Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Good news: Christian conservative professor wins discrimination case

From the ACLJ.

Excerpt:

Late last month a federal jury in North Carolina found that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington retaliated against conservative Christian professor Mike Adams when the university denied him a promotion to full professor. Rather than evaluating his work on the merits, the university denied his promotion in a process that was chock-full of deception, discrimination, and disorder.

The jury’s verdict was for liability only, with the judge to determine the lawful remedy. This afternoon, the judge ruled – holding that Dr. Adams was entitled to receive the promotion he was wrongly denied, the pay increase he was entitled to, and back pay to compensate him for lost income.

This ruling sends a message to public universities: academic freedom isn’t just for the Left, it’s a constitutional right for all professors — even Christian conservatives.

The ACLJ represents Dr. Adams, along with Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney Travis Barham.

This is not the ACLJ’s only case in defense of conservative professors’ rights to academic freedom. We’ve also filed suit against officials at UCLA after they fired longtime Professor James Enstrom for blowing th whistle on junk environmental science and academic fraud.

The battles continue, and we remain committed to defending our fundamental freedoms – on campus and off.

Here is the bio for Barham:

Travis Barham serves as litigation staff counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom at its Regional Service Center in Georgia, where he litigates to preserve religious freedom and freedom of speech on college and university campuses across the nation. Barham joined Alliance Defending Freedom in 2006 and is a member of the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 7th and 11th Circuits, and the state of Arizona. He is also admitted to federal district courts in Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Barham has practiced law since 2006 and earned his J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he graduated summa cum laude.

David French is no longer with ADF and is now with ACLJ. He has his JD from Harvard Law School, and taught at Cornell Law School, too.

The Alliance Defending Freedom is my favorite legal group for defending religious liberty. They seem to have a lot of lawyers with degrees from top universities. It’s encouraging for me to see Christians work so hard to be able to make a difference for us all. The ADF is also defending Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court, and doing a great job by all accounts!

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

Muslims drag 25-year-old Coptic Christian woman from her car and murder her

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Eyewitnesses have given a harrowing account of the murder in Cairo of a young Coptic Christian woman, hauled out of her car and beaten and stabbed to death by a Muslim mob, apparently targeted because of a cross hanging from her rear-view mirror.

The incident occurred in the Cairo suburb of Ain Shams after mosque prayer services on Friday, when police clashed with Muslim Brotherhood supporters angered by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision to run for president.

An eyewitness appearing on “90 minutes,” a program on the al-Mehwar satellite network, said 25-year-old Mary Sameh George was attacked in her car near a church, where she planned to deliver medicine to an ill and elderly woman.

Protestors climbed onto her car, collapsing the roof, then hauled her from the vehicle, beating and mauling her – to the extent, he said, that portions of her scalp were torn off. She was stabbed multiple times, her throat was slit and when she was dead, the mob torched her car.

One Coptic outlet said that according to the health ministry, the young woman had been stabbed at least a dozen times.

The death of Mary Sameh George received little coverage in Egyptian newspapers.

Keep in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood was supported by the Obama administration.

Here’s a story from David Limbaugh about those two women who were imprisoned in Iran in 2009 for their Christian faith. (H/T Frank Turek)

Excerpt:

On Sunday, two remarkable Christian women, Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, spoke at our church, describing their harrowing tale of imprisonment by the Iranian regime because of their Christian faith.

Both were raised in Muslim homes in Iran but never embraced Islam. As young adults, they became Christians and met each other while studying theology in Turkey in 2005. When they returned to Iran, they began evangelizing together for several years, covertly distributing Bibles to some 20,000 people and starting two secret house churches. In March 2009, they were arrested in Tehran for promoting Christianity, which is punishable by death.

The regime officially charged them with apostasy, anti-government activity and blasphemy, and they were sentenced to execution by hanging. Before being cleared of all charges and released in 2009 as a result of worldwide prayer and international pressure, they endured 259 days in Evin prison. Thereafter, they moved to the United States and wrote a book together describing their horrendous experiences, “Captive in Iran.”

In Evin, which is notorious “for torturing, raping and executing innocent people,” they experienced brutal and humiliating treatment, poisoning and illness. They each endured solitary confinement and were interrogated once a week for eight or nine hours at a time. All the while, whether together or separated, they prayed for each other.

The first week, they were horrified and prayed to be released. But soon, they came to see their presence in prison as an opportunity to witness to other prisoners, many of whom were prostitutes and addicts and “so hopeless and sad.” Maryam and Marziyeh prayed for them and saw God work in their lives as they cried and confessed their sins. It became “like a church for us,” said Marziyeh.

[...]At any time, they could have secured their own release by simply renouncing their Christian faith, but they each emphatically refused, saying, “We will never renounce our faith.” Marziyeh told one Muslim prisoner who said they were “silly” for not renouncing their faith: “Our insistence on our faith is not out of stubbornness. … I have lived with God for many years. … He is my all. We are inseparable. My life has no value without him. I love God so much that denying him would be denying my own existence. How could I ever deny something that is in every cell of my body? I would rather spend the rest of my life in prison if that’s what it takes to stay close to him. I would rather be killed than kill the spirit of Christ within me.”

I blogged about them way back in July of 2009. Nice to see that there is a happy ending here, but not without costs.

Most young Christians that I speak to who come from a church background seem to have this idea that all religions are basically the same because the main goal of religions is to make people “nice”. Well. Maybe instead of having their heads stuck up their butts, they should be reading stories like this to inform themselves about the real differences between Christianity and Islam in places other than their safe Western suburbs. The content of the beliefs matter, and the contents of beliefs are different between religions. Christians would rather be killed than deny their faith, and Muslims would rather kill and imprison others who have a different faith. It’s not the same thing, is it?

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , ,

Two families fighting for their religious liberty at the Supreme Court

The Heritage Foundation reports on the cases that will determine how far the Democrats can go to undermine religious liberty.

Excerpt:

In less than two weeks, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases challenging an Obamacare mandate that is trampling on religious freedom. The Hahn family and the Green family will be at the Court on March 25 asking for respect of their religious liberty and the freedom to continue offering their employees generous health plans.

Let’s meet these families and what they’re fighting for.

A Christian Mennonite family, the Hahns have run Conestoga Wood Specialties near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for nearly 50 years. A second-generation family business, Conestoga employs almost 1,000 individuals to produce quality wood products.

The Hahns have always run their family business in accordance with their faith, including offering an employee health plan that aligns with their values. Under the mandate, however, Conestoga Wood could face fines of up to $95,000 per day for sticking to their deeply held beliefs and not complying with the mandate.

Speaking of their fight for religious freedom at the Supreme Court, Conestoga president Anthony Hahn explains the magnitude of their case: “It’s not really only for Conestoga; we’re taking a stand for other businesses as well. This is a religious liberty issue that is concerning to us. We feel that the government has gone too far in too many instances.”

And number two:

“We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally are what we should operate our lives by, so that naturally flows over into the business,” explains Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts retailer.

Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Hobby Lobby has grown from one 300-square-foot garage to over 500 stores in 41 states employing more than 16,000 individuals.

The Greens’ faith is integral to how they operate their family business. Hobby Lobby storesclose on Sundays and are open only 66 hours a week so that their employees can spend more time with their families. The family’s faith influences not only the way they care for employees but their investment in communities through partnerships with numerous Christian ministries.

Yet under the Obamacare mandate, the government is forcing families like the Greens to violate those beliefs by funding coverage of potentially life-ending drugs and devices or face crippling fines—up to $1.3 million per day in the case of Hobby Lobby. Even if the business is forced to drop employee health care coverage to avoid the mandate, it would still face a fine of $2,000 per employee per year.

There are other victims as well, but these are the two that I am watching.  The Obama administration just recently established in the courts that parents have no human right to homeschool their children. Now there will be a fight to see if government can force Christians to violate their consciences in their business operations. We should all be watching and praying about this, and thinking about what we can do to protect our values.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama administration wins court battle to have Christian homeschooling family deported

Todd Starnes at Fox News does the best job of covering the religious liberty issue, and here is his latest story.

Excerpt:

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the United States in 2008 seeking political asylum. They fled their German homeland in the face of religious persecution for homeschooling their children.

They wanted to live in a country where they could raise their children in accordance with their Christian beliefs.

The Romeikes were initially given asylum, but the Obama administration objected – claiming that German laws that outlaw homeschooling do not constitute persecution.

[...]“I think this is a part of the Obama administration’s overall campaign to crush religious freedom in this country,” said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. His organization is representing family.

“The Obama administration’s attitude toward religious freedom, particularly religious freedom for Christians is shocking,” he told me in an exclusive telephone interview. “I have little doubt that if this family had been of some other faith that the decision would have never been appealed in the first place. They would have let this family stay.”

Had the family stayed in Germany, where homeschooling is illegal, they would have faced the prospect of losing their children. Like the Pilgrims, they fled their homeland yearning for a place where they could be free.

Farris said the religious bias perpetrated by the Obama administration is “palpable.”

“It’s a denial of the essence of America,” he said. “The Pilgrims left England to go to Holland to seek religious freedom. They came here to seek religious freedom and parental rights for their children. Had this administration been waiting at Plymouth Rock, they would’ve told the Pilgrims to go back home.”

But the United States has become hostile to people coming here to have religious liberty. But there is one group that is allowed to stay – no questions asked.

Excerpt:

Building on pro-gay policies put in place by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Obama today ordered overseas federal agencies to fight local anti-gay violence and provide asylum to homosexuals seeking protection.

Obama said, “I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.”

His order was immediately praised by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s top lobby for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. “The Obama administration has made a tremendous difference in the lives of LGBT people in the United States and this new strategy helps to extend that presidential leadership across the globe,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. 

“There is no question that the administration’s record of advancing equality for LGBT people has been enhanced by the leadership of Secretary Clinton who consistently underscores the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.”

A key element of the president’s memo to federal agencies would open up the United States to asylum seekers who are gay. “Those LGBT persons who seek refuge from violence and persecution face daunting challenges,” said Obama in his memo. “In order to improve protection for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers at all stages of displacement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBT refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum.

“In addition, the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security shall ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively address the protection of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, including by providing to them adequate assistance and ensuring that the federal government has the ability to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs.”

Here’s an example of how Obama welcomes some people, even as he rejects others. 

Imagine being deported back to a country that you know will take your children from you. That’s what the Obama administration did to this family. That’s how much they believe in religious liberty.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

All the Arizone SB 1062 bill did was allow religious liberty to be raised as a defense

The Weekly Standard posted a letter by a group of law professors from various universities, including Harvard and Stanford, to explain what the Arizona religious liberty bill did. It turns out that all the Arizona bill did was specify how religious liberty protections apply within the state, using a federal standard that was already passed nearly unanimously by Congress during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

Here’s what the professors said about the Arizona bill:

The federal government and eighteen states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). Another twelve or thirteen states interpret their state constitutions to provide similar protections. These laws enact a uniform standard to be interpreted and applied to individual cases by courts. They say that before the government can burden a person’s religious exercise, the government has to show a compelling justification.

That standard makes sense. We should not punish people for practicing their religions unless we have a very good reason. Arizona has had a RFRA for nearly fifteen years now; the federal government has had one since 1993; and RFRA’s standard was the constitutional standard for the entire country from 1963 to 1990. There have been relatively few cases; if you knew little about the Arizona RFRA until the current controversy, that is because it has had no disruptive effect in Arizona. Few people had heard of the federal RFRA before the current litigation over contraception and the Affordable Care Act.

SB1062 would amend the Arizona RFRA to address two ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation under other RFRAs. It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.

But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest. As a business gets bigger and more impersonal, courts will become more skeptical about claims of substantial burden on the owner’s exercise of religion. And as a business gets bigger, the government’s claim of compelling interest will become stronger.

So basically, businesses have the same religious liberty right as individuals AND individuals can use religious liberty as a defense in a civil suit. That’s it. No one is being licensed to discriminate indiscriminately. The bill did not say that the defense could be used in every case, it just said that religious liberty could be used by businesses as a defense (more likely to be accepted by small businesses), and that religious liberty could be used as a defense in civil suits. Whether the defense would be effective would still be decided by the courts.

Even the libertarian Cato Institute‘s Ilya Shapiro, who favors gay marriage, thought the bill was FINE:

Even though I’m for marriage equality – next week I’ll be filing a brief supporting the challenge to the marriage laws of Oklahoma and Utah in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit – I have no problem with Arizona’s SB 1062.

SB 1062 does nothing more than align state law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which passed the House unanimously, the Senate 97-3, and was signed by President Clinton in 1993). That is, no government action can “substantially burden” religious exercise unless the government uses “the least restrictive means” to further a “compelling interest.” This doesn’t mean that people can “do whatever they want” – laws against murder would still trump religious human sacrifice – but it would prevent the government from forcing people to violate their religion if that can at all be avoided. Moreover, there’s no mention of sexual orientation (or any other class or category).

The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexicowedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse to provide services to gay clients, but felt that she couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. There’s also the Oregon bakerythat closed rather than having to provide wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Why should these people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs?

That’s a libertarian speaking, there, and they are not social conservatives.

An article tweeted by Ryan T. Anderson from The Federalist asserts that the real lesson of the loss for religious liberty in Arizona is how easily the Republican Party will capitulate to pressure even when the truth is on their side. They just don’t care about religious liberty enough to defend it.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

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