Monday, 16 January 2017 marks the annual Religious Freedom Day, as proclaimed by President Obama over the weekend:
Religious freedom is a principle based not on shared ancestry, culture, ethnicity, or faith but on a shared commitment to liberty — and it lies at the very heart of who we are as Americans…We must be unified in our commitment to protecting the freedoms of conscience and religious belief and the freedom to live our lives according to them…
Part of being American means guarding against bigotry and speaking out on behalf of others…
Religious liberty is more than a cornerstone of American life — it is a universal and inalienable right…
Religious Freedom Day marks the anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, originally authored by Thomas Jefferson. It preceded the US Constitution and its similarly-themed First Amendment by several years.
President Obama’s 2017 statement was Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein maintained his perfect record of zero wins in his years of lawsuits against the American government over religion.
Many may not even be aware he had been part of another lawsuit, but in May of this year Weinstein said he had “join[ed] forces” with the American Humanist Association to try to have the Bladensburg Peace Cross torn down. (Despite innumerable threats, Weinstein hasn’t filed a lawsuit on his own in years.) The Peace Cross is a 90-year old World War I memorial in Maryland.
In a summary judgment, a Federal court just dismissed (PDF) that lawsuit.
Importantly, US District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow’s ruling avoids the semantic gymnastics of other cases by not trying to avoid the fact that a cross is, indeed, a religious symbol. The ruling says that simply being a cross does not inherently mean it is unconstitutional [emphasis added]: Read more
The Bladensburg Cross, ca 1920-1950.
In what is presumably an effort to prove that it is not “anti-Christian,” Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF has joined a lawsuit (PDF) with the American Humanist Association demanding the removal of the Bladensburg, MD, “Peace Cross.” The Peace Cross was erected in 1925 by the American Legion. Weinstein says (PDF)
The Bladensburg Cross is a Christian symbol on government property…
Because the Bladensburg Cross is a Christian symbol, it sends a message to all of our non-Christian MRFF clients that they are outsiders and unwelcome in the Town of Bladensburg. This message is particularly harmful in the context of a war memorial. It sends Read more
A week ago, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein complained to US Navy CAPT Douglas Pfeifle that he was “essentially spiritually raping” his recruits after civilian chapel volunteers were summarily banned from the base earlier this month. CAPT Pfeifle replied to Weinstein the next day, saying he’d get back to him. A week later, with no response, Weinstein attempted to up the ante by having an actual lawyer write a letter to CAPT Pfeifle, claiming there was a “constitutional question” with the Recruit Training Command’s action [emphasis added]:
There is a constitutional question whether denying similarly situated individuals under your command substantially similar rights to exercise religious freedoms violates the right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
You don’t even have to crack out your high school American government books to see the error from Weinstein’s presumably high-brow lawyer. The Fifth Amendment contains important protections of citizens’ rights, but it has nothing to do with “equal protection.” That’s the Fourteenth Amendment.
The writer is Mr. Robert Eye of Kauffman-Eye, who Read more
As reported at FoxNews, the union representing civilian employees at Eglin Air Force Base demanded the removal of two “senior management officials” because they displayed “I Support Phil” stickers.
Alan Cooper, the executive vice president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, said one of the officials also displayed the “I Support Phil” decals in his office last month and offered them to subordinates.
“The BUE (bargaining union employee) was clearly offended and disgusted that a senior management official would display Read more
The proposed Lake Elsinore war memorial — which was to portray the iconic silhouette of a soldier kneeling at a cross-shaped headstone — was declared unconstitutional by US District Judge Stephen Wilson:
On Thursday (Feb. 27), U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson of California’s Central District ruled that a granite monument depicting a soldier kneeling in prayer before a cross lacked “a secular purpose” and has “the unconstitutional effect” of endorsing religion over nonreligion.
For those that can’t seem to remember, the US Constitution says this about religion:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
Is such a stone really Congress making a law respecting establishment? Using the Lemon Test, the Judge (PDF) said: Read more
Over at the Journal of Faith and War, one of the most read articles is “The Religious Rights of Those in Uniform,” written by Robert “Skip” Ash, a 22-year Army veteran and Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ.
The lengthy but thorough essay gives an excellent discussion on the issues of religious liberty, the law, the Constitution, and military policy.
There are growing numbers of persons and advocacy groups in the United States actively seeking to remove from public life — including in the armed services — virtually all symbols and expression of religion and America’s religious heritage by advocating strict separation of church and state. Many of these groups are already actively engaged in filing lawsuits against DOD and its leaders over various concerns about religious expression in the armed services… Read more
A California Federal court has said that the proposed design of the Lake Elsinore Veteran’s memorial — which contains the iconic graphic of a Soldier kneeling at a cross-shaped headstone — “likely violates the Establishment Clause” of the US Constitution.
Even as a discussion is ongoing about the use of a Star of David in a Holocaust memorial in Ohio, the court found that Read more