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The Phelps Decision: Supreme Court Decision Undercuts Religious Right Lie

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the right of Westboro Baptist Church to picket near the funerals of soldiers who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In any writing about Westboro Baptist, it is important to immediately make it clear that the messages from Pastor Fred Phelps and his family are vile, obnoxious and disgusting. But, as the high court has made clear, even jerks have free-speech rights. Read more

A Commandment For An Ohio Judge: Thou Shalt Not Promote Religion In Court!

Yesterday a federal appeals court in Ohio ruled against a state judge in Richland County who had erected a religious display in his courtroom.

James DeWeese, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, had put up a display entitled “Philosophies of Law in Conflict” that contrasted the “Moral Absolutes” of the Ten Commandments with the “Moral Relatives” of humanism. Read more

Shariah Silliness: States Ponder Bigotry-Based Bans On Islamic Law

Just in case anyone is wondering, allow me to state, for the record, that Americans United for Separation of Church and State does not support the imposition of Islamic law on anyone in this country.

Of course, it would be unlikely that this would ever happen. Estimates of the U.S. Muslim population vary, but the high end is about 6 million – in a nation of more than 300 million people. Read more

Bogus Bias Battle: Federal Court Rules Against Christian Legal Society – Again

On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in a case involving a student-run Christian group at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.

The organization, a branch of the Christian Legal Society (CLS), wanted to receive financial support and official recognition from the university even though it excludes gays, atheists and others from membership. The university refused, citing its strict non-discrimination policy.

Backed by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the CLS chapter sued. Read more

Tax Credit Tangle: Supreme Court Considers Legality Of Ariz. Religious School Aid

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in an important case dealing with government aid to religion.

Two issues are at stake in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn. The high court will decide whether an Arizona program that gives taxpayers a 100 percent credit for money they donate to private organizations that provide private school vouchers is constitutional.

The justices will also determine whether taxpayers have the right to challenge the program – a legal doctrine known as “standing.” Read more

Stem Cell Tragedy: ADF Lawsuit Blocks Badly Needed Medical Research

Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) should be ashamed of themselves. They have succeeded in temporarily hindering sound science and impeding research that could save lives – just to push their fundamentalist religious agenda.

Yesterday, a district court issued a preliminary injunction to stop embryonic stem cell research. The ADF, along with Advocates International, had gone to court to stop the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from funding experiments using human embryonic stem cells. Read more

CSI Davidson: Church-College Cops Can’t Have State Power, Says N.C. Court

Fighting crime can’t be easy, but deputizing religious groups to do the job of police officers definitely isn’t the answer.

Fortunately, that shouldn’t be happening in North Carolina, thanks to a unanimous state appellate court decision yesterday. In State of North Carolina v. Yencer, a three-judge panel ruled that it is an unconstitutional “government entanglement with religion” to allow a religious school’s security officers to enforce state law. Read more

Props On Prop. 8 Decision: In His Marriage Ruling, Judge Properly Divorced Church And State

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker gave us an excellent tutorial on why the debate over marriage rights for same-sex couples is as much about church-state separation as it is about equality for all Americans.

In his decision striking down Proposition 8 -- California’s constitutional ban on gay marriage -- he explained that our laws, including those governing marriage, cannot be based solely on private moral or religious beliefs – they must also have a secular purpose. Read more

Faith In Freedom: Religious Groups Oppose Sectarian Invocations At N.C. Government Meetings

Religious Right groups regularly insist that all devout Americans, especially Christians, must be against the separation of church and state.

As usual, they’re completely off the mark. In fact, many people of faith are among the strongest supporters of church-state separation. And we have a new piece of evidence. Read more

High Court Update: Church-State Developments You Might Have Missed

Advocates of church-state separation knew Monday was going to be a big day at the Supreme Court. It was the high court’s final day in session for the 2009-10 term, and four cases were left. Among them was Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, a church-state case. Read more

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