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Iowa Christian Leaders Club Wins Religious Liberty Case

Christian student group Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC), which required its leaders to embrace Christian religious tenets, won its case against the University of Iowa, which had stripped the group of its registered student organization status for denying a leadership position to an openly gay student who expressly rejected the group’s religious tenets.

While the university claimed that BLinC violated the school’s Human Rights Policy, the Christian student group argued that it was simply following its strongly held religious beliefs. A district court in Iowa ruled that the university had violated the club’s First Amendment rights to free speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion.

Said BLinC president Jake Estell, “This victory reinforces the commonsense idea that universities can’t target religious student groups for being religious.”

Because of this latest ruling, this student group, along with 32 other religious student groups who had been censored by the school administration, will permanently remain on campus.

In 2013, Family Action of Tennessee led the effort to prevent Tennessee’s public university’s from doing what the Univerity of Iowa did.

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Six States Push for Elective Bible Literacy Classes

This week President Trump took to Twitter to endorse Bible literacy classes in public schools at a time when at least six states are considering elective courses on the Bible’s historical and literary significance.

The idea of teaching students about how biblical principles shaped our Founding Fathers pleased many conservatives, while liberals screamed about the separation of church and state myth and the supposed violation of the First Amendment.

But the First Amendment simply forbids Congress from making any laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The goal of the elective Bible classes isn’t to proselytize, as some liberals fear, but rather to educate.

Writes The Daily Signal’s Daniel Davis about this recent push, “It’s really impossible to appreciate American history without a working knowledge of Christianity’s core teachings, since Christianity informed America’s self-understanding going all the way back to the Mayflower.”

Project Blitz, which includes the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, the Christian public-interest law firm National Legal Foundation, and conservative nonprofit WallBuilders, is behind the Bible literacy agenda and other legislation that promotes Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Tennessee is one of seven states where similar laws already exist.

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SCOTUS Rejects Appeal in Football Coach Prayer Case

After getting fired from a Washington State high school in 2015 for praying on the football field after games, Coach Joe Kennedy took legal action.

With the aid of First Liberty Institute, Coach Joe Kennedy challenged his dismissal and after adverse rulings in both the federal district court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the case was presented to the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, SCOTUS is refusing to hear the case at this time not because it agreed with the lower court’s opinion, but because, in the words of Justice Samuel Alito, “unresolved factual questions would make it very difficult if not impossible at this stage to decide the free speech question that the petition asks us to review.”

This could be good news for Coach Kennedy to have his case heard down the road. Said Kelly Shackelford, First Liberty president, “We are eager to return to the District Court, answer the questions the justices raised today, and give the Court another opportunity to protect the right of every American to engage in private religious expression, including praying in public, without fear of getting fired.”

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Mainstream Media Outlets Skewer Second Lady Karen Pence

On the White House’s newly declared Religious Freedom Day, the mainstream media attacked Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, after learning that she was teaching at a school that requires both its employees and students to adhere to biblical sexual standards. This is the same Christian school in Virginia where Ms. Pence had taught art for 12 years previously without incident.

While liberal-leaning journalists tout the school as “discriminatory,” the school is simply following its Judeo-Christian beliefs and Ms. Pence is simply demonstrating her right to work where she can follow her conscience.

As Ben Shapiro tweeted, “Pence’s wife is working for a Christian school that requires that Christian students pledge to abide by Christian standards of sin that have not changed in 2,000 years.”

Vice President Pence told the Family Research Council, “[T]he attacks on Christian education by the mainstream media have got to stop . . . This administration stands four-square for the freedom of religion of people of all faiths. And to see the mainstream media to criticize my wife because she’s choosing to return to the classroom of an elementary Christian school is wrong.”

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press release

FACT Files Appeal With TN Supreme Court Concerning Marriage Licensing Laws

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (August 10, 2018)—The following statement regarding an Application for Permission to Appeal filed today with the Supreme Court for the state of Tennessee in the case of Grant v. Anderson may be attributed to David Fowler, counsel for the Constitutional Government Defense Fund (CGDF), an initiative of The Family Action Council of Tennessee, Inc.:

Today we have asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to hear an appeal in a case seeking to have the state’s judiciary decide questions of great constitutional importance arising out of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that involved state laws governing the issuance of marriage licenses.

Assumptions are being made about the meaning of Obergefell’s holdings that, if unchecked, represent a seismic shift in the judiciary’s treatment of vital constitutional principles regarding the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government and the division of powers between state and federal governments.

For the first time in history, it is being assumed that the United States Supreme Court can require a local official in a state to issue a statutorily defined and authorized license that no branch of state government has every authorized that official to issue. Obergefell is being treated as a de facto amendment by a federal court of a state’s statute.

Unfortunately, the lower courts have refused to take up these questions, dismissing the lawsuit on the grounds that even ordained ministers who are licensed by the state to solemnize marriages for legal purposes have no right to know what effect Obergefell may have had on the laws they administer for the state. This frustrates the express purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act, which is to allow those affected by a law to resolve uncertainties surrounding that law.

The application today asks that the state Supreme Court take up an appeal to determine whether our clients should finally have their day in court.

CGDF has a similar lawsuit involving different parties that is pending in Bradley County Circuit Court. That lawsuit was not dismissed, but a ruling on the merits in that court has been deferred by the judge pending action by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org