Friday, December 22, 2006
A spokesman for the state claimed that officials were concerned that a Nativity might carry a stronger impression of government endorsement of religion, but there was not enough time to research the issue. However, U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly shows that both a Menorah and a Nativity are both religious symbols. The state cannot legally allow a Menorah to be displayed while rejecting a Nativity. This is an issue that is widely discussed every year all across the nation. It also takes little effort to determine that a state cannot legally prefer one religion over another.
Last December, Liberty Counsel filed suit against the cities of Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach on behalf of local resident Ken Koenig for refusing to allow a nativity scene in a local park. The towns allowed a Menorah display in the same park. Initially, the towns insisted that the Menorah was a secular symbol, but agreed to allow the display shortly before a hearing in federal court.
The Supreme Court has recognized that the Menorah is a religious symbol for the Jewish faith, while a Christmas tree is a secular symbol. The state showed preference for one faith over another by lighting a Menorah while refusing a request to display a Nativity scene. Religious preference is forbidden by the Constitution.
Every year government officials repeat the same mistakes over and over by banning Nativity scenes from December holiday celebrations. The Constitutional principles are crystal clear. The state of Washington cannot favor one religion over another by allowing a Menorah while refusing a crèche.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Williamsburg, VA - In a statement released yesterday from President Gene Nichol of the historic College of William and Mary, the cross that stood at the altar in Wren Chapel without controversy for over 75 years will return to the altar. Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the College requesting that the cross remain in Wren Chapel instead of being delegated to a closet so it wouldn't offend non-Christians using the chapel.
President Nichol's statement acknowledges that "many alumni and friends of the College have urged, in the strongest terms, that the decision be reconsidered." Nichol now states that "we will commission a permanent plaque to commemorate the Chapel's origins as an Anglican place of worship and symbol of the Christian beginnings of the College....[I]n an effort to give further recognition to the heritage of the Chapel without substantially affecting its openness and accessibility for College use, I have asked that the altar cross be displayed throughout the day on Sundays with expanded hours. The cross will also continue to be in place on the altar when the Chapel is used for Christian religious services or when any individual requests its display for moments of quiet prayer and contemplation."
The College of William and Mary was founded as a private Anglican school for evangelization of Native Americans and the training of Christian workers. William and Mary is now a public college. Previously, it was the College's policy that any group using the chapel could ask that the cross be removed for their event, and the staff complied with the requests with no problems ever having been reported.
Returning the cross to Wren Chapel is a step in the right direction. The plaque commemorating the religious heritage of the school is a welcome addition to serve as a memorial to the religious history of the College of William and Mary.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The Court of Appeals opinion stated: "The [same-sex couples] in these appeals are asking this court to recognize a new right. Courts simply do not have the authority to create new rights, especially when doing so involves changing the definition of so fundamental an institution as marriage.... The court's role is not to define social policy." The opinion also stated: "The trial court's decision ... essentially redefined marriage to encompass unions that have never before been considered as such in this state. [I]t is beyond the judiciary's realm of authority to redefine a statute or to confer a new right where none previously existed."
The oral argument before the California Supreme Court has not yet been set.
From the moment we filed suit to stop San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom from issuing same-sex marriage licenses, we have been preparing this case for the California Supreme Court. History, common sense and legal precedent are on our side. Marriage as the union of one man and one woman transcends political ideology and is grounded in millennia of human history.
Management at Calvary Towers sent a memo to the residents advising that religious decorations of any kind would not be allowed on the premises. In a similar situation earlier this week, Liberty Counsel intervened on behalf of Orlando Cloisters residents after management had issued a directive to strip the common areas of religious symbols or words. Not surprisingly, Southeastern Property Management (SPM), based out of Alabama, manages both properties. Liberty Counsel conferenced with SPM's attorney and HUD attorneys regarding the directive at Orlando Cloisters and to set the record straight about the constitutionality of celebrating Christmas. HUD also advised SPM that its directive was not proper. SPM finally got the message. As a result, yesterday, management at Calvary Towers sent a memo to the residents that SPM will still oversee the decorations around the building, but residents can decorate their doors and apartments as they wish. There will be a table in the lobby to display diverse symbols of the season, including a Nativity scene.
Southeastern Property Management now understands the importance of the freedoms allotted to the residents of the centers they manage. SPM manages properties in eleven states.
The federal Fair Housing Act protects people against discrimination in housing, including religious discrimination. Facilities such as homes for seniors cannot legally censor out the Christian aspects of the Christmas holiday.
Senior housing facilities which receive federal funding may not sanitize Christmas. The federal Fair Housing Act protects religious freedom and bans religious discrimination. It is nonsensical to think that the receipt of federal funds requires the recipient facility to secularize the federal holiday we call Christmas. Censoring Christmas defies logic and federal law.
Monday, December 18, 2006
CEF was charged a fee to use school facilities, although the district waived fees whenever deemed "in the best interest of the district." Fees were waived for the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, Students Against Destructive Decisions, the local Democratic Party, and a host of other groups, but no waiver was extended to the Good News Clubs. After filing suit, the district changed its policy and sought to "grandfather" free use to the previously authorized groups.
The trial court found that the policies raised First Amendment concerns, but ruled in favor of the district. But now the appeals court ruled the district policy unconstitutional, stating that "government may not bar religious perspectives on otherwise permitted subjects ....[and] communities of faith may not be arbitrarily excluded from the protections of the Free Speech Clause..." "Government need not fear an Establishment Clause violation from allowing religious groups to speak under the same reasonable, viewpoint-neutral terms as other private parties...." "In sum, speech is not to be selectively permitted or proscribed according to official preference." This case represents a significant precedent, because it requires speech-restrictive policies to contain clear standards to prevent government officials from engaging in viewpoint discrimination, much like the case law that developed to govern prior restraints on speech.
This decision marks the end of a three-year battle to preserve Child Evangelism Fellowship's constitutional rights. The court of appeals hit the bullseye. School officials all across America should take notice. Government cannot treat religious groups unfavorably compared to other groups. Equal access is the law, and equal access means equal treatment in every respect. Good News Clubs teach respect, morality and character development. Instead of hassling Good News Clubs, schools should embrace the clubs. These clubs make a positive difference in the lives of children.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
"A Boy Scouts sailing group that lost free use of a public boat slip because of the Scouts' discriminatory policies failed to persuade the Supreme Court to take its case. The justices on Monday let stand a unanimous California Supreme Court ruling that the city of Berkeley may treat the Berkeley Sea Scouts differently from other nonprofits because the Scouts bar atheists and gays."
Unfortunately, this case sets the stage for ousting all groups that stick to moral values. This is blatant viewpoint discrimination in its worst form.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Human Rights Commission Dismisses Complaint Against Christian Businessman After Liberty Counsel Files Suit
Ms. Vincenz filed a complaint with the Commission under the county's nondiscrimination ordinance, when Bono Film and Video refused to copy Gay and Proud and Second Largest Minority for Ms. Vincenz due to its content. Mr. Bono's company does not duplicate material that is obscene, could embarrass employees, hurt the company's reputation or that runs counter to his company's values. The Commission directed Mr. Bono to duplicate the objectionable videos or pay for the duplication at another facility. The Commission also defamed Mr. Bono by sending a press release to over 5,000 media outlets, stating that there was evidence Mr. Bono had engaged in discrimination. Liberty Counsel filed suit to stop the Commission from taking further action against Mr. Bono.
Liberty Counsel will proceed with the suit that challenges the Commission's authority to recognize "sexual orientation" as a civil right. Virginia law prohibits local government from passing or enforcing nondiscrimination laws that are not authorized by the state. The state does not list "sexual orientation" as a protected civil right or class. Liberty Counsel's suit will affect Arlington County and several other Virginia counties that have illegally passed "sexual orientation" antidiscrimination laws. Several years ago, the Virginia Attorney General issued an opinion concluding that local "sexual orientation" laws violate state law.
Although we are pleased the Commission dismissed the frivolous complaint against Mr. Bono, we will continue to challenge Arlington County's attempt to recognize so-called "sexual orientation" as a civil right. Liberty Counsel's suit will invalidate the county ordinance and other similar ordinances throughout Virginia.
Monday, May 22, 2006
The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is only part of a continuum of protection enacted by Congress to protect the unborn, partially-born and newly-born children, including the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, and "Laci and Connor's Law," which provides that a person who kills an unborn baby, along with the mother, is guilty of two crimes.
Liberty Counsel filed its amicus brief on behalf of Illinois nurse Jill Stanek in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart, which challenged the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. Mrs. Stanek testified at the hearings on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, offering Congress her first-hand accounts of watching babies born alive and then left to die. This prominent pro-life advocate helped bring this disturbing practice to Congress's attention.
Nebraska abortion doctor LeRoy Carhart, who successfully challenged a similar partial-birth abortion ban enacted by the Nebraska legislature, also brought this challenge to the federal law. Two similar cases were brought in New York and California. In all three cases, the appellate courts found the Act unconstitutional because it lacked a "health" exception. The other two cases are on hold while the Carhart case is decided by the Supreme Court.
Liberty Counsel's brief argues that Congress correctly determined that babies who are inches from birth must be afforded the inalienable right to life granted to children who complete the birth process, and that the right should not be interfered with by a claim that the "health" of the mother somehow justifies killing the child.
The partial-birth abortion procedure is gruesome and barbaric, and if performed on a convicted criminal would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Federal law imposes fines and criminal punishment for anyone who takes and destroys bald eagle eggs, but does not protect babies just inches from birth. Partial-birth abortion is never necessary to protect the health of the mother. Abortion doctors use the health exception, which contains no standards, to justify the procedure. This is a classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse. Babies who are inches from birth deserve the same protections under our laws as all other citizens.
Read more history of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban on Liberty Counsel's web site.
Monday, May 08, 2006
The Friend or Foe Graduation Prayer Campaign will educate, and if necessary, litigate to ensure that prayer and religious viewpoints are not censored from graduation. Liberty Counsel's free legal memo outlines the current law. Liberty Counsel will defend any school that follows the law. When school officials censor prayer or religious speech, Liberty Counsel will file suit.
If a speaker is chosen using religious-neutral criteria, and if school officials do not edit the speaker's message or religious viewpoints, then the school is on safe ground. Thus, if a valedictorian, salutatorian, class officer or class representative delivers a message, the speaker is free to include religious themes and can voluntarily pray. The same principle holds true when an adult from outside the school speaks at graduation. Private, voluntary speech on public property is constitutionally protected.
Liberty Counsel has been defending graduation prayer since Staver founded the group in 1989. In Adler v. Duval County School Board, Liberty Counsel won the right of students to pray or give religious messages during graduation. The case went before a federal court of appeals five times (twice before a panel of 12 judges), and to the U.S. Supreme Court twice. The precedent-setting case against the ACLU established the legal principle that public schools are safe when they adopt an equal access policy for graduation where students or other speakers may present either secular or religious messages, including prayer.
Public schools may also hold graduation at religious sites such as churches if the reason for doing so is religious-neutral. One such reason is that the religious venue provides a more convenient or accommodating facility than the public school. Conversely, private persons or groups may rent public school facilities to conduct privately-sponsored graduation or baccalaureate ceremonies. In privately-sponsored ceremonies, the speakers may be chosen for the express purpose of delivering prayer or religious speeches.
Speakers do not lose their rights to free speech when they approach the graduation podium. If schools tell graduates they cannot pray now, they will pay later. The National Day of Prayer recognizes that our country was founded on prayer. Public schools should respect our national heritage and obey our Constitution.
Read Liberty Counsel's Legal Memorandum on Graduation Prayer
Sunday, March 05, 2006
A week after Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit over censored religious paintings, Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder sent an email to George Griffin, President of the Volusia/Flagler chapter of the ACLU, stating: "The importance of the ACLU is immeasurable to me, my life, and my political philosophy." Explaining why he was unable to attend the ACLU meeting, the next sentence asked Griffin to "Please share my thoughts with the group."
After Mayor Mulder and acting City Manager/City Attorney, L. Roland Blossom removed paintings by Lloyd Marcus from a Black History Month display due to their religious themes, Liberty Counsel sent two letters, one explaining the law and the second demanding the paintings be returned. When Mulder and Blossom refused, Liberty Counsel filed suit. At an emergency meeting of the City Commission, Mulder and Blossom backed down and the paintings were displayed.
Public records now reveal that Mayor Mulder has close ties to the ACLU. In one email sent to Mulder, ACLU President, George Griffin, suggested that Mulder could "save face" by claiming that he sought a "second, expert, legal opinion" from the ACLU and decided to display the paintings. The ACLU wrote that if Mulder would state he got advice from the ACLU, "it would irritate the hell out of them [Liberty Counsel]." A week later, Mulder wrote to Griffin that the "importance of the ACLU is immeasurable to me, my life, and my political philosophy."
Since Mulder's political philosophy has been shaped by the ACLU, we looked at a list of some activities of the Florida ACLU. Their web site reveals the group opposed an ordinance to seal magazines deemed harmful to juveniles, opposed the use of school property for use after school hours by religious organizations, opposed the distribution of Bibles by the Gideons, opposed a committee to review films and course material for state schools to comply with community standards on pornography, fought for physician-assisted suicide, fought to overturn a ban on homosexual adoption, opposed parents being notified of their child's abortion, supported partial birth abortion, defended a nude demonstration, tried to force a school district to censor religious speech of students, and opposes the right of citizens to pass an amendment that declares marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The web site does not reveal that the ACLU lost is 8-1/2 year attempt to silent student religious speech, a case Liberty Counsel defended. The web site also does not reveal that the ACLU lost its attempt to evict churches from renting school facilities after school hours, a case also defended by Liberty Counsel. Perhaps Mayor Mulder should have done a little more research about correct legal philosophy before censoring religious expression.
Rather than having his life and political philosophy shaped by the ACLU, Mayor Dennis Mulder should read the Constitution. He would find that the First Amendment is a friend, not a foe, of religious expression.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Section 1 of the bill states that "life begins at the time of conception, a conclusion confirmed by scientific advances since the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, including the fact that each human being is totally unique immediately at fertilization." The bill goes on to say that "to fully protect the rights, interests, and health of the pregnant mother, the rights, interest, and life of her unborn child, and the mother's fundamental natural intrinsic right to a relationship with her child, abortions in South Dakota should be prohibited." The bill also says that the "guarantee of due process of law under the Constitution of South Dakota applies equally to born and unborn human beings, and that under the Constitution of South Dakota, a pregnant mother and her unborn child, each possess a natural and inalienable right to life."
HB 1215 bans abortions except in cases where it is necessary to save the mother's life. The bill makes no exception for health, rape or incest. The bill prohibits both chemical and surgical abortions but does not apply to contraceptive measures or to unintentional death to the unborn
Abortion is the low point in the history of America. A nation that prides itself on liberty has neglected to extend the most basic liberty to the most innocent and defenseless among us. The right to life is the right of all rights. Without the right to life, there is no liberty. In the not too distant future, I believe that the Supreme Court will rectify the worst decision it ever made. The life span of Roe v. Wade and its progeny is waning. One day we will look back on this time of history since 1973 with shame and sorrow.
Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel will be a guest on the Abrams Report on MSNBC today to talk about the South Dakota abortion ban. The opposing viewpoint will be presented by Brigette Amiri, a staff attorney for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. The show is scheduled to air at 4:00 p.m. today and will re-air at 6 p.m. Transcripts will be available on the MSNBC web site within 24 hours.
Monday, February 20, 2006
The paintings by artist Lloyd Marcus that had been censored by the City of Deltona, Florida, were returned to City Hall this morning and will remain there for the remainder of the Black History Month display. Directions to the exhibit are on our web site with photographs of the paintings. As a result of this artist's brave stand and our lawsuit against Deltona, millions have learned that religious images need not be hidden from public view. Officials from other cities are expressing interest in displaying the paintings, which are part of a 12-piece series. You can thank Mr. Marcus for taking a courageous stand for religious liberty by contacting him via his web site, www.lloydmarcus.net.
On Saturday, February 25, Liberty Counsel's President and General Counsel, Mat Staver will speak at a "Stand Up For America Victory Rally" at the Deland Airport in Volusia County, Florida. Lloyd Marcus will emcee this event, and will sing some patriotic songs. Other guest speakers will include his father, Dr. Lloyd Marcus, Sr. from the Baltimore area, and talk radio hosts Andrea Shea King and Mark Vance. Radio personality Bud Hedinger has also been invited make an appearance. The rally will begin at 1:00 p.m. Organizers suggest that everyone who attends bring American flags and lawn chairs.
On Monday evening, February 27, at 7:00 p.m., Mat Staver will address a meeting of GoVolusia.org, the grassroots organization which mobilized many residents of Deltona to support returning the banned paintings to Deltona City Hall. This victory celebration is open to the public and will be held at the Deltona Arts and Historical Center.
It is encouraging to meet people who are willing to stand up for family, faith and freedom.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
While trying to avoid complaints from a hypothetical heckler, the City officials’ act of censorship managed to offend a majority of Americans, and most particularly the Constitution. The First Amendment does not require cleansing religion from black history. Under the City’s distorted understanding of church and state, Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address on the subject of slavery, where he referenced God and repeatedly quoted the Scriptures, would be considered unconstitutional. Black history cannot be separated from its religious history.
Lloyd Marcus' web site
Deltona's web site
City's press release for Black History Month
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Florida4Marriage.org stated that it will move forward to place the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment ("Marriage Amendment") on the ballot in November 2008. As of February 1, the Florida Department of Elections reported that it has 456,363 certified signatures. A new law in Florida now requires (1) 611,009 signatures for citizen initiatives, and (2) these signatures must be submitted and verified by February 1 of the year in which the proposal is placed on the ballot. Prior to this year, signatures could be gathered almost up to the time of the election. Also, prior amendments required only 488,722 signatures.
Comparing the results of the Marriage Amendment with three other initiatives, two which obtained enough signatures and one which did not, revealthe broad grassroots support for the proposal. An amendment to Apportion Districts spent $2,732,081.26 to obtain 653,425 signatures; a Redistricting Amendment spent the same amount but fell short with only 406,844 signatures; and a Tobacco Education Amendment spent $2,017,724.10 to obtain 645,620 signatures. By contrast, the Marriage Amendment spent only $189,432.77 to obtain 456,363 signatures. Most of these signatures came within the past 8 weeks.
While the broad-based coalition supporting the Marriage Amendment sought to place the initiative on the 2006 ballot, the leaders of the organizations are encouraged by the enormous momentum that built in just 8 weeks. In the 10 days prior to the deadline, the Department of Elections updated its website to reflect over 200,000 additional signatures. At this rate, the Marriage Amendment will soon be certified for the ballot in 2008.
Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, will present oral argument before the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday, February 8 at 9:50 a.m. ET to address the "single subject" requirement of the Marriage Amendment. Every voter initiative must address a single subject and must be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court before it appears on the ballot. The Marriage Amendment addresses the single subject of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.This event moves us one step closer in placing the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment on the ballot. Let the people decide this most important matter of marriage.