Hobby Lobby's case for exemption from a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires religious employers to cover Plan B and Ella One emergency contraceptives that can cause early abortion was argued in court on Thursday.
An eight-judge panel (one judge was absent) in the 10th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., granted the Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts chain a full court hearing, which Hobby Lobby's attorneys' believe is significant because a full-court hearing is rarely granted. "It's a very rare step, because the nine-judge panel hears the most significant cases," said Lori Windham, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who's one of six attorneys working on behalf of Hobby Lobby.
Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund, argued the case Thursday for the Green family, who own Hobby Lobby and the Christian bookstore Mardel, in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, and the government was represented by the Justice Department. Each side had 30 minutes to present their arguments to the court. more >>
Sixty percent of the 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts voted to allow openly gay members, but not leaders yesterday, in a predictable change to the 103 year-old civic organization. What are the possible outcomes? Litagation? Most likely. Defections? Definitely. The response by faith groups who are the most vested with the Scouts-the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (Mormons)- remains varied.
More telling is that seventy percent of those who operate Scouting units are faith-based organizations that will most likely not be able to host the Scouts in the future because the language in the resolution prohibits them from being who they are-organizations that hold religious beliefs.
These groups will no longer be able to "give definite attention to religious life" because if they did they would violate the injunction not "to promote or advance any social … position or agenda." Any orthodox Christian organization that adheres to Biblical definitions of marriage, family, and sexuality will no longer be able to teach their beliefs because the Scouts position now defines a religious belief as a prohibited "social position." more >>
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 >>
The New York City Council passed a resolution Wednesday in support of Christians and other faith groups being granted "equal access" to gather for worship on public school property after hours. The 38-11 vote is seen as another sign of progress in a years-long battle that threatens the right of Christians and other faith groups to use such spaces to gather for worship.
"We had a huge, huge victory today, "Pastor Bill Devlin said of the "Right to Worship" resolution, according to World Magazine.
Devlin and City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, a Democratic representative of the Bronx borough, have been at the forefront of a grassroots push to grant churches equal access to public school space. more >>
Prosecutors in Singapore have alleged that City Harvest Church founder and pastor Kong Hee and five other associates used dubious investments made to questionable companies to embezzle S$50.6 million ($41 million) from a church building fund to finance the pop music career of Kong's wife, Sun Ho.
In the fifth day of hearings on Wednesday, defense lawyers attempted to counter those claims by providing testimony that one of the alleged fake companies, Xtron Productions, was an independent business,financially successful and not under the control of City Harvest Church, according to The Straits Times.
The company's director, Koh Siow Ngea, who previously served on the City Harvest Church board and is a member of the congregation, testified in court Wednesday that Xtron Productions drew in tens of millions of dollars annually through assisting several clients. He also claimed that the church was in no way as involved in decision-making as prosecutors allege. more >>
A federal judge has issued a "stipulating order" that allows an activist to display pro-life messages inside his car in front of a Planned Parenthood facility in Michigan.
U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain of the Eastern District of Michigan granted the stipulated motion on behalf of Paul Dobrowolski last Friday in his suit against the City of Ann Arbor.
Last month, Dobrowolski opted to file a lawsuit against the City of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Chief of Police John Seto over a city code that the pro-life activist believed violated his freedom of speech. more >>