A United Methodist clergyman in Pennsylvania who officiated his son's same-sex wedding has been found guilty of violating the denomination's law that bans its reverends from performing such ceremonies.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer was found guilty by a 13-member jury of breaking his pastoral vows when he presided over a gay wedding ceremony in 2007.
"True love draws boundaries. Scripture says that true love does not rejoice in evil," said the Rev. Dr. Christopher Fisher, counsel for the church, in his closing argument. "Cheap grace does not lead to being conformed to the image and likeness of Christ. We ought not turn the grace of God into immorality. Is it true to tell young people that their identity can be determined by something like our sexuality?" more >>
ARLINGTON, Va. – A legal expert and head of a conservative law firm has stated that government actions against religious groups over same-sex marriage and abortion are "red lines of liberty" being crossed.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, told The Christian Post while part of an event in the Washington, D.C.-area on Monday that these red lines involve coercion on the part of government.
"These red lines of liberty are coming very rapidly. They're not just issues that are contrary to Christian values that you can coexist with," said Staver. "These are issues where the government is seeking to force you to affirm ideas and values that are completely contrary to your Christian faith." more >>
Convicted murderer Joseph Paul Franklin is scheduled to die via lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 20; he famously shot Larry Flynt, leaving him paralyzed for life. Now, in a new interview, Franklin states that he felt he was "at war" with other races, which is what led to the shootings. Flynt, meanwhile, is working with the ACLU to stop the execution.
"I felt like I was at war," Franklin told CNN. "The survival of the white race was at stake. I consider it my mission, my three-year mission. Same length of time Jesus was on his mission, from the time he was 30 to 33. I figured once I started doing it and showed them how, other white supremacists would do the same thing."
From 1977 to 1980, Franklin targeted interracial couples, African Americans, and Jews for assassination. According to some reports, Franklin killed approximately 22 people but was only convicted of the murder of Gerald Gordon, whom he shot outside a synagogue in St. Louis, Missouri. more >>
Something significant happened last week when the Supreme Court considered the issue of public prayer: a few of the Justices gave Americans an unusually candid peek behind the judicial curtain, revealing some provocative opinions on the role of faith and the purposes behind the First Amendment's religion clauses. The case was Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway and it centers on the practice of the Town to open its monthly board meetings with prayer. The Town has invited, without limitation, members of the public, including clergy, to deliver a short prayer at those meetings, but gave no restrictions on content or theme. The lower court ruled that, despite the fact that invocations were offered from persons of a variety of different faiths, the predominance of "sectarian Christian prayers" meant that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment had been offended. That decision was appealed, and in oral arguments before the Supreme Court last Wednesday, some of the Justices took the occasion to travel outside the facts of the case and to offer up a fascinating, and somewhat troubling, view of religious liberty in our nation.
Justice Stephen Breyer commented, "in my own opinion … a major purpose of the religion clauses is to allow people in this country of different religion[s], including those of no religion, to live harmoniously together." Later, as counsel for the parties continued their arguments, Justice Elena Kagan picked up on those comments and remarked, in a similar vein, "[p]art of what we are trying to do here is to maintain a multi-religious society in a peaceful and harmonious way."
No one would deny the benefit of societal peace and harmony. The point, though, is whether those goals are what really energized and directed the Founders to recognize in our First Amendment the notion of religious freedom in the first place. To the contrary, my reading of the historical record tells me that religious freedom was recognized at our nation's founding as a good in itself. The consensus back then was that a belief in, and acknowledgement of, a sovereign God was an inherent liberty and privilege, indeed a spiritual duty, originating not from government, but from God. When Justices Breyer and Kagan (and I would surmise a few others on the Court as well) indicate that "peace and harmony" is the goal, then we can predict, ironically, that a very un-peaceful assault on faith will result. After all, under the view of Breyer, Kagan, et al., the concept of religious freedom would be ultimately reduced to a kind of de facto social bromide, permitted in practice only to the extent that it can keep the masses quiet. Such a utilitarian idea reduces faith in God to a mere social component for the courts to protect, or not, whichever way they wish, as long as the perceived goal of community harmony is being pursued. more >>
The American Atheists group is appealing against a federal district court's decision to keep a cross fashioned by two steep beams recovered from the Twin Towers' collapse at the 9/11 memorial museum, while the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed an amicus brief in support of the decision, criticizing the attempt to "literally rewrite history."
"As the district court correctly held, it is entirely appropriate and lawful for the curators of a museum to acknowledge the Cross's actual, historic role by placing it in the September 11 Memorial Museum," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ.
"A museum has the freedom to display religiously-themed artifacts of historical or artistic significance without running afoul of the Constitution. We urge the appeals court to affirm the decision of the district court which rejected this bizarre legal challenge." more >>
This week the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal case over an Oklahoma abortion law that requires women to have an ultrasound and hear a medical description of their fetus before proceeding with an abortion. This is the second blow to pro-life legislation in the state in the past few weeks, as earlier this month the Supreme Court upheld a previous ruling that blocked higher standards being imposed on medicine-induced abortions.
The Supreme Court justices decided on Tuesday, without comment, that they would not be hearing the state's appeal of the case known as Pruitt v. Nova Health Systems. The lawsuit questions the constitutionality of the state law that requires women to have an ultrasound and hear a verbal medical description of their fetus one hour before having an abortion procedure. Although the woman would not be required to look at the ultrasound images, she would still have to go through with the abdominal or trans-vaginal ultrasound and hear a verbal description of the fetus that included details on the "the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, if present and viewable, and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable."
The Oklahoma Supreme Court previously ruled that the ultrasound law was unconstitutional because it placed an undue burden on an Oklahoma woman's choice to abort her baby. Those supporting the law argued, however, that the ultrasound requirement ensured women were making a fully informed decision about terminating their pregnancy. more >>