Sunday, March 18, 2012

The 3 - March 18, 2012

This week on "The 3", some follow-up on a story that made this week-in-review feature 2 weeks ago, involving a Christian club at a North Carolina university, which announced it didn't regard the organization as a religious one. Also, some movement this week in a case that has been in the courts for a few years, involving a veterans' memorial that includes a large cross. And, another follow-up from the state of Washington, where an effort is underway to put same-sex marriage to a statewide vote.

3 - North Carolina university reverses position on Christian club

We've been following the saga involving the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a Christian club on its campus, the Make Up Your Own Mind club, which, even though it was founded as an explicitly Christian club on the campus, was viewed by university officials as a non-religious club and therefore required to allow anyone to be a member or even a leader, without making personal faith a factor.

This week, school officials reversed course, according to a report on the WORLD on Campus website. The school issued an apology and said it will recognize the club as a religious organization once the proper paperwork is filed. The Alliance Defense Fund is representing the club, and attorney Jeremy Tedesco said that legal action would not be halted until he sees the paperwork.

ADF attorneys and others are awaiting action by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning a similar case - in ADX v. Reed, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that San Diego State University could prevent religious groups from selecting leaders based on belief, even though other campus organizations are allowed to be selective about leaders and even attendees, in some cases. Sororities and fraternities, for example, are allowed to restrict membership by gender. And political organizations are allowed to restrict membership and leadership based on agreement with the party's platform or principles. And, in the Hastings vs. Martinez case, a ruling was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court that found that, in order for a Christian student group at one particular law school to be recognized, it could not deny anyone membership, even someone who did not hold to a particular set of beliefs and conduct consistent with the organization's purpose.

These types of cases are becoming more and more common, it seems, and I think that it's important to note that fraternities and sororities are generally gender-specific. And, political organizations generally only admit those of a particular philosophical belief. You do have to ask why some students are intent on forcing Christian clubs to admit them when their faith and philosophical perspective are quite different.

2 - Justice Department decides to defend a memorial, including a cross

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday filed legal briefs to protect the Mt. Soledad War Memorial on a mountain outside San Diego, which includes a 29-foot tall cross. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that the memorial was unconstitutional because it includes a commemorative cross, therefore representing a presumed "establishment" of religion. According to, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli did not argue that the cross belongs on the monument, but only that the appeals court had wrongly determined that the presence of the cross was inconsistent with the Establishment Clause.

“The decision below, if permitted to stand, calls for the government to tear down a memorial cross that has stood for 58 years as a tribute to fallen service members,” the government wrote.

Family Research Council, along with three U.S. Senators and 17 U.S. Representatives, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court, arguing that this case reveals the serious flaws in the "endorsement of religion" test that the Supreme Court adopted in 1989, and uses to determine whether memorials or pieces of art on government property violate the Constitution.

Despite the fact that this is a national veteran's memorial created by an act of Congress, the Justice Department had delayed and requested deadline extensions from the Supreme Court saying that they had not determined whether case was worth taking to the high court. This week, they reversed their position and filed the appeal.

Christian legal advocacy group Liberty Institute is representing veterans' groups in the case and has established a website, to help inform and motivate citizens regarding the issues in the case.

1- Washington state voters given the go-ahead for referendum on gay marriage

After the Washington state Legislature approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state, which was signed by the Governor, pro-family advocates quickly swung into action to establish a statewide vote before gay marriage is declared to be officially legal in the state. Preserve Marriage Washington, the coalition backing a statewide vote, Referendum 74, to overturn the law, must collect approximately 120,500 voter signatures by June 6th to put the issue on the ballot. Once that occurs, the legislation does not go into effect and voters will decide whether to approve or reject the legislation in November. A judge cleared the petition for circulation this past week.

The National Organization for Marriage is one of the organizations that is supporting this vote. In 31 states, citizens have voted to define marriage as one-man, one-woman. The Legislature in this state voted very narrowly to make marriage genderless, and to use the terms "husband" and "wife" interchangeable. There is great political pressure on legislators on the state level to pass these types of bills, but when the issue is taken to the people, at large, they have consistently in state after state, voted to affirm traditional marriage.

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