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Archive for the tag “first”

EEOC Sues Over Firing of Seventh Day Adventist

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

The EEOC announced yesterday that it has filed suit against Greenville Ready Mix Concrete, Inc., a North Carolina based company, for refusing to accommodate the religious observances of a Seventh Day Adventist employee.  Michael Cole, a truck driver for the company, was baptized as a Seventh-Day Adventist in February 2014, after which he asked not to work on Saturdays.  The company nevertheless scheduled him for a Saturday, and fired him when he refused.

You can learn more about this issue here.


In defense of ‘thoughts and prayers’

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in The Week which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.


When a tragedy occurs — particularly one that involves gun violence, like Sunday’s mass shooting in Texas — two things are quite predictable in the aftermath: First, lots of people, including politicians, will offer their “thoughts and prayers.” And second, an increasingly large cadre of critics will react to these offerings of “thoughts and prayers” with outrage.

Why? It seems people think “thoughts and prayers” are a lazy substitute for embarking on some real political action that might help prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future. Critics believe those who offer up thoughts and prayers — particularly Republican officeholders who get donations from the National Rifle Association — are trying to deflect from their own inaction, or that they are complicit with the status quo.

It’s true some politicians are being opportunistic when they chime in with such platitudes. But in general, this line of thinking is insane, and, what’s more, it makes the world worse.

Contrary to the enraged certainties of many anti-gun liberals, there are actually few policies we know of that could serve as easy remedies to things like gun massacres. Even if you could magically make the NRA go poof, and make the Republican Party go poof, and make the Second Amendment go poof, and suddenly change the minds of the majority of Americans who support gun rights, the country would still be full of guns, and episodic massacres would still occur.

The point isn’t that America’s gun legislation is perfect, or that nothing can or should be done. The point is that NRA-GOP obstruction is not the one and only thing preventing the end of gun violence. The urgency and vigor of those who despise the notion of “thoughts and prayers” would only be justified in their reaction if there were indeed a magic button we could push to fix the problem tomorrow. And there isn’t.

But there’s something more fundamental at play. This isn’t just about guns. It’s about how we see political action. The implicit, maybe unconscious, but clear premise of the anti-“thoughts and prayers” line is that the only proper response to bad things happening is always political action. But turning everything into a political battle ensures that every single issue will become a conflictual one, leading to the progressive fraying away of social norms and of the belief in shared American values — which is what allows for political debate to begin with. Political debate in a democracy is what happens among groups who agree on more things than they disagree, which is why the losers lose gracefully and the winners don’t press their advantage too much. If you disagree with the other side on everything, then there’s no point in having a debate. The only solution is a civil war.

But the problem here isn’t just political — it’s spiritual. No doubt part of what drives people mad about “thoughts and prayers” is that they think prayer doesn’t do anything, presumably because they don’t believe in God. Of course, there are lots of people who believe that prayer is not only effective, it is, at the end of the day, the only effective thing, and that political action without a connection to a higher power ultimately becomes self-defeating.

Some people have to offer “thoughts and prayers” because they genuinely want to express their grief over an unthinkable act. If the only thing you think about after a tragedy is the next bill that should be passed, then you have no consideration for the victims as human beings — they are simply pawns in your political calculations. You are using still-warm bodies as props in a political marketing campaign — how noble!

In this context, “thoughts and prayers” are not beside the point, they are the whole point. They remind us that the Sturm und Drang of politics is not about enemies and allies, winning and losing. It is — or it should be — about actual individual human lives, every single one of whom is endowed with inalienable dignity and splendor. Being reminded of that might be one of the very few things that keeps us from falling off the precipice into a world incalculably more cruel than this already wretched Earth.

And I’ll be praying that doesn’t happen.

By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry and originally published in The Week on November 7, 2017 and can be found here.



Court Again Denies Minister Right To File Amended Complaint In Building Code Dispute

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

In Salman v. City of Phoenix(D AZ, June 6, 2016), an Arizona federal district court denied a motion by an Arizona minister to file a fourth amended complaint in a suit challenging Phoenix’s application of its building code to his use of his house for weekly Bible study meetings and worship.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Against College’s Speech Permit Policy

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

In Grace Christian Life v. Woodson, (ED NC, June 4, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court issued a preliminary injunction barring North Carolina State University from enforcing its non-commercial speech permit policy that requires students to obtain prior written permission before distributing leaflets or soliciting passersby on campus. The suit was brought by a Christian student organization that proselytizes on campus. (See prior posting.) According to a press release by ADF, the court issued the preliminary injunction two days after a hearing in the case.  The court adopted plaintiff’s allegations as its findings of fact. The preliminary injunction allows the University to still ban disruption of University activities, obstruction of buildings or sidewalks, or interference with educational activities or ceremonies.

You can learn more about this issue here.

EEOC Sues Claiming Inadequate Accommodation of Refusal To Take Flu Shot

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

The EEOC announced last week that it has filed suit in a Massachusetts federal district court against Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts for failing to accommodate an employee who, for religious reasons, refused to get a flu vaccination.  The medical center allows employees with religious objections to instead wear a mask at work.  Stephanie Clarke, a recruiter in Baystate’s human resources department, initially wore the mask, but job applicants could not understand her when they spoke to her. So she removed her mask and requested Baystate to find a different accommodation. Instead Baystate put her on indefinite, unpaid leave, and when she complained it terminated her employment. EEOC argues that an accommodation under Title VII must both respect the employee’s religious beliefs and permit her to do her job effectively. Here she was terminated because she complained about religious discrimination. BNA Daily Labor Report has more on the suit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Another Challenge Filed To Mississippi’s Freedom of Conscience Law

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

As reported by AP, on Friday a third lawsuit was filed challenging Mississippi’s House Bill 1523, the Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act. Mississippi Center for Justice announced the filing of the federal lawsuit which was brought by a group of clergy, community leaders, activists and a Hattiesburg church.  The complaint (full text) contends:

With the passage and approval of that bill, the Legislature and the Governor breached the separation of church and state, and specifically endorsed certain narrow religious beliefs that condemn same-sex couples who get married, condemn unmarried people who have sexual relations, and condemn transgender people.

Last month the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the new law (see prior posting) and plaintiffs in a suit that helped bring down the barriers to same-sex marriage in Mississippi have moved to challenge the law by reopening their lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Sewer Connection To Amish Must Be Made In Least Religiously Intrusive Means

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

In Yoder v. Sugar Grove Area Sewer Authority, (PA Commw., June 3, 2016), a Pennsylvania appellate court remanded to the trial court a suit by an Old Order Amish family seeking to avoid connecting their property to the public sewer system.  In an earlier decision, the trial court had concluded that the interest in protecting public health through a sewer connection outweighed the Amish family’s free exercise rights, but required that the connection to the sewer system be made in accordance with the family’s religious convictions. The current suit stems from disagreements on how to carry out this prior order and the trial court’s improper belated modification of it. According to the court, the Amish family has religious objections to having electricity power anything associated with the use of their outhouse, and risk excommunication if they use a privy tainted with the use of electric power. In remanding and requiring the trial court to reconsider the method by which a sewer connection would be made to the family’s property, the court said in part:

The trial court’s analysis regarding the threat to public safety pertained to the lack of any sewer connection at all, not a connection by nonelectric means, or, failing that, electricity generated by natural, non-electricity provider means. Importantly, the trial court also did not address Owners’ alleged clear right to the least intrusive means of a mandatory connection.

You can learn more about this issue here.

The Research Proves The No. 1 Social Justice Imperative Is Marriage

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in The Federalist which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.


For the last 20 years, marital status has increasingly become the central factor in whether our neighbors rise above, remain, or descend into poverty. The research is astounding.
A foundational value in our nation is the opportunity for all its citizens to be able to compete for a fair and meaningful shot at the American dream. This begins with access to citizenship, educational opportunity, and securing meaningful work that leads to greater life opportunities via commitment, diligence, and self-sacrifice. But an important contributor to putting and keeping men, women, and children on the escalator toward the American dream is little-known and widely ignored.

Just 70 years ago, social mobility and protection from poverty were largely a factor of employment. Those who had full-time work of any kind were seldom poor. Fifty years ago, education marked the gulf separating the haves from the have-nots. For the last 20 years or more, though, marital status has increasingly become the central factor in whether our neighbors and their children rise above, remain, or descend into poverty. The research is astounding.

Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute explains in his important book “Coming Apart: The State of White America” that in 1960, the poorly and moderately educated were only 10 percent less likely to be married than the college educated, with both numbers quite high: 84 and 94 respectively. That parity largely held until the late 1970s.

Today, these two groups are separated by a 35 percent margin and the gap continues to expand. All the movement is on one side. Marriage is sinking dramatically among lower- and middle-class Americans, down to a minority of 48 percent today. No indicators hint at any slowing. It’s remained generally constant among the well-to-do. This stark trend line led Murray to lament, “Marriage has become the fault line dividing America’s classes.” He has company in this conclusion.

Marriage Matters Lots More than Income and Race

Jonathan Rauch writing in the National Journal, certainly no conservative, notes that “marriage is displacing both income and race as the great class divide of the new century.” Isabel Sawhill, a senior scholar at the center-left Brookings Institute, boldly and correctly proclaimed some years ago that “the proliferation of single-parent households accounts for virtually all of the increase in child poverty since the early 1970s.” Virtually all of the increase!

Professor Bill Galston, President Clinton’s domestic policy advisor and now a senior fellow at Brookings, explained in the early 1990s that an American need only do three things to avoid living in poverty: graduate from high school, marry before having a child, and have that child after age twenty. Only 8 percent of people who do so, he reported, will be poor, while 79 percent who fail to do all three will.

Sociologists have referred to keeping these things in proper order as the “success sequence.” It remains true, according to a new research investigation from the Brookings and the American Enterprise institutes. It takes a deeper look at this “first comes love, then comes marriage” sequence by class and generation.

The increase of baby carriages coming before marriage is terribly alarming among the working poor. Working-class women are nearly three times more likely to have babies out of wedlock than upper-class women. Poor women are about five times more likely. These two groups are far less likely to be married overall and twice as likely to be cohabiting, suffering further from inherent instability of living together without marriage.

These troubling family-path trends leading to decreased life success are unfortunately true for millennials, as well.

A recent report on this topic focusing on millennials reports that 97 percent of those who follow the success sequence—earn at least a high-school diploma, work, and marry before having children—will not be poor as they enter their 30s. This is largely true for ethnic minorities and those who grew up in poor families. But sadly, fewer millennials are keeping these things in order, compared to their Boomer and Xer forbearers.

The success sequence of “first comes love” is so much more than moral choice or romantic idealism. These are deeply pragmatic, economic decisions powerfully affecting class mobility, where people live on the social scale, and the opportunities they will be able to provide for their children. This is because of the extraordinary economic power of marriage.

Marriage Boosts Every Measure Of Human Well-Being

This is why it’s not merely one-parent versus two-parent families that makes the difference. The U.S. Census Bureau finds the poverty rate for children living with two unmarried cohabiting parents is similar to that of single-mother homes than to those living with their married mother and father. Married people, regardless of how much they have, tend to manage their money differently than divorced, single, and cohabiting people.

Only 4 percent of homes with a married mother and father are on food stamps at any given time. But 21 percent of cohabiting and 28 percent of single-mother homes require such public assistance. Likewise, 78 percent of married people own their own home—a central goal in achieving the American Dream—while only 41 percent of cohabiting adults and 44 percent of singles do. Data indicates that marital status boosts home ownership more than home ownership increases marital opportunities.

Shotgun Marriages Also Confer Big Benefits

Robert Lerman, an economist at the Urban Institute, reports the marriage benefit holds for even the most poor, and to a lesser degree but still consequentially for those who marry between conception and the birth of their first child. Despite “academic ability, school completion, family background, race, and age at pregnancy, women who are married between pregnancy and the birth of their first child averaged a 30 percent higher income-to-needs ratio and a 15 percent lower degree of [financial volatility].”

These numbers are not insignificant. Such marriages were associated with reducing the number of years the mother, father, and children spent in poverty by half, compared with those who did not marry before the birth of their first child. Remarkably, this difference was even greater—by substantial margins—for black mothers and those with low educational test scores. Lerman concludes, “Even among the mothers with the least qualifications and highest risk of poverty, marriage effects are consistently large and statistically significant.”

Even women entering marriage between the conception and birth of their first child, regardless of class, education, and race, benefit from a greater standard of living by the following percentages.

  • 65 percent over a single mother with no other live-in adult
  • 50 percent over a single mother living with a non-romantic adult
  • 20 percent over a single mother living with a man

Shotgun weddings are not just a moral action. Even among households with similar incomes, and comparable demographic and educational characteristics, the following statistics demonstrate that, over the past year, married households are at least half as likely to have difficulty meeting their basic monthly living expenses and bills. This was most pronounced for black families.

A major 2014 report from the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies at the University of Virginia reports that:

  • Adjusting for family size, family income is 73 percent higher for married women compared to that of their unmarried peers.
  • Married men benefit from an average annual economic “marriage premium” of at least $15,900 per year compared to their unmarried peers.
  • This investigation also finds that the marriage premium is even more substantial for the most disadvantaged.

Marriage Is Good for People of Every Race

The advantages of growing up in an intact family and being married extend across the population. They apply as much to blacks and Hispanics as they do to whites. For instance, black men enjoy a marriage premium of at least $12,500 in their individual income compared to their single peers. The advantages also apply, for the most part, to men and women who are less educated. For instance, men with a high-school degree or less enjoy a marriage premium of at least $17,000 compared to their single peers.

This is not simply because the well-to-do are more likely to marry, but that marriage itself is ‘a wealth-generating institution.’

So marriage is far more than just a personal, sentimental institution, giving folks something to feel-good about at each year’s anniversary. It produces profoundly practical and essential value. The scholars at the National Marriage Project working from the University of Virginia explain this is not simply because the well-to-do are more likely to marry, but that marriage itself is “a wealth-generating institution.” The sociological evidence on this fact is dramatic.

Marriage generates wealth largely because marriage molds men into producers, providers, and savers. Singleness and cohabiting don’t. Nobel-winning economist George Akerlof, in a prominent lecture more than a decade ago, explained the pro-social and market influence of marriage upon men and fathers: “Married men are more attached to the labor force, they have less substance abuse, they commit less crime, are less likely to become the victims of crime, have better health, and are less accident prone.”

Akerlof explains this is because “men settle down when they get married and if they fail to get married, they fail to settle down.” This is precisely why every insurance company offers lower premiums on health and auto insurance to married men. Settled-down men also work more, earn more, save more, and spend more money on their families than on themselves. They boost the well-being of women and children in every important way.

If You Really Care About Inequality, You Support Marriage

The evidence is impossible to ignore or explain away. Even The New York Times noted its importance in a major story some years ago entitled “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do.’” Marriage drives well-being and upward mobility. The absence of marriage diminishes it. Thus, the growing class divide. Any smart and compassionate effort to alleviate poverty and increase the well-being of our communities and its citizens cannot ignore this fact.

Today, many unfortunately believe that to be concerned about what kinds of families adults create and raise children in should be no one’s business. It’s a personal matter. Such people have no idea what a family is or does anthropologically. Each family is as much a public institution as it is private, if not more so. Its strength and weaknesses are felt throughout each community in countless ways. Government expands as marriage declines.

Working for healthy, well-formed, enduring marriages is one of the most effective ways we can do the work of social justice. That the effort is not hip and trendy has no bearing on its ability to change lives for the better. Decades of research and the lives of real people make the case over and again every day, for good or for bad. Let’s resolve as a nation to choose and work for the good and halt the ever widening chasm of class.

By Glenn T. Stanton and published in The Federalist on November 3, 2017 and can be found here.

Christian Camp Says Nearby Dairy Farm Approval Violates RLUIPA

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

A lawsuit was filed last month in an Indiana state trial court by a Christian youth camp which objects to a zoning board’s approval of a large dairy farm nearby. The complaint (full text) in House of Prayer Ministries, Inc. v. Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals, (filed 5/16/2016), alleges that the 1400 cows and three large waste lagoons on the farm will expose campers to noxious odors and harmful air emissions that will “interfere with Harvest Christian Camp’s thirty-year mission and ability to provide a safe, healthy, and Christian rural setting for thousands of children and teens to be educated, enriched spiritually, and enhanced by the outdoors….”  This, the complaint alleges, amounts to a substantial burden that violates the camp’s rights under RLUIPA, the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First and 14th Amendments and the state constitution’s equal privileges and immunities clause. RLUIPA Defense blog reports on the case.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Check Your Condescension

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in Splice Today by my old philosophy professor Dr. Crispin Sartwell from back in my Penn State days which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.


Nothing could be more obvious than the effects of our brainless political polarization on our media behavior.

I’m concerned about Russian and other meddling in the American political system. I’d rather not have hostile forces hacking and releasing people’s emails, probing voting-machine systems and voter rolls, directing American candidates on foreign policy in exchange for hotel contracts, and so on. But I’m not that worried about Russian advertising on Facebook.

First, “social media” has become a ubiquitous non-explanation for all phenomena, and second, “social media” has become a decade-long amorphous moral panic. What explains world Islamic terrorism? “Social media.” The problems of all teenagers in the world, and the decline of our youth? It’s Instagram, I guess. Now leftists and “experts” want to blame SM for the election of Donald Trump. They want to spend the next couple of years raking Mark Zuckerberg over the coals. Really, they’re just pounding out the very messages and making the same moral mistakes (call them collectively by the name “elitism”) that did, in fact, lose them the election.

Let me ask you who are bemoaning the fact that some voters in Wisconsin were “exposed to” messages such as SATAN: “IF I WIN CLINTON WINS”: are you concerned that you were successfully manipulated by Russian memes? Or do you think that, in an environment where you have very many possible sources of information and are constantly bombarded, you could’ve been? For example, let’s say your news feed the night before the election featured accusations that Hillary Clinton was a murderer. Do you think that could’ve made you vote for Trump?

None of the punditocracy, or the professoriate, for example, is concerned about their own sources of information, or their own manipulability, though they ought to be. They’re concerned about the great unwashed, the ignorant, manipulated dolts who populate flyover America. The fact that these people are dolts is shown by their political disagreement with New York Times columnists, MSNBC hosts, and psychology professors. The experts demand the implementation of greater controls over the flow of information to these chumps, whether it’s through prescribing pre-school curricula or editing their Twitter feeds.

How to control the information available to “working-class white people” has been the dominant theme of lefty self-reflection on their election loss, or rather the dominant theme of their prodigious efforts to avoid self-reflection. One form of their sneering concern on behalf of their opponents is the ubiquitous trope of the “post-truth era.” The post-truth era is without gatekeepers, an era in which the quasi-progressive technocracy has lost control of the information flow. On the other hand, it never had control in the first place.

When people start talking about the “post-truth era,” they mean an era in which they’re aware of the truth, but in which their opponents believe a bunch of bullshit. They’re engaged in historiographical periodization or metaphysics or sociology; they’re simply hurling insults. Or rather, this whole brand of discourse is aimed above all at self-congratulation, which might be termed the God of American technocratic leftism. Perhaps that’s unfair; after all, it’s also the God of the left in the UK.

We all basically understand how Americans consume advertising and social media feeds, categories which substantially overlap. We see hundreds or thousands of items every day. Our obvious default is to skip right over them, or to cock a cynical eyebrow at them. If we responded much to most stuff like that, we’d never do anything else. Perhaps you’ve seen ads for Xarelto dozens of times. Closer to trying to buy some? It’s the same in rural Michigan. If there’s one thing that Americans understand, it’s advertising.

Furthermore, nothing could be more obvious than the effects of our brainless political polarization on our media behavior; everybody wants to see whatever confirms them in their group membership, especially expressions of hatred for the other side. It’s not even that you necessarily believe a particular rumor or wild “news” story, for example, but you gleefully pass it on because of its community-building effect. Indeed, memes for the most part are neither true nor false, just nasty or funny juxtapositions of words and images, like political cartoons though that thing about Satan and Hillary has a certain plausibility.

We hardly need the FSB to create divisive memes, and I’d like to know what tiny percentage of such things, circulating around election time, emerged from foreign propaganda operations. For God’s sake this is quite the same on both sides, only Democratic types don’t appear to see that about themselves. Before you come to us trying to heal society with condescension, I prescribe a decade of withering self-reflection.

At any rate, when the experts and the columnists start describing how they were also manipulated into a change of views or voting habits by nasty memes, then I’ll take them seriously. Really, it’s an application of the golden rule; you might extend to others your account of yourself; you might want to try to take each of them as seriously as you take yourself as a thinking human being. If you don’t, you can hardly expect them to listen to you, or indeed not to despise you right back.

By Crispin Sartwell, published in Splice Today, and can be found here.


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