A bill that would allow houses of worship to receive federal disaster aid easily passed Wednesday in the House of Representatives.
The "Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act" was passed under suspension of the rules, which meant it needed a two-thirds vote for passage. It easily met that threshold with 354 members voting in favor and only 72 voting against the bill. The bill will have to be passed in the Senate and signed by the president for it to become law.
A non-Christian high school student of a Wisconsin school system embroiled in a church-state court case does not believe school officials violated the First Amendment when they held graduations at a local church.
Raga Komandur, a 15-year-old student of Brookfield Central High School, wrote in a column published Monday in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that Elmbrook School District "did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."
"I am a student in the Elmbrook School District and am not a Christian, but I don't think the district did anything wrong when it held graduation ceremonies at Elmbrook Church," wrote Komandur. more >>
A Tennessee school board has approved the placement of Ten Commandments displays in public schools, along with other historically significant documents.
At a meeting in late January, the Cumberland County Board of Education voted to allow Decalogue displays along with other notable documents, including the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Aarona VanWinkle, Director of Schools for Cumberland County, said in a statement that the displays would be more about historical heritage than religious doctrine. "The public schools are charged with teaching our history and heritage to students; we are not responsible for religious instruction – matters wisely left to families and religious organizations," said VanWinkle. more >>
The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have filed suit against an Ohio school district where one school has a prominently displayed portrait of Jesus Christ.
Jackson City Schools of Jackson, Ohio was sued by the ACLU and FFRF on Thursday; the case will be put before the US District Court of the Southern District of Ohio. "The maintenance and display of the portrait has the effect of advancing and endorsing one religion, improperly entangling the State in religious affairs, and violating the personal consciences of Plaintiffs," reads the suit in part.
"As a direct result of these unconstitutional actions, Plaintiffs and other likeminded citizens and residents have suffered, and will continue to suffer permanent, severe and irreparable harm and injury." more >>
A new proposed amendment for the Virginia state Bill of Rights that would call on all public places and schools to allow prayer and religious activity passed a Senate Committee last week.
A Senate Committee in the Virginia General Assembly endorsed Senate Joint Resolution 287 on Jan. 29. Republican Sens. William M. Stanley, Jr., and Charles W. "Bill" Carrico sponsored the bill that would allow public officials, students, and others the right to participate in religious activity as long as they were not disruptive. The new bill will also allow for students to be dismissed from school assignments and presentations that conflict with their religious beliefs.
Stanley informed the panel that this amendment was crafted to ensure that people of all religions would not be penalized for expressing their right to religious beliefs. "All religions are under attack," Stanley said. "People of faith are under attack." more >>
Pro-life and religious liberty groups harshly criticized the Obama administration's announcement on Friday about proposed accommodations concerning the controversial contraceptive mandate, saying the proposal does not meaningfully expand the "church-only" exemption and amounts to little more than a gesture.
"All Americans, not just those in church organizations, are guaranteed freedom of conscience in their daily lives and work," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. "The administration's narrow gesture does nothing to protect many faith-based employers or religious families from the unconstitutional abortion pill mandate. The government has no business putting religious freedom on the negotiating table, or picking and choosing who is allowed to exercise faith."
Lawyers for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty also had a problem with the constitutionality of the mandate rule, saying "it does nothing to protect the rights of family businesses like Hobby Lobby." more >>