The major news media, with the exception of Fox News, has been deafeningly quiet about the federal government's thwarted raid last week on a Nevada rancher. Heavily armed agents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) descended upon Cliven Bundy's ranch, seizing 389 of his 900 cattle. The BLM shut off access to federal lands, claiming he was illegally using them, and a no-fly zone was established for a 3-mile-square area around Bundy's ranch. A sign was posted - unconstitutionally - limiting the First Amendment to a small designated area. The feds flew helicopters overhead to chase the cattle, knowing full well it could cause them to collapse from running in the 90-degree heat.
Outraged over the heavy-handed tactics, about 1,000 states' rights activists traveled to Mesquite to support Bundy. Many gun owners showed up lawfully carrying firearms, and local cowboys came riding in on horses. They were afraid that they could be the next targets of a federal government overreach, and felt it was time to take a stand. A few protesters stormed the gate that had been erected to block off federal land, while the crowd chanted, "open that gate." At one point, the protesters blocked all traffic on Interstate 15.
Bundy's son, Ammon, was shot with a stun gun by law enforcement until he bled, and his sister was pushed to the ground, which was caught on video. Bundy's son, Dave, was arrested for taking pictures along State Route 170, which had been closed, and his camera was confiscated. He is now reporting a concussion and kidney problems after being stomped on. One man from Utah who joined the protest said he was handcuffed and injured by BLM agents when he attempted to walk through a gated area. Bundy estimates there were approximately 100 law enforcement vehicles and 200 law enforcement officials involved with the raid. more >>
City commissioners in Carroll County, Md., voted this week to temporarily halt sectarian prayers at their meetings in compliance with a judge's previous ruling. One city commissioner who voted against the temporary ban said that such a move "binds me to an act of disobedience against my Christian faith."
The commission voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday to stop sectarian prayers at official city meetings. Although they cannot reference "Jesus Christ," board members may still use the terms '"God," "Lord God," "Creator," "the Almighty," "God of Abraham," "Heavenly Father," "Lord, our Governor," "Mighty God," "Lord of Lords," "Creator of the Earth" and "Our Creator." Additionally, only board president David Roush may lead the invocations.
The two county commissioners who voted against Tuesday's agreement were Richard Rothschild (R-District 4) and Robin Bartlett Frazier (R-District 1). Rothschild spoke briefly at the meeting as to why he couldn't support the commission's resolution, saying it was stifling his expression of faith. Rothschild added that although he was willing to follow a judge's ruling halting sectarian prayers, he would not sign a resolution forbidding him from doing so. more >>
David Silverman, president of American Atheists who graduated from Brandeis in 1988, announced that he is withdrawing his support from Brandeis University and its alumni association because the academic institution rescinded its plans to give an honorary degree to controversial social commentator Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
In an open letter on Facebook explaining his actions and reasoning, Silverman said that although he had fond memories of the activism and classes at Brandeis, he felt this history went contrary to the university's decision against Hirsi Ali.
"Today, that pride is gone as Brandeis has caved to religious intolerance masquerading as political correctness and uninvited a valuable voice in the discussion of religion in public life," wrote Silverman. more >>
A new court ruling has determined that churches can no longer rent public school facilities. Churches in New York City can be evicted from the schools. Despite the good they do in the community, they could be out in the cold.
Writing for Facts & Trends, Bob Smietana observes, "The 2-1 ruling from the Second Circuit Court is the latest twist in a long-running legal battle between the Bronx Household of Faith and the Board of Education of the City of New York."
Indeed, this is not new. This is the latest decision in an on-going battle that the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has been fighting for years. In fact, I can remember interviewing Rev. Bob Hall, the church's founding pastor, as far back as the 1990s on this case for a religious freedom TV special, hosted by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy. more >>
In the contraceptive mandate case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby-argued Tuesday, March 25th-the government asserts that corporations can't exercise religion because they're not people – and that the people who own corporations can't exercise religion through them because they aren't corporations. Did you follow that? Me neither. But it's true.
As a result, I expect many more people creating their own LLCs in order to do things that would be wrong for them to do as individuals: "It wasn't me, honey -- it was the corporation!"
I kid. But the government isn't kidding: it's demanding that Hobby Lobby and its owners, the Green family, represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, pay half a billion dollars a year for not covering four emergency contraceptives in its insurance plan. Just to be clear, the government has for political reasons exempted innumerable plans providing these and other drugs (to keep the President's promise that "if you like your plan, you can keep it"). But accommodate the Green family's faith-based moral objections? No way. more >>
The University of South Carolina Upstate has canceled a gay-themed show following outcry from conservative state lawmakers.
Mike Fair, who has served in state government since 1984, suggested that the publicly funded college was lionizing homosexuality.