten Commandments plaques, which sit in each classroom in the school district, removed in order to avoid the threatened lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the separation of church and state. more >>