Attorney sound bite: Travis Barham
on behalf of a Christian student group. In light of the settlement and
corrected policies, the group has voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit.
officials banned the Solid Rock Christian Club from including religious
speech as part of a homecoming event. The college, located in the town
of Ephraim, also denied the club benefits that it extended to other groups.
are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” said Alliance Defending
Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. “Snow College has done
the right thing in recognizing that the First Amendment protects the
freedom of all students to gather with those of like mind and to express their ideas, and that includes students of faith and religious ideas.”
College policies treated student organizations “associated with
religious institutions” very differently than other student groups.
While most groups could meet in campus facilities without charge,
advertise their events without fees, and seek funding for their
activities, Snow College prohibited religious student groups–including
Solid Rock Christian Club–from doing the same.
In addition, Snow
College officials prohibited Solid Rock from displaying a Christian
message and cross as part of the school’s “Paint the Town” homecoming
event, in which student groups decorated the front windows of participating local businesses.
Solid Rock began decorating its assigned window with a cross and a
message that incorporated the homecoming theme with the group’s
Christian message, school officials instructed the club to stop,
claiming the group was not allowed to “paint any religious symbols or
anything related to religion.” Later, college officials removed the
students’ message from another building, telling the students in an
e-mail that their Christian message “is in poor taste.”
According to the settlement,
the college has agreed “not to adopt or enforce the provisions of the
old policies…that deny student organizations ‘associated with religious
institutions’ the privileges afforded other student organizations.” The
settlement states that college officials “have already implemented [the]
revised policies…and have published them to Snow College students on
April 1, 2013.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed its voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit Solid Rock Christian Club v. Wyatt in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah on April 10. Frank D. Mylar, one of more than 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, served as local counsel in the suit.
- “Speak Up” University website
- Pronunciation guide: Barham (BAYR’-um)
- Idaho student groups to get full religious freedom on college campuses… (republicanstates.wordpress.com)
- Tennessee college groups to get full religious freedom… (republicanstates.wordpress.com)
- Atheists hungry to end prayer breakfast tradition in Miss. (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
22 Arrested in Front of White House on Saturday Standing for Religious Freedom — More Expected at 4 PM Today, Sunday
- Actsfive29, will be held in Lafayette Park Saturday, September 29 through Tuesday, October 2. (deaconjohnspace.wordpress.com)
- Religious Freedom in America (metamorphosisofthemind.wordpress.com)
Alliance Defending Freedom sends letters to SC public schools to debunk misleading advice
Monday, September 10, 2012
Attorney sound bite: Matt Sharp
“The Constitution should be the only permission slip students need to exercise their freedom of religion,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “The ACLU’s ‘Religious Freedom Goes to School’ campaign paints a restrictive picture of the freedoms for students, teachers, and school administrators that the First Amendment protects. School districts in South Carolina should be wary of taking advice about religious freedom from an organization that frequently seeks to give that freedom a backseat to their own social and political agenda.”
According to the ACLU’s campaign, public schools should pattern their religious freedom school policies after a single settlement that the ACLU reached in a lawsuit against the Chesterfield County School District. The settlement put an end to various religious activities within the district.
But as the Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains, the settlement in that isolated lawsuit “does not accurately represent the current law on First Amendment rights” and “school districts have nothing to fear in permitting the free exercise of these rights.”
The letter also notes that the ACLU “has a long history of being on the wrong side of religious liberty.” Despite the ACLU’s claims, the letter explains the freedom religious student groups have to access school facilities and distribute literature on an equal basis with other groups and the freedom of students to lead prayer at school events. The letter also addresses the truth about the religious expression of teachers, coaches, and administrators and the objective use of the Bible and other religious texts at school.
“We hope our letter clarifies the true extent of the First Amendment freedoms of students and schools,” added Sharp. “Public schools are supposed to serve as institutions of learning where free speech is protected. They should not be places of indoctrination that are hostile to religion.”
Summerville, S.C., attorney P. Brandt Shelbourne, one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, is assisting as local counsel.
- Sample of Alliance Defending Freedom letter sent to South Carolina school districts
- Sample of ACLU letter sent to South Carolina school districts
- South Carolina Education Head Opposes ACLU’s Religious Freedom Campaign (patheos.com)
- ACLU Tells Public Schools It’s Monitoring School Prayer Complaints (blogs.wsj.com)
- A Back-to-School Fight Over the Right to Classroom Prayer (ideas.time.com)
- Too bad, ACLU! The Bible’s back in school (wnd.com)
Monday, July 09, 2012
ADF attorney sound bite: Alan Sears
“Our mission remains the same–defending religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family. Only our name has changed,” said Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears. “The change is to help more people easily understand the work that we do and why it matters.”
“The emphasis remains on the word ‘alliance,’” Sears explained. “Continuously building an alliance of attorneys and like-minded individuals and organizations is absolutely essential to our mission. ‘Defending Freedom’ communicates the essence of what the alliance does: legally defending and advocating for religious freedom.”
The new tagline is “For Faith, For Justice.” Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies work tirelessly to ensure that people everywhere can freely live a life of faith under laws that safeguard, rather than undermine, religious freedom.
- Town Ordered to Find Non-Christians to Lead Invocations | Alliance Defending Freedom Blog (amhec.wordpress.com)
- Religious freedom prevails in Texas school flier showdown (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- VA Tech changes discriminatory student fee policy (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- Posters at Mo. School not just for zombies anymore (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- Prayer before meals back at the table for Pa. seniors (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- Notre Dame Suing Obama Administration Over Birth Control Mandate (huffingtonpost.com)
- Our Sunday Visitor joins lawsuit defending religious liberty (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- Cardinal Dolan Upset with White House (gloucestercitynews.net)
WASHINGTON, March 29, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Two religious liberty advocates appointed this week to serve as Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) are being met with sharply differing responses. Both Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton University and Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracywere met with enthusiastic approval from the
‘s religious liberty director, while the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the liberal think tank Center for American Progress sharply criticized the appointments.
George has a high profile arguing for traditional marriage while Jasser is a critic of radical Islam. Both appointees are experienced in combating threats to religious liberty. George was appointed by Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner. Jasser was appointed by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
George, who is Roman Catholic, is a board member emeritus of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Jasser is Muslim. His organization advocates ‘for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state.’
An independent U.S. government commission, the USCIRF was created by the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998. The commission was threatened in 2011 when re-authorization was held up in the Senate.
IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is critical to U.S. advocacy for those who are persecuted for their faith around the world. George and Jasser are both men of great integrity and courage. They will be tremendous assets to the Commission.
“George has been a leader in battling threats to religious freedom on the domestic front, but this has not led him to the myopia that sometimes appears to afflict those involved in that set of issues. George’s appreciation for and the value he places in the religious freedom guaranteed under our Constitution and universality of human rights as given by God makes him a passionate defender of international religious liberty.
“As a Muslim who seeks to confront ‘the ideologies of political Islam’ and openly counter ‘the common belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State (Islamism),’ Jasser will provide great insight as the Commission investigates human rights violations that stem from adherence to this very concept.”
- Terror-linked CAIR attacks new Muslim appointee to commission, calls ‘puppet’ for infidels (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- IRD to Join with ICC, Ethiopian Community Demanding Saudis Release Ethiopian Christian Prisoners (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- IRD: March to Stop Sudan’s ‘Weapons of Mass Starvation’ (faithinspires.wordpress.com)