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.
Author Archive: Michael Peabody
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.
By Michael Peabody — On March 25, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores (transcript and audio). According to a number of court pundits, the court is expected to split with four justices on each side and the deciding vote is predicted to fall to Anthony Kennedy. Perfectly projecting the Court’s decision is not much easier than predicting a perfect NCAA March Madness bracket, but here are some potential outcomes for the case.
Arizona Bill SB 1062 is on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk where she is expected to sign it, veto it, or ignore it and let it become law by default within the next few days. This bill modifies Arizona’s 1999 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to permit business owners to deny service to gay customers, or potentially members of any other group, so long as they are doing it because of the religious beliefs of the owners. SB 1062 could potentially cause more harm than good.
Standing Firm For Faith While Seeking Mutually Acceptable Solutions — Is it Possible to Peacefully Resolve the Religious Wars in America’s Marketplace?
By Michael Peabody — Parties to these kinds of disputes should be well-served if they cooperatively seek solutions by identifying and respecting those specific personal areas which are non-negotiable and cordoning them off, while respecting the freedom of the areas in between where both sides must intersect. Identifying and preserving these areas of respect and finding opportunities for accommodation is not an easy process in today’s ideologically divided world, but the results will be much more profitable for both sides than engaging in perpetual conflict in the public arena. At the same time, the religious rights of the participants on both sides to belief and practice would be honored and protected.