Daily Archives: December 6, 2017

How One Anglican Congregation Asserted its First Amendment Rights amd Effected a Change in City Policy

The city’s policy did not expressly prohibit use of the park for religious activities or by religious groups. Instead, the city’s denial of the application was based on unchecked, arbitrary discretion – which is Constitutionally invalid.

Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, religious expression and speech are protected in traditional public forums such as public parks like that of Old Town Square in Fairfax. City restrictions on such freedoms are heavily scrutinized and must not discriminate against a particular viewpoint. Further, in traditional public forums, state actors cannot censor people or groups based on the content of their speech, except when there is a compelling state purpose and the restriction is both necessary and the wording narrowly tailored to achieve that purpose. Accordingly, the Supreme Court has ruled in other similar cases that in circumstances like these in which the forum is available to others and the event is open to the public, there is no Establishment Clause conflict. Additionally, in order for the state to require permits (i.e. approval) as a prerequisite for individuals or groups to engage in protected speech, it must follow very strict and objective criteria in decision making. To base such permits on vague discretion by officials making the individual decisions may be considered a prior restraint on protected speech and a violation of the First Amendment.

Fairfax City’s denial of Shepherd’s Heart’s application “was classic prior restraint, which is exactly what the Founders wanted to prevent when they drafted the First Amendment,” explained Gorman. “We used the Freedom of Information Act to get access to the city’s park policies. Even though they said it wasn’t allowed, there was nothing in writing to back it up. It was completely arbitrary.”

Gorman, feeling convinced of the Constitutional violation, contacted the Center for Religious Expression in Memphis, Tennessee who took on the case pro-bono.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Time Person of the Year–The Silence Breakers

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Psychology, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Guardian) Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? The suicide rate for farmers is more than double that of veterans

Since 2013, net farm income for US farmers has declined 50%. Median farm income for 2017 is projected to be negative $1,325. And without parity in place (essentially a minimum price floor for farm products), most commodity prices remain below the cost of production.

In an email, Rosmann wrote, “The rate of self-imposed [farmer] death rises and falls in accordance with their economic well-being … Suicide is currently rising because of our current farm recession.”

Inside the sunny lobby of the newly remodeled Onaga community hospital, where Joyce Blaske happens to work in the business department, Dr Nancy Zidek has just finished her rounds. As a family medicine doctor, she sees behavioral health issues frequently among her farmer patients, which she attributes to the stressors inherent in farming.

“If your farm is struggling, you’re certainly going to be depressed and going to be worried about how to put food on the table, how to get your kids to college,” she says.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Suicide

(RNS) God and guns: Texas pastors undergo security training a month after Sutherland Springs massacre

Shooting holes in a “paper bad guy” during target practice? That’s easy.

Defending a house of worship against a real gunman? That’s a whole different story.

As he led a security training on Tuesday (Dec. 5) at a Dallas-area megachurch, Sgt. Mike Gurley warned against thinking that worshippers licensed to carry handguns can offer reliable protection.

“To assume they’re going to be effective in an active-shooter situation is comparable to giving me a set of golf clubs and expecting me to win the Masters,” the retired Dallas policeman told the crowd of 650 pastors and other church leaders.

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

(CC) Ruth Everhart-18 ways churches can fight sexual assault in 2018

11. Invite a victims’ advocate to lead an adult education class or series…

14. Preach a sermon or series on biblical texts of terror, such as Tamar’s story…

16. Speak about sex from the pulpit in a frank and forthright manner without using code words or making inappropriate jokes.

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Posted in Men, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(1st Things) Ramona Tausz–C S Lewis’ Love Story

Although Shadowlands glosses over some of the problematic implications of Lewis’s marriage, it nonetheless presents marriage as something holy, sacred, and desirable—something that can’t be attained through the mere sanction of the state. “Marriage isn’t just a legal contract,” Lewis instructs Joy. A civil marriage, the play tells us, is not enough; to be married “properly,” a couple must be wed “before God.” For this treatment of holy matrimony, Shadowlands is to be commended—as it is for its celebration of old-fashioned romance. Joy and Lewis’s attraction for each other is not based on sex alone, but on genuine friendship, good conversation, and intellectual compatibility. Their relationship is not the shallow fling of young lovers (Lewis and Joy are middle-aged when they meet, Lewis in his fifties and Joy nearing forty), but something deeper. Shadowlands offers a lovely picture of romance as it ought to be: love and trust between friends that develops into a genuine longing for union.

Today, when hookup culture has nearly destroyed romantic relationships, and the gravity of divorce is so often dismissed, Shadowlands at least requires us to ask questions about the goodness of marriage and the consequences of sundering it. If you are in Manhattan anytime between now and January 7, it is well worth journeying to Theater Row to ponder them yourself.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Men, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Women

(PD) Christopher Green+David Upham–The 14th Amendment and Masterpiece Cakeshop: Equal Citizenship, our Inclusive Republic, and Anglo-American Common Law

Like several other big First Amendment cases the Supreme Court will hear this year, Masterpiece Cakeshop is not really a First Amendment case. By its terms, the First Amendment restrains only “Congress” from making laws abridging “the freedom of speech” or prohibiting “the free exercise” of religion, but the Masterpiece case involves a state law. It is the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, that restricts the states’ powers over religion or speech. Yet, as in last year’s Trinity Lutheran case, the Fourteenth Amendment has barely been mentioned in the briefing so far.

Our amicus brief to the Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop is so far the only attempt to consider at length the relevance of the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment for the case. Our scholarly work has documented in detail—sometimes quite tedious detail!—that the original meaning expressed by “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States,” which the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed the freedmen, includes civic equality with all similarly situated fellow citizens of the United States. Although it is fuzzy at the margins, the authors of the amendment made its central applications very clear, especially in the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, and 1875 and in the discussions leading to them. In particular, they made clear that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids not only racial discrimination, but also creedal discrimination—giving fewer rights to some citizens because of their religious or political beliefs. In many ways, to be sure, hostility to creedal discrimination resonates with current First Amendment speech and religion doctrine. When states are involved, however, originalist interpretation can and should stand on its own Fourteenth Amendment foundation of equal citizenship….

In sum, the common law and the original Republican understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment converge on the same intuitive argument in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop: America is an inclusive republic, where all citizens, regardless of race, color, creed, or way of life, have a right to participate in the marketplace, free from the creedal exclusions imposed by those armed with state coercive power, save perhaps where that citizen uses some monopoly power to exclude other citizens from the market. Colorado has sought to force the baker either to leave his profession or provide wedding-related services incompatible with his creed. He can have no duty to provide such services where the same-sex couple can obtain their wedding cake a short distance down the street. Jack Phillips has no market power over dissenting minorities like that exercised in the Jim Crow South; he himself is the member of a dissenting creedal minority who seeks simply the liberty to participate in the market consistently with his conscience. When substitute goods and services are readily available, there is no moral, common-law, or Fourteenth Amendment justification for creedal and exclusionary limits on occupational freedom.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas of Myra

Almighty God, who in thy love didst give to thy servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray thee, that thy Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Stobat

O God, Father of mercies, who didst so love the world that thou didst give thine only begotten Son to take our nature upon him for us men and for our salvation: Grant to us who by his first coming have been called into thy kingdom of grace, that we may always abide in him, and be found watching and ready when he shall come again to call us to thy kingdom of glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

–2 Peter 3:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture