Thursday, January 31, 2008
Unfortunately, in some instances where there was an interface with government, people were told that in order to interface you have to take the cross off the wall, or take down the Star of David. In other words, you had to abandon the very principle by which you existed in the first place. And it made no sense. If a program was effective because they were willing to recognize a higher power, if a program was effective because people responded because they felt a call from a higher power, than to deny the higher power really reduced the effectiveness of the program.
The White House yeterday also released a Fact Sheet on the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. [Thanks to Steven H. Sholk for the lead.]
Faculty and student groups are calling for Wood's resignation.
We know all we need to know about Arabs and Islam. They are our enemies pure and simple. There is no getting away from that. They have declared war on the United States and they are committed to our destruction.... Instead of trying to understand our sworn enemies, we need to teach our people about this country. Muslims have over the century invaded other countries and forced their religion by killing, plundering and ravaging. This is nothing new, [this course] is just a new way of invading. They are invading Christian countries of the world from the inside, one method being through our schools and universities.... If you want to give yourselves to Islam, I have no problem with that,you have the right and the freedom to do that, but don't give my country to them.
[T]he head scarf has become an issue that is threatening to split Turkey in two. The bill received an explosive response yesterday from Turkey's secular establishment, who see it as a menacing incursion of Islam into a country that has kept religion at bay since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's democratic revolution in 1925. "Turkey is headed step by step toward becoming a theocratic state," one MP, Onur Oymen, said during the parliamentary debate. The head of Turkey's army issued a veiled threat yesterday. "All segments of Turkish society know very well the position of the military on this issue," General Yasar Buyakanit told reporters, somewhat cryptically.
The court also concluded that under the state's Religious Freedom Act (Sec. 52-571b), the legislature did not intend that construction of a place of worship would constitute "religious exercise" nor did it intend that the non-discriminatory application of land use regulations would be subject to strict scrutiny under the Act. Yesterday's Hartford Courant reports on the decision and the facts behind it. (See prior related posting.) [Thanks to Jeffrey Struski for the lead.]
the substantial burden provision of RLUIPA does not apply to neutral and generally applicable land use regulations that are intended to protect the public health and safety, such as those at issue in the present case.....
[T]he provisions of the town’s regulations allowing religious facilities to be built in a residential zone by special exception treat such uses more, not less, favorably than certain other nonresidential uses that are not allowed by special exception. Moreover, although the commission has some discretion to determine whether a proposed specially permitted use is consistent with residential use, the regulations do not grant the commission the discretion to apply the standards differently to religious facilities than it applies them to the other uses allowed by special exception, such as clubs, private schools, seasonal camps, certain public utility buildings, hospitals, sanitary landfills, nurseries and horse boarding stables.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
In a third case, the same court refused to permit a Christian convert from Islam to list his new religion on his identity papers. IOL News yesterday reported that the court held that Mohammed Higazi (Hegazy) had not followed the proper procedures and, in any event, could not convert "to an older religion." The court wrote: "Monotheistic religions were sent by God in chronological order... As a result, it is unusual to go from the latest religion to the one that preceded it." The AP reports that Hegazy has been the subject of police torture and death threats from his father and from an Islamist cleric after his 1998 conversion was discovered and when he was pictured in a newspaper posing with a poster of the Virgin Mary.
UPDATE: Following Zed's appearance, state Senator David Schultheis told WorldNet Daily that he was shocked. He said: "I don't know of any Hindus or individuals from India actually in the legislature.... I think the most troubling thing [is] we have this appearance, and yet the bulk of our population is Christian ... and we are not allowed to mention 'Jesus' in any prayer."
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
State Senator Mike Carrell is introducing an amendment to an existing prison bill to protect the jobs of prison chaplains whose duties conflict with their religious beliefs. Carrell argues that inmates will chose multiple religions in order to exploit the system and get various advantages. Department of Corrections policy already excuses chaplains from performing ecclesiastical duties that conflict with their religious tenets. Suss' problem however is with chaplains' nonreligious duties, such as giving prisoners access to religious items.
We must also do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our Nation's Capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America's inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids....
In today's New York Times, two former officials in the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives published an op-ed supporting Bush's call for making the Faith Based Initiative permanent. However David Kuo and John J. DiIulio, Jr. criticized the slow growth and the focus of the present program:
In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need. Over the past seven years, more of our fellow citizens have discovered that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of service. Americans have volunteered in record numbers. Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are bringing hope to pockets of despair, with newfound support from the federal government. And to help guarantee equal treatment of faith-based organizations when they compete for federal funds, I ask you to permanently extend Charitable Choice.
The initiative ... was designed so that small congregations and ministries that had long served needy neighbors on shoestring budgets — and not just large, national religious charities — could get their fair share of government aid. It did not happen. The number of faith-based organizations receiving a federal grant rose from 665 in 2002 to only 762 in 2004.... Over the past six years, federal grants to faith-based programs have shifted away from the local "armies of compassion" praised by Mr. Bush and toward large, national organizations with religious affiliations.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Situation 9. Minister F is the minister of Church O, a section 501(c)(3) organization. The Sunday before the November election, Minister F invites Senate Candidate X to preach to her congregation during worship services. During his remarks, Candidate X states, “I am asking not only for your votes, but for your enthusiasm and dedication, for your willingness to go the extra mile to get a very large turnout on Tuesday.” Minister F invites no other candidate to address her congregation during the Senatorial campaign. Because these activities take place during official church services, they are attributed to Church O. By selectively providing church facilities to allow Candidate X to speak in support of his campaign, Church O’s actions constitute political campaign intervention.
Does this IRS guideline cover speeches from the pulpit if a candidate does not explicitly ask for voters' support?WMAZ-TV News reports that Sen. Barack Obama spoke for more than 30 minutes yesterday to an overflow crowd at Macon, Georgia's Harvest Cathedral. As part of his remarks, he said: "I believe that our values should be expressed not just through our churches and our synagogues, but through our government."
The Commercial Appeal reports that Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke at morning services at Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. During her remarks, she emphasized her support for universal health care, universal pre-kindergarten and an end to the Iraq war.
Former Governor and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee's Sunday morning church attendance seems to have been orchestrated more carefully with IRS guidance in mind. WFOL Fox35 reports that Huckabee attended services at Orlando, Florida's First Baptist Church. The church had invited all candidates to attend. Huckabee did not speak, but did have a brief exchange of reminiscences with Senior Pastor David Uth. Uth also said: "I have made a commitment that our church will not endorse a candidate. Our only purpose is to pray over each candidate and ask for God's wisdom for them. We will not treat any candidate any differently than another." However, Huckabee was scheduled to speak on Sunday evening at services at Pensacola, Florida's East Brent Baptist Church. The Huckabee Campaign notes that this talk is closed to the press.
Press reports do not indicate whether or not other candidates were also invited by the churches at which Obama, Clinton and Huckabee spoke.
In the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case of Wisconsin v. Yoder, Justice Douglas dissenting in part raised this precise question. There Amish parents were being prosecuted for refusing to send their children to high school on the grounds that high school attendance conflicted with Amish beliefs. Douglas argued: "If the parents in this case are allowed a religious exemption, the inevitable effect is to impose the parents' notions of religious duty upon their children. Where the child is mature enough to express potentially conflicting desires, it would be an invasion of the child's rights to permit such an imposition without canvassing his views."
In Boldt, the child's father argued that the 12-year old's views were irrelevant. He, and several Jewish organizations as amici, argued that the 12-year old should have no more say in the decision than should an infant who is circumcised. In one of her arguments, the mother who opposed the circumcision (along with amicus Doctors Opposing Circumcision) also suggested that the boy should have no say in the matter, so that even if he wanted the procedure he should not be circumcised because of the medical risk involved. The court fudged the issue, holding that the boy's views are important, but only because forcing him against his will to have the procedure would impact his relationship with his father to the point that a change of custody might be in order.
In both speech and religion cases, courts have often vindicated rights of mature children, but in most cases parents supported their child's First Amendment claims. When there is disagreement between parents and child, the issue is more complex. An example of this is an abortion decision made by a mature minor over the religious objections of her parents. In this situation, the Supreme Court has upheld parental involvement, but not parental veto. Another example is a parent's attempt to remove his or her minor child from a religious cult. Courts appear willing to give parents full authority to do this for minors, though not for adult children. See Scott v. Ross, (9th Cir., 1998).
An excellent Harvard Law Review Note, Children as Believers, Minors' Free Exercise Rights and the Psychology of Religious Development, 115 Harv. L. Rev. 2205 (2002) [LEXIS link], further explores the issue of minors' religious rights.
The federal trial court certified to the Ohio Supreme Court the question of whether Ohio law grants a right to next-of-kin to a decedent's body parts that have been removed in an autopsy. It noted that a subsequently enacted Ohio law guarantees return of body parts, but only when the autopsy is contrary to the deceased person's religious beliefs. Albrecht v. Treon, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18613 (SD OH, March 17, 2007). The Washington Post calls attention to one controversial line in the brief of the medical examiners filed with the Ohio Supreme Court: "The real family interest is in the 'soul' of the deceased, if it continues in an afterlife, or in the memory of the 'soul', rather than to the dead carcass."
- Emon, Anver M., The Limits of Constitutionalism in the Muslim World: History and Identity in Islamic Law , ( in Constitutional Design for Divided Societies, Forthcoming).
- Martin H. Belsky, The Religion Clauses and the "Really New" Federalism, [abstract], 42 Tulsa Law Review 537-551 (2007).
- Charles W. Collier, Terrorism as an Intellectual Problem, 55 Buffalo Law Review 815-840 (2007).
- John T. Noonan, Jr., The Religion of the Justice: Does it Affect Constitutional Decision Making?, 42 Tulsa Law Review 761-770 (2007).
- Thomas A. Schweitzer, Book Review. (Reviewing Bruce Ledewitz, American Religious Democracy: Coming to Terms with the End of Secular Politics.) 23 Touro Law Review 561-574 (2007).
- Jack B. Weinstein, Does Religion Have a Role in Criminal Sentencing?, 23 Touro Law Review 539-560 (2007).
- Pope John Paul II and the Law, Part I. Articles by George Weigel, Robert John Araujo, S.J., Kevin L. Flannery, S.J. and Jane Adolphe. 5 Ave Maria Law Review 361-468 (2007).
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Meanwhile today's Jerusalem Post reports that the Anti-Defamation League has called on Barack Obama's campaign to clarify fliers distribted to South Carolina voters declaring that Obama is a "committed Christian". Obama's campaign said the fliers were intended to counter false e-mail rumors that Obama was a Muslim. (See prior posting.) A copy of the flier is avaialable online from TPM.
Exclusionary religious rhetoric by candidates and constant scrutiny of the minutiae of their faiths undermine religion's valuable role in public life. It also runs contrary to the unique American commitment to both religious freedom and non-establishment of religion. History is replete with examples of religion compromised by its collusion with power, and the role of religion in the current campaign raises concern that it is once again being misused.
... Following Article VI of the U. S. Constitution and the First Amendment, we identify three basic principles.
*No person should be expected to leave their faith at the door when operating in the public square. But it is inappropriate to use religious or doctrinal differences to marginalize or disparage candidates.... No religious test may be applied to candidates for public office - not by the law, not by candidates, not by campaigns.
*Candidates for public office should welcome the contributions that religion brings to society. But ... candidates for public office are obliged, in their official capacity, to acknowledge that no faith can lay exclusive claim to the moral values that enrich our public life.
*... While it is appropriate for candidates to connect their faith to their policy positions, their positions on policy must respect all citizens regardless of religious belief.
In Hernandez v. Schriro, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4908 (D AZ, Jan. 22, 2008), an Arizona federal district court rejected claims by a Native American prisoner that his rights under RLUIPA were violated when he was unable to engage in pipe ceremonies and sweat lodges, possess red and blue headbands, wear his religious medicine bag outside his cell, obtain certain herbs, or work with a spiritual advisor after he was placed in a maximum custody unit.
Bratton v. Curry, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4587 (ND CA, Jan. 9, 2008), involved a complaint by a Muslim prisoner that prison authorities refused to serve him Halal or kosher meals with meat and instead offered him only a vegetarian alternative. A California federal district court held that plaintiff had alleged viable Eighth Amendment, Equal Protection and RLUIPA claims, but not a free exercise violation.
In Marr v. Case, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4427 (WD MI, Jan. 18, 2008), a Michigan federal district court accepted a magistrate's recommendations and dismissed an inmate's free exercise, eighth amendment, retaliation and ethnic intimidation claims. The court described the incident giving rise to the claims: "At a meal, Plaintiff ... requested a kosher eating utensil because the package of utensils he was given was desecrated.... Defendant ... allegedly replied ... 'I'm sick of this sh-t, dude.' ... Defendant [also] ... allegedly stated "get your tray and get the f-ck away from me, they should have exterminated all you bastards in the concentration camps." ... Plaintiff went to a table and waited for 20 minutes without receiving a utensil before leaving without eating."
In Baisden v. Arpaio, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4377 (D AN, Jan. 8, 2008), an Arizona federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, a prisoner's claim that during a portion of his confinement he was unable to attend church for several weeks because only the first 15 of 250 inmates to get in line were permitted to attend. However plaintiff failed to allege how defendant sheriff was personally involved in this alleged free exercise violation.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The court held that the prisoner need not show that a central tenet of his faith was burdened in order to raise a viable First Amendment claim, so long as his religious belief is sincere. It said that "the district court impermissibly focused on whether 'consuming Halal meat is required of Muslims as a central tenet of Islam'." It failed to consider plaintiff's claim that the vegetarian diet gives him gastrointestinal discomfort that interferes with the purity and cleanliness needed for Muslim prayer. The court held that the present record did not permit it to determine whether the requested kosher diet places more than a de minimis burden on the prison system. It also concluded that summary judgment was inappropriate on plaintiff's RLUIPA claim because there is a factual dispute as to the extent of the burden on plaintiff's religious activities, the burden that would be created by accommodating his request, and whether less restrictive alternatives exist. Saturday's Sierra Vista (AZ) Herald reports on the decision.
Instead of reaching a decision on custody, the court remanded the case, ordering the trial court to determine whether the child wants the circumcision, or objects to it-- an issue over which the parents disagree. The court said:
(See prior related posting.) Today's Oregonian has extensive coverage of the decision. [Thanks to Steve Sheinberg for the lead.]
We conclude that, although circumcision is an invasive medical procedure that results in permanent physical alteration of a body part and has attendant medical risks, the decision to have a male child circumcised for medical or religious reasons is one that is commonly and historically made by parents in the United States. We also conclude that the decision to circumcise a male child is one that generally falls within a custodial parent's authority, unfettered by a noncustodial parent's concerns or beliefs -- medical, religious or otherwise....However, ... at age 12, M's attitude regarding circumcision, though not conclusive of the custody issue presented here, is a fact necessary to the determination of whether mother has asserted a colorable claim of a change of circumstances sufficient to warrant a hearing.... [F]orcing M at age 12 to undergo the circumcision against his will could seriously affect the relationship between M and father, and could have a pronounced effect on father's capability to properly care for M.... Thus, if mother's assertions are verified the trial court would be entitled to reconsider custody....
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
UPDATE: At a news conference yesterday in the Vatican, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes set out his support for Archbishop Chaput’s position on Colorado HB 1080. (CNA).
UPDATE: On Feb. 6, The Independent quoted Afghan ministerial aide, Najib Manalai, who said of Kambaksh: "I am not worried for his life. I'm sure Afghanistan's justice system will find the best way to avoid this sentence."
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
This has been done as long as we can remember. I remembered how I treasured my little red testament and I still have it and how many of you still have yours? It is heartbreaking to think we can go into other country and they are begging for God's word, but here in America and in our own home town, it is refused. We feel things like this are exactly what's wrong with our country and our town. What do we have to lose? We have never been sued over this before and if anything should come up we would have to pursue it further, but I know the Lord would fight this battle for us.School Board President Joe Short said he would rather see school funds going toward education than toward defending a lawsuit. Implying that there were alternatives available, he said that students could do whatever they wanted to on their own during non-instructional hours. Earlier this month, a Missouri federal district court struck down a school policy permitting distribution of Gideon bibles during the school day.
I tell people also this is not a Christian-Jewish issue, it is a fundamentalist Christian versus the Constitution issue. I am not at war with Christianity, I’m not at war with evangelical Christianity... but we are at war with a small subset of evangelical Christianity...the Premillenial, Dispensational, Reconstructionist Dominionist, Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians who believe they have an unlimited right to push their particular biblical worldview.... By last week, over 6,800 active duty members of the United States Marine Corp, Navy, Army and Air Force have come to our foundation pretty much as spiritual rape victims/tormentees and the shocking thing is 96% of them coming to us are Christians themselves.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Nevertheless, a visit to King's Ebenezer Baptist Church is obligatory for many of this year's presidential candidates according to yesterday's Atlanta Journal Constitution. Sen. Barack Obama spoke at Sunday services, and both Gov. Mike Huckabee and former President Bill Clinton will be at today's formal King Day observances at the Church. Huckabee will be introduced at the ceremony, but Bill Clinton-- as former President, rather than as candidate Hillary Clinton's representative-- will speak.
Meanwhile, Jonesboro, Georgia resident mark Swiger has created a religious initiative to mark MLK Day. Using the website Fulfillhisdream.org, Swiger urges every church-goer on the Sunday before Martin Luther King Day to invite along someone of a different race. Saturday's Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the initiative is in response to King's comment that 11 a.m Sunday morning is America's most segregated hour.
Perhaps the ceremony the President had in mind is Tuesday's March for Life in Washington. The March for Life Education and Defense Fund sponsors this annual event to mark the anniversary of Roe. Its website this year makes no mention of religion, religious beliefs or God. The march's theme this year is: "Build Unity on the Life Principles Throughout America. No Exception! No Compromise!"
- John M. Kang, Deliberating the Divine: On Extending the Justification from Truth to Religious Expression, (Brooklyn Law Review ,Vol. 73, No. 1, 2007).
- David A. Skeel, The Paths of Christian Legal Scholarship, (U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-05, Jan. 15, 2008).
- Robert E. Rodes, On Professors and Poor People - A Jurisprudential Memoir, (Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2007).
- Herman Philipse, Antonin Scalia's Textualism in Philosophy, Theology, and Judicial Interpretation of the Constitution, (Utrecht Law Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 169-192, December 2007).
- Glenna Goldis, The Catholic Scare: How Anti-Catholic Prejudice Shaped Brown v. Board, (January 11, 2008).
Other recent articles:
- Richard F. Duncan, Justice Thomas and Partial Incorporation of the Establishment Clause: Herein of Structural Limitations, Liberty Interests, and Taking Incorporation Seriously, 20 Regent L.Rev. 37 (2007).
Sunday, January 20, 2008
1. In case of contradiction between any term of the Convention and the norms of Islamic law, the Kingdom is not under obligation to observe the contradictory terms of the Convention.In this context, Saudi officials discussed with Committee experts the permissibility of polygamy in Saudi Arabia:
2. The Kingdom does not consider itself bound by paragraph 2 of article 9 of the Convention [equal rights with respect to nationality of children] and paragraph 1 of article 29 of the Convention [arbitration provisions].
An AFP report yesterday summarized the Saudi report and the exchange between Committee experts and Saudi officials.
Islam had sanctioned polygamy ... with some restrictions, namely of the number of wives, and the equal treatment of the wives by the husband. This was because of men’s strong sexual desires, or their wish to have children in case of being married to a barren wife. Polygamy was a necessity to enable women to lead a normal life. Polygamy was ethical, as it did not allow a man to have sexual relations with any woman other than his wife, and was humanitarian, as it provided for women to be wives and to be treated as such, and provided for.... Some women preferred to be a second wife rather than living alone.
In McCollum v. California, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95716 (ND CA, Dec. 13, 2007), a California federal district court dismissed Wiccan inmates' Establishment Clause and equal protection challenges to California's Five State-Sanctioned Faiths Policy because plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies. However it permitted inmates' free exercise claims, as well as a taxpayer Establishment Clause challenge, to move forward. (See prior related posting.)
In Hysell v. Pliler, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2721 ED CA, Jan. 14, 2008) a California federal magistrate judge rejected an inmate's First Amendment and RLUIPA claims that he was denied access to various artifacts necessary to practice his Wiccan religious beliefs. The court found the instances cited were either justified by a compelling governmental interest or did not place a substantial burden on defendant. Certain other claims were rejected as unexhausted.
In Bryant v. Tilton, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2930 (ED CA, Jan. 14, 2008), a California federal magistrate judge rejected a claim by a Muslim prisoner that the exclusion of those serving a life sentence without parole from California's conjugal visit program infringed his free exercise rights under the First Amendment and RLUIPA. Plaintiff argued that under Islamic law, his wife could file for annulment or divorce if their marriage is not consummated within four months. However, the court found, plaintiff married in 1993 and at that time he was able to, and did participate in the family visiting program.
In Wesley v. Muhammad, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3136 (SD NY, Jan. 10, 2008), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be allowed to proceed with most of his claims that meals served and prison commissary items furnished to him at Rikers Island prison facilities violated his religious dietary requirements that limited him to Halal food.
In Best-Bey v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3540 (ED PA, Jan. 17, 2008), an inmate alleged that he was not permitted to observe his holy day of Friday or keep his fez on for the day. A Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed the claim against the city of Philadelphia, finding that the alleged violations did not stem from any policy or practice of the Philadelphia Prison System, and that the city cannot be held on a respondeat superior theory for actions of prison employees.