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Archive for the tag “catholic”

Lay Minister Sues Georgia Health Department For Employment Discrimination

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“As reported by The Blaze, a doctor and public health expert who was dismissed from his position with the Georgia Department of Public Health within two weeks of his hiring has filed a religious discrimination suit in federal district court in Georgia.  The complaint (full text) in Walsh v. Georgia Department of Public Health, (ND GA, filed 4/20/2016), contends that Eric Walsh’s position was terminated because of the content of sermons he had given as a Seventh Day Adventist lay minister. In the sermons, he criticized Catholicism, called homosexuality sinful and characterized evolution as a religion created by Satan. The suit seeks damages, reinstatement and injunctive relief for violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1st and 14th Amendments. A statement from a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health said that the withdrawal of a conditional offer to Walsh had nothing to do with his religious views, but instead was triggered by a finding that Walsh failed to disclose outside employment to his prior public health agency employer in California. ”

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Suit Challenges School Voucher Program That Excludes Religious Schools

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In a suit filed yesterday in a Colorado federal district court, parents of school children challenged the School Choice Grant Program adopted last month by the Douglas County, Colorado, Board of Education because it excludes participation by religious private schools.  In a fragmented decision, the Colorado Supreme Court last year struck down an earlier school choice program adopted by the county which included religious schools. (See prior posting.) Yesterday’s complaint (full text) in Thomas v. Douglas County Board of Education, (D CO, filed 4/19/2016), contends that exclusion of religious schools violates the Free Exercise, Establishment, Equal Protection, Due Process, and Free Speech clauses of the U.S. Constitution.  Institute for Justice issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.”

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Tennessee Legislature Protects Therapists Whose “Principles” Conflict With Client’s Behaviors

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

The Tennessee General Assembly yesterday passed HB 1840/SB 1556 (full text) which provides in part:

No counselor or therapist providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist; provided, that the counselor or therapist coordinates a referral of the client to another counselor or therapist who will provide the counseling or therapy.

The bill insulates counselors and therapists from civil liability and criminal prosecution. It also protects them from license suspension or revocation except when their refusal to treat involves an individual who is in imminent danger of harming himself or others. The bill now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature.  As reported by the Christian Science Monitor, it is unclear whether Haslam will sign the bill or veto it.  He has 10 days to decide.

An earlier narrower version of the bill protected therapists’ sincerely held religious beliefs, but the bill as passed protects any “sincerely held principles.” The American Counseling Association, which strongly opposes the bill, says:

HB 1840 is an unprecedented attack on the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics….  If HB 1840 is signed into law, its enactment could also jeopardize federal healthcare funding for Tennessee because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has clearly stated that no state has the authority to deny healthcare to anyone based on religion, race, sexual orientation, or other federally protected populations.

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Abstention Required In Suit For Defamation In Excommunication Proceedings

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Pfeil v. St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, (MN Sup. Ct., April 6, 2016), the Minnesota Supreme Court in a 3-2 decision (2 justices not participating), held that under the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine, the 1st Amendment prohibits holding a church and its pastors liable in a defamation action for statements made during church disciplinary proceedings seeking to excommunicate plaintiffs. The majority concluded:

Ultimately, adjudicating [plaintiffs’] claims would excessively entangle the courts with religion and unduly interfere with respondents’ constitutional right to make autonomous decisions regarding the governance of their religious organization.

Justice Lillehaug’s dissenting opinion complained:

 Today the court creates what is, essentially, an absolute privilege to defame in “formal church discipline proceedings.” No matter how false and malicious the statement, and no matter how much the victim is damaged, there is no remedy whatsoever in Minnesota’s courts.

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Hospital Offered Reasonable Accommodation To Employee Rejecting Flu Shot

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Robinson v. Children’s Hospital Boston, (D MA, April 5, 2016), a Massachusetts federal district court dismissed a Title VII and state discrimination claim by a hospital emergency room worker who refused on religious grounds to be immunized for influenza. Plaintiff, who was apparently a follower of Nation of Islam, initially refused the vaccine because it contained pork products, but the hospital offered her a non-gelatin vaccine.  She continued to refuse on religious grounds, was granted a temporary medical leave and was allowed to look for a non-patient area position in the hospital. When she was unable to find another position, she was terminated.  The court held that the hospital had offered plaintiff reasonable accommodation and that  allowing her to remain in the patient area unvaccinated would have posed an undue hardship. Boston Herald reports on the decision.

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Court Says Cross on County Seal Is Unconstitutional

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In Davies v. Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, (CD CA, April 6, 2016), a California federal district court granted a permanent injunction requiring removal of a cross from the Los Angeles County Seal.  Under threat of a lawsuit in 2004, the County redesigned its Seal replacing a cross that was on it with a depiction of the San Gabriel Mission. Subsequently the San Gabriel Mission added a cross on its building and the County Board voted to add the cross to the Mission’s depiction on the Seal. The district court held that the addition of the cross violates both the Establishment Clause and the California Constitution’s No Aid clause. Los Angeles Times reports on the decision.”

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Suit Challenges Constitutionality of Tax Code Parsonage Allowance

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In a lawsuit filed this week, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is again challenging the constitutionality of the Internal Revenue Code’s parsonage allowance.  The complaint (full text) in Gaylor v. Lew, (WD WI, filed 4/6/ 2016), contends that Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code–which allows clergy to exclude from taxable income a housing allowance paid as part of their compensation– violates the Establishment Clause.  The suit was brought by two FFRF officers who also received housing allowances.  One of the plaintiffs is an ordained minister who in prior years when employed by a church was able to claim the allowance.  In 2014, the 7th Circuit dismissed a similar suit on standing grounds because plaintiffs had not sought to exclude their FFRF allowances on their federal income tax returns or claim a tax refund. (See prior posting.) This time plaintiffs did file amended returns seeking a refund of taxes paid on their housing allowances. FFRF issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.”

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Distributism and Large-Scale Industry

This article is part of my posts on the economic system of distributism.  This is from practicaldistributism.blogspot.com which you can find here:

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Thomas Storck’s recent article about the antagonistic relationship between owners and workers prevalent in capitalist enterprises included the following statement. “The activity of the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain proves that there is no reason why large-scale and highly technical industrial operations cannot be worker owned.” This sentence prompted a reader to respond with a request.

“Please provide a follow up article showing how this system works for Mondragon, their profit, employee take home, growth, etc…”

This response to that request will address two things. I will first provide the information requested, then I will address the case of Mondragon and how it does, and does not, relate to distributism.

Mondragon started as a technical college, founded by Father José María Arizmendiarrieta in 1943. Its first cooperative was established with 5 workers making paraffin heaters in 1955. Today, Mondragon is a cooperative federation comprised of over 250 companies and 74,000 workers operating in the finance, industrial, retail and knowledge sectors. Mondragon’s sales in 2014 were €10,985 million (US $12.48 billion). They put €145 million (US $164 million)  in research and invested €345 million (US $392 million). They have 15 technology centers, 1,676 researchers and have filed 479 patent families.

I don’t have specific information on employee take-home, but each company agrees to set its own wage ratio within an agreed upon range of 3:1 to 9:1. The average is 5:1, meaning that the highest paid person in a given company typically makes no more than five times what the lowest paid person in the same company does. The result of this is that the workers doing non-management jobs at Mondragon typically make 13% more than similar local jobs outside of its structure. Most workers make well above the minimum wage since they are employed in jobs requiring high levels of skill and technical training, Mondragon’s managers do earn less than those outside of its structure, but this is because they agree that Mondragon’s model is better than the typical corporate model.

Only 103 of Mondragon’s 260 companies are cooperatives. This in itself does not make it incompatible with distributism. I don’t have any details about the other 157 companies, like whether they are small, independently owned businesses. The ideal of distributism is that everyone own the capital used to earn his living, but we accept that this ideal may never be fully achieved. Some people may just prefer prefer to be employees, or may have to work as employees for some time before they can become owners. Distributism does not require that every shop be a worker owned cooperative, but those that are not would tend to be small local shops, and I don’t know the extent to which this is the case for those Mondragon companies that are not cooperatives.

The original cooperative established with five members back in 1955 grew to become Fagor Electrodomestics, the largest company in Mondragon’s federation. The Fagor brand is currently present in 100 countries, employs more than 12,000 people in 17 countries and operates 16 factories in 3 continents. Due to mismanagement, it had to declare bankruptcy in October 2013. The economic articles from capitalist pundits seemed to hardly contain their glee at what they perceived as the fall of the greatest example that methods other than their own could work. The Economist declared that “one of the group’s key principles—of solidarity among its 110 constituent co-ops—has found its limit.” Actually, what had reached its limit was the federation’s willingness to extend another loan to prop up Fagor when it had no plans which would resolve its problems.

Before crowing so loudly, capitalist economists should have waited to see the reality of this commitment and how it compares to what happens when the typical capitalist enterprise goes bankrupt. The reality of Mondragon’s commitment to worker solidarity is revealed by what the federation actually did regarding the workers of Fagor. Mondragon’s social mutual, Lagun Aro, proposed a 1.5% raise in contributions from all members at the next General Assembly so it could provide needed unemployment benefits to displaced Fagor worker-owners. They received 80 percent of their salary while Mondragon identified new positions for these workers. Compare this to the layoffs we’ve all seen reported when large capitalist employers go bankrupt or have to restructure to avoid bankruptcy.

This clearly shows the dynamic vibrancy and resilience of the cooperative model even when operating with large-scale, multi-national, highly technical industrial operations. This is why various cooperative organizations, the p2p economic movement and distributists all can validly point to Mondragon as an example of how well the cooperative model truly works.

When it comes to distributism, however, my opinion is that we need to be more carefully nuanced when using Mondragon as an example. It has grown to a size and scale of operation beyond that which distributists actually promote and which goes against the preference for local or even regional economics to the international model touted today. We are not in any way against international trade, but individual corporations employing thousands in multiple countries seems to me to go against our economic model, and Fagor is an example of why. The description of how Mondragon handled the bankruptcy of Fagor should not be taken as a claim that it wasn’t an issue for the federation. The mismanagement of Fagor not only impacted its thousands of employees, but the entire Mondragon organization. The fact that it was able to come up with a solution that maintained its commitment to worker solidarity does not mean that this was an easy solution or that it did not put significant strain on the people or the finances of Mondragon as a whole.

In the past, Fagor might have been held by some to be the shining example of Mondragon’s success because it was the largest company with the most employees, but that is looking at the organization from a strictly capitalist perspective. What happened in the wake of Fagor’s bankruptcy shows that the many smaller cooperatives and the overall commitment to worker solidarity are the mark of Mondragon’s success. They helped to support Fagor with the loans it received before the final straw that resulted in its bankruptcy. They supported the workers displaced when Fagor failed. Democratically based worker solidarity is at the very heart of the cooperative movement, and also at the very heart of the guild structure distributists promote.

It is clear that the cooperative model works and this is why distributists propose this model for large scale operations, particularly those which only make sense at a more regional rather than local level. Of course, cooperatives also work at a local level and we promote that as well. 

I hope this article fulfills the request of our reader.

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9th Circuit: Denial of Exemption For Use of Cannabis Does Not Impose Substantial Burden On Religious Exercise

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii v. Lynch, (9th Cir., April 6, 2016), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a church and its founder were properly denied an exemption from federal laws that prohibit the possession and distribution of cannabis. Under RFRA, denial of an exemption does not impose a “substantial burden” on plaintiffs’ exercise of religion because the primary sacrament of the church is peyote.  Plaintiffs consume cannabis only as a substitute. They do not claim that peyote is unavailable or that cannabis serves a unique religious function.

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Business Owner Unsuccessful In Suing Churches That Opposed New Strip Club

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In Harrington v. Hall County Board of Supervisors, (D NE, March 31, 2016), a Nebraska federal district court dismissed a number of claims brought by the owner of an adult entertainment company against two churches that circulated a petition opposing attempts to open a strip club in Hall County, Nebraska. The court also dismissed claims against a director of one of the churches.  The adult entertainment company owner alleged that the churches engaged in a conspiracy to adopt and enforce an unconstitutional zoning resolution. Plaintiff also alleged violations of the antitrust laws, defamation, tortious interference with business relationships, infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.  The court additionally rejected the claim that individual members of the County Board of Supervisors violated the Establishment Clause when at a public hearing they thanked supporters of the petition for supporting Christian values.”

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