Numerous residents in a small town in North Carolina gathered on Sunday to peacefully protest the city's decision to remove a memorial, featuring a soldier kneeling before a cross and christian flag, from its central park after council members voted that it could no longer afford a $2 million court battle to preserve it.
After the King city council voted 3-2 last week to remove the "praying soldier" statue and Christian flag from its central park, the town completely succombed to the legal pressure of a years-long lawsuit filed by a former U.S. Army veteran, who was offended by the memorial's religious implications.
With the town having already spent $50,000 in legal fees to help preserve the monument from the lawsuit, three city council members, who all voted in favor of the motion to remove the monument, didn't want to waste anymore of its taxpayers' dollars on the court battle, which has been estimated to cost the city about $2 million if it wanted to fight the case until the very end. more >>
A California school district is investigating one of its high school teachers after receiving a complaint that "Bible cookies" were being distributed in class and students were encouraged to lookup Bible versus and attend an after-school Bible club.
After being contacted by one of the school's students who complained about the teacher's actions, Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the Manteca Unified District regarding New Vision High School teacher John Alameda, stating that his actions are a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
"We understand that Alameda not only sponsors the [Bible] club but also shares his Christian beliefs during school hours and frequently encourages his students to attend the club's meetings," Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director at Americans United and one of the signees of the letter,said in the complaint to Manteca Unified District Superintendent Jason Messer and New Vision Principal Sonya Arellano. more >>
A Virginia school district has decided to scrap a policy that allowed it to interrogate Christian homeschool teenagers and their parents about their religious beliefs.
Last November Douglas Pruiett and his wife received a letter from Goochland County Public Schools about updated procedures to the district's requests for religious exemptions for homeschool students.
Under the updated rules, once a child turns 14-years-old, the district requires that homeschool parents reapply for a religious exemption to public education. more >>
On January 12th, I attended Supreme Court oral arguments in a case—Reed v. Town of Gilbert—which will determine how easily the government can restrict signs giving directions to church services. Specifically, the Court is set to decide whether, under free speech protections of the First Amendment, a local government's mere assertion that its sign code (despite on its face discriminating based on content) lacks a discriminatory motive renders the sign code content-neutral and justifies the code's differential treatment of signs pointing the way to a church's meeting location.
In this case, the Town of Gilbert had divided signs up based on whether they were ideological, political, or directional—and imposed different restrictions on each category of sign. Good News Community Church in Gilbert, Arizona, and its pastor, Clyde Reed, sued, claiming that signs pointing the way to their Sunday morning service (which contained religious speech and directions, and thus resulted in them being placed in the directional sign category) were treated less fairly and that this unfair treatment violated the First Amendment.
At oral arguments, both sides received their fair share of questions, but the justices were noticeably more skeptical of the town's argument—especially its claim that it could severely restrict a sign containing ideological content announcing an event if the sign also included directions to that event, while at the same time easing restrictions on a sign containing the same exact ideological content and yet lacking directions. more >>
Militants associated with the Islamic State terrorist group are claiming responsibility for the abduction of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, according to a statement received by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"Urgent. Soldiers of the Islamic State captured 21 Christian crusaders," the statement reads, which included three pictures showing only 20 captured Coptic Christians.
The statement did not specify when the captives were abducted but a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry, Badr Abdel Atti, confirmed to AFP that at least 20 Egyptians were abducted in two separate incidents in Libya and they "are still being detained" by their captors. more >>
WASHINGTON — While Frank Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times, claims to be advocating a "live and let live" position on gay marriage versus religious freedom, he's actually advocating government coercion, Ryan Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argued Tuesday.
The notion that gay marriage threatens religious liberty is "absurd" and "perpetuates confusion," Bruni wrote Sunday. Bruni mentioned wedding vendors — photographers, florists and wedding cake bakers — who are defending their right to decline service for same-sex weddings due to their religious beliefs. Those beliefs are a "fig leaf for intolerance," Bruni claimed.
Some states have sought to pass, or strengthen, state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts to make sure that courts continue to apply an appropriate balancing test in disputes between religious belief and gay marriage such as these. RFRA tells judges that the state can only infringe upon a person's right to behave according to their religious beliefs if there's a compelling government interest for doing so and the least restrictive means are used. more >>