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Iowa Campus Christian Group Accused of Discriminating Against Homosexual Student

A University of Iowa student group called Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) filed a lawsuit after the university determined the group violated the school’s Human Rights Policy and the Iowa Civil Rights Act when it denied a leadership position to a homosexual student. As a result, the group’s activities on campus, which include its license to operate, ability to reserve meeting spaces on campus, attend student recruitment fairs, or access funds from student activity fees were suspended. BLinC thinks that to deny the campus group’s right to choose leaders that adhere to its statement of faith violates religious freedom. The group believes that marriage should be only between a man and a woman and that homosexuality is wrong. Eric Baxter of Becket Fund is siding with the student group. “Every organization to exist has to be able to select leaders who embrace its mission,” says Baxter. “You would never ask an environmental group to have a climate denier as their leader. It’s the same thing here.”

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U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Religious Liberty Law

After being tied up in court for a year and a half due to a lawsuit from the ACLU, Mississippi’s Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, which was signed into law April 2016 in response to the Obergefell ruling, is in full force again. In essence, the law provides protection for individuals and religious organizations which make decisions based on the sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage should consist of a man and a woman, that sexual relations should be reserved to marriage, and that male and female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had held that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the lawsuit because no one had been denied services. This week the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal. While the law is now back in place, don’t be surprised if a plaintiff is found who can establish standing and file a new challenge to the law.

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Atlanta Fire Chief Gets Vindicated in Court

In 2015, former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired for writing on his own time and at his own expense a men’s devotional that included a brief statement about the beauty of biblical marriage and the error of homosexuality. On December 20th, he was vindicated, at least in part, when a federal district court ruled that the city of Atlanta had violated Cochran’s freedom of speech by saying he had to seek the city’s permission before writing the devotional. However, the ruling did not say that he could not have been fired for what he wrote.

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Cake Baker Case Before SCOTUS in Early December

Kristen K. Waggoner, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, will be defending cake artist Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in oral arguments on December 5 before the U.S. Supreme Court. Phillips came under attack when he said he could not create a custom wedding cake celebrating a same-sex “marriage.”

The Left may be seeking to stomp out the religious liberty of Christian creatives like Phillips in the name of tolerance, but FRC’s Tony Perkins points out that the majority of Americans side with the baker. He cites a recent survey by the Cato Institute that found that 68 percent of Americans believe that a baker should not be forced to “provide a special-order wedding cake for a same-sex wedding if doing so violates their religious convictions.”

Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides, this is a critical case for our First Amendment liberties under the U.S. Constitution.

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USDA Sides With Meat Packaging Company’s Religious Liberty

This week, Donald and Ellen Vander Boon, owners of the West Michigan Beef Company, got an official statement from the USDA that resolved their two-year battle for religious liberty. The Obama administration had threatened to shut down this Christian-owned business because the Vander Boons put literature in their company breakroom about biblical marriage.

In the wake of President Trump’s executive order on religious liberty and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ subsequent memorandum providing guidance to all federal agencies on this topic, the Department of Agriculture followed suit by siding with the Vander Boons: “Opinions about same-sex marriage, gender identity, and sexual morality are all matters of public importance . . . USDA respects the First Amendment rights of USDA personnel, as well as non-USDA personnel working at facilities inspected by USDA, to share their varying viewpoints on these topics, whether through oral discussion, the display or distribution of literature, or other means.”

Donald Vander Boon was elated with this latest decision. “My family and I seek to share God’s love and truth with others, and we’re thankful that the USDA is now recognizing our right and the right of other Americans to speak freely without facing government persecution,” he said.

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