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August 13, 2018

This Woman Was Ordered to Stop Praying in Her Own Home

Originally published by The Daily Signal on July 26, 2018.

Told by two officers to stop praying in her own home and prepare to go to jail, Mary Anne Sause recounts the night her First Amendment rights were violated and her battle to U.S. Supreme Court began.

Does the Constitution Protect Bible Distribution Near a School?

By: Lea Patterson, Associate Counsel at First Liberty Institute and Chris Freund, Director of Media Relations at First Liberty Institute. Originally published on Journal Star on August 10, 2018.

While Russia and the United States have been dominating the headlines, a recent news story reporting a threat of police action against a citizen because he dared share his faith in public raises the specter of the old Soviet Union.

Alas, it’s not happening in Volgograd, but in middle America.

According to news reports, a local school threatened to contact police to prevent an Illinois man from offering free Bibles outside a school.

Read the full article.

DOJ Religious Liberty Task Force Continues American Tradition of Prioritizing Religious Liberty

By: Jeremy Dys, Deputy General Counsel at First Liberty Institute. Originally published on Town Hall on August 6, 2018.

Attorney General Sessions recently announced the formation of a special Department of Justice Task Force with these words: “Freedom of religion has been a core American principle from the very beginning of our country—indeed, it is our ‘first freedom.’”

His announcement of a Religious Liberty Task Force to “institutionalize” the process of prioritizing the protection of religious liberty by the Department of Justice demonstrates, once again, the Trump administration’s commitment to protecting religious liberty for all Americans.

And it’s needed. Those, like me, who attended the DOJ’s summit heard from a cross-section of America’s religious community. One Jewish rabbi spoke of years of discrimination by a city in Florida intent on keeping their small synagogue from worshiping in their town. A Sikh told us stories of the bullying and abuse his faith community faces throughout the country. One Muslim attorney reminded us of the very real Islamaphobia her community faces on a daily basis. Catholics, Protestants, and others spoke of similar concerns ranging from religious land use to matters of conscience.

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Bobby Bowden: I’m Proud to Take a Knee with Coach Kennedy

Originally published on The Daily Caller on August 5, 2018.

I spent more than half a century coaching football. You don’t invest that much time in one profession without learning some valuable lessons. In football and in life the lessons we learn through adversity rather than success, while painful, are often the most meaningful.

Right now there is a man in Bremerton, Washington who is demonstrating by example how perseverance and courage through adversity can have far reaching impacts beyond the limits of our personal influence. I’ve never met Coach Joe Kennedy, but when I heard his story it resonated deeply with me. Perhaps it did so because his story includes three subjects I love – faith, football, and freedom.

Coach Kennedy served our country as a U.S. Marine defending our freedom for twenty years before going into coaching. He made a promise to God that if he was blessed with the opportunity to coach football he would always take a moment at the end of each game to kneel in silent prayer at midfield in gratitude for the effort and safety of his players and their opponents. He did so without incident until the school district forced an untenable choice upon him – stop praying or stop coaching. In a country founded on religious liberty, no one should ever have to make such a choice. Coach Kennedy took a knee, took a stand, and lost the job he loved.

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Legislative Prayer is Still Constitutional

By: Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute. Originally published on The Daily Signal on July 30, 2018.

The Supreme Court of the United States recently declined to review two cases on prayer in public settings, leaving “in disarray” the law regarding the place of religion in the public square, to quote Justice Clarence Thomas.

The court has long made clear that it is in keeping with the principles of the Constitution to begin public sessions with prayer. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit gave careful consideration to that history and found no constitutional conflict when lawmakers began their session by saying a prayer.

However, considering the same question, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit arrived at the opposite conclusion.

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The First Amendment Protects Community Involvement of Pastors

By: Mike Berry, Deputy General Counsel and Director of Military Affairs at First Liberty Institute. Originally published on Town Hall on July 24, 2018.

“Did I break the law?” That was the heart-breaking first question Konnor McKay asked us after an out-of-state group of agitators sent a bullying letter to a school district—all because McKay had shared inspirational remarks with his former high school football team.

McKay grew up in Arkansas watching Waldron High School’s football team, and he aspired to play for the Bulldogs one day. He eventually achieved his dream and has since stayed local, becoming a pastor and an important member of the community.

So, it was fitting of his old coach to invite him to speak to his former team about the values of teamwork and leadership. As a Bulldog himself, he knew the challenges those high school football players at Waldron face.

Read the full article.

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