Tag Archives: law

Ohio’s Jesus Painting Protection Act Could Allow Discrimination, Child Abuse And Sharia Law

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image of actual text of the Bill of RightsThis week House Bill 376 was introduced in the Ohio legislature. I call it the ‘Jesus Painting Protection Act’ but the formal name is ‘Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act’. It creates special rights for the ‘religious’ to avoid any law or act by the state or local governments if it is a ‘burden’ on a person’s religious beliefs. This dangerous law could leave children unprotected from abuse, allow discrimination in areas way beyond just same sex marriage, and allow Sharia Law.
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Ohio Representative Introduces Law To Give Public School Students Credit For Religious Study

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official photo of Ohio Representative Bill Patmon (D-10)
Ohio Representative Bill Patmon (D-10) wants to give credit for religious study during school time

Ohio House Bill 171, introduced by Representative Bill Patmon (D-10), would allow students to receive credit for studying religion during what is called release time. If passed, Ohio would be the second state to give credit for religious study during the school day. It’s too bad that Rep. Patmon reasons for the law are based on false assumptions and it looks like just an attempt to subvert court decisions that keep church and state separate in public schools.
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Rod Parsley on Hate Crimes

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In checking out the stats for this website I have noticed many people come here after doing a search for web pages about Rev. Rod Parsley, who is the pastor of the mega World Harvest Church and host of the show Breakthrough. Since he helped Ken Blackwell lose the Ohio governorship in 2006, Parsley has been low key. But here is your bone Parsley searchers.

People For the American Way reports that Parsley used his TV show to complain about the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 being considered in Congress. He claims that the law would be used to silence religious speech.

As PFAW points out:

Of course, when you “pull the mask back” on the Religious Right’s campaign against the bill, you find something completely different: a law that would only apply to violent crimes, and that specifically states that it does not apply to speech or religious expression.

If you want to read more about it and see a video of the segment of his show where Parsley talks about the law see the following link:

Rod Parsley on Hate Crimes

Ohio law exempts church goers from arrest

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Caught this strange news on Austin Cline’s blog over at atheism.about.com.

In Ohio, if you are traveling to or from work, you can be arrested. If you’re traveling to or from a union meeting, you can be arrested. Traveling to or from a political rally? They can arrest you. They can arrest you if you’re traveling to or from a meeting of your atheist, humanist, or freethought group as well. Religious believers who are traveling to or from their church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship can’t be arrested though. In fact, any police officer who does will be fined!

Going To or From Church? Can’t Be Arrested in Ohio

The Ohio law referenced in Austin’s post is Ohio Revised Code section 2331.11 and 2331.12.

The effective date on section 2331.11 that exempts believers shows as 03-09-1999! 2331.12 that exempts Sunday and 4th of July arrests was enacted in 1953.

A closer look at section 2331 – the parent section of the exemption – covers “Execution Against The Person” which is defined as:

An execution against the person of a judgment debtor shall require the officer to arrest such debtor and commit him to the jail of the county until he pays the judgment, or is discharged according to law… An execution against the person of a debtor may be issued upon any judgment for the payment of money

Execution Against The Person

Basically the “Privilege from arrest” in section 2331.11 applies to arrest for a civil action against a debtor. It isn’t a blanket exemption from any arrest. That made me feel better.

However it is an example of the special privilege believers have written into local, state, and federal laws.

To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black – the 1st Amendment’s “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” meant no law and that also meant no tax money and no other support from the government.

Getting special treatment, even from civil arrest for a debt, is against the principle of the 1st Amendment.

Bill to stifle religious dissent moves to Senate

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Sorry this is late.

The bill I mentioned in my previous post, the so-called “Public Expression of Religion Act”, was passed by the US House on Tuesday and now moves to the Senate as S.3696 and it has a new title to further mask its true intention. It is now called Veterans’ Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2006.

It is now to be used to “protect” crosses at Veterans’ Memorials and on local government seals as well has give the Boy Scouts an exemption from federal rules against discrimination when they get aid and comfort from federal agencies.

To show you the contempt religious and political conservatives have for real religious liberty, all one has to do is read the introduction to the bill as introduced in the Senate:

To amend the Revised Statutes of the United States to prevent the use of the legal system in a manner that extorts money from State and local governments, and the Federal Government, and inhibits such governments’ constitutional actions under the first, tenth, and fourteenth amendments.

From text of S.3696

First of all the bill claims that legal fees in church and state cases is extortion since it aims to prohibit the awarding of ANY fees. That is something that needs to be asked and decided in a court of law – not the floor of Congress.

2nd it claims that the government’s actions are constitutional – something that has to be decided in a court. That is the reason a lawsuit is brought in the first place.

Basically the law gives legal cover to illegal activities. Why else would they include that view in the introduction to the bill?

A slippery slope can be made that if asking for attorney fees in religious expression cases is extortion then who’s to refute that attorney fees in racial discrimination cases, for example, isn’t. S.3696 opens a Pandora’s box to such claims in the future.

The bill is also unfair in that exempts the Boy Scouts, and no other group, from federal discrimination laws. BSA has been deemed a private religious group that is allowed to discriminate in membership. Since it is a private religious group, the government is limited in the support it can give it. BSA brought this action on themselves by winning several cases where the courts ruled they are a private religious group – an argument BSA forwarded themselves – now they want Congress to give them a free pass so they can continue to get federal funding and donations.

The Veterans’ Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2006 doesn’t protect religious liberty. It is yet another attempt to provide special protection to Christianity. It addresses a “problem” that doesn’t exist and attempts to give special status to a private religious group.

Again, if you support real religious liberty, I urge you to contact your Senators and ask them to vote NO on this bill.

Contact your Senators

Vote on bill to stifle religious dissent expected today

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Back in March, I posted about an effort, supported by the American Legion, to pass a law that would stifle religious liberty by prohibiting the winner of a consitiutional violation case from collecting legal fees from the loser – as is done in most civil cases in the US. (See: American Legion backs law in attempt to stifle religious dissent )

H.R. 2679 — the “Public Expression of Religion Act” — would amend a portion of the current U.S. Code and eliminate attorney fees in legal cases where government violated the constitutional separation of church and state. A vote is expected in the US House on Tuesday 9/26.

Why is this bill a threat to civil liberties?

The use of legal fees paid by the loser of a suit is one way that an average citizen can have their day in court. Few lawyers will work for free and if they have to depend on the limited funds of a plantiff then they amount of legal work on a case will be the same amount. The government (federal, state, and local) has lawyers on retainer for such suits. An average citizen couldn’t possibly compete with tax supported legal help provided to the government in the suit.

Legal fees is also a way of settling suits before a trial. A government or an agency may see the potential payment of legal fees as more of a cost than settling the suit in favor of the plantiff. If the bill becomes law then a government or an agency would lack inducement to settle and we arrive back at the first point mentioned above.

H.R. 2679 also is unfair in that it only applies to church and state cases – thereby giving special protection to violations committed against minority religions and the non-religious. It is an end-run around the wall of separation.

The supporters of this bill know that they cannot legally stop citizens from challenges government abuses when it comes to the separation of church and state,” said Johnson. “So they’re trying to achieve that objective by indirect means, like making it prohibitively expensive for private groups and individuals to bear the expense of taking officials to court when they violate the constitution. They’re attempting to do by quasi-legal means what they know they can’t accomplish otherwise.

American Atheists President Ellen Johnson

Why would any law abiding American object to paying attorneys who successfully attack unlawful behavior by public officials. The lawyers are not paid if the case is dismissed or otherwise lost. How can the pending bill protect the public when it rewards scofflaws in public places and punishes those lawyers who dare to prove the violations to American juries?

There is no hint in this legislation that lawyers not be paid if they are successful in legal actions that expose public officials who endorse or practice racial discrimination, sexual harassment, or unequal treatment of citizens because of age or disabilities. Why then deny attorney fees to those lawyers who succeed in exposing officials who want to make their religious views everyone’s religious views? Do those supporting PERA think the First Amendment is wrong?

Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director American Atheists, Inc.

Those of you who support real religious liberty should let your elected officials know that H.R. 2679 is a bad bill and a bad precedent. To find out how to contact them use the following link:

Contact Your Elected Representatives