The attorneys for Scott Panetti, a severely mentally ill man who believes Texas is trying to execute him for preaching the Gospel, have asked the state to stay his execution. Panetti's death sentence, however, is not for preaching the Gospel, but for murdering his parents-in-law in 1992. His planned execution is being opposed by both mental health professionals and over 50 evangelical leaders.
"If his execution date is not withdrawn, he will go to the execution chamber convinced that he's being put to death for preaching the Gospels, not for the murder of his wife's parents, and the retributive goal of capital punishment will not be served," the Texas Defender Service group warned.
A federal appeals court in Washington has upheld the accommodation in President Obama's healthcare law for religious nonprofits to opt out of providing abortifacients and birth control coverage, rejecting the argument that it imposes a substantial burden on their expression of religion.
In a 3-0 decision, judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that religious nonprofits can "express what they believe and seek what they want" just by writing a letter or filling out a two-page EBSA Form 700 to opt out and allow a third-party to cover the products and services.
"That bit of paperwork is more straight-forward and minimal than many that are staples of nonprofit organizations' compliance with law in the modern administrative state," wrote appeals judge Cornelia Pillard, an Obama-appointee, according to The Associated Press. more >>
An appeals court panel has rejected a Wisconsin-based atheist group's lawsuit against a law that gives clergy an exemption from paying income taxes on their housing allowance.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled Thursday against the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison's lawsuit.
Reversing a lower court decision from last year, the panel unanimously concluded that FFRF "lacks standing to challenge" the housing allowance law. more >>
WASHINGTON — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is under increasing attack since the U.S. Supreme Court'sHobby Lobby decision that granted "closely-held" businesses an exemption from the birth control mandate, religious freedom lawyers claimed at the Federalist Society's annual National Lawyers Convention.
In response to the Hobby Lobby case and possible religious exemption cases citing it, there may come a "softening" of the decision by judges over the coming years, explained members of a panel event on Thursday on the topic of religious liberty.
Kim Colby, senior counsel at the Christian Legal Society, said to those gathered that since the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc., efforts to undermine religious exemptions have increased. more >>
Over 50 Evangelical leaders have signed a joint letter warning Texas Governor Rick Perry that the planned execution of severely mentally ill man Scott Panetti, who has been convicted of murder and has said he believes he is battling Satan, would "cross a moral line."
"As Christians, we are called to protect the most vulnerable, and we count Mr. Panetti – a man who has suffered from severe mental illness for over 30 years – to be among them. If ever there was a clear case of an individual suffering from mental illness, this is it," reads the letter by the Evangelical leaders.
"Mr. Panetti is a paranoid schizophrenic, which was apparent at his trial, where he represented himself with his life on the line. He wore a TV-Western cowboy costume and attempted to subpoena the Pope, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus Christ. The fact that his trial was carried out in such a fashion is a mockery of the criminal justice system." more >>