Author Archive: Michael Peabody

Idaho: Northwest Religious Liberty Association Calls for Conscience Exemption to Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Greg Hamilton and Steve McPherson of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association testified before the Idaho House State Affairs Committee - January 26, 2015

This week, in four days of tes­ti­mony, the Idaho House State Affairs Com­mit­tee has been con­sid­er­ing House Bill 2 (HB2), that would add anti-discrimination pro­tec­tions for Ida­hoans based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity. Advo­cates have been pro­mot­ing the “Add the Words” bill for nine years and this is the first year that the Leg­is­la­ture has held hearings.

 
 

U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Right of Prisoner to Wear Beard

Gregory Houston Holt, aka Abdul Maalik Muhammad

By Michael Peabody — The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unan­i­mous deci­sion today that the Arkansas Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion vio­lated the Reli­gious Land Use and Insti­tu­tion­al­ized Per­sons Act (RLUIPA) when it pro­hib­ited a pris­oner from grow­ing a 1/2 inch beard in accor­dance with his reli­gious beliefs.

 
 

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.