Does First Amendment prohibit public officials from free exercise of their religious freedom?

The Freedom from Religion Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop an evangelical Christian prayer event next month because Texas governor Rick Perry proposed and is endorsing the event. The plaintiffs seek a declaration that for the governor to initiate, organize, promote and participate as governor in a prayer rally… violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. A portion of the First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The First Amendment contains two clauses, the “Establishment Clause” and the often forgotten “Free Exercise Clause.” The establishment clause was intended to prohibit the establishment of a national religion. Now according to these secularists, a religion is established simply because an event is initiated, promoted and attended by a public official? Where groups, such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, are not being forced to attend? Excerpt: The foundation said it does not oppose politicians taking part in religious services, but that Perry crossed a line by initiating the event, using his position as governor to endorse and promote it and by using his official website to link to the organizer’s website. “The answers for America’s problems won’t be found on our knees or in heaven, but by using our brains, our reason and in compassionate action,” said Dan Barker, a co-director of the foundation. “Gov. Perry’s distasteful use of his civil office to plan and dictate a religious course of action to ‘all citizens’ is deeply offensive to many citizens, as well as to our secular form of government.” The Foundation is violating the governor’s rights under the First Amendment by using the judicial branch of government to prohibit Governor Perry his free exercise of religion and the case should be thrown out of...

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Illinois continues to harass Catholic Charities’ religious beliefs for foster care and adoptions

In a March letter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office stated that it had “received notice that Catholic Charities…discriminates against Illinois citizens based on race, marital status and sexual orientation” in providing foster care and adoption services and demanded that Catholic Charities turn over a wide range of documents in response. From whom did Madigan’s office receive notice, the ACLU? Leaders of three Catholic dioceses, Springfield, Peoria and Joliet have had enough and have filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court in Springfield to continue their work in serving the best interests of thousands of needy children and families throughout the state. The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the charities are in full compliance with Illinois law in their current practices and seeks an injunction against further action by Illinois government officials seeking to deny the charities their rights. They are arguing that the Illinois Human Rights Act exempts religious organizations from the provisions relied on by Madigan and that the new Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act includes an express protection for the religious freedom of entities like Catholic Charities, not freedom from religion. The Thomas Moore Society, which is representing Catholic Charties in the lawsuit said, “Religious and faith-based entities need not check their beliefs at the door when providing services for the benefit of needy and vulnerable children and families in Illinois.” The Rockford diocese is not part of the lawsuit filed by the other three Illinois diocese and withdrew from the state funded program last week, but prays for a positive outcome. The state of Illinois continues to push the secularist view of freedom from religion, not freedom of religion, regardless of its effect on those who are provided...

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Black parents protest NAACP and teachers union from blocking educational choice in Harlem

Talk about parental involvement – thousands of black parents demonstrated against the NAACP for joining a lawsuit with the teacher’s union, who are against closing 22 underperforming schools in the Harlem area. The union succesfully blocked 19 schools from closing last year. Excerpt: It’s the second year in a row that the New York state chapter of the NAACP has joined with the United Federation of Teachers, the teachers union, to sue the city for closing poorly performing schools. But this year, the lawsuit also involves stopping charter school expansion by denying the charters space to operate in buildings occupied by traditional public schools. The fight is particularly bitter in Harlem, where more students attend charter schools than any other neighborhood. Excerpt: The charter managers and parents quickly organized against the NAACP. Last week, they held a rally with more than 2,000 people. This week, they went to the NAACP offices and demanded a meeting. The state NAACP president, Hazel Dukes, told them she isn’t backing down. Using the kind of language usually associated with past opponents of black civil rights, Ms. Dukes said that critics of the lawsuit “can march and have rallies all day long. . . . We will not respond.” Excerpts: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People says some charter students get more resources than the public school students. They’re now suing the city to keep 17 charters from expanding. But charter school parents say charters offer a better education and give black and Hispanic families the power of school choice. “I don’t really understand why the NAACP would be supporting a lawsuit that is threatening to take away educational opportunities for children of color,” said one charter school parent. What kind of schools is the NAACP and union trying to protect. One of the Harlem schools the city wants to close only had 3% of the students at grade level in English and only 9% in math.  At Columbus High School in the Bronx, another school to be closed, the four-year graduation rate in 2009 was 40%, versus a citywide average of 63%, and less than 10% of special education students graduated on time. This is about the teacher’s union protecting their jobs by thwarting competition, with the NAACP trying to remain relevent in African-American lives. The two organizations are denying better educational options for low-income families, who can’t afford private schools and can’t afford to move to an affluent neighborhood with a decent public school system. Who is trying to block the doorways to the public schools for black...

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New facts weakens Fed’s case against Arizona, community college and sheriff

The Obama administration is very selective who they sue, and who they don’t sue.  You disagree with these guys, you better watch your back.  They use every means at their disposal, including Eric Holder’s Justice Department to come after you or let you off the hook.  First, Obama meets with Arizona governor Jan Brewer to discuss the new Arizona immigration law and a short time later Justice files a lawsuit against Arizona. Eric Holder’s Justice Department has also filed a lawsuit against the Maricopa Community College in Phoenix, AZ alleging that the college broke the law when it asked a person seeking a job at the school for a green card in order to be employed. Why do we issue green cards, if not to verify citizenship status? Of course, about this same time, the Justice Department drops charges against the black panthers for alleged voter intimidation in Philadelphia, causing a high ranking attorney in the Justice Department to quit because the case against the panthers was solid. On Thursday of this week, Eric Holder’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County because he will not produce documents demanded by the government for alleged civil rights violations involving unconstitutional searches and seizures. It’s frightening that our government is filing lawsuits against American citizens that are simply trying to enforce the immigrations laws that the Obama administration refuses to enforce. Even the union that represents the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents recently passed a “vote of no confidence” (259 – 0) against the agency’s leadership, stating in the resolution that ICE has “abandoned” its core mission of protecting American citizens, to support a political agenda favoring amnesty. The Justice Department filed its lawsuit against the sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona for not turning over some contested documents, but the government itself had to be forced to turn over an ICE report, once it was discovered, involving an investigation of the sheriff’s department, but only after Arpaio’s attorneys filed through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The ICE report clearly shows that just six months before Justice began their investigation of the sheriff, ICE had investigated the sheriff’s department and found their entire immigration process to be compliant with the training provided by ICE for almost 200 officers to properly enforce immigration statues. This was a very positive report on a process that the Eric Holder’s Justice Department just six months later would accuse of civil rights violations and then the administration tried to hide the report. Hypocrites! Justice has been investigating the sheriff for civil rights violations for eighteen months and haven’t charged anyone with a violation. It also reinforces the sheriff’s accusation that the entire Justice investigation is politically motivated and could ultimately effect the entire federal case against...

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Religious freedom again denied at public university

In another case pitting religious freedom against public university ethics for social counseling, Eastern Michigan University has expelled and the district court has upheld the university in doing so, because a student refused to directly counsel a gay patient because of her religious beliefs concerning homosexual behaviour, but referred, at her supervisor’s suggestion, the patient to another counselor. She was expelled when she refused to affirm the patient’s behaviour. Excerpt: Attorneys will appeal a federal court decision issued Monday in a lawsuit filed on behalf of student Julea Ward against Eastern Michigan University (EMU) after it kicked out the Christian student for holding to her beliefs on homosexual conduct.  EMU dismissed Ward from its graduate counseling program in March 2009 for not affirming homosexual behavior as morally acceptable.  Ward would not agree to change her religious beliefs about homosexual behavior or express a message contrary to them during counseling sessions as a condition to receiving a degree. “Christian students shouldn’t be expelled for holding to and abiding by their beliefs,” said Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Counsel David French, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan last month.  “To reach its decision, the court had to do something that’s never been done in federal court: uphold an extremely broad and vague university speech code.” EMU initiated its disciplinary process against Ward shortly after she enrolled in a counseling practicum course in January 2009, when she was assigned a potential client seeking assistance regarding a homosexual relationship.  Recognizing the potential conscience issue with the client, and knowing she could not affirm the client’s homosexual relationship without violating her religious beliefs, Ward asked her supervisor how to handle the matter.  Ward was advised to reassign the potential client to a different counselor.  EMU then informed Ward that she could only stay in the counseling program if she agreed to undergo a “remediation” program.  Its purpose was to help her “see the error of her ways” and change her “belief system” as it relates to counseling about homosexual relationships. EMU requires students in its program to affirm or validate homosexual behavior within the context of a counseling relationship and prohibits students from advising clients that they can change their homosexual behavior.  Ward has never addressed homosexual behavior in any form during counseling sessions with clients. Ward tried to refer the client and that wasn’t satisfactory either. This student wasn’t trying to counsel the patient to change his behaviour, but was not even able to refer the patient to another counselor in order to maintain her religious beliefs. This is proof that public universities are trying to impose their ethics on Christian students using as coercion the advanced degree or...

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