In 1934, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) erected a cross on a non-descript area of the desert in California as a war memorial. In 2001, the ACLU filed suit to have it removed. A district court ruled that the primary purpose of the cross was to advance religion; therefore the presence of the cross on government land was unConstitutional. Currently, the now-steel cross is covered by a wooden box to obscure its shape.
The case will be heard by the Supreme Court on October 7th.
While the ACLU repeatedly claims it is not trying to remove crosses Read more
Organizations who oppose religion in public life (including the military) generally dismiss as ‘ludicrous’ the assertions that their goal is to scrub all vestiges of religious expression from government institutions, like the military.
American Atheists recently undermined that defense when they decried President Obama’s use of “God bless you” in his address to school children yesterday. The logic was particularly disturbing because it is the same as some activists who oppose religious associations in the military– Read more
In the vein of the American Atheist’s complaint against NASA, a variety of similarly-minded groups continue to bring accusations of wrongdoing against government-associated religious organizations. For example, the ACLU has criticized the Gideons providing religious materials while in some association with a government entity (including the Gideons’ interaction with the US military).
Controversies notwithstanding, the ubiquitous nature of the Gideons ministry almost inevitably leads to the never-gets-old joke:
How do they get those Bibles in all those locked hotel rooms?
Well, in 1996 evidence arose that the Gideons were successful in getting a Bible into one of the most inaccessible nightstands in the world; in fact, it’s not even in the world. Read more
The Washington Post writes that a Quaker has sued the Selective Service, with the assistance of the ACLU, because there is no way for him to record his status as a conscientious objector on the Selective Service registration forms. Because of that omission and Tobin D. Jacobrown’s refusal, he will be in violation of the law requiring registration and may be unable to obtain certain federal benefits. (As he is now 21, he has technically already violated the law, which requires him to register within 30 days of his 18th birthday.)
A Selective Service representative accurately pointed out that the system does not currently record objector status; instead, should the draft be instated, the application for such status would Read more
As noted at CNN, this week is the 40th Anniversary of the flight of Apollo 8–the first space flight to circle the moon. Interestingly, CNN notes that the trip was one on which an “inspirational and soothing” event occurred:
Apollo 8 also produced what to many was one of the most inspirational and soothing moments in history when Lovell and crewmates Frank Borman and William A. Anders took turns reading from the Book of Genesis. It was Christmas Eve and the whole world was watching. NASA said at the time it was expected to be the largest TV audience to date.
The astronauts signed off with these words: “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth.”
This same “inspirational” event was marked by a lawsuit in the US which influenced further “religious” acts in space, as previously discussed.
Jim Lovell was the third crewmember on Apollo 8; he is perhaps more famous for his role on Apollo 13, one of three astronauts that was supposed to land on the moon but never did.
As noted at the Religion Clause, the Baltimore Sun carries an article on the ACLU’s most recent threat of “legal action” against the US Naval Academy for holding “mealtime prayers.” The Academy said it
does not intend to change its practice of offering Midshipmen an opportunity for prayer or devotional thought during noon meal announcements.
Such challenges have been going on for years, and were discussed here more than 2 years ago. The Alliance Defense Fund has volunteered to help defend the Navy against the ACLU.
As reported in the local paper, Clemson University (a state run school) is in “correspondence” with the ACLU over head football Coach Tommy Bowden’s annual “Church Day,” in which the team visits a church every year. The ACLU contends that Bowden was violating the separation of church and state by his actions, stating he had
abused his authority as Clemson University’s head football coach by imposing his strong personal religious beliefs upon student-athletes under his charge.
The University investigated and determined that the function would be allowed to continue, as it is on a voluntary basis.
Why should a military Christian care? The ACLU Read more
An interesting split-decision [pdf] found that an anonymous plaintiff, represented by the ACLU, lacked standing to sue a school board for their opening invocations.
While the ADF called this a “blow” to the ACLU’s practice of suing with “offended observers,” it is worth noting that the court did not rule on the merits of the case.
[The “offended observer” refers loosely to accusations of “planting” people in public meetings who are suddenly offended. Those who accused groups of using that tactic claimed they were unable to find a “real” offended person and thus had to create their own. This supposedly led to lawsuits where plaintiffs were virtually unknown to the community that was in support of the challenged activity.]
A concurring opinion noted: Read more