On November 13, 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an atheist group challenging a tax-exempt housing benefit only available to clergy lacked standing to bring the suit because members of the atheist group could not demonstrate that they had suffered an injury as a result of the clergy tax-exemption.
Author Archive: Michael Peabody
On November 6, 2014, attorney Lee Boothby died at the age of 81 in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Boothby was known for his relentless advocacy for religious liberty.
The legal status of the unborn child is not as clear as most people think. There are glaring inconsistencies in the way that the law is practiced, even in states with liberal abortion policies. For instance, if a person kills a fetus in California without the consent of the pregnant woman or for medical necessity it is considered murder under Penal Code section 187. This is why Scott Peterson was convicted for double-homicide when he killed his pregnant wife, Laci, in 2002. This January in Florida, John Andrew Weldon was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison when he tricked his pregnant girlfriend into taking abortion-causing drugs, leading to the miscarriage of her 6-week-old fetus.
On October 7, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument on whether the Arkansas Department of Corrections grooming policy violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when it prohibits a prisoner from growing a one-half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.
On September 10, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) v. Lew. The judges focused on whether FFRF had standing to bring the case.
Most business owners set up corporations as legal alter-egos to avoid being held personally responsible if their businesses get sued, but in this case, the employers (in Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood, and Mardel) are saying that their corporations can still manifest the owners’ religious beliefs even if it comes at the potential expense of their employees. The Supreme Court agrees.
Agape love is the central premise of Protestant Christian theology. According to The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics, “Luther’s rediscovery of the primacy of agape was the linchpin of the Reformation and the rediscovery of genuine Christian ethics.” (See G. Meilaender and W. Werpehowski, The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics, 2007, p. 456.)
Many confuse the concept of agape love with the concept of caritas, or charity, but these are two separate ideas. The concept of agape love is the love of God reaching down to save humanity through grace, while caritas is about humans reaching upward toward God through works.
By Michael Peabody — Last November, a federal judge stuck a stick in a beehive when she found that a long-standing tax-exemption for clergy housing was unconstitutional. The case, Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) vs. Lew, is currently on appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and religious organizations are out in force defending the exemption.
By Michael Peabody — Although the U.S. Supreme Court did not provide a reason for declining Huguenin’s writ, it is probably not because the Court intends to lock in the New Mexico decision or that the Supreme Court is not interested in addressing this issue at a later date. It is most likely because the Court is looking for a better case, perhaps a combination of several cases which represent different results in different jurisdictions.
Today, without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a New Mexico photography studio and its owners. The highly-publicized case of Elane Photography v. Willock involved a photographer who refused on religious grounds to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.