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Archive for November, 2010

Canadian Student Group Forced Off Campus for Pro-Life Views

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 18, 2010

A Canadian student pro-life club may disappear from campus after the governing student association ruled its pro-life constitution discriminates against pro-choice beliefs.

Carleton University’s Student Association has given pro-life club Carleton Lifeline an ultimatum: Change your constitution to embrace pro-choice values by Thursday or lose your certification as a campus club.

“It is ironic that they support choice and do not see that they not having an abortion is a choice,” Ruth Lobo, a student of the Ottawa school and president of Carleton Lifeline, told the National Post.

In the CUSA’s letter to the club, Khaldoon Bushnaq, vice president of international affairs, noted in an e-mail sent Monday that Carleton Lifeline’s constitution states “abortion is a moral and legal wrong.” By contrast, the CUSA holds that it supports a woman’s right to choose abortion and does not support efforts to limit or remove that choice.

“As a result, the club Carleton Lifeline cannot gain certification in that it had failed to provide a ‘written constitution, not in contravention of the CUSA Constitution, Bylaws, or Policy Manual,’” Bushnaq wrote.

Albertos Polizogopoulos, Carleton Lifeline’s attorney, said losing club certification will make it harder for the group to operate on campus. No certification means no university funding.

“They will not be allowed to book space to hold events and meetings on campus. They will not be listed in the campus list of clubs,” explained Polizogopoulos.

Campus certification is not the only problem for Carleton Lifeline. Five members of the group are also facing criminal trespassing charges after they tried to stage a genocide awareness display on campus grounds in early October.

The display was that of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), a traveling photo-mural exhibit sponsored by the Center of Bio-Ethical Reform. The mural juxtaposes abortion images with those of genocide. The GAP’s goal, as expressed on their website, is to expand “the context in which people think about abortion.” The project has traveled to several universities.

Carleton Lifeline sent the university a letter requesting permission to host the GAP outdoors. It was sent a letter permitting them to host the project indoors in, as Polizogpoulos described it, a secluded room.

Members of the group tried to hold the event outdoors, in conjunction with The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and were promptly arrested and carried off to jail.

“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression and prohibits discrimination on the basis of political beliefs,” asserted Polizogopoulos.

He says Carleton University, a government-funded school, must adhere to this right and also their own policy with similarly protects political speech.

As of now, Carleton Lifeline has not changed its constitution. Instead, Polizogopoulos says the group plans to appeal the CUSA’s decision through a process established by the university. Polizogopoulos is also representing the group in court. The students involved face possible fines for their activities.

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Religious Celebrations on Public Property Approved by Virginia Attorney General

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 17, 2010

Lynchburg, VA – As communities plan for the Christmas season, Liberty Counsel reminds citizens of the opinion issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that Christmas displays and Nativity scenes can be legally exhibited on public property. 

There is a great deal of misinformation about the legality of public displays and celebrations of Christmas. In anticipation of the holiday season, Delegate Bob Marshall requested an opinion from the Virginia Attorney General’s office regarding the legality of nativity scenes. 

In a detailed opinion, Cuccinelli shed light on the original intent of both the United States and Virginia Constitutions in regards to freedom of religion and concluded that the “establishment of religion” clause does not, in fact, compel local governments to restrict religious speech on public property. He further stated that the local governments themselves may recognize such religious holidays as Christmas, as long as religious symbols are accompanied by secular ones. 

In another section of his opinion, Cuccinelli addressed an issue that many Christian employees face throughout the year, dealing with the right of public employees to display religious artwork or symbols in their offices. He concluded that only under certain limited conditions could the government restrict the religious speech of its employees. Liberty Counsel applauds the work being done by the Attorney General of Virginia. 

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Christmas is constitutional. Christmas is a state and federal holiday. To celebrate or acknowledge the holiday season without Christmas is like celebrating a birthday party without the honored guest. Refusing to acknowledge Christmas while honoring every other conceivable holiday may well violate the Constitution.”

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Can Being a Christian Cost You Your Job?

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 17, 2010

Craig Richter has had an outstanding track record as the principal of Foothill Elementary School in Santa Barbara, California. He has consistently achieved high performance evaluations, great rapport with parents, and increased student standardized test scores. Craig also values teachers and believes in honoring those who positively impact the lives of students.

 Click on image to see video


So when the organizers of the 52nd Annual Santa Barbara Community Prayer Breakfast enlisted the support of several local educators to endorse this inter-denominational and non-sectarian event honoring area school teachers, Craig elected to participate – on his own time, as a member of the community.

To help get the word out to local business owners, Craig appeared for 30 seconds in a three-minute promotional video, along with a Santa Barbara-area school superintendent and a local high school teacher. Craig identified himself as the principal of Foothill School, but did not mention the school district. Regardless, a school district board member who viewed the video on the Internet filed a complaint against Craig, wrongly claiming that he had violated the so-called “separation of church and state.”

The school district proceeded to place Craig on a disciplinary “performance plan” and has threatened to end his contract in March 2011. Craig contacted ADF for legal assistance and was referred to a local ADF-allied attorney who is now defending Craig’s constitutionally protected freedom of speech in an effort to help him keep his job.

Personally endorsing a prayer event that invites people of all faiths to honor teachers does not violate the U.S. Constitution. Nonetheless, Christians – like Craig – are increasingly being discriminated against and punished by their employers for expressing their religious beliefs outside of the workplace as private citizens.

Christians’ Careers in Jeopardy

For decades, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its allies have used fear, intimidation, and disinformation to enforce the myth of the so-called “separation of church and state.” Although this term is not found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, the opposition has instilled the widespread misperception that all religious expression must be banned from the public square.

As a result, government and secular employers are increasingly intruding on the God-given, constitutionally protected right of Christians to express their faith in public – even when they do so as private citizens.

ADF and its more than 1,800 allied attorneys across America are defending Christians – like Donald Mendell and Dr. Michael Campion – whose careers have been jeopardized simply because they expressed support of Christian organizations, initiatives, and values:  

  • Donald Mendell is a respected guidance counselor at Nokomis Regional High School in Maine, who has received awards and recognition for years of outstanding professional and community service. Don is also a Christian who expressed his belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman by appearing in a television ad that encouraged citizens to vote in favor of Ballot Question 1, which would repeal a state law that fabricated same-sex “marriage.” Two counselors, who oppose Don’s beliefs about marriage, reported him to the state social workers’ licensing board.  
  • Dr. Michael Campion is a Christian psychologist who performed employment testing for the city of Minneapolis. After learning about Dr. Campion’s affiliation with a conservative Christian organization – the Illinois Family Institute – the city “suspended” him. And even though the city had no evidence that Dr. Campion’s work was flawed or biased – and an independent psychologist informed the city that Dr. Campion was clearly an expert in his line of work – the city terminated its professional relationship with his firm and hired a more expensive, less-experienced contractor to fill the position.

Even though Don’s and Dr. Campion’s religiously based activities occurred outside of the workplace as private citizens, they were still discriminated against and punished by the government for being Christian. And, had it not been for ADF legal intervention, they would have suffered severe consequences. Favorable rulings in cases like these are crucial, as they could have serious ramifications for the religious freedom of Christians across America.

Protecting Religious Freedom with Your Help

The opposition is working overtime to stop the spread of the Gospel. By taking legal action, they are intimidating Christians like you into silence in an effort to contain your faith within the walls of your church. With the generous support of Ministry Friends like you, ADF will continue to defend the constitutionally protected right of Christians to boldly proclaim the Truth without fear of punishment in the workplace – or anywhere else.

Will you stand with us to stop these attacks on religious freedom? Your best gift today will make a significant difference!

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Celebrating Thanksgiving in America

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 16, 2010

The tradition introduced by European Americans of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America. For example, such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; 1 in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; 2 in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de Oñate and his expedition; 3 in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; 4 in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; 5 (and many other such celebrations). But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. 6 Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.” 7

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, 8 reaped a bountiful harvest. 9 As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are far from want.” 10 The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends 11 – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November.

However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after that time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained:

It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. 12

The drought had been broken; the fall therefore produced an abundant harvest; there was cause for another thanksgiving. The Pilgrim practice of designating an official time of Thanksgiving spread into neighboring colonies and became an annual tradition. 13 And just as those neighboring colonies followed the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, so, too, did they adopt their practice of calling for a time of prayer and fasting. The New England Colonies therefore developed a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall.

The Thanksgiving celebrations so common throughout New England did not begin to spread southward until the American Revolution, when Congress issued eight separate national Thanksgiving Proclamations. (Congress also issued seven separate proclamations for times of fasting and prayer, for a total of 15 official prayer proclamations during the American Revolution. 14)

America’s first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789 with the commencement of the federal government. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, the first act after the Framers completed the framing of the Bill of Rights was that:

Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:

Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .

Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion. 15

That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who heartily concurred with the request and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring in part:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection. 16

That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church (of which President Washington was a member) announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” 17 Following President Washington’s initial proclamation, national Thanksgiving Proclamations occurred only sporadically (another by President Washington in 1795, one by John Adams in 1799, one by James Madison in 1814 and again in 1815, etc.); 18 most official Thanksgiving observances occurred at the state level. In fact, by 1815, the various state governments had issued at least 1,400 official prayer proclamations, almost half for times of thanksgiving and prayer and the other half for times of fasting and prayer. 19

Much of the credit for the adoption of Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular lady’s books containing poetry, art work, and articles by America’s leading authors. For nearly three decades, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, 20 contacting president after president until Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of that November. The Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Lincoln was remarkable not only for its strong religious content but also for its timing, for it was delivered in the midst of the darkest days of the Civil War, with the Union having lost battle after battle throughout the first three years of that conflict. Yet, despite those dark circumstances, Lincoln nevertheless called Americans to prayer with an air of positive optimism and genuine thankfulness, noting that:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. 21

That remarkable Thanksgiving Proclamation came at a pivotal point in Lincoln’s spiritual life. Three months earlier, the Battle of Gettysburg had occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. It had been while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he first committed his life to Christ. As he later explained to a clergyman:

When I left Springfield [Illinois, to assume the Presidency], I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. 22

The dramatic spiritual impact resulting from that experience was not only visible in Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation (and also his 1864 call for a day of prayer and fasting) but especially in his 1865 Second Inaugural Address.

Over the seventy-five years following Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, presidents faithfully followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day (but the date of the celebrations varied widely from proclamation to proclamation). In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of each November, and in 1941, Congress permanently established that day as the national Thanksgiving holiday. 23

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember to retain the original gratefulness to God that has always been the spirit of this – the oldest of all American holidays. (Below are representative examples of the scores of Thanksgiving proclamations penned by various Founding Fathers.)

[Congress] recommended [a day of] . . . thanksgiving and praise [so] that “the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join . . . their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, to forgive [our sins] and . . . to enlarge [His] kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” 24 Continental Congress, 1777 – written by SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION SAMUEL ADAMS AND RICHARD HENRY LEE

[I] appoint . . . a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God . . . to [ask] Him that He would . . . pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would . . . spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; . . . and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue. 25 GOVERNOR THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1779

[I] appoint . . . a day of public thanksgiving and praise . . . to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us . . . [by giving to] us . . . the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications…that He would forgive our manifold sins and . . . cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth. 26 GOVERNOR JOHN HANCOCK, 1790



1. Library of Congress, “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001” (at:

2. Library of Congress, “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001” (at

3. Texas Almanac, “The First Thanksgiving?” (at

4. Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: James A. Bailey, 1895), Vol. 1, pp. 181-182; see also National Park Service, “The Reverend Robert Hunt: The First Chaplain at Jamestown” (at

5. “Berkeley Plantation,” Berkeley Plantation, (at: (accessed November 17, 2008).(Return)

6. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), pp. 74, 78, 80, 91.(Return)

7. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 95.(Return)

8. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 100.(Return)

9. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 105.(Return)

10. William S. Russell, Guide to Plymouth and Recollections of the Pilgrims (Boston: George Coolidge, 1846), p. 95, quoting from a letter of Pilgrim Edward Winslow to George Morton of London, written on December 21, 1621.(Return)

11. Ashbel Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims: Or the Life and Time of William Brewster (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1857), pp. 269-270.(Return)

12. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 142.(Return)

13. DeLoss Love, Jr, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton,, Mifflin & Co, 1895), pp. 87-90.(Return)

14. See the Journals of the Continental Congress (1905) for June 12, 1775; March 16, 1776; December 11, 1776; November 1, 1777; March 7, 1778; November 17, 1778; March 20, 1779; October 20, 1779; March 11, 1780; October 18, 1780; March 20, 1781; October 26, 1781; March 19, 1782; October 11, 1782; October 18, 1783.(Return)

15. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, pp. 949-950.(Return)

16. George Washington, Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor ((Boston: Russell, Odiorne and Metcalf, 1838), Vol. XII, p. 119, Proclamation for a National Thanksgiving on October 3, 1789.(Return)

17. The American Cyclopaedia, A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, George Ripley and Charles A. Dana, editors (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1883), Vol. XV, p. 684, s.v., “Thanksgiving Day.”(Return)

18. See, for example, H. S. J. Sickel, Thanksgiving: Its Source, Philosophy and History With All National Proclamations (Philadelphia: International Printing Co, 1940), pp. 154-155, “Thanksgiving Day- 1795” by George Washington, pp. 156-157, “Thanksgiving Day – 1798” by John Adams, pp. 158-159, “Thanksgiving Day – 1799” by John Adams, p. 160, “Thanksgiving Day – 1814” by James Madison, p. 161, “Thanksgiving Day – 1815” by James Madison, etc.(Return)

19. Deloss Love, in his work The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England, lists some 1,735 proclamations issued between 1620 and 1820, in a non-exclusive list. Of those, 284 were issued by churches and 1,451 by civil authorities. Of the civil proclamations, 1,028 were issued prior to July 4, 1776, and 413 from July 4, 1776 to 1820. Of the church issued proclamations, 278 were issued before July 4, 1776, and six afterwards. These, however, are only a portion of what were issued; for example, the author personally owns hundreds of additional proclamations not listed in Love’s work. While the exact number of government-issued prayer proclamations is unknown, it is certain that they certainly number in the thousands.(Return)

20. Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, James Grant Wilson & John Fiske, editors (New York: D. Appleton & Co, 1888), Vol. III, p. 35.(Return)

21. Abraham Lincoln, The Works of Abraham Lincoln, John H. Clifford & Marion M. Miller, editors (New York: University Society Inc, 1908), Vol. VI, pp. 160-161, Proclamation for Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863. See also, The American Presidency Project, “Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation – Thanksgiving Day, 1863” (at:

22. Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles. Osborn H. Oldroyd, editor (New York: G.W. Carleton & Co, 1882) p. 366, Reply to an Illinois Clergyman.(Return)

23. The National Archives, “Congress Establishes Thanksgiving” (at:; see also Pilgrim Hall Museum, “Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1940-1949: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman” (at:, Proclamation 2571: Days of Prayer: Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, November 11, 1942, referring to a “joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day.”(Return)

24. Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. IX, p. 855, November 1, 1777.(Return)

25. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. 3, p. 178, Proclamation Appointing a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, November 11, 1779.(Return)

26. John Hancock, Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving (Boston, 1790), from an original broadside in possession of the author.(Return)

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Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan ‘for blasphemy’

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 16, 2010

By Rob Crilly in Islamabad and Aoun Sahi in Lahore 5:36PM GMT 09 Nov 2010

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, denies blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith in a country where Christians face routine harassment and discrimination.

Christian groups and human rights campaigners condemned the verdict and called for the blasphemy laws to be repealed.

Her supporters say she will now appeal against the sentence handed down in a local court in the town of Sheikhupura, near Lahore, Pakistan.

Ashiq Masih, her husband, said he had not had the heart to break the news to two of their children.

“I haven’t told two of my younger daughters about the court’s decision,” he said. “They asked me many times about their mother but I can’t get the courage to tell them that the judge has sentenced their mother to capital punishment for a crime she never committed.” Mrs Bibi has been held in prison since June last year.

The court heard she had been working as a farmhand in fields with other women, when she was asked to fetch drinking water.

Some of the other women – all Muslims – refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian and was therefore “unclean”, according to Mrs Bibi’s evidence, sparking a row.

The incident was forgotten until a few days later when Mrs Bibi said she was set upon by a mob.

The police were called and took her to a police station for her own safety.

Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, said: “The police were under pressure from this Muslim mob, including clerics, asking for Asia to be killed because she had spoken ill of the Prophet Mohammed.

“So after the police saved her life they then registered a blasphemy case against her.” He added that she had been held in isolation for more than a year before being sentenced to death on Monday.

“The trial was clear,” he said. “She was innocent and did not say those words.” Earlier this year, Pakistan’s internet service providers were ordered to block Facebook to prevent access to supposedly blasphemous images.

Human rights groups believe the law is often used to discriminate against religious minorities, such as the country’s estimated three million Christians.

Although no one has ever been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws – most are freed on appeal – as many as 10 people are thought to have been murdered while on trial.

Ali Hasan Dayan, of Human Rights Watch, said the blasphemy laws were out of step with rights guaranteed under Pakistan’s constitution and should be repealed.

“It’s an obscene law,” he said. “Essentially the blasphemy law is used as a tool of persecution and to settle other scores that are nothing to do with religion.

“It makes religious minorities particularly vulnerable because it’s often used against them.”

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Atheists Lose Another ‘God’ in Pledge Battle

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 15, 2010

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in New Hampshire‘s public schools.

The decision on Friday by the three-judge panel dealt another blow to atheists who have made several attempts to strike down the pledge and the inclusion of the words “under God” as unconstitutional.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in 2007 on behalf of two parents whose three children were attending public schools. The parents are atheist and agnostic.

They challenged the New Hampshire School Patriot Act which requires that the state’s public schools authorize a period during the school day for students to voluntarily participate in the recitation of the national pledge. The act allows students who choose not to participate to stand silently or remain seated and to respect the rights of those pupils electing to participate.

After a court dismissed the atheists’ lawsuit, FFRF filed an amended complaint the following year, arguing that the state act violates the Establishment Clause, despite the voluntary nature of student participation in the pledge. The group argues that the schools’ pledge practices are religious because the pledge itself is a religious exercise in that it uses the phrase “under God.”

Chief Judge Sandra Lea Lynch wrote in the opinion that by design, the recitation of the pledge is meant to further “the policy of teaching our country’s history to the elementary and secondary pupils of this state.”

Rejecting the argument that the act is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, Lynch stated, “In reciting the Pledge, students promise fidelity to our flag and our nation, not to any particular God, faith, or church.”

The primary effect of the New Hampshire Act is not the advancement of religion, but the advancement of patriotism, she added.

“It takes more than the presence of words with religious content to have the effect of advancing religion, let alone to do so as a primary effect,” the judge wrote. “The Pledge and the phrase ‘under God’ are not themselves prayers, nor are they readings from or recitations of a sacred text of a religion.

“Here, the words ‘under God’ appear in a pledge to a flag – itself a secular exercise, accompanied by no other religious language or symbolism.”

Forty members of Congress and more than 80,000 Americans filed an amicus brief in support of the state act.

Lauding the decision, the American Center for Law and Justice said the ruling underscores what most Americans understand – “that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance embraces patriotism, not religion.”

“The decision not only upholds the constitutionality of the Pledge, it rejects another fruitless attempt by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to twist and distort the Constitution with its flawed reasoning,” the ACLJ commented.

“This decision regarding the Pledge in NH schools represents a significant and sound decision that sends a message: patriotic, time-honored traditions should be embraced – not targeted for extinction – in our public schools.”

Earlier this year, a similar ruling was made against a lawsuit brought by Sacramento atheist Michael A. Newdow. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is an endorsement of “our form of government” and not of religion.

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Lawyer ordered to pay damages to Jews for Jesus

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 13, 2010

By Brian Fitzpatrick
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

Mat Staver

A Florida judge has ordered lawyer Barry Silver to pay $45,273.90 in attorney’s fees to the attorneys representing Jews for Jesus in a suit filed by Silver.

The fees are intended to compensate Jews for Jesus for legal expenses incurred after Silver repeatedly refiled virtually identical suits against the organization when the initial suit had been dismissed for lack of merit.

The suit accuses Jews for Jesus of placing Silver’s client, Edith Rapp, in a “false light” by claiming untruthfully that Rapp had accepted the doctrinal teachings of Christianity, subjecting her to ridicule in her synagogue. Rapp’s stepson, Bruce, a member of Jews for Jesus, announced his stepmother’s conversion in a Jews for Jesus newsletter.

In his October 29 order, Palm Beach County circuit court judge Edward Fine declared that attorney Barry Silver was “engaging in bad faith litigation conduct.”

Silver told WND he plans to appeal the penalty, on the grounds that the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that his factual allegations do have merit, and he has filed another amended version of the case before the Florida courts. The case could have profound legal implications for First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion.

“He sought to use the court system to defame Jews for Jesus,” said attorney Mat Staver. “This attorney has allowed his hatred for Christianity to cloud his professional abilities. He has an animus against Christianity and has used this lawsuit as a polemic against Christianity and Jews for Jesus in spite of warnings from the court. The court awarded this sanction to stop this frivolous activity.”

Silver vehemently denies that he hates Christianity.

“The accusation that I am anti-Christian is completely false,” Silver told WND. “The allegations in this complaint are not that I am anti-Christian, but that my client finds it offensive to be described as a member of [Jews for Jesus].

“I’m a lawyer and a rabbi,” Silver told WND. “I’m one of the few rabbis who does interfaith weddings. I represent a Christian church, Westgate Tabernacle, I’ve been litigating pro bono for years in a conflict with the county about sheltering homeless people. I argued that is an infringement of their religious beliefs.”

Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Jews for Jesus in the case, told WND that any payments would go to Liberty Counsel directly because the firm did not charge Jews for Jesus for its services.

Staver said Liberty Counsel would “begin the process of recovering the fees” following Judge Fine’s order, promising to “force a sale of property” if Silver fails to pay up.

“He has filed the same case over and over, he’s now on his fourth round,” Staver explained. “The first three were almost identical, and that’s what he got sanctioned for by this court.”

Silver’s first three versions of the complaint castigated Jews for Jesus harshly.

• Jews for Jesus uses “many false assertions and deceptions to try to induce members of the Jewish faith to abandon the beliefs of their heritage yet believe that they are still Jews,” Silver wrote.

• “Certain leaders of Jews for Jesus who are Christian, change their names in order to sound as if they were Jewish in order to make the organization seem more Jewish.”

• “Jews for Jesus targets elderly Jews for conversion in order to persuade them to leave all or some of their money to Jews for Jesus instead of their families when they die.”

Silver also accused Bruce Rapp of “fabricating” the story of his stepmother’s conversion in order to “bolster his credentials” in Jews for Jesus, and to “retaliate” for his stepmother’s resistance to his efforts to convert his father.

In the latest version of his complaint, Silver removes much of the inflammatory language describing Jews for Jesus.

The “false light” case could help “define and clarify the law of defamation in Florida,” said Silver.

“False light” cases are accepted in other states, but not yet in Florida, according to Staver.

The Liberty Counsel president said such cases threaten the First Amendment by lowering the standard required to pursue defamation cases. Under “false light,” defamatory statements need not be inaccurate, only “offensive,” to be legally actionable.

Courtesy of

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Textbook Battle Brewing in Louisiana Over Evolution

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 13, 2010

A set of proposed new high school biology textbooks for Louisiana’s public schools are under fire by critics who say they give too much credibility to the theory of evolution, the Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge reported this week. (Hat tip to the National Center for Science Education for first bringing this development to my attention.)

The story explains that a state panel will review the issue today, after the state board of education last month delayed action on the textbooks because of the concerns raised.

“It is like Charles Darwin and his theory is a saint,” the story quotes Winston White of Baton Rouge as saying. White was among those to file comments with state officials reviewing the textbooks.

Defenders of the textbooks say the criticism is being led by the Louisiana Family Forum. That group, according to its website, aims to “persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking.”

Barbara Forrest, a professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, said she believes the critics are aiming to get disclaimers added to the textbooks, change their content, or pave the way for adding supplemental materials that challenge Darwin, she told the Advocate.

In fact, Forrest writes about the matter on her organization’s website: “We now have a Texas-style attack on the selection of biology textbooks, courtesy of the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), which brought us the creationist Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) of 2008.”

The Louisiana Coalition for Science describes itself as “a group of concerned Louisiana residents working to protect the teaching of science in Louisiana.”

Apparently, the critics of the proposed new textbooks may draw on the 2008 Louisiana law to strengthen their case. That measure says its aim is to foster an environment in public schools that “promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

For more on that law, check out my colleague Sean Cavanagh’s blog post from 2008. In it, Sean notes that the measure was opposed by several scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Speaking of evolution, stay tuned for an EdWeek story from my colleague Sarah D. Sparks that looks at the recent growth in research initiatives by various science organizations focused on identifying essential concepts for teaching evolution. The story will be posted on our website next week.

Update (10:46am): The Advocate newspaper published an editorial in today’s edition arguing against any changes to undermine the teaching of evolution.

Here’s an excerpt:

“When the state boards of education in Texas and Kansas bent to political pressure and began to censor or amend textbooks through distortions of science and history, those states were embarrassed in the nation,” it says. “We hope that experience is much on the minds of the committee that today will hear complaints about textbooks for high school biology in Louisiana.”

The editorial continues: “The committee members have a duty to reject intrusion of pseudo-science, such as creationism or its offshoot ‘intelligent design,’ into science classrooms. … [J]ust about every mainstream [religious] faith is accepting of the theory of evolution that is the basic building block for all scientific understanding of life on Earth.”

Courtesy of

Editors note: Dear unenlighted editoral writer-evolution is the biggest psuedo science in the world today and more and more scientists are seeing its utter fallacies and the neccesity to take giant leaps of faith to believe in it. Evolution is junk science in its purest form. I am not sure what this person was smoking or where they were getting their information from.

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Student Banned from Displaying American Flag on Veterans’ Day

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on November 12, 2010

Denair, CA – Today Liberty Counsel sent a letter to school officials demanding that a middle school student be allowed to return an American flag to the back of his bicycle. Cody Alicea, a 13-year-old, proudly flies the American flag on the back of his bike. He does this to honor veterans, namely his grandfather, who served our country. On Veterans’ day this week, school officials at the Denair Middle School prohibited Alicea from bringing his bike onto school grounds as long as it had an American flag. He was told that others had complained about the flag and were offended by it. Under protest, he now is removing the flag and storing it in his backpack while at school.

Superintendent Parraz expressed fear that students might bring flags of the United States and Mexico to school, and he attempts to justifying this decision as a way to avoid tension in the district. However, the district schools fly the American flag on flagpoles outside of their buildings and inside classrooms throughout the district. Parraz even claims the decision is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

This decision violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Sch. Dist., the Supreme Court protected the free speech rights of students on public school campuses. This potential for offense cannot provide justification for banning Cody from displaying the American flag in support of his country and its war veterans. Students have the right to wear printed words or symbols on their clothing and display them on their vehicles while on school property. Students=expression in this manner may only be limited if it materially and substantially interferes with or materially disrupts the ordinary operation of the school, not because the symbols or messages offend administrators or fellow students.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Liberty Counsel calls on school officials at Denair Middle School to rescind their nonsensical policy and to allow Cody Alicea to fly the American flag. The flag should be in every classroom. It is absurd to ban students from displaying the flag, especially on Veterans’ Day.”

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Planned Parenthood Got $349.6 Million in Tax Dollars, Performed 324,008 Abortions, Paid Its President $385,163

Posted by faithandthelaw on November 12, 2010

By Penny Starr

( – Planned Parenthood received $349.6 million in tax dollars in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2008, and it paid its president, Cecile Richards, $385,163, plus another $11,876 in benefits and deferred compensation.

According to a “fact sheet” published by the organization, Planned Parenthood Affiliate Health Centers performed 324,008 abortions in 2008.

Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2008 is the latest year for which the organization has publicly released an annual report and published the annual sum of grants and contracts it received from the government.

The $385,163 in pay Planned Parenthood President Richards received in the organization’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 was recorded in the group’s publicly available Internal Revenue Service Form 990 filed for that year.

Richards also received $346,285 in total compensation from Planned Parenthood and $38,476 in total compensation from related groups in the organization’s fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2009, according to the organization’s Form 990 for that year.

Planned Parenthood did not respond to repeated inquiries from about Cecile Richards’ compensation.

In January 2009, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers that receive taxpayer funding. His bill, H.R. 614, would amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit “providing any federal family planning assistance to an entity unless the entity certifies that, during the period of such assistance, the entity will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs an abortion.”

“Congressman Pence will continue to fight for the unborn and intends to reintroduce his legislation to defund Planned Parenthood this coming Congress,” Mary Vought, press secretary for the House Republican Congress, told

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Jan. 21, 2009 where it has since languished.

Courtesy of

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