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Suit Alleges Grants For Church Preservation Projects Violate Massachusetts No-Aid Provision

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

A suit was filed yesterday against the town of Acton, Massachusetts by 13 of the town’s residents and taxpayers challenging the town’s approval of three Community Preservation grants to restore core facilities and religious imagery of two active local churches. The complaint (full text) in Caplan v. Town of Acton, Massachusetts, (MA Super. Ct., filed 7/7/2016) alleges that the grants violate Article XVIII, Section 2 of the Massachusetts Constitution that prohibits use of public funds “for the purpose of founding, maintaining or aiding any church, religious denomination or society.” Grants to Acton Congregational Church funded a master plan for historic preservation of the 170-year old church building and for repair of major stained glass window’s in the church’s building. A grant to the South Acton Congregational Church funded roof repairs. Americans United issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit. Boston Globe reports on the lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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Tactical Retreat: Nothing But the Kitchen Sink

My friend and co-worker Brian M. Lambert has founded an online sketch comedy project called Tactical Retreat which you can find here on Facebook and here on Youtube.

As Tactical Retreat releases new videos, I will post them here.  So far, I have found them rather funny and clever and they seem to get better with each release.

Here are the links to Tactical Retreat‘s previously released sketches:

Polarization and the Counter-Factual Crisis

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.

________________

It seems impossible for people at the moment to grasp that I’m not on their side and also not on the other side. So, for example, when I predict that Trump will be impeached and declare that it will be richly deserved, I’m taken to be a Democrat. Or when I describe and sneer exhaustedly at the way CNN and The New York Times have transformed themselves from news organizations into obsessive anti-Trump ranters, it’s obvious that I’m a Republican.

I don’t even understand this line of thought: a society in which you could infer someone’s whole politics from his prediction of whether Trump will be impeached is entirely irrational, because the whole edifice of anyone’s political beliefs is completely irrelevant to the factual claim. If political ideology correlates across the population with whether people think Trump will be impeached, the right conclusion is that everyone is operating on the same standard of evidence: wishful thinking.

Be that as it may, I think that in 2017 CNN and the Times and many others compromised their own mission, as they themselves purport to understand it. Watching Jake Tapper or Don Lemon in a righteous lather every afternoon and evening: you might as well be watching Sean Hannity. But Hannity knows who he is: a right-wing polemicist. Tapper and Lemon are still purporting to be news anchors. The Times did somewhat better with a news/opinion firewall. But they should understand, as well, that when more or less all your columnists are unanimous anti-Trump verbal abusers and your every editorial hits the same tone of indiscriminate outrage, they’re making their institutional culture evident to their readers. I know and they know that they’d do anything to destroy Trump. That may even be their duty as citizens or something as they understand it. But it’s incompatible with the values and purposes of their profession.

Also, they might want to consider that Charles Blow, Timothy Egan, and Paul Krugman are, as verbal abusers, completely incompetent: excruciatingly repetitive, utterly predictable, indistinguishable from one another or thousands of others of their ilk. You could sell me a year of insults directed at the President, but you’ve got to write better than that.

These organizations may think they can take a virtually unanimous political position as individuals and on their opinion pages and also function as neutral arbiters of the facts and gatekeepers of relevant information. But this distinction doesn’t necessarily come naturally to readers, and they should reflect that they’re giving many good reasons to be suspicious that numerous aspects of their news coverage are consciously or semi-consciously devoted to inculcating their shared ideology, or to motivating rather than informing people.

To all these difficulties, they’ve managed to add a layer of continual self-righteous defense of their own neutrality. One of the biggest stories they covered last year was Trump’s supposed repression of and misunderstanding of journalism. Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post: “How scary it is to have a president who derides us as ‘the enemy of the American people.’ To have a cable news network that inflames his worst instincts and recklessly flings suggestions of a ‘coup’ by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. To have nearly half the public, egged on by Trump’s bellowing about ‘fake news,’ believing that reporters simply invent negative stories about the president.” (How scary is it that Fox News exists? She slipped that one in there, but it’s the mirror image of Trump’s attacks on CNN, for example.) Like many alleged news stories last year, the underlying events in Marcus’ crisis consisted of little but a series of tweets.

Indeed, it couldn’t be more obvious that the self-image of these newsrooms as part of the political resistance infects their news coverage every day. There might’ve been 30 tweets last year that were greeted as actual crises, covered as though they were acts of terrorism or natural disasters. The fake news is the enemy of the people. Mika had a facelift. NFL players shouldn’t kneel. Jeff Sessions is “beleaguered.” In the end, almost none had any effect on anything, and yet they filled the pages and airwaves day after day.

An astonishing example of the extreme slant (and we might throw in The Washington Post, MSNBC, and the network news broadcasts) is one of the biggest stories of 2017, which has dominated the news on and off since May: the counter-factual Mueller firing crisis. What if Trump were to fire Mueller? You can ask every guest that question; you can desperately probe for leaks to the effect that he may have mentioned it. In other words, you can cover a story that hasn’t happened, and that you have no particular reason to think will happen, heavily for a year. It’s an interpretation of Trump’s personality, or a personal takedown. It purports to be objective coverage (of the non-facts, mind you).

Perhaps Trump will fire Mueller at some point. That would be the time to write your “Mueller-firing-constitutional-crisis” story, if you regard your primary function as reporting the facts. Or you could, instead, blame Trump for events that haven’t occurred and call that news.

Media organizations have to think about readership numbers, ratings and page views. I think they’re doing well in this regard; their total anti-Trump obsession is paying off in that sense, at least at the moment. But they should also consider what sort of operations they’re becoming; more and more, CNN represents a mirror mage of Fox, and The New York Times of Breitbart. Marcus, who is one of the better and more reasonable columnists working today in many ways, pretty much says right there that the job of thePost is to compensate for the existence of Fox. But to do that, all of these publications are becoming more like Fox every day.

Well, it seems like we all are, so now you’re probably reading me as a Republican. If so, there’s just going to be no point in trying to communicate.

Originally published on January 1, 2018 and can be found here.

Court Refuses To Apply Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine

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

In Jackson v. Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church Deacon Board(IL App., June 30, 2016), an Illinois state appeals court refused to apply the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine in a breach of contract suit by a pastor who employment was terminated by his church.  The pastor contended that the church had agreed that his employment would be governed by the church’s bylaws.  The court held:

[P]laintiff alleges that defendants failed to (1) provide a written notice of dissatisfaction; (2) hold a special meeting; (3) provide notice of a vote to the members; and (4) have a proper membership vote. To resolve this dispute, we need only look to the plain text of the church’s bylaws and the relevant facts to determine whether or not defendants breached their oral agreement by failing to comply with its bylaws. Since we need not inquire into any religious doctrines, and can address this issue employing neutral principles of civil law, we have jurisdiction to decide whether defendants breached their oral agreement with plaintiff.

The court went on to agree with the trial court’s finding that defendants were completely compliant with the bylaws in dismissing the pastor.

You can learn more about this issue here.

DC Circuit In Procedural Reversal Allows Religious Discrimination Suit To Proceed

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

In Al-Saffy v. Vilsack, (DC Cir., July 1, 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the district court and allowed a religious and national origin discrimination claim against both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of State to proceed.  As stated by the court, “Determining whether Al-Saffy’s lawsuit was properly brought requires us to navigate a quagmire of procedural rules.”  BNA Daily Labor Report summarizes the court’s holding:

Mohamed Tahwid Al-Saffy raised genuine factual issues about whether Agriculture and State were his joint employers when he directed the trade offices in Saudi Arabia and Yemen…. Although Al-Saffy wasn’t “officially employed” by the State Department, he reported directly to the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who are State employees, the court said…..

The court also rejected arguments that Al-Saffy did not file his lawsuit in a timely manner.  Again BNA summarizes the court’s holding:

An EEOC order that omits that required information can’t trigger the 90-day deadline, the court said. Al-Saffy therefore retained the option to sue at any time after 180 days had elapsed from his filing of the original administrative complaint….

You can learn more about this issue here.

Teaching lechery and getting lechers

– – Wednesday, November 29, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Another day and yet more and more claims of sexual assault flood the news.

NBC announced Wednesday its firing of Matt Lauer. Axios reports that, in addition to Mr. Lauer, the list of sexual miscreants now includes the likes of celebrity chef John Besh, Comedian Louis C.K, Cinefamily executives Hadrian Belove and Shadie Elnashai, actor Richard Dreyfuss, director-producer Gary Goddard, casting employee Andy Henry, actor Dustin Hoffman, actor Robert Knepper, showrunner Andrew Kreisberg, actor Jeremy Piven, filmmaker Brett Ratner, comedy festival organizer Gilbert Rozon, producer Chris Savino, actor Steven Seagal, actor Tom Sizemore, actor Kevin Spacey, actor Jeffrey Tambor, actor George Takei, writer-director James Toback, “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, actor Ed Westwick, Billboard magazine executive Stephen Blackwell, Penguin Random House art director Giuseppe Castellano, New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish, Artforum publisher Knight Landesman, NPR news chief Michael Oreskes, Amazon executive Roy Price, Webster Public Relations CEO Kirt Webster, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier, NBC News booking exec Matt Zimmerman, Sen. Al Franken, Senate candidate Roy Moore, Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel, Florida Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens resigned, Florida Republican state Senator Jack Latvala, Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, International Olympic Committee member Alex Gilady, Former South African soccer association president Danny Jordaan, Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and CBS News personality Charlie Rose.

And let’s not forget the 2006 accusations against Vice President Al Gore, the 2008 disclosure of vice presidential candidate John Edwards’ illicit affair, the 2016 recording of President Trump’s boorish boasting, and the granddaddy of them all: the repeated accusations of multiple rapes and assaults levied against former President Bill Clinton.

Why are we surprised by any of this? Why do any of these rampant claims of sexual aggression seem to catch us off guard? Can we really take anyone seriously who pretends to be shocked? Can we even take ourselves seriously if we act as if this all has taken us unawares?

If we have any measure of honesty left in our cultural soul, the answer has to be no. This story was as predictable as the sunrise and, furthermore, we all know the above list is only the tip of the iceberg.

How did we know this would happen, and how do we know that more is yet to follow? It is obvious. All we need to do to is look at our public schools and what we’ve been teaching for the past several decades. Ideas always have consequences and lecherous behavior will always be the inevitable consequence of teaching lechery.

For years our schools have mocked morality. Why are we now shocked to find we live in a society that has no understanding of personal morality?

For decades, we’ve taught our children that there are no boundaries. Why are we now surprised to find we have raised young adults who behave as if there are no boundaries?

Year in and year out we have taught our kids the merits of sexual experimentation, rather than the virtue of sexual restraint. And now we wonder why our country lacks virtue and our culture is void of sexual restraint?

We act as if something has gone wrong but yet we continue to teach our kids to do what is wrong.

We have torn down all standards but yet we are incredulous to find that we are led by men who have no standards.

We mock what is right and then shake our heads at leaders who don’t know how to do what is right.

“We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful,” said C.S. Lewis.

Nearly a hundred years ago, G.K. Chesterton warned of this moral castration: “The terrible danger in the heart of our Society is that the tests are giving way. We are altering not the evils, but the standards of good by which alone evils can be detected and defined.” He went on to say, “The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming from [those] resolved to enjoy themselves, with [nothing] to hold them back.”

Indeed the “attack” has come. It did not come from without but, rather, from within: from right within our own local schools. As your grandmother once said, “Garbage in and garbage out” and the ideological garbage we have taught our children in our classrooms is now bearing itself out in the garish behavior we now see in our culture.

Ideas have consequences. When you teach lechery, you get lechers. Alter the standard of good by which you detect evil, and evil prevails. If you don’t want your progeny to get cancer of mind and soul, you might want to stop feeding them the ideological carcinogens that gave them the disease in the first place.

By Everett Piper who is president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery Faith, 2017).  This was originally published in Wallbuilders on December 29, 2017 and can be seen here.

Denial of Use Permit Did Not Impose “Substantial Burden” Under RLUIPA

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

In Livingston Christian Schools v. Genoa Charter Township(ED MI, June 30, 2016), a Michigan federal district court held that a township’s denial of a special use permit did not impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise rights of a Christian school.  The school sought to move to a building currently owned by a church and recently leased to the school. The court said in part:

The term “substantial burden” is not defined in the RLUIPA. The Sixth Circuit in Living Water Church of God v. Charter Twp. of Meridian articulated a standard which requires LCS to show that, “ . . . the government action place[s] substantial pressure on [it] to violate its religious beliefs or effectively bar[s] [it] from using its property in the exercise of its religion[.]” … While it may be less convenient or more expensive for LCS to operate its school from a different location, the circumstances present here do not constitute a substantial burden…. Because LCS has not “proffered evidence showing that it cannot carry out its church missions and ministries due to the Township’s denial,” it has not established a substantial burden on its free exercise of religion.

The court also rejected the school’s 1st and 14th Amendment challenges.

You can learn more about this issue here.

In Settlement, Good News Clubs Win Equal Access To After-School Facilities

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

In Cleveland, Ohio, Child Evangelism Fellowship has won equal treatment with non-religious community groups in use of public school facilities for after-school activities.  The consent order (full text) in Child Evangelism Fellowship of Ohio, Inc. v. Cleveland Metropolitan School District, (ND OH, June 28, 2016) provides that the school district will revise its equal access policy for community use of district facilities.  Under the revised policy, the school district will accept the services provided to students by Good News Clubs as in-kind payment of fees for using facilities to the same extent as it accepts services of non-religious groups. The federal court consent order also provides that the school district will pay nominal damages of $100 and attorneys’ fees of $149,900 because its prior unequal treatment of Child Evangelism Fellowship violated the 1st and 14th Amendments. Liberty Counsel issued a press release announcing the consent order.

You can learn more about this issue here.

I’m a Pediatrician. Here’s What I Did When a Little Boy Patient Said He Was a Girl.

“Congratulations, it’s a boy!” Or, “Congratulations, it’s a girl!”

As a pediatrician for nearly 20 years, that’s how many of my patient relationships began. Our bodies declare our sex.

Biological sex is not assigned. Sex is determined at conception by our DNA and is stamped into every cell of our bodies. Human sexuality is binary. You either have a normal Y chromosome, and develop into a male, or you don’t, and you will develop into a female. There are at least 6,500 genetic differences between men and women. Hormones and surgery cannot change this.

An identity is not biological, it is psychological. It has to do with thinking and feeling. Thoughts and feelings are not biologically hardwired. Our thinking and feeling may be factually right or factually wrong.

If I walk into my doctor’s office today and say, “Hi, I’m Margaret Thatcher,” my physician will say I am delusional and give me an anti-psychotic. Yet, if instead, I walked in and said, “I’m a man,” he would say, “Congratulations, you’re transgender.”

If I were to say, “Doc, I am suicidal because I’m an amputee trapped in a normal body, please cut off my leg,” I will be diagnosed with body identity integrity disorder. But if I walk into that doctor’s office and say, “I am a man, sign me up for a double mastectomy,” my physician will. See, if you want to cut off a leg or an arm you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender.

No one is born transgender. If gender identity were hardwired in the brain before birth, identical twins would have the same gender identity 100 percent of the time. But they don’t.

I had one patient we’ll call Andy. Between the ages of 3 and 5, he increasingly played with girls and “girl toys” and said he was a girl. I referred the parents and Andy to a therapist. Sometimes mental illness of a parent or abuse of the child are factors, but more commonly, the child has misperceived family dynamics and internalized a false belief.

In the middle of one session, Andy put down the toy truck, held onto a Barbie, and said, “Mommy and Daddy, you don’t love me when I’m a boy.” When Andy was 3, his sister with special needs was born, and required significantly more of his parents’ attention. Andy misperceived this as “Mommy and Daddy love girls. If I want them to love me, I have to be a girl.” With family therapy Andy got better.

Today, Andy’s parents would be told, “This is who Andy really is. You must ensure that everyone treats him as a girl, or else he will commit suicide.”

As Andy approaches puberty, the experts would put him on puberty blockers so he can continue to impersonate a girl.

It doesn’t matter that we’ve never tested puberty blockers in biologically normal children. It doesn’t matter that when blockers are used to treat prostate cancer in men, and gynecological problems in women, they cause problems with memory. We don’t need testing. We need to arrest his physical development now, or he will kill himself.

But this is not true. Instead, when supported in their biological sex through natural puberty, the vast majority of gender-confused children get better. Yet, we chemically castrate gender-confused children with puberty blockers. Then we permanently sterilize many of them by adding cross-sex hormones, which also put them at risk for heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers, and even the very emotional problems that the gender experts claim to be treating.

P.S. If a girl who insists she is male has been on testosterone daily for one year, she is cleared to get a bilateral mastectomy at age 16. Mind you, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with a report that urges pediatricians to caution teenagers about getting tattoos because they are essentially permanent and can cause scarring. But this same AAP is 110 percent in support of 16-year-old girls getting a double mastectomy, even without parental consent, so long as the girl insists that she is a man, and has been taking testosterone daily for one year.

To indoctrinate all children from preschool forward with the lie that they could be trapped in the wrong body disrupts the very foundation of a child’s reality testing. If they can’t trust the reality of their physical bodies, who or what can they trust? Transgender ideology in schools is psychological abuse that often leads to chemical castration, sterilization, and surgical mutilation.

By Michelle Cretella and published on December 11, 2017 in the The Daily Signal and can be seen here.

A LIFELINE FOR THE DISABLED

Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!

ToughLawyerLady

Although Anthony T. Hincks stated “the only disability that I have, is that I’m human”, that is not true for many people. Although I wish my readers long and healthy lives, many people find themselves at some point in their lives, through no fault of their own, partially or fully medically disabled. I beg you, as well as your family, friends, colleagues and clients, to seek the help of a lawyer when you are applying for long-term (and in some cases short-term) disability benefits, requesting leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, requesting accommodations pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, or applying for Social Security disability benefits.

One should not assume that just because they have successfully completed the first level of any of the above application processes, that one is home free. The application process is just the tip of a much larger iceberg that lies below the…

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