Calling it the “most significant religious liberty decision in two decades,” the New York Times announced the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the “ministerial exception” whereby churches and other religious organizations are exempt from governmental interference in their hiring and firing practices. In a unanimous 9-0 decision on January 11, the Court said that churches have an overriding “interest ... in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”
The case started when a teacher at a Lutheran school in Redford, Michigan, was fired for threatening to sue the school over an alleged discrimination violation. Cheryl Perich was diagnosed with narcolepsy and took a leave of absence. When she tried to return, she learned that the school had hired someone else to take her place. When she threatened a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, she was fired for violating the church’s doctrine by pursuing litigation rather than trying to resolve the situation internally.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) got involved and filed suit against the school. When the court ruled in favor of the school, the EEOC appealed. The appeals court reversed the decision, and the school took the case to the Supreme Court. At issue were core First Amendment rights: the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, to wit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The government of Greece is catching flack over its decision to add some questionable categories to its list of recognized disabilities. As reported by the Associated Press, disability groups in the country were especially outraged over the government’s decision to add pedophiles to its list of those the state recognizes as disabled individuals. Among the other “disabled” categories added to the list were exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, and sadomasochists.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on Tuesday unanimously upheld a lower court ruling enjoining the enforcement of an amendment to the Oklahoma state constitution that barred state courts from taking Sharia law into consideration when deciding cases. Although the measure received overwhelming support from the citizens of the Sooner State, it was immediately challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
As Minnesota voters gear up to vote on a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, the Catholic Church’s archbishop for Minneapolis and St. Paul has ordered priests in his diocese to show their support for the amendment effort — and the church’s stand on the institution of marriage, which they promised to defend when they were ordained — or remain silent.
According to the Progressive Catholic Voice, a blog that supports same-sex marriage, the letter from Archbishop John Niensedt was addressed to the priests and deacons of the archdiocese and was originally published in the Archdiocesan Updates newsletter.
In the epistle to his fellow priests, Niensedt, who has been a vocal supporter of the marriage amendment, wrote, “I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that in this movement to protect and defend the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman we are faced with one of the greatest challenges of our times.” He warned that the goal of those who oppose passage of the marriage amendment “is not just to secure certain benefits for a particular minority, but, I believe, to eliminate the need for marriage altogether.”
In what some legal analysts consider the most significant decision covering religious freedom in the last 20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled January 11 that a religious organization has the right to fire an employee under the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s “ministerial exception” clause.
The Obama administration’s Justice Department has announced that it is expanding what it said is an outdated definition of rape found in the Uniform Crime Report, adding men as victims and stipulating that victims need not have physically resisted their attackers.
A Department of Justice press release, too graphic to quote verbatim, noted that the “longstanding, narrow definition of forcible rape, first established in 1927, is ‘the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.’” That definition, the DOJ pointed out, excludes a whole host of crimes, including sexual violence of a victim by someone of the same sex, as well as “non-forcible rape.” The new definition, specified in the press release, spells out all of the options.
“These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to standing with rape victims,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.”
The more than 400 contestants in the Miss California USA and Miss Teen California USA state pageant "will emphasize individuality and push the envelope even further," says Keith Lewis, co-executive of the annual flesh flash. "This year's event will be bigger and reflect the progressive attitudes of the contestants."
Last week's column started off asking: "What human motivation gets the most wonderful things done?" The answer is that human greed is what gets wonderful things done. I wasn't talking about fraud, theft, dishonesty, special privileges from government or other forms of despicable behavior. I was talking about people trying to get as much as they can for themselves.
Think about greed and racial discrimination. In 1947, when the Brooklyn Dodgers hired Jackie Robinson, why did racial discrimination by major league teams begin to drop like a hot potato? It wasn't feelings of guilt by white owners, affirmative action, or anti-discrimination laws. It turned out that there was a huge pool of black baseball talent in the Negro leagues. It became too costly for teams to allow the Dodgers to gain a monopoly on this talent. Black players won the National League's Most Valuable Player award for seven consecutive seasons. Had other teams not stepped in to hire black players, allowing the Dodgers to hire them, it might have given the Dodgers a virtual monopoly on world championships.
During South Africa's apartheid era, whites were in control, both economically and politically, and enacted some of the harshest racially discriminatory employment laws. There were job reservation laws that reserved certain jobs for whites only. Many white employers went to considerable lengths to contravene and violate those laws. White building trade unions complained to the South African government that laws reserving skilled jobs for whites had broken down.
The "top one percent" of American earners, who have become heated targets of Democrats, Occupy Wall Street protesters, and the Obama administration, is not limited to the isolated crowd of corporate executives who run America’s financial institutions; it also includes top executives in organizations such as Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the "family planning" group responsible for the deaths of millions of unborn babies.
According to Planned Parenthood’s 2009-2010 annual report, the abortion business is booming, as the release shows the organization administering 329,455 abortions last year. These operations, along with other services the organization provides, have delivered PPFA more than a billion dollars in total net assets, a new record high.
However, spikes in business profits have not been the only contributors to the group’s 2010 financial boon, but also the millions of dollars in government funding it harvests every year. "Planned Parenthood received $487.4 million in government money in 2010, a huge jump from the $363.2 million reported last year," reported LifeSiteNews. "At the same time, contributions to the organization from private sources dropped from $308.2 million the year before to $223.8 million, a fact that pro-life groups have pointed to as apparent evidence of declining support for the abortion giant."
As she heads into the last year of her tenure in the state of Washington, Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire has a handful of policy initiatives she would like to push through to pad her political legacy: balance the state’s budget, raise state revenues, create some jobs to help the economy, improve education. And force through a bill legalizing homosexual marriage.
After seven years of waffling and “vague answers” on the issue, the Roman Catholic Governor, whose stand on homosexual marriage is at odds with her church's teaching, announced on January 4 that “she not only supports allowing gays and lesbians to marry, but will propose legislation to legalize it in Washington state,” reported the Seattle Times.
“Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual families — making ends meet, choosing what school to send their kids to, finding someone to grow old with, standing in front of friends and family and making a lifetime commitment,” Gregoire said in announcing her decision to support legalizing homosexual marriage. “For all couples, a state marriage license is very important. It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established civil law.”