Weekly Prayer Update
MUST SEE PHOTOS: Students Across U.S. Participate In ‘Bring Your Bible To School Day’
October 11, 2021

“The First Amendment right of free speech and right to practice any faith, or no faith, are foundational American values that must extend to everyone…” – Member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus

National Praise And Prayer Points
Federal Legislation: There’s many concerning bill in process. Let’s pray the filibuster stays intact as is and that the senate is a firewall against all bills and language – all efforts – to undermine our Constitutional Republic, Judeo-Christian Heritage, and First Amendment Rights. 

MUST SEE PHOTOS: Students Across U.S. Participate In ‘Bring Your Bible To School Day’

Religious Freedom Cases Overview From The CPCF Legal Team:

So far, the religious freedom docket is not particularly robust, although there are several pending petitions that deserve watching and, if granted, could make this a more important term.  Two cases have already been granted certiorari.

The first is Carson v. Makin, which is a follow-on case to Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, decided two terms ago.  The Supreme Court in Espinoza and previously in Trinity Lutheran had ruled that a state could not deny generally available benefits to a school simply because of its religious status, but reserved the issue of whether benefits could be denied based on how the religious organization would use the funds.  Maine has a tuition assistance program that grants funding to private schools, but denies funding to schools when religion “permeates” the curriculum, bringing the “use” issue to the fore.  Maine basically has adopted the “pervasively sectarian” case law of the Supreme Court that has largely been eroded during the last several decades but has not formally been laid to rest.  The interesting personal angle in this case is that Justice Souter, who was a strong proponent of the “pervasively sectarian” view when he was on the high court, sat on the First Circuit panel that distinguished Espinoza on the status/use basis and upheld Maine’s refusing public assistance to pervasively religious schools.  The current justices are very likely to rule against their erstwhile colleague, hopefully with a decision that will inter the “pervasively sectarian” case law once and for all and explain that the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses do not work at cross purposes.

The second is Ramirez v. Collier, which presents the issue of whether a prisoner to be executed by lethal injection has a free exercise right to have a minister lay hands on him and audibly pray and sing while the process takes place.  Texas only allows the minister to be in the room if off to the side and silent.  It seems unlikely that the state can marshal sufficient interests to overcome the prisoner’s rights, but states are given much wider latitude in prison situations, which also means that this case will likely be fact specific and not have significant repercussions however it turns out.

Moving to religious freedom petitions, the one that seems most likely to be granted is Kennedy v. Bremerton School District.  This case reached the Court a couple years ago in a preliminary injunction status, and cert was denied but with a statement by four justices agreeing to the denial because of its procedural posture but stating that it would be highly problematic if the school had fired the coach for kneeling at the 50-yard-line after a high school football game and bowing his head.  On remand, that is exactly what the record showed, but the same Ninth Circuit panel doubled down and found (a) that the coach was not acting in his private capacity when he prayed; and (b) even if he had been, because he publicized that the school was trying to stop him from doing so and others joined him in protest on the field, the school was required under the Establishment Clause to stop him.  This gibberish provoked strident dissents from the denial of rehearing en banc.  It seems likely that the petition this time will be granted and the Ninth Circuit reversed.  Like Carson, this case presents an opportunity to correct the view that the Religion Clauses are “in tension” with each other.

Another important petition that would seem to have a better chance than most to be granted is Gordon College v. DeWeese-Boyd.  She was a social work professor at this college that requires all of its faculty to adhere to biblical standards and teach from a Christian worldview.  She sued after she was denied tenure, and the school raised the ministerial exception to no avail in the Massachusetts courts.  The case provides a good example of the danger of secular courts mucking around with a religious organization’s internal governance and deciding which employees need to follow its beliefs and practices and which do not.  It presents the important question left open by Hosanna-Tabor and Our Lady of Guadalupe of how much deference should be given to the good-faith opinion of the religious institution on such matters.

In a somewhat surprising move at the end of last term, after holding the petition in the much-publicized same-sex-marriage vendor case of Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington for about a year pending its important decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia, the Court denied the petition outright, rather than granting it or granting it and immediately remanding for reconsideration in light of Fulton.  A motion for reconsideration has been filed, and, although such motions are almost never granted, it has a greater chance than most.  Of course, if granted it would present issues the Court side-stepped in Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany v. Lacewell is also worthy of attention, as it, too, has echoes of cases past.  This case presents a free exercise challenge by nuns to New York’s requirement to provide abortion insurance coverage to employees; the law has an exemption for religious organizations, but limits it to those which serve their own congregants, excluding those like the nuns who primarily serve the poor or employ members of other faiths.  This petition, as well as a few others pending, picks up where Fulton left off in that it presents the question of whether Employment Division v. Smith should now be overruled.

Falling further down the “likelihood of granting” are petitions in Seattle Union Gospel Mission v. Woods and New Life Church v. Fredericksburg, both of which involve courts not giving credence to a religious organization’s designation of who are its “ministers,” and Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Navy, which challenges the Navy’s putting into the hands of denominational chaplains the ability to blackball the promotions of non-denominational military chaplains (who are promoted at a lesser rate).  While all these cases are worthy of interest, none of them, in my view, has a good chance of a grant.  But, of course, it is the rare term in which the Court does not dish out a few surprises.  One of them may be provided by a “shadow docket” case involving mandatory Covid vaccinations being objected to on religious grounds or by the Court taking a case to challenge the “de minimis” rule for religious accommodations under Title VII, in a Covid-related case or otherwise.

Ongoing: Colleges Fight Lawsuit Designed To Strip Their Students Of Financial Aid
Ongoing Prayer Needed: Religious Liberty Expert Warns Against President Biden’s Transparent Attempt to Pack, Influence Supreme Court
Ongoing Prayer Needed: Court To Decide: Can Obamacare Force Christian Doctors To Perform Surgeries That Violate Their Conscience?

International Praise And Prayer Points

State Praise and Prayer Points

Religious Liberty Legislation: Continue praying consistently and fervently for the successful passage of legislation that effectively protects our Judeo-Christian heritage and First Amendment Rights. Also, pray that bills and resolutions that undermine our Rights will be unsuccessful.

The CPCF legal team has researched best practices legislation and provided talking points on various religious freedom topics to assist legislators. View a model school invocation policy

CO: Christian Baker Appeals Ruling That He Violated Anti-discrimination Law

NC: Atheist Group FFRF Demands NC School District Stop Holding Christian Prayers At Meetings

WA: Coach Fired for Post-Game Prayer Takes Case To Supreme Court: ‘Right This Wrong’

Prayer For The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, The American Prayer Caucus Network, And The National Strategic Center

The CPCF helps build and support a nationwide network of nearly 1,000 federal and state elected leaders who are standing for faith and impacting the culture. Please join us in praying daily for them, their families, and staff.

Each week Congress is in session, members of Congressional Prayer Caucus meet before votes to pray in Room 219 of the U.S. Capitol. Please pray for the CPC to continue to grow and be increasingly effective for generations to come. 

Join the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation Prayer Team! Email me to join the CPCF Prayer Team! Commit to praying for the Members and families of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, The American Prayer Caucus Network, and the CPCFoundation.

Bipartisan Prayer for Government

Pray For Our President And All Those In Authority  Include: Judicial Branch, Legislative Branch, Executive Branch, All Agencies, Military, First Responders, Faith Leaders, Etc.

Click Here To Learn About Prayer Opportunities And Upcoming Faith Events On CPCF’s Faith Report Website

Prayer for Anti-Faith Groups

Freedom From Religion Foundation
American Civil Liberties Union
American Humanists Association
American Atheists
Secular Coalition for America
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Southern Poverty Law Center

 For more information about this prayer initiative, contact Summer Ingram, V.P. of Legislative Affairs and Prayer Outreach for the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation.