Thursday, March 28, 2013

Americans United Urges Federal Appeals Courts To Uphold Contraceptive Access


Church-State Watchdog Files Four Friend-Of-The-Court Briefs Defending Workers’ Access To Birth-Control Coverage

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has told federal courts now considering the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s birth-control mandate that employers do not have a religious liberty right to deny their employees access to contraceptives.

Americans United said the mandate, which requires most businesses to provide workers with health insurance that includes no-cost birth control, should be upheld. If a “conscience” exemption is approved for corporations, the church-state watchdog group says, thousands of Americans will be denied birth-control coverage.

“Conservative religious interest groups are waging an all-out legal war on Americans’ access to birth control,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “We cannot let them win this battle. No corporation should ever be able to tell its employees that they can’t have access to contraceptive coverage simply because it offends the boss’ religious preference.

“This is clearly one of the most important church-state conflicts now before our courts,” Lynn added. “The Constitution and common sense tell us that Americans should not be denied basic health coverage because of the bogus ‘conscience’ claims of business interests.”

Americans United filed four friend-of-the-court briefs dealing with this issue in the past week. They concerned the following cases:

* Autocam Corporation, et al. v. Sebelius – A Michigan-based for-profit business that manufactures fuel systems, power-steering systems and medical devices seeks an exemption from the mandate due to the objections of its Roman Catholic owners. (6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)

* Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al. v. Sebelius – The evangelical Christian owners of this Oklahoma-based chain of for-profit craft stores and for-profit bookstores say they should be exempted from the mandate because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)

* Grote Industries, LLC, et al. v. Sebelius – The Indiana-based corporation’s Catholic owners say their business, which is a for-profit, secular corporation that manufactures vehicle safety systems, should not have to provide health insurance that includes free contraceptives because it violates their religious conscience. (7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)

* Legatus, et al. v. Sebelius – Weingartz Supply Company is a Michigan-based for-profit corporation that provides outdoor power equipment. Its Catholic owner objects to the contraceptive mandate on religious grounds.(6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)

In addition to amicus briefs in these four cases, Americans United has previously filed friend-of-the-court briefs in three other contraceptive-access cases pending at federal appeals courts.

The broad legal attack on birth-control coverage is being waged by Religious Right legal groups such as the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, TV preacher Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal outfit founded by TV and radio preachers.

"If secular, for-profit corporations win the right to impose their owners' religious beliefs on employees, the consequences will be felt well beyond the issue of contraception,” said Gregory M. Lipper, senior litigation counsel for Americans United and a primary author of the briefs.

“Corporations with owners who object to blood transfusions, psychiatric treatment or even gelatin-covered pills would be able to micromanage their employees' medical care.

“Decades-old laws that protect employees, consumers, and tenants from religious-based discrimination,” Lipper continued, “would also be on thin ice if the plaintiffs prevail here. For a nation with increasing religious diversity, that would be a giant step in the wrong direction."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Defense of Freedom Begins in the Military

The Defense of Freedom Begins in the Military

By KC Boyd, Al Jazeera English

18 March 13


The United States Air Force Academy has been pushing its Dominionist Christian beliefs onto its personnel.

he first protest rally since the Vietnam era took take place on Friday, March 8 outside the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). This time the focus was not on the subject of war but on the pervasive Christian Dominionist indoctrination within the Academy in particular, and the military in general. Over the decades, Colorado Springs - the home of the USAFA - has become ground zero for Dominionist Christianity. Perhaps there's something in the water. If not, it's most certainly in the air, for this is where Dominionist leaders the likes of James Dobson and the now-not-gay Ted Haggard cut their evangelising teeth with likely intent to Christianise our military.

Complete at:

Christian fundamentalists are driving our country into the Dark Ages

I also describe these religious fundies as flat-earthers who deny the evidence of science and even the existence of evidence.   I don't have the education to say for certain, but it seems the flat-earthers are the ones suffering from a mental disease.  Why else the fixation on punishment and privation and the relentless focus on the most distressful tales of their old testament bible?

clip So why is it that the so-called “values voters” are urged to vote against the politician who supports choice, not the politician who wants to shred that “circle of protection” for the poor and vulnerable? Why is it that when politicians want to demonstrate just how religiously righteous they are, they talk about banning same-sex marriage and making contraceptives hard to get, instead of showing what they have done to protect the weak?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

All Groups Support Marriage Equality Except Elderly, Ignorant, and Extreme

best clip Clearly, it seems the number of degrees affects the degree of homophobia in society. So, the LGBT community must start considering education a “gay issue” and back tax policies and politicians that work to increase the number of people who graduate from high school and college. An ignorant society is an intolerant society and we can’t forget this.

Finally, we have the good ole’ Evangelicals, who appear resistant to reason and allergic to logic. I mean, what other segment of society regularly abandons their own kids to the street, as Evangelicals often do when they learn of their sexual orientation?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Defense Of Marriage Act Promotes Religion And Should Be Struck Down, Says Americans United

Defense Of Marriage Act Promotes Religion And Should Be Struck Down, Says Americans United

Church-State Watchdog Group Asserts That Law Enshrines Certain Theological Views Into Law

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an example of government promotion of religion and should be struck down, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has told the U.S. Supreme Court.
Americans United on Friday joined a friend-of-the-court brief asserting that DOMA should be struck down on church-state grounds.
“DOMA takes the view of marriage held by some – but by no means all – religious groups and enshrines that into law,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “This is a clear example of government favoritism toward one religious view over others.”
The brief notes that religious groups have the right to determine their own parameters for marriage. For example, some churches will not marry interfaith couples and some will not allow a person to remarry after a divorce. These religious standards, the brief says, cannot be injected into secular law.
“Under our constitutional scheme, these groups have a fundamental right to adopt and modify the requirements for marriage within their own religious communities,” argues the brief. “But they do not have the right to impose their particular religious view onto the institution of civil marriage.”

The brief goes on to argue, “While some religious institutions may have a history of defining marriage as between a man and a woman, that tradition is separate from, and cannot be allowed to dictate, civil law. The legal definition of civil marriage is not tied to particular religious traditions, but instead reflects changes in contemporary understandings of marriage.
“A religious group cannot be forced to open its doors or its sacraments to those who disagree with its traditions,” it continues, “but neither can the government restrict access to civil marriage to align with any particular religious beliefs.”

The brief in United States v. Windsor was drafted primarily by attorneys at the law firm of Ropes & Gray and the Anti-Defamation League, with writing assistance provided by Americans United Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Americans United files amicus brief to strike down California's Prop 8

Americans United has filed a joint amicus brief with the Anti-Defamation League asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down California's Prop 8. The brief points out that many of the conservative religious groups that have filed briefs in the case rely on explicitly religious arguments, and some even cite biblical passages. The ADL and AU urge the justices to reject this line of thinking, asserting that it is often used to deny rights to others.

“Proponents of laws that marginalize disadvantaged groups have long relied on arguments grounded in morality and religion to justify the discrimination,” observes the brief. “Time and again, however, society has come to see these laws as a stain on the nation’s history and to view the religious and moral justifications offered for them as wrong, both spiritually and philosophically.”