Religious freedom

Supreme Court sides with Christian baker in same-sex wedding cake case

The Supreme Court granted a limited victory Monday to a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple, finding the state showed fierce hostility toward his Christian beliefs when it ruled he broke the law with his refusal. The 7-2 decision sends the case back to Colorado with firm instructions to give Jack Phillips, the Christian baker, a fair hearing. But the ruling does not establish a First Amendment right to refuse services to same-sex couples, as Mr. Phillips and his conservative backers had hoped. Instead it suggests a road map for states such as Colorado, which have public accommodation laws, to use in evaluating cases like this one that pit First Amendment religious rights against anti-discrimination protections. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing the lead opinion in the case, said states can require people to serve all customers equally regardless of sexual orientation, as long as they justify it through law and not through animus toward religion. “The delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the state itself would not be a factor in the balance the state sought to reach,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “That requirement, however, was not met here,” he continued. “When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.” The ruling also seemed to set limits on how far states can go in forcing non-discrimination. Justice Kennedy said a priest or minister cannot be forced to perform a marriage or ceremony his faith would not sanction. “When it comes to weddings, it can be assumed that a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion. This refusal would be well understood in our constitutional order as an exercise of religion, an exercise that gay persons could recognize and accept without serious diminishment to their own dignity and worth,” he said.

And that’s more than fair enough!  This is an EXCELLENT ruling; a ruling in favor of the freedom of religion which has been under attack by the secular left in our country for far too long.  For more on this story, click on the text above.     🙂

Federal court upholds prayer in Congress

A federal court ruled Wednesday that Congress can continue to open its sessions each day with a prayer, and upheld the House’s ability to pick and choose who’s allowed to lead the prayer. U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, a Bush appointee who sits in Washington, D.C., rejected a challenge by Daniel Barker, co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation, who said he was not permitted to give an opening invocation, even though other guest chaplains have been permitted. Judge Collyer said House rules didn’t permit him to lead the prayer because he had left his faith. Judge Collyer also said an opening prayer has been a tradition in this country for more than two centuries, and the Supreme Court has ruled it doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause. “To decide that Mr. Barker was discriminated against and should be permitted to address the House would be to disregard the Supreme Court precedent that permits legislative prayer,” Judge Collyer wrote in her opinion on Wednesday. Mr. Barker said her ruling was tainted by personal bias against nonreligious people. “The judge’s acquiescence in this inequity sends a crystal clear message that our government, founded upon our entirely secular Constitution, may discriminate with impunity against atheists and freethinkers,” he said. But House Speaker Paul D. Ryan applauded the ruling. “Since the first session of the Continental Congress, our nation’s legislature has opened with a prayer to God. Today, that tradition was upheld and the freedom to exercise religion was vindicated,” said Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican. He added the return of Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, who was shot earlier this year by a left wing zealot, reminded Congress of the power of prayer.

Indeed..  This ruling was spot on, and with precedent from the Supreme Court.  This idiot from FFRF got slapped down, and rightfully so.  This is a small, yet important, victory for religious freedom, and for freedom of speech.  As we’ve documented on numerous occasions here at The Daily Buzz… The whole notion of a “separation of church and state” is bs.  There is no such thing.  That phrase originated in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the members of a church where he raised the idea in a philosophical sense.  That’s it.  Nowhere in our founding legal documents (i.e. The U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) is that phrase found.   Our founders intended freedom OF religion; NOT freedom FROM religion.  Kudos to Judge Collyer for her spot-on analysis, and excellent ruling!

French: The Supreme Court’s Religious-Freedom Message: There Are No Second-Class Citizens

While there are many threats to religious liberty, few are more consequential over the long term than the state’s ever-expanding role in private life. If the government is able to vacuum up tax dollars, create programs large and small for public benefit, and then exclude religious individuals or institutions from those programs, it has functionally created two tiers of citizenship. Secular individuals and institutions enjoy full access to the government they fund, while religious individuals and institutions find themselves funding a government that overtly discriminates against them. That’s the issue the Supreme Court addressed today in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer. By a 7–2 margin, the Court held that when a state creates a neutral program for public benefit — in this case a program that uses scrap tires to provide rubberized safety flooring for playgrounds — it can’t exclude a church from that program, even if that means state benefits flow directly to a house of worship. Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, was emphatic: “The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has not subjected anyone to chains or torture on account of religion. And the result of the State’s policy is nothing so dramatic as the denial of political office. The consequence is, in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees. But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.” The Court’s holding — secured by my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom — is significant for two reasons. First, it places another brick in a wall of precedent that stands for the proposition that once the state creates a neutral program — one designed neither to advance nor to inhibit religious practice — it can’t exclude citizens or institutions from that program merely because they’re religious. Under these precedents, churches are able to worship in government buildings, religious student groups may access student activity fees to fund their campus outreach, parents may send their children to religious schools with publicly funded vouchers, and hosts of religious organizations may participate in public/private partnerships to serve our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. So entrenched is this precedent that it would have been a legal earthquake had the Court ruled against the church. Second, seven of the nine justices concurred in the result of the case. This means that the principle of religious nondiscrimination in public programs has broad judicial support. Indeed, in recent years the Court has decided a number of significant religious-freedom cases unanimously or with overwhelming majorities. Yes, the Hobby Lobby case was a classically contentious 5–4 ruling, but other significant cases (such as Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC — which kept the government out of significant church-hiring decisions — and Little Sisters of the Poor) achieved consensus. Constitutional doctrine is usually created not by a judicial grand slam but rather through a long series of singles, stolen bases, and walks. Even the biggest cases rarely come out of nowhere but are rather forecast through other, smaller decisions. This case represents judicial progress — a sharp single into center field — and is well worth celebrating. There are, however, storm clouds on the horizon. Justice Sotomayor wrote a sharply worded dissent (Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined) claiming that the Court’s decision “profoundly changes” the relationship between church and state “by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church.” But this is overwrought. Again, given existing precedent, the “profound change” would have been a ruling against the church. The Court would have sanctioned outright anti-religious discrimination in areas as benign as tire-recycling and playground-resurfacing. That would have pushed Establishment Clause jurisprudence back from its trending neutrality to the outright anti-religious hostility of the most far-left judicial activists. Moreover, the case created consensus in part because it didn’t touch on the hot-button cultural conflict between religious freedom and the sexual revolution. Just before the Supreme Court announced its ruling in Trinity Lutheran, it also announced that it would hear a Christian baker’s appeal in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that could determine whether the state can compel citizens to lend their artistic talents to celebrate events they consider to be immoral. In this case, the question is whether a Christian baker can be required to help celebrate a gay wedding. It would be surprising indeed to see anything other than a 5–4 decision in that case, with Justice Kennedy likely providing the swing vote. But that’s tomorrow concern. Today was a good day for religious liberty. Seven of nine justices took a hard look at a government program that explicitly discriminated on the basis of religion and rejected it out of hand. Today’s message was clear. People of faith aren’t second-class citizens, and their churches are entitled to equal treatment under the law.

Amen!!  The majority opinion of the Court nailed it!!  This is an important victory for those of faith, and isn’t getting much press coverage by the dominantly liberal mainstream media, as you might imagine.  Anyway, this excellent legal analysis was provided courtesy of attorney, and Army Reserve officer (Major), David French.  David was awarded the Bronze Star for his exemplary service in Iraq.    🙂

Christians Most Persecuted Religious Group In the World, Study Says

Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, with around 90,000 killed for their faith in 2016, the director of a leading religious study group has said. Massimo Introvigne, Director of the Centre for Studies on New Religions (Cesnur), told Vatican Radio that around half a billion Christians in the world are unable to express their faith completely freely, while around 90,000 – one every six minutes – died for their faith in the past year alone. Referring to statistics from the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity, Mr Introvigne said around 70 per cent of Christians murdered in 2016 died in tribal conflicts in Africa. These deaths were included, he said, because very often they involved Christians who refuse to take up arms for reasons of conscience. “The other 30 per cent, or 27,000, were killed in terror attacks, the destruction of Christian villages, or government persecution,” he added. He told Vatican Radio that the Catholic Church is currently considering possible sainthood for individual Christians killed in territories controlled by the Islamic State terror group. Some Christians, he said, had risked almost certain death by staying in these territories to give testament to their faith. The statistics, due to be released next month, do offer some hope, however, as the number of Christians killed is down from 105,000 in 2015 – although, Mr Introvigne points out, they remain the most persecuted religious group on the planet. In March, the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo reported that in just five years of conflict, the Christian population of Syria has been reduced by two thirds from 1.5 million to just 500,000. The majority of those who remain, he added, live in areas controlled by the secular government of Bashar Assad as they flee Islamist rebels. The city of Aleppo finally fell to government forces earlier this month, but much of the city, including its three cathedrals, is in ruins.

Kim Jong Un orders North Koreans to celebrate his grandmother on Christmas

Kim Jong Un is the Grinch who stole Christmas. North Korea’s tubby tyrant wants the few Christians in the hermit state to spread cheer only to celebrate his grandma, Kim Jong Suk – not the birth of Jesus. Jong Suk — who was born on Christmas Eve in 1919 — was an anti-Japanese guerrilla and Communist activist, wife of North Korea’s first dictator, Kim Il Sung, and former leader Kim Jong Il’s mother. Many pay homage to the “Sacred Mother of the Revolution,” who died under mysterious circumstances in 1949, by visiting her tomb. The daffy dictator is so obsessed with banning Christmas that he even flipped out in 2014 when he found out that South Korea planned to erect a huge Christmas tree along the border. Amid threats of all-out war, the tree was never put up.

You really can’t make this stuff up, folks..

ACLU Attacks Small Town Nativity Scene

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is attacking a public Christmas display, this time targeting a small, Louisiana town’s nativity scene. At the Grant Parish Courthouse sits a traditional nativity scene with the Virgin Mary and the child Christ. The nativity scene was a tradition in the area until the ACLU voiced opposition to the display. In a letter to the Grant Parish Police Jury, the ACLU of New Orleans said “the constitution doesn’t allow such a scene in isolation,” writing that a secular Christmas display must sit beside the nativity scene. Grant Parish District Attorney Jay Lemoine pushed back against the ACLU’s letter, telling KALB News “It seems these days it is typical for everyone to rush to want to be offended.” Lemoine said the courthouse already has a secular display, a Christmas tree, inside the building. “The offense would be if the religious symbols were taken out of Christmas,” Lemoine continued. The letter was then openly mocked by one anonymous resident who positioned a box with a piece of paper attached that had the words “Secular Display” on it, accompanied by pictures of Santa Claus and a reindeer. As for the coming years, Lemoine made it clear that Grant Parish would not be bowing the guidelines of political correctness, saying “We are going to maintain this display through Christmas and I’m sure next year we will put up another display.” Most recently, an Indiana town was pressured to remove a cross from the top of their Christmas tree after the ACLU attacked the public display, as Breitbart News reported. Protesters in the town retaliated by standing around the town’s Christmas tree holding wooden crosses, slamming the area’s city council for caving to the ACLU.

More anti-Christian, anti-Christmas politically correct bs being imposed on small town America by the bullies at the ACLU; this time in Louisiana.. We applaud the good people of Grant Parish who are telling the ACLU what to do with itself, and we support their actual First Amendment right to display a nativity site…yes…on their county courthouse grounds. After all, absolutely NOWHERE in the U.S. Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, is there ANY language whatsoever to remotely suggest that the display of a nativity scene “in isolation” is unconstitutional. That is insane, and factually false. But, when people haven’t been taught American Civics they buy into such lies..

Starnes: Texas attorney general drops a great big Yuletide truth bomb on school district

Christmas in the Lone Star state has no greater defender than Attorney General Ken Paxton. So when he read my column about a middle school in Killeen that tried to censor the true meaning of Christmas, he decided it was time to jingle somebody’s bells. A staffer at Patterson Middle School was told she had to remove a poster depicting a scene from the cherished holiday classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The door-length poster featured Linus, a scrawny tree and that beautiful recitation of the true meaning of Christmas. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” Linus said. Dedra Shannon’s poster was well-received among the staff and students – but a few days later she was told by the principal that she should either have to remove the religious references or remove the entire poster. Linus could stay but the Baby Jesus had to go. “She said my poster is an issue of separation of church and state,” Ms. Shannon told me. “She said the poster had to come down because it might offend kids from other religions or those who do not have a religion.” Ms. Shannon refused to compromise her religious beliefs and ultimately removed the poster. “I wasn’t going to leave Linus and the Christmas tree without having the dialogue. That’s the whole point of why it was put up.” The incident proves that public school tolerance can only be achieved by being intolerant towards Christians. But it turns out the principal may have inadvertently broken the 2013 “Merry Christmas” law. That law stipulates no school official in Texas can silence a Biblical reference to Christmas. “I am proud to have voted for the Merry Christmas law in 2013, when I was a member of the legislature,” Paxton said. “We passed that law precisely because of this type of discrimination against people of faith.” Paxton minced no words in describing what happened in that hallway at Patterson Middle School. “This is an attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment and state law,” he said. “I am calling on the school board of the Killeen ISD to immediately reverse their unlawful decision.”

Excellent!!  It’s about flippin time someone fought back against the politically correct anti-Christmas fascism that is so prevalent in education today.  Liberal educators (and the teachers unions) like to hide behind a lie; a so-called “separation of church and state.”  There is no such thing!  Every time someone brings that up, I toss them a copy of the Constitution and all the Amendments  (I always have a copy handy), and ask them to show me where such language exists.  Of course, it’s nowhere in our founding documents.  That phrase was taken from a personal letter from Thomas Jefferson to a church congregation where he opined that such a thing might be a good idea.  That’s it!  That phrase was taken from a personal letter.  It has NO legal authority.  And, to be clear, our founders NEVER intended religion (especially Christianity) to be removed from discourse in our schools.  Freedom OF religion does not mean freedom FROM religion.  BIG difference.  And yet, that’s what liberals hide behind today…so as to purge discussion of Christianity from our schools.  Anyway, kudos to the AG of Texas for fighting back…and thanks to Todd Starnes for bringing this story to our attention.  To read the rest, click on the text above.  This is a follow up to the story we posted a couple days ago (scroll down about 8 articles).