Tag: US Supreme Court

May 6, 2014 / / Courts
Religion in government is okay if it is generic

In a 5-4 decision on Monday, the US Supreme Court said that the Town of Greece New York could open their town council meetings with a religious prayer. The majority on the court held that legislative prayers were not unconstitutional because they were traditional acts performed at government meetings. We’ve seen this argument before, it has been called Ceremonial Deism and it means a civic religion divorced of any specific religious meaning. I would think that Christians would be very upset that the court considers their religion ‘generic’. Just because Ceremonial Deism has been a tradition doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful.

One argument the court used to rule in favor of the Town of Greece was the old argument from tradition:

March 24, 2014 / / Courts
image of a Hobby Lobby storefront

The Hobby Lobby religious exemption to covering contraception case will be heard in the US Supreme Court starting on Tuesday. If corporations are given a right to religious freedom there is no telling how bad this will be for people. One bad result, that hasn’t been reported on by the media, is that both plaintiffs want to prevent Doctors from even talking about contraceptives to their employees. These corporations want to get between you and your doctor.

November 29, 2013 / / Courts
image of classic birth control pill pack

The big news this past week was the US Supreme Court said it would hear two cases that challenge the contraceptive requirement in the Affordable Care Act. Two companies, operated by devout religious people, claim that having to provide health insurance to their employees that would pay for contraceptives violates their religious freedom under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The companies claim religious freedom by denying the religious freedom of their employees.

I was going to write a long essay pointing how wrong Hobby Lobby and the Mennonite owners of a wood cabinet company are but Jill Filipovic writing for The Guardian hits the nail on the head. Here is a sample but read the whole article as it gives a great summary of the issue:

August 11, 2013 / / Courts
photo of people praying before a meeting
Praying before a meeting

Town of Greece v. Galloway is a US Supreme Court case to heard in the fall that might set the boundaries for prayers before town council meetings so they aren’t a violation of the separation of church and state. One interesting thing to come out of the pre-hearing filings is that the Obama administration is supporting the prayers. I really never knew why it was so important for an elected body to pray before working since prayers don’t make elected officials do a better job nor do the prayers improve living in a certain town or county. As one church state group put it, a town council meeting ‘isn’t a church service and it shouldn’t seem like one.’

We found out this week that President Obama’s administration weighed in on the case in an amicus brief and took the side of the town council.

June 17, 2013 / / Courts
photo of Ellery Schempp in 2012
Ellery Schempp – His protest of required Bible reading in his High School lead to the case Abington School District v. Schempp being decided in 1963

On June 17th 1963, the US Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision that supported the separation of church and state in public schools – Abington School District v. Schempp. Even 50 years after the decision, we seem to have to fight the same battle over and over again. That is what happens in the struggle for civil rights. You have to be vigilant or they can be taken away. We need to celebrate dissenters like Schempp and we all need to try and emulate his activism.

March 22, 2013 / / Courts
image of a map version of state of Kentucky

Last week, two church & state cases from Kentucky were resolved. One concerning a state law that said “security was unattainable without reliance on ‘Almighty God'” lost in the US Supreme Court. Another case involving religious coercion at state-funded baptist children’s home was settled out of court as a victory for support of separation of church and state. We can’t always win these court cases but we need to fight as much as possible to protect the wall between church & state.