Catch up on the latest and most important religious freedom headlines around the web.
30,000 Petitioners Call for Defense of Former Georgia Police Officer’s Free Speech Rights
The Washington Stand reports: In a massive show of public support for former Georgia police officer Jacob Kersey, over 30,000 petitions will be delivered to the mayor and city council of Port Wentworth on Friday, March 10, calling on the city officials to apologize for infringing on the First Amendment rights of Kersey. The 19-year-old was pulled from duty and pressured to resign his position in January over a Facebook post he wrote on his personal account upholding a biblical view of marriage.
First Liberty is representing Jacob. You can learn more about his case here.
A Cord of Three Strands: How Kennedy v. Bremerton School District Changed Free Exercise, Establishment, and Free Speech Clause Doctrine
In this article written for The Federalist Society, First Liberty attorneys Stephanie Taub and Kayla Toney discuss the impact of our victory in Coach Kennedy’s case. Their piece explains at length how the Court’s decision advances First Amendment jurisprudence. They write: “Kennedy v. Bremerton School District profoundly alters Free Exercise, Establishment, and Free Speech Clause doctrine. A significant contribution of the Kennedy opinion lies in the principle that the three clauses work together to provide robust protection for religious speech.”
Religious Liberty Update on U.S. Congress and Executive Branch Actions
In this article written for The Federalist Society, First Liberty attorney Christine Pratt provides a thorough update on actions from our nation’s capital impacting religious freedom.
New York Mayor’s Public Embrace of His Faith is Both Constitutional and Good
In an opinion piece for the Washington Examiner, Adam Carrington discussed a recent speech by New York Mayor Eric Adams during an interfaith breakfast. The mayor explained in his remarks how his faith informs his public service, saying: “When I walk, I walk with God. When I talk, I talk with God. When I put policies in place, I put them in with a God-like approach to them. That’s who I am.”
“The role of religion in America’s public life has long been an impetus to reform. The abolitionist cause leaned heavily upon scriptural arguments to condemn slavery. Black civil rights leaders were often clergy and melded the call for America to follow its principles with biblical allusions to human freedom as a godly doctrine. Religion has helped us become a truer, better adherent to our founding principles…
Thus, we should welcome public officials like Adams who do not separate their faith from their service, and we should hope for more who think likewise. Such a perspective would make us more faithful to our Constitution, not less. And it would help so much that ails our national soul in these trying times.”
Supreme Court Denies Petition from Florida City to Toss Atheists’ First Amendment Suit over Prayer Vigi
Fox News reports: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Florida city’s request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by atheists who say they were offended after the city held a prayer vigil following a local mass shooting.
The case concerns two individuals, Lucinda Hale and Art Rojas, who are members of the American Humanist Association. Hale and Rojas accused Ocala of violating the Constitution after police organized a prayer vigil with local religious leaders in response to a 2014 shooting in which several children were injured. Court documents said police chaplains were praying and singing on stage while in uniform. The atheists claimed that the religious elements of the prayer vigil were offensive and made them feel excluded.
Arizona Christian University Pledges Action After School District Bans Student-Teachers Due to Faith
The Christian Post reports: Days after the governing board of the Washington Elementary School District in Arizona voted to ban student-teachers from Arizona Christian University from the district due to their commitment to traditional Christian values, the university’s president has slammed the decision as “wrong” and “unlawful” and pledged to fight back.
“The school board’s recent decision to ban ACU students from serving as student teachers was done for one reason only: our university’s commitment to our Christian convictions. That’s wrong, it’s unlawful, and it will only hurt the district’s students,” ACU President Len Munsil said in a statement to The Christian Post. “Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are bedrock American principles. We are exploring our options to defend the rights of our students,” he added.
U.S. Labor Department Nixes Trump-Era Expansion of Religious Exemptions
NBC News reports: The Labor Department withdrew a rule that expanded religious exemptions for federal contractors. The department’s rescission of the 2021 rule restores a previous, narrower exemption that allows churches and their affiliates to only hire members of their religion.
The Trump-era rule had broadened the exemption to cover any employers who “hold themselves out to the public as carrying out a religious purpose,” rather than only organizations with an explicitly religious mission. The Trump administration framed the rule as a necessary step to ensure the full participation of religious organizations in the federal contractor system.
Ben Watson on Deion Sanders’ Fight for Faith: We Have to Stand Up for Religious Freedom
Former NFL player Ben Watson appeared on Fox News to discuss the controversy over Coach Deion Sanders’ faith. He called recent attacks on the Colorado coach praying with his coaching staff an effort to ‘silence’ religious expression. Watch the video here.
Washington State Would Destroy Both a Homeless Shelter and Religious Freedom
Washington Examiner reports: The Union Gospel Mission of Yakima, Washington, had to file suit in federal court on March 2 to try to exercise its right to hire for its homeless shelter only people who share the group’s religious beliefs.
The Washington Supreme Court, ignoring copious U.S. Supreme Court precedent, recently decided that the Union Gospel Mission may not adhere to its faith-based hiring practices, and state officials now threaten the charity with considerable punishment for doing so. As in many other similar cases, the homeless shelter in question will serve anybody in need. The mission only asks that as part of its ministry, its own employees must abide by its religious values.
Catholic Bishops Sound ‘Alarm’ on Equal Rights Amendment, Saying It Will Hurt Religious Freedom
Fox News reports: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published a letter warning Senate members against supporting the revival of the Equal Rights Amendment.
“We are writing to you to express our alarm with a number of far-reaching consequences that will arise from the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and its negative impacts to the common good and to religious freedom,” the USCCB wrote. “We strongly urge you to oppose it and any resolution attempting to declare it ratified.”
Senate Should Show More Spine on Biden Judges
National Review reports: Joe Biden has been stocking the federal bench with an increasingly radical and unqualified raft of judicial nominees. Thus far, his choices have been waved through blindly by a compliant Senate. Biden’s nominees have been confirmed at a faster pace than those of Donald Trump or prior modern presidents. It is time for the Senate to say no to the worst of Biden’s judicial nominees.