In an effort to prevent what happened last Christmas season to a first grader at a California school who was stopped by his teacher from passing out candy canes with a Christian message to his classmates, religious freedom lawyers have filed a request for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Last year, when Isaiah Martinez brought his Christmas gifts to Merced Elementary in the West Covina Unified School District, his teacher took possession of the candy canes. At the direction of the school principal, the teacher instructed Isaiah that "Jesus is not allowed in school" and she removed the candy cane messages from each candy cane, threw the messages in the trash, and handed the candy canes back to Isaiah for delivery to his classmates, according to Advocates for Faith & Freedom.
Isaiah then "nervously handed the candy canes to his classmates in fear that he was in trouble for trying to bring a little Christmas cheer and 'good tidings' to class," AFF stated. The canes no longer had a message attached that recited the legend of a candy maker who created the candy cane to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ. more >>
The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis will set up a panel to help process the "backlog" of appeals from priests who've been accused of committing sexual abuse against minors. The new judicial body, or college, will be overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
"Hearing the appeals is a very important job, especially those on abuse of minors, and the backlog of cases is at risk of absorbing all the time of the congregation," Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told The Tablet, a Catholic news weekly.
"[The accused] shall have his case examined by the whole body of members of the congregation, the ordinary session, which may also examine other specific cases upon papal request, and/or examine cases referred to it by the newly created college," he added. more >>
A federal judge ordered South Carolina officials to stop enforcing the state's ban on gay marriage on Wednesday. District Judge Richard Gergel gave the state a one-week stay to appeal, but same-sex couples could begin filing for marriage licenses on Nov. 20.
"The court hereby declares that [the South Carolina constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage], to the extent they seek to prohibit the marriage of same-sex couples who otherwise meet all other legal requirements for marriage in South Carolina, unconstitutionally infringe on the rights of plaintiffs under the due process clause and equal protection clause of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and are invalid as a matter of law," the ruling stated, according to NBC affiliate WIS.
Gergel added that he found no real distinction between South Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage and a similar ban that was declared unconstitutional in Virginia. Gergel said that the earlier decision in Virginia "establishes, without question, the right of plaintiffs to marry as same-sex partners." more >>
NEW YORK — Ferguson, Missouri, — and perhaps the entire nation — is bracing for a grand jury decision on whether or not police officer Darren Wilson will be indicted for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. At least one Christian and social justice activist is calling on people of faith to pray, for whatever might ensue once the verdict is revealed, while local churches are planning for overnight vigils.
If news headlines are any indication — "Missouri Governor Outlines Ferguson Preparations;" "Gun sales spike as Ferguson area braces for grand jury decision;" "New Riot Gear at the Ready in Ferguson" — the atmosphere in the 21,000-person St. Louis suburb is taut with anxiety.
Although no one knows for certain when the grand jury's decision will come, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, whose office will make public the decision, has said in a statement that he does not expect the grand jury to give word "until mid to late November." more >>
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon addressed the town of Ferguson on Tuesday and revealed a plan for handling any civil disturbances in the aftermath of the grand jury's decision whether to indict officer Darren Wilson.
"The [National] Guard will be available when we determine it is necessary to support local law enforcement," Nixon said at a press conference. "Quite simply, we must and will be fully prepared. As governor, the most important part of my job is keeping the people of Missouri safe."
The town of Ferguson has been preparing for the grand jury's verdict as to whether Officer Darren Wilson will be indicted in the shooting of unarmed teen, Michael Brown. Wilson shot and killed Brown in August, leading to outrage among the citizens of Ferguson. There were several protests, peaceful and not peaceful, that have continued even now. The state has been trying to work with the public to better relations between officials and the public. However, Nixon's press conference upset some people and seemingly made things worse. more >>
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily stopped a lower court decision that would have allowed gay marriages in Kansas.
Justice Sotomayor issued a one-page preliminary injunction Monday per the request of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, but she also directed the American Civil Liberties Union to respond to the stay.
"IT IS ORDERED that the preliminary injunction entered by the United State District Court for the District of Kansas on November 4, 2014, is hereby stayed pending receipt of a response, due on or before Tuesday, November 11, 2014, by 5 p.m. ET, and further order of the undersigned or of the Court," read the stay. more >>