Monday, December 31, 2007
- The January/February 2008 issue of Liberty Online: A Magazine of Religious Freedom has been issued online.
- The Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Vol. 46, No. 2 has been issued. It includes: symposium articles by Susan Stabile and Piero Tozzi on "When Conscience Clashes with State Law & Policy: Catholic Institutions" as well as: Sr. Melanie DiPietro & Alison Sulentic, SSM Health Care: The Integration of Catholic Social Thought Values in a Modern Health Care System; Gregory A. Kalscheur, Catholics in Public Life: Judges, Legislators, and Voters; Robert E. Rodes, Jr., On Lawyers and Moral Discernment; Rebecca Van Uitert, Undocumented Immigrants in the United States: A Discussion of Catholic Social Thought and "Mormon Social Thought" Principles.
- Susan Pace Hamill, As Certain as Death, (Carolina Academic Press, 2007), reviewed by the New York Times.
- Noah Feldman, The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, (Princeton University Press, March 23, 2008). Discussed in a Harvard Law Today interview.
- Michael Lienesch, In the Beginning: Fundamentalism, the Scopes Trial,and the Making of the Antievolution Movement, (University of North Carolina Press, 2007), reviewed at H-Net. [Thanks to First Amendment Law Prof Blog.]
Winston Cochran, Oliver's lawyer, says that at issue is whether jurors, in imposing the death sentence on Oliver, were prejudiced by Numbers 35:16 that reads: "But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death" Cochran explained: "This poor old farmer, he got shot and when he was lying outside on the ground, he was struck with the barrel of a gun. So he was literally struck with an iron rod. You could say God and Moses anticipated this exact thing if you take a literal view of it. And that's got a lot of potential for mischief." Attorney Sue Korioth, who handled an earlier appeal in the case, said there was no implication that jurors voted based on Scripture. She said: "Several [jurors]... carried Bibles in and out like my daughter carries her 'Seventeen' magazine. It was just their reading material."
Meanwhile last Friday, CNS News published a lengthy interview with Huckabee on his views about education and school choice.
MR. RUSSERT: You went to the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, and were asked about your political success, and you said, "There's only one explanation for it. It's not a human one," suggesting divine intervention.... And then, and then this comment. "I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."
GOV. HUCKABEE: Which was, by the way, ... [a] 1998 speech ... [t]o the Southern Baptist Convention. So it was a speech made to a Christian gathering, and, and certainly that would be appropriate to be said to a gathering of Southern Baptists.
MR. RUSSERT: But where does this leave non-Christians?
GOV. HUCKABEE: Oh, it leaves them right in the middle of America. I think the Judeo-Christian background of this country is one that respects people not only of faith, but it respects people who don't have faith. The, the key issue of real faith is that it never can be forced on someone. And never would I want to use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else's faith or to restrict. I think the First Amendment, Tim, is explicitly clear. Government should be restricted, not faith, government. And government's restriction is on two fronts: one, it's not to prefer one faith over another; and the second, it's not to prohibit the practice of somebody's religion, period.
MR. RUSSERT: So you'd have no problem appointing atheists to your Cabinet?
GOV. HUCKABEE: No, I wouldn't have any problem at all appointing atheists. I probably had some working for me as governor.... And if people want to know how I would blend these issues, the best way to look at it is how I served as a governor. I didn't ever propose a bill that we would remove the capitol dome of Arkansas and replace it with a steeple. You know, we didn't do tent revivals on the grounds of the capitol. But my faith is important to me.... It drives my views on everything from the environment to poverty to disease to hunger. Issues, frankly, I think the Republicans need to take a greater leadership role in. And as a Republican, but as a Christian, I would want to make sure that we're speaking out on some of these issues....
MR. RUSSERT: ... [T]his is what you wrote in your book, "Kids Who Kill," in 1998: "It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations--from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia." Why would you link homosexuality with sadomasochism, pedophilia and necrophilia?
GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, what I was pointing out is all of these are deviations from what has been the traditional concept of sexual behavior and men and women having children, raising those children in the context of a, of a traditional marriage and family. And, again, taken out of the larger context of that book, speaking about how so many of our social institutions have been broken down.
MR. RUSSERT: But do you think homosexuality is equivalent to pedophilia...
GOV. HUCKABEE: Oh, of course not.... Tim, understand, when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners.... The perfection of God is seen in a marriage in which one man, one woman live together as a couple committed to each other as life partners.... Tim, I've been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I'm OK with that. I hope I've answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it's important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I've never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I've never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I've never done that.
MR. RUSSERT: But you said you would ban all abortions.
GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, that's not just because I'm a Christian, that's because I'm an American. Our founding fathers said that we're all created equal. I think every person has intrinsic worth and value...
MR. RUSSERT: But many Americans believe that that would be ... you imposing your faith belief...
GOV. HUCKABEE: But, no. It's not a faith belief. It's deeper than that. It's a human belief. It goes to the heart of who we are as a civilization....
MR. RUSSERT: Some Americans believe that life does not begin at conception...
GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, scientifically I think that's almost ... a point that you couldn't argue. How, how could you say that life doesn't begin at conception... biologically?
MR. RUSSERT: Do you respect that view?
GOV. HUCKABEE: I respect it as a view, but I don't think it has biological credibility....
MR. RUSSERT: October you told me you're going to win Iowa caucuses. Are you?...
GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, Thursday night I'll let you know. But let me tell you this, we're being outspent 20-to-1 here. If we do, you're going to have a political story like you've never had coming out of Iowa on Friday morning.
MR. RUSSERT: Would it be a miracle?...
GOV. HUCKABEE: I'm on record. Yes, it would.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
In Mann v. Wilkinson, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94002 (SD OH, Dec. 21, 2007), an Ohio federal district court rejected a prisoner's claim that he should be permitted to attend separate Christian Identity worship services, but permitted plaintiff to move ahead with his challenge under RLUIPA to a total ban on his possession of a Christian Identity pamphlet.
In Azizi Oba Sefu v. Smith, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93959 (ED MO, Dec. 20, 2007), a Missouri federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his claim that his religious practices should be accommodated. Plaintiff alleged that he is a "charter member" of the Monotheistic Sanctuary of Abraham.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
1. Religious views of candidates becomes major issue in race for Republican presidential nomination.
2. Supreme Court narrows standing in Establishment Clause cases: Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation.
3. Eighth Circuit strikes down state financing of faith-based prison rehabilitation program-- Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries.
4. Suits over property ownership of break-away churches mushroom, particularly as increasing number of Episcopal congregations opt for more conservative affiliations.
5. Christian beliefs on homosexuality lead to opposition to extension of federal Hate Crimes law.
6. Anti-funeral picketing laws directed at Westboro Baptist Church become subject of litigation in several states.
7. Sectarian prayer in Indiana legislature sparks litigation; 7th Circuit panel finds no taxpayer standing in case.
8. State pharmacy boards challenged over rules requiring dispensing of "morning after" pill.
9. Muslim foot basins in university and airport rest rooms provoke controversy.
10. Florida Hebrew language/Jewish culture publicly-financed charter school approved over protests.
For comparison, here are links to my top 10 picks for 2006 and 2005. You may also find it interesting to compare my choices with the 2007 top story picks by the Religion Newswriters as well as Time Magazine's picks for the Top 10 Religion Stories of 2007.
While ... an effect of this taking is to advance a religious organization’s mission to provide faith-based educational services, this is clearly not the principal or primary effect. The principal or primary effect ... is to eliminate blight in this long-suffering neighborhood. One secondary effect is the provision of quality nondenominational educational opportunities to low-income urban families in their own neighborhood... Another secondary effect could potentially be the advancement of religion; however, as far as we can tell from the record, all potential developers were treated in the same manner...[Corrected:] Justice Baer dissented arguing that the action amounted to direct aid to a religious institution in violation of the Establishment Clause. Today's Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the decision.
Permitting liability to be imposed on a defendant based solely on proof that the death of David Boim was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct, without proof that the conduct actually was a cause of the death, would give section 2333 a far broader sweep than traditional tort principles would allow. The actual use to which the funds ... was put would be irrelevant. This would transform the doctrine of proximate causation from a principle that limits tort liability into one that expands liability, essentially rendering a defendant who intended to aid Hamas’s terrorist activities strictly liable for all foreseeable injuries even if that defendant’s aid actually did nothing to enable the terrorism and the injuries it inflicted....Today's Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register reported on the decision.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
UPDATE: The full opinion in Rajasingam v. Thangathorya is now available online.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
UPDATE: IANS reported on Friday that retired Orissa High Court Justice Basudev Panigrahi has been appointed to investigate the attacks under the state's Commission of Inquiry Act.
UPDATE: Christian Today reported on Saturday that a delegation from the All India Christian Council met with India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari to ask the government to stop ongoing attacks against Christians in Orissa and restore the rule of law. Other meetings of Christian delegations with government officials have also been held.
UPDATE: VHP on Saturday said that "forceful" conversions by Christian missionary groups were behind the violence in Orissa. It called for strengthening of the law on illegal conversions, enhanced sentences for violations and the monitoring of the flow of foreing funds into the area. (New India Press.)
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
In Britain, this year's Christmas Message from Queen Elizabeth II will not only be broadcast on television, but will also be posted on YouTube. Today's New York Times reports that on Sunday, The Royal Channel: The Official Channel of the British Monarchy went live on YouTube, carrying videos of historic events in the Monarchy's history. These include the Queen Mother's wedding in 1923 and the first Royal Christmas broadcast in 1957. Transcripts of all the Royal Christmas broadcasts since 1952 are online at the Monarchy's website.
All of this contrasts rather vividly with the actions of of the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on this day in 1651. The Puritan-controlled legislature passed a law imposing a fine of 5 shillings for observing Christmas. As reported today by Politico, this was part of the Puritans' attempt to purify the church and their personal lives.
UPDATE: During Friday's parliamentary debate, Oktay Asadov, Speaker of Azerbaijan Parliament, urged that the ban on headscarves be removed from the bill and that the matter be left to the head of each school. (Trend News).
Monday, December 24, 2007
- Caspar P.L. van Woensel, Symbols and the Law. BRAND, GOD, AND BAN: IMPROPER USE AND MONOPOLIZATION OF SIGNS WITH A HIGH SYMBOLIC VALUE, (Amstelveen, Netherlands: deLex, 2007 ).
- Aaron Baker, Controlling Racial and Religious Profiling: Article 14 ECHR Protection v. U.S. Equal Protection Clause Prosecution, 13 Texas Wesleyan Law Review 285-309 (2007).
- Javaid Rehman, "War on Terror" and the Future of Muslim Minorities in the United Kingdom: Dilemmas of Multi-Culturalism in the Aftermath of the London Bombings, 29 Human Rights Quarterly 831-878 (2007).
- Jeffrey Omar Usman, Defining Religion: The Struggle to Define Religion Under the First Amendment and the Contributions and Insights of Other Disciplines of Study Including Theology, Psychology, Sociology, the Arts, and Anthropology, 83 Notre Dame Law Review 123-223 (2007).
- Symposium. The Future of Islamic Law Scholarship. Foreword by Hisham M. Ramadan; articles by Bernard K. Freamon, Nazeem MI Goolam, Sherman A. Jackson, Liaquat Ali Khan, Aminah Beverly McCloud and Hisham M. Ramadan. 2006 Michigan State Law Review 1399-1640.
- Symposium: Religion and Morality in the Public Square. Excerpts from keynote address by Noah Feldman; articles by Christopher J. Eberle, Kent Greenawalt, Leslie Griffin, Peter Steinfels, Richard W. Garnett and Bernadette Meyler. 22 St. John's Journal of Legal Commentary 417-558 (2007).
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Asked whether he would continue the tradition he started as Arkansas governor to celebrate Christian Heritage Week and hang the 10 Commandments in his office, he replied: "[I] don't know why I wouldn't.... The Ten Commandments form the basis of most of our laws and therefore, you know if you look through them does anybody find anything there that would be all that objectionable? I don't think most people would if they actually read them."
Finally, in a lighter vein, Huckabee missed the humor in an exchnage with a reporter about Christmas eve plans. Huckabee said his family has a tradition of going out for Chinese food after Christmas eve services. Asked if this was to help him better relate to the Jewish community (where there is a similar custom), Huckabee-- apparently mystified-- replied "No, its Chinese food." [Thanks to Carpetbagger Report for the lead.]
In Harris v. Schriro, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93350, (D AZ, Dec. 18, 2007), an Arizona federal district court dismissed as a defendant a dietitian employed by the company that provides kosher meals to Arizona prisons. The court held that plaintiff had not demonstrate a connection between the dietitian's conduct and alleged violations of plaintiff's First Amendment rights. Plaintiff claimed he was denied regular kosher meals. (See prior related posting.)
In Alston v. Department of Corrections, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91964 (WD VA, Dec. 14, 2007), a Virginia federal district court rejected an inmate's claim that being served, on two occasions, his Common Fare meal with a dirty tray lid violated his free exercise rights under the First Amendment and RLUIPA.
In Sides v. Religious Accommodation Committee, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73075 (MD PA, Oct. 1, 2007), a Pennsylvania federal district court accepted a magistrate's recommendation (2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91832, Aug. 3, 2007) insofar as it concluded that an inmate does did not need certain racially inflammatory documents confiscated from him in order for him to prove that he is an adherent of "Creativity". The court said, however, that issues remain as to whether the confiscated documents are religious materials entitled to free exercise protection.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Meanwhile, Toledo, Ohio yesterday became the largest city in the state to create a domestic partnership registry. Today's Toledo Blade reports that on its first day of operation, eight couples registered with the city as domestic partners. The city ordinance creates the registry for both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners. Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner who signed the ordinance last month says that he is a "strong Christian believer" who does not advocate alternative lifestyles, but who does believe in minority rights and diversity. One of those who registered yesterday, Carol Bresnahan, vice provost at the University of Toledo, said that bigotry in the name of religious belief accounts for those who oppose the law. When the ordinance was passed last month, the Ohio's Gay People's Chronicle reported that there are 152 similar registries nationwide.
Friday’s Manitowoc, Wisconsin News discusses the objections to the nativity scene on the local court house lawn raised by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. County Board Chairman Jim Brey’s reaction was: “It's unfortunate that just a few people can choose to be offended out of the blue and disrupt and insult the good people in our community who care very much about the holiday and the meaning for the holiday.” In response to arguments that the display is a town tradition, Rich Bouril, the resident who originally complained about the display, said: “Slavery was a tradition once.”
Finally, in Britain, 18-year old Christopher Geisler will spend both Christmas and New Years in jail after he stole the figures of Jesus and Mary from a nativity scene in front of Worcester’s Guildhall. Geisler, who was already on bail for two assault charges, apparently had been drinking and said he stole the statues “for a laugh”. This is the third year in a row that the nativity scene has been vandalized. According to today's Worcester News, Geisler’s father was upset that he would not be home for Christmas.
Meanwhile in Litchfield, Connecticut, a RLUIPA suit may be in the offing now that the Historic District Commission has denied an application by a Chabad-Lubavitch Orthodox Jewish congregation to restore and add onto a Victorian house on the edge of the district for use as a synagogue and living quarters for the rabbi. The Commission says it would welcome a proposal to build a much smaller building, but Chabad says that there are already Episcopalian, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches in the same neighborhood that are larger than the proposed new synagogue. The Hartford Courant reported on Friday that this proposal to build the town’s first synagogue has been controversial from its inception, with the Commission chairwoman, who is herself Jewish, called anti-Semitic by by Chabad after she objected to the proposed star of David and the use of Jerusalem stone in the renovated building.
Friday, December 21, 2007
UPDATE: The AP reported on Dec. 27 that the Sabah Evangelical Church of Borneo has sued challenging the government's position after it seized children's educational material being brought into the country. Government officials said the Christian books' use of "Allah," could raise confusion and controversy among Muslims.
8. Deplores the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet, and any other means to incite acts of violence, xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination against Islam or any other religion, as well as targeting of religious symbols;
9. Stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions, Islam and Muslims in particular;
10. Emphasizes that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which should be exercised with responsibility and may therefore be subject to limitations as provided by law and necessary for ... respect for religions and beliefs....
Thursday, December 20, 2007
TIME: One of the issues that is being discussed in our presidential election is the role of faith in government.... What role does faith play in your own leadership and what role should faith play in government and in the public sphere?
PUTIN: First and foremost we should be governed by common sense. But common sense should be based on moral principles first. And it is not possible today to have morality separated from religious values. I will not expand, as I don't want to impose my views on people who have different viewpoints.
TIME: Do you believe in a Supreme God?
PUTIN: Do you? ... There are things I believe, which should not in my position, at least, be shared with the public at large for everybody's consumption because that would look like self-advertising or a political striptease....
TIME: Earlier you used the phrase, Thou shalt not steal. Have you read the Bible?
PUTIN: Yes, I have. And the Bible is on my plane. I fly frequently, you know. And on the plane I use, there is a Bible. I also have an icon there with some sewing on it. I fly long distances. We're a vast country. So I have time there to read the Bible.
TIME: I understand that you don't want to be public with your religion. But is there some way we can characterize your faith?
PUTIN: You could say that it is my deep conviction that the moral values without which humankind cannot survive cannot be other than religious values. Now, as regards a specific church or other establishment, that's a separate matter. As somebody said once, if God exists, he does know that people have different views regarding church.
TIME: Now the situation is emerging whereby the Russian Orthodox Church is apparently becoming a dominating force in Russia. It's the only church that has signed official relations on cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, law-enforcement agencies and the Foreign Office....
PUTIN: .... Our law recognizes four traditional religions in Russia. Our American partners criticized us for that, incidentally, but it has been defined by our lawmakers. These traditional Russian religions are the Orthodox Church, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism.
TIME: .... [I]t's still hardly proper in a secular country for the top military brass of the General Staff under the command of their Chairman to hold a service together with the top hierarchy, as occurred at the Orthodox Church at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Soviet nuclear bomb.
PUTIN: Well, I would say that if those General Staff brass were Jews, Muslims or Buddhists and would have chosen to celebrate this wonderful event at other religious shrines, I would welcome that. So you cannot talk about the inequality of any of those religions. But still some 80% of the Russians consider themselves Orthodox Christians, which makes the Russian Orthodox Church the largest of them all.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Meanwhile, AFP today reports on the reactions of non-believers to the increasingly religious tone of political campaigns.
Q: Doesn't separation of church and state mean that religion and politics should have nothing to do with each other?Catholic News Service today reports on the Archbishop's statement.
A: Religion and politics, church and state, should be independent of each other. However, both politicians and religious leaders rightly - and unavoidably - concern themselves with many of the same issues ... and it is only sensible that they communicate and even collaborate on the answers....
Q: Doesn't the moral perspective of the Catholic bishops on the issues facing voters in 2008 simply deny the reality of today's partisan divide and political choices?
A: Yes, the Catholic Church denies the reality and logic of a political structure in which citizens are forced to choose between protecting unborn children and fighting the horrors of global poverty because there are no viable candidates willing to do both. We deny the reality and logic of a political structure that prevents the emergence of candidates pledged to fighting the evil of euthanasia while seeking comprehensive justice on the issue of immigration.
Reporting on the lawsuit, today's Oklahoman says City Manager Jim Couch sent supervisors a follow-up memo on Tuesday saying that his original directive applies only to holiday decorations in public spaces at city office buildings — not decorations in employees' personal work spaces. Many of the allegations in the lawsuit relate to plaintiffs' desire to maintain religious items in one employee's office, and to a Bible kept in an employee break room.
UPDATE: The Tulsa World reports that on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy DeGiusti denied a temporary restraining order in the lawsuit, saying that it was not necessary because of the clarifying memo sent out by the City Manager. UPDATE: The opinion denying the TRO is available on LEXIS: Spencer v. City of Oklahoma City, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94675 (WD OK, Dec. 19, 2007).
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
UPDATE: The White House on Thursday asked federal district court Judge Royce C. Lamberth to stay enforcement of his order to release records while his decision is appealed. (AHN)
UPDATE: On Friday, the federal district court granted the White House's motion, allowing the logs to be kept secret until the Court of Appeals rules in the case. (AP)
UPDATE: On Tuesday evening, Green Bay City Council voted to leave Fradette's nativity display up until Dec. 26, to impose a moratorium for now on any other religious displays, and to eventually draw up a set of guidelines for future displays. The Council vote was 6-6 with Mayor Schmitt breaking the tie. Schmitt on Wednesday ordered city maintenance workers to move a Christmas tree and wire reindeer next to the nativity display to secularize the display. He said Liberty Counsel advised him that his Santa Claus-and-reindeer display on City Hall's other main entrance was already sufficient to do that. Meanwhile the Freedom from Religion Foundation is talking with possible plaintiffs in order to file a lawsuit. (Green Bay Gazette, Dec. 20).