Category: Religion

Supreme Hypocrisy: Activists and Pundits Target Justice Barrett as “Religious Extremist”

Below is my column in the New York Post on the campaign to get Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis due to her religion.  The demand is entirely without merit but it is illustrative of the unrelenting and unhinged attacks on this distinguished jurist.  Previously, Democratic senators demanded Barrett’s recusal from pending cases on similarly frivolous grounds. Barrett remains the obsession for many on the left from campaigns to ban her books to protests at her home. She has done nothing to warrant such continual and personal attacks.

Here is the column:

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Berkeley Student Groups Vote to Ban Any Speakers Who Support Israel or Zionism

There is an interesting free speech fight brewing at the University of California Berkeley Law School after nine student groups banned any speakers that support Israel or Zionism. The resolution adopted by the groups bar anyone who supports “Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine.” Berkeley Law’s Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a self-proclaimed Zionist, has observed that he himself would be banned from speaking to the groups under this resolution.

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Southwest Airlines and the Transportation Workers Union Hit with Over $5 Million Verdict Over the Firing of a Pro-Life Employee

There is a major verdict in a free speech case out of Texas where Charlene Carter, a former Southwest flight attendant won a verdict of more than $5 million for her wrongful termination after a posting on social media criticizing her union on its abortion stand. Both Southwest and the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) (Local 556) are named as defendants. Ironically, the TWU insists that it is “offering working people a voice.” However, it is accused of working with the company to terminate this worker who spoke up against the union.

Continue reading “Southwest Airlines and the Transportation Workers Union Hit with Over $5 Million Verdict Over the Firing of a Pro-Life Employee”

Yale Divinity Dean: There is “No Biblical Basis” for Abortion Bans

We recently discussed how university presidents and deans have departed from long-standing tradition in remaining neutral on political and legal debates to maintain a welcoming and diverse environment for all faculty members and students. It is becoming more common (indeed expected) for presidents and deans to publicly endorse liberal ideological or legal positions. The latest example is Yale Divinity School (YDS) Dean Gregory Sterling, who issued a statement not only opposing the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade but declaring there is no “biblical basis” for abortion bans. Continue reading “Yale Divinity Dean: There is “No Biblical Basis” for Abortion Bans”

“Undermining Secularism”: French Court Suspends City’s Approval of “Burkinis” in Public Pools

There is a controversial decision out of a French administrative court this week to suspend a policy allowing for Muslim women to wear “burkinis” in municipal pools in the city of Grenoble. The court ruled that such policies “undermin[ed] secularism.” While a long advocate of the separation of church and state, I have opposed these bans on burkas and burkinis as inimical to religious rights. France has Europe’s largest Muslim population and devout Muslim women can only use the pools with such coverings under Islamic teachings. France also has a long and proud history of supporting women in making their own choices — the very essence of Joan of Arc who followed her own religious dictates to heroic ends. This is a denial of such self-determination and self-expression for French Muslim women.

The ruling is reportedly based on a 2021 “separatism” law passed in President Emmanuel Macron’s first term, which allows the suspension of measures that would “undermine secularism and the neutrality of public services.”

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin publicly supported his ministry filing an objection against the burkini policy in Grenoble. He announced that “The administrative court considers that the mayor of Grenoble, with his decision allowing burkinis in municipal pools, is seriously undermining secularism.”

Many opposed the proposal by Mayor Eric Piolle and conservative leader Marine Le Pen declared that she wants to introduce a law banning burkinis in municipal pools.

The ban undermines free speech and associational rights as well as the free exercise of religion. Many people find such coverings sexist and offensive. However, this is a long-established matter of religious faith within the Islamic community. I fail to see how this harms others or society as a whole. French society can remain neutral and secular by neither opposing nor endorsing such clothing choices. If France supports the right of women to make their own choices in society, that freedom should include the right to choose to follow a devout religious lifestyle.

Joan of Arc famously declared “I was in my thirteenth year when I heard a voice from God to help me govern my conduct. And the first time I was very much afraid.” While she wore armor rather than a burkini, the same religious imperative dictated her actions and she is now celebrated as martyr for France.

Whatever harm is perceived from burkinis, it pales in comparison to the harm from banning such swimwear in a nation committed to the freedoms of religion, expression, and association.

Duke Student President Blocks Pro-Israel Group Over Social Media Post

We have been discussing controversies over social media postings by students and faculty. The latest controversy at Duke University shows again the dangers to free speech in barring groups over such postings. A chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) was approved for Duke but that approval was then rescinded by Duke Student President Chistina Wang over an Instagram response by SSI to a critic. The SSI posting was a measured and civil response to the highly critical tweet from the student. The concern is that the incident was used as a pretext for claiming a viewpoint neutral basis for barring a pro-Israel group. Continue reading “Duke Student President Blocks Pro-Israel Group Over Social Media Post”

Michael Flynn: “We Must Have One Religion”

Michael Flynn, former national security advisor in the Trump administration, is back in the news this weekend with another startling declaration.  While speaking at the “Rewaken America” rally, Flynn declared “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion.” It is a deeply offensive and frankly unAmerican viewpoint. This country was founded (and has been defended) by people of many religions. Arlington cemetery has Christian, Jews, Muslim, and other faiths represented on the tombstones of those who gave the final measure of devotion to this country and its freedoms, including the freedom of religion.  Thomas Jefferson famously declared “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God.” Continue reading “Michael Flynn: “We Must Have One Religion””

Biden’s “Come on, Man” Defense Will Not Fly on Religious Freedom

Below is my column on the President’s dismissal of any objections to the Covid vaccine and his call for mass firings of first responders who remain defiant. The comments reflect a growing call for states and the federal government to reject any religious exemptions for vaccination.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Biden’s “Come on, Man” Defense Will Not Fly on Religious Freedom”

Did Kamala Harris Just Violate Federal Law To Boost Terry McAuliffe In Virginia?

Democratic leaders have pulled out the stops to try to help Terry McAuliffe in his struggling campaign for governor in Virginia. Figures from Barack Obama to Stacey Abrams have stumped for McAuliffe  who is in a tight race with businessman Glenn Youngkin. The key for McAuliffe is black voters, and to spur turnout Vice President Kamala Harris has taped an endorsement of McAuliffe that is reportedly being played at hundreds of African American churches around the state. The problem is the “Johnson Amendment” makes such political pitches in churches a violation of federal law. Making matters worse, this knowing violation occurred just days after the filing of a complaint against White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for clearly violating the Hatch Act in using the White House press room to support McAuliffe. Continue reading “Did Kamala Harris Just Violate Federal Law To Boost Terry McAuliffe In Virginia?”

Ohio Professor Wins Major Free Speech Decision on Compelled Use of Pronouns in Classrooms

My column yesterday discussed the increasing trend to treat the failure to use a person’s preferred pronouns (called “misgendering”) a type of hate speech or discriminatory conduct. A new case highlights the free speech problems associated with the trend. In Meriwether v. Hartop, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit handed down a major ruling in favor of Shawnee State University Professor Nicholas Meriwether, who was disciplined for refusing to use a student’s designated pronoun choices.

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The Day the Music Died: Taliban Ban Music and Then Execute Leading Afghan Folk Singer

Roughly 50 years ago, Don McLean released his son song, “American Pie” with its famous line about “The Day the Music Died.” It was a reference to when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson died along with pilot Roger Peterson in an airplane crash. For Afghans, the day the music died coincided with the Taliban takeover of their country. Nothing drove home that fact than the horrific killing of Afghan folk singer Fawad Andarabi, who was executed by the Taliban for playing music. Continue reading “The Day the Music Died: Taliban Ban Music and Then Execute Leading Afghan Folk Singer”

Eight-Year-Old Child Charged With Blasphemy In Pakistan

Flag of Pakistan

I have long been an intense critic of blasphemy laws in nations like Pakistan as the ultimate rejection of free speech and religious freedoms. However, despite the chronicling of outrageous cases, these countries continue to shock the world in their religious fanaticism. This week in Pakistan, Muslims are demanding the execution of an eight-year-old boy who urinated on a carpet in the library of a madrassa or religious school. The boy and much of the Hindu community is in hiding after attacks on Hindus as well as a Hindu temple. Continue reading “Eight-Year-Old Child Charged With Blasphemy In Pakistan”

“No Safe Haven”: University of Iowa Again Found To Be Discriminating Against Religious Groups

A few months ago, we discussed the ruling against the University of Iowa in Bus. Leaders in Christ v. Univ. of Iowa, 991 F.3d 969 (8th Cir. 2021) where the court held that we held that the law was clearly established that the University could not engage in viewpoint discrimination involving a Christian club. In a July 16 decision, the Eighth Circuit affirmed that the University of Iowa administrators violated the First Amendment rights of a second group, the InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship. While the group allowed anyone to join, it required its leaders to adhere to core Christian values.  It is another major victory for religious rights and their counsel the nonprofit Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. It is also a serious rebuke of the University which defiantly continued to discriminate at not just great cost to these students but the university as a whole.

Continue reading ““No Safe Haven”: University of Iowa Again Found To Be Discriminating Against Religious Groups”

Fairfax Board Member Rails Against The Dangers Of “Excessive Individualism” In High School Graduation Speech

There has been a great deal of controversy over the graduation address of Fairfax County school board member Abrar Omeish to the Justice High School in Falls Church on June 7th. In her remarks to the graduates, Omeish praised a teacher who made social activism part of her class and warned the graduates that they are going into a world filled with racism and white supremacy. However, what really struck an admittedly libertarian chord with me was the third danger that she warned about: “excessive individualism.”  Like free speech, individualism is now being presented as a danger rather than a strength in our society.

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No Raki For You: Erdogan Cracks Down On Liquor Sales In Latest Play For Religious Votes

The authoritarian rule of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always been sobering for civil libertarians but this is ridiculous. After destroying civil liberties, the free speech and secularism, Erdogan remains unpopular with many inside Turkey and most people outside of Turkey. Facing an upcoming election, Erdogan has decided to play the Islamic card again and cracked down on liquor sales. It is the latest proof that he lied when he originally pledged to respect the secular traditions established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk that made Turkey unique in the Muslim world.  Indeed, Ataturk was known as someone who was a heavy drinker in his time.  Ataturk would drink a liter of raki (shown here), the Turkish national liquor, a day (which explains why he died at 57 years old from a chronic liver disease).

Continue reading “No Raki For You: Erdogan Cracks Down On Liquor Sales In Latest Play For Religious Votes”