In 2014 the Freedom From Religion Foundation appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit intended to remove a statue of Jesus from public land (which is leased as a ski resort). The affectionately named “Big Mountain Jesus” statue was erected as a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division, who recalled seeing many similar shrines during their campaign in Italy during World War II.
A 3-member panel of the 9th Circuit Read more
Update: Via The Religion Clause:
[The] Virginia federal district court ultimately allowed Dr. Heap to move ahead with his Establishment Clause and Equal Protection/ Substantive Due Process challenges to the Navy and Department of Defense’s actions.
However the court dismissed challenges brought under other parts of the 1st Amendment, the No Religious Test clause, and RFRA, dismissed The Humanist Society as a plaintiff for lack of standing and on ripeness grounds, and dismissed claims against the individual defendants.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has had what might be considered a banner year in its legal support of religious liberty, winning more than one case at the Supreme Court. Moreover, what separates the Becket Fund from some other stereotypical religious liberty groups is their willingness to not just speak but also act in defense of all religious liberty.
While they represented a Christian family when the Supreme Court Read more
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a group that advocates for religious freedom in public society. Recently, the organization was accused of becoming politicized and leaning “conservative.” In a rebuttal posted on their website, Deputy General Counsel Luke Goodrich debunked the accusation while simultaneously providing an outstanding explanation of what “religious liberty” really is:
Citing cases involving the HHS mandate and gay rights, the article suggests that there has been “a shift in the fund’s strategy.” According to unnamed “critics,” the Becket Fund “has become ideological” and is “tacking right.” It is drifting away from nonpartisan defense of religious liberty for all, and is instead becoming conservative…
But this is hardly a complete picture of the Becket Fund’s cases…The article also omits many other Becket Fund actions, including current cases, that don’t fit its narrative…
Goodrich then cited Becket cases involving Read more
In an interesting comparison on perspective, the Washington Times noted near the end of May that some were making an effort to “push [the] military for more religious liberty,” including members of Congress:
Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican, criticized the military for appearing “zealous to shut down expressions of faith.”
“This is our military telling service members to raise their hands and ask permission before they dare to utter an expression of faith,” Mr. Fleming said during a speech at the Family Research Council.
Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund noted that Congress had twice passed laws requiring the US military to “be more accommodating to religious beliefs and practices,” laws Read more
The atheist attempt to pull Jesus off the mountain will now to go the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:
The lawsuit was brought by the Madison, Wisconsin-based group the Freedom From Religion Foundation…
Last June, Chief Judge Dana L. Christensen of the United States District Court for the District of Montana, Missoula Division, dismissed the FFRF’s lawsuit.
In a statement regarding the dismissal, Read more
A strikingly broad-swath of religious liberty groups has written a letter (PDF) the office of the Secretary of Defense contending the military’s recent religious accommodation policy “change” doesn’t go far enough. In one point they make:
Even if an original accommodation request is approved, religiously observant service members would be required to submit a new request for the same accommodation every time they receive a new assignment…
In other words, a Soldier allowed to have a beard for religious reasons would have to re-apply with every assignment change for a continuing accommodation — and could conceivably have to shave in the interim.
The letter was signed by groups as diverse as the ACLU, ADL, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Becket Fund, Chaplain Alliance for Read more
Despite recent scandals regarding the DoD’s alleged classification of Christians as “extremists” — including an Army-wide standdown in Equal Opportunity training over the controversies — the DoD says it will continue to use the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “reference” in its Equal Opportunity training.
A DoD spokesman answered that while the agency will remove “hate groups” information provided by the SPLC from the training materials used at its Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), the DoD will continue to use the SPLC’s data in its “non-federal reference material” for DEOMI.
The SPLC — whose work has been specifically cited in recent Army briefings — is one of several “non-Federal” sources the DoD plans to continue using:
“Some of the non-Federal entities used to inform DEOMI’s training,” said Christensen, “include: Anti-Defamation League; Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism; Know Gangs, Political Research Associates, Read more
The Deseret News carries its own commentary by Amy Choate-Nielsen on the recent changes to the DoD’s rules requiring religious accommodation. Interestingly, it uses two Jewish Soldiers as the central points of its article — even though the two have nothing to do with the policy changes:
For [Michael] Handman, the new NDAA law comes too late. Five years ago, the private was called derogatory names because of his faith, ordered to remove his yarmulke and rebuked for reading Jewish canon. Then, a few days after his letter home, on Sept. 24, 2008, Handman was lured into a laundry room and beaten to the point of unconsciousness, an Associated Press story says.
That story was discussed in detail here at the time. Retired US Read more