The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first markup on Judge Gorsuch earlier today. A final vote in Committee as well as a vote on the Senate floor is expected the week of April 3rd. Religious Liberty experts believe the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch will prove to be a positive step for First Amendment Rights. Read more here.
“A group dedicated to preserving the religious freedom of military chaplains is commending the United States Air Force for ignoring a complaint from an anti-Christian organization demanding that it stop allowing chaplain prayers at an Air National Guard base in New Hampshire.”
“Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty has sent a letter to the acting Secretary of the Army regarding the outgoing Secretary of the Army’s decision to sign a directive just hours before his resignation that wastes valuable resources on a plan to provide ‘training on implicit or unconscious bias.'”
“Status: U.S. Supreme Court granted review, to hear case Spring 2017. The legal campaign against faith-based hospitals began in 2013. In 2016 three of the cases were appealed to the Supreme Court, while almost a hundred more are waiting in lower courts across the country. On August 15, 2016, Becket filed a friend-of-the-court brief at the Supreme Court supporting the hospitals and their right to freely exercise their religious-based mission to provide compassionate and excellent healthcare according to their faith. In December 2016, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the cases in the spring of 2017.”
“Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley is one of the most important religious liberty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in years. This case is about a religious preschool that was rejected from a state program that provides reimbursement grants to purchase rubberized surface material (tire scraps) for children’s playgrounds. The preschool was ultimately denied the grant for its playground solely because the playground belongs to a religious organization.” The case will be argued on April 19, less than six weeks away.
Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling is a Marine who was court-martialed for posting a Bible verse in her work space. Her case was appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), asking the Court to protect her right to post a Bible verse as a form of religious exercise. On October 28, the CAAF agreed to hear the case, and oral arguments were held on April 27, 2016. On August 10, 2016, the CAAF issued an opinion ruling against Sterling. Now she is waiting for the Supreme Court to decide whether or not it will review the case. The earliest date the court could agree to take the case is May 2017.
For anyone who thinks religious discrimination is non-existent in America, the attorneys at First Liberty Institute have a different story. First Liberty announced the release of Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America (2016). It is available online here, free of charge.
Religious Liberty Legislation
Continue praying consistently and fervently for the successful passage of legislation that effectively protects our Judeo-Christian heritage and religious liberty.
“…the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit heard oral arguments in a case filed by Ms. Mary Anne Sause, a Catholic former nurse who was ordered by police officers to stop praying in her own home. The government defended police actions by arguing that the First Amendment Protects Only the ‘Right to Choose a Religion’. Learn more about the case at https://firstliberty.org/sause”
“….a 6th Circuit Appeals Court panel ruling invalidating the invocation policy of Michigan’s Jackson County Board of Commissioners as an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state doctrine. Now, the entire 6th Circuit, apparently on its own, has voted to re-hear the case together (en banc). The move vacates the panel’s 2-1 decision, allowing the practice to continue, pending the outcome.
The Jackson County practice was notable – and, the panel concluded, different from the invocation policy the Supreme Court has found acceptable – in that the commissioners themselves delivered the prayer (rather than inviting area clergy), the audience was asked to respond with reverence during the prayer, and the court found sufficient evidence to warrant a finding that the plaintiff’s complaint about the prayer negatively impacted his requests before the Board as a citizen.
The 6th Circuit’s decision to hear the case again adds another level of intrigue to the state of the law when it comes to government-led prayer to open meetings.
The 4th Circuit also has decided to re-hear en banc a panel ruling that found acceptable a similar practice of Commissioner-led prayer. The resolution of this issue by each circuit – if they reach opposite conclusions – could set the stage for another Supreme Court hearing to further clarify the current state of the law when it comes to government-led prayer.”
“A controversial case over prayer at Rowan County commission meetings was heard Wednesday before a panel of 15 judges at the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals in Virginia. The American Civil Liberties Union argued on behalf of three clients who sued the county, arguing that it is unconstitutional for Rowan County commissioners to instruct the audience to join them in mostly Christian prayers before meetings.”
A federal appeals court has ruled that a Texas school board can open its meetings with student led prayer…Monica Miller, a lawyer for American Humanist Association, said they are reviewing their options and will continue to pursue the case.
“A Texas judge is being sued in federal court by the nation’s leading secularist legal organization because of his courtroom tradition of having guest pastors and chaplains offer an invocation before each session….Commenting on FFRF’s lawsuit filed Tuesday, First Liberty CEO and President Kelly Shackelford called Mack’s prayer practice a ‘settled issue.’ ‘Judge Mack’s program is an excellent idea and a great way to serve the community,’ Shackelford said in a statement shared with The Christian Post. ‘It has already been upheld by both The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Texas Attorney General.'”
Coach Joe Kennedy, a high school coach, was fired for offering a brief, silent prayer at the 50-yard line after football games. First Liberty filed a lawsuit against the school district in a district court in August 2016. In October 2016, they appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, they are waiting for the court to schedule oral arguments. The earliest date arguments may be held is June 2017.
Congressional Prayer Caucus
Congressional Prayer: Each week Congress is in session, members of Congressional Prayer Caucus meet before votes to pray in Room 219 of the U.S. Capitol.
There are over 100 Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, a bipartisan and bicameral caucus, that is spearheading a strategic movement of national, state and local leaders and citizens who are working together to promote prayer, protect religious freedom and restore, upgrade and popularize America’s founding spirit and the principles related to faith and morality that shaped this Great Republic. Please commit to praying for them, their families, and staff daily.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Tim. 2, Psalm 91
Include: Judicial Branch, Legislative Branch, Executive Branch, Military, Faith Leaders, First Responders, Etc.
Join people from across the nation for 24/7 Worship in Washington DC. They welcome worship teams from every tribe, tongue, nation, denomination, and all 50 U.S. states. Learn more here
“A primary school teacher in France was suspended after he reportedly read passages from the Bible to his students aged nine to 11.”
“Christians in India are feeling the heat as they see more and more villages pass resolutions banning practices of non-Hindu faiths – specifically, resolutions intended to banish Christianity. The latest ban came last month in Benje village in Chhattisgarh state, essentially making Christianity illegal.”
There are many organizations on the front lines that need our prayers.
Alliance Defending Freedom, ACLJ, Becket Fund, Liberty Counsel, Liberty Institute, Family Research Council, The Heritage Foundation, Chaplain Alliance For Religious Liberty and any others that come to mind.