Friday, June 23, 2017

The 3 - June 25, 2017

In this latest edition of The 3, highlighting three relevant stories to the Christian community, there is activity from various courts.  In a Federal district court down south, a judge ordered the removal of a cross from a Pensacola park, enforcing a law he apparently doesn't agree with.  Also, there is new hope for the videographers that have been exposing Planned Parenthood's trafficking in body parts for aborted babies; a court ordered the majority of charges against them dropped.  Plus, a Federal appeals court has paved the way for a Mississippi religious freedom bill to go into effect.

3 - Federal judge says cross must come down, advocates for new religious establishment standard

A Federal court judge has ruled that a cross that has stood in various forms in Bayview Park in Pensacola for the last 75 years must be taken down within the next 30 days, according to a report on the Faithwire website.  The article says:
The decision to remove the 34-foot cross inside Bayview Park came after Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled that its presence on public property is unconstitutional, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
“The Bayview Cross can no longer stand as a permanent fixture on city-owned property,” the judge proclaimed, noting that he was well aware of the broad local support for keeping the cross in place. “The law is the law.”
The American Humanist Association and Freedom From Religion Foundation teamed up to take action against the cross.

But, the judge's ruling contained an interesting twist.  He said, "The law is the law," but indicated he'd like to see the law changed.  The Pensacola News Journal stated:
In his ruling, Vinson cited several legal scholars who have criticized the current state of federal case law on the Constitution's Establishment Clause.
"Count me among those who hope the Supreme Court will one day revisit and reconsider its Establishment Clause jurisprudence, but my duty is to enforce the law as it now stands," Vinson said.
The News Journal reported that the city is weighing its future options, including whether or not to appeal the ruling.  Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted out that he hoped the city would appeal.

2 - California court strikes down most charges against videographers exposing Planned Parenthood

The work of videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have exposed the activity of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, in selling the body parts of aborted babies.  And, the California Attorney General had brought 15 felony charges against the pair for what a piece on the National Review website says, "...recording what he deemed to be confidential communications."

On Wednesday, June 21, the San Francisco Superior Court "tossed out" 14 of the 15 charges brought against Daleiden and Merritt, of the Center for Medical Progress, by AG Xavier Bacerra.  The 15th charge, "conspiring to invade privacy," was brought against Merritt alone.  The National Review piece quotes from Life News"The court ruled that counts 1-14 were legally insufficient. The state has the opportunity to amend if it can plead a more legally sufficient and specific complaint."

The National Review article says:
Aside from being a victory for the freedom of the press, this decision is another big win for the CMP journalists — who were cleared of criminal charges last year in Texas, as well — vindicating them against the frequent claim from pro-abortion activists that they engaged in illegal activity and duplicitous editing of footage to falsely incriminate Planned Parenthood.
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, which is defending Merritt, stated:
Sandra Merritt did nothing wrong. The complaint by the California Attorney General is unprecedented and frankly will threaten every journalist who provides valuable information to the public. This final count will also fall,
This is the same attorney general that recently announced that state employees would not longer travel to the states of Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Texas due to laws that he says discriminate against LGBT individuals, according to the website,  These laws are designed to protect the religious freedom of people of faith.

1 - Federal appeals court upholds new Mississippi religious freedom law

Last year, Mississippi lawmakers passed HB 1523, the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, which, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom website, "protects citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions from government reprisal for operating publicly according to their belief that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman." Governor Phil Bryant had signed the bill in April of last year, but a federal court had blocked it from going into effect.

The ADF website related this news recently:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled unanimously on Thursday that those who filed suit to stop a state law protecting Mississippians against government discrimination haven’t shown they have been or will be harmed by the law.
That means the injunction that was blocking the law has been removed.  ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said that the court "did the right thing:"
“The sole purpose of this law is to ensure that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union. Those who filed suit have not and will not be harmed but want to restrict freedom and impose their beliefs on others by ensuring dissenters are left open to the government discrimination that has already occurred in states without protective laws like this one.”

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