Author Archive: Michael Peabody

EDITORIAL: To Preserve Faith, Keep Church and State Separate

EDITORIAL: To Preserve Faith, Keep Church and State Separate

Last week, World­Net­Daily pub­lished an edi­to­r­ial by Scott Lively where he scolds Amer­i­can Chris­tians for allow­ing reli­gious plu­ral­ism to become accepted. Reli­gious plu­ral­ism, Lively argues, vio­lates the First Com­mand­ment which states, “Thou shall have no other gods before Me.”

In his arti­cle, enti­tled “The Deadly ‘Reli­gious Lib­erty’ Trap,” Lively argues that the “wall of sep­a­ra­tion of church and state” metaphor had been wrong­fully used as a “as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for declar­ing all reli­gions to be equal with Chris­tian­ity in Amer­ica, and equally sub­servient to sec­u­lar human­ist authority.”

Lively’s solu­tion to this sit­u­a­tion “is to stop argu­ing for ‘reli­gious lib­erty’ and resume our procla­ma­tion of the supe­ri­or­ity of Christ and His Word over all oppos­ing faiths (along with tol­er­ance for peo­ple of other faiths – that’s how it worked before [Ever­son v Board of Edu­ca­tion (1947)]. Its goal must be noth­ing less than an offi­cial reaf­fir­ma­tion of the Bible as our legal and cul­tural foun­da­tion, which would require over­turn­ing Ever­son and its juridi­cal progeny.”

 
 

7th Circuit Rules Challengers to Ministerial Housing Exemption Lacked Standing

7th Circuit Rules Challengers to Ministerial Housing Exemption Lacked Standing

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.

 
 

Religious Freedom Advocate Lee Boothby Dies

Religious Freedom Advocate Lee Boothby Dies

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.

 
 

Unsettled and Inconsistent Law: Fetal Rights and Personhood

Unsettled and Inconsistent Law: Fetal Rights and Personhood

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.

 
 

Prisoner’s Beard Appeal to be Heard by Supreme Court on Oct. 7

Prisoner’s Beard Appeal to be Heard by Supreme Court on Oct. 7

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.

 
 

Standing to Sue at Issue In 7th Cir. Hearing on Ministerial Housing Allowance

Standing to Sue at Issue In 7th Cir. Hearing on Ministerial Housing Allowance

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.

 
 

Supreme Court Rules Closely-Held Corporations Have Religious Rights

Supreme Court Rules Closely-Held Corporations Have Religious Rights

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.

 
 

Rediscovering Agape: Why the Reformation is Not Over

Rediscovering Agape: Why the Reformation is Not Over

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.

 
 

7th Cir. to Decide Whether Ministerial Housing Exemption is Constitutional

7th Cir. to Decide Whether Ministerial Housing Exemption is Constitutional

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.

 
 

Why Did the U.S. Supreme Court Decide Not to Hear the New Mexico Photographer’s Appeal?

Why Did the U.S. Supreme Court Decide Not to Hear the New Mexico Photographer’s Appeal?

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.