American Atheists Lose Lawsuit Over 9/11 Cross
Federal District Judge Deborah Batts has concluded that displaying the iconic 17-foot high ground zero cross at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, does not amount to an endorsement of Christianity. Judge Batts wrote in her opinion that because the cross will be accompanied by placards explaining its meaning and it will be surrounded by secular artifacts, “[n]o reasonable observer would view the artifact is endorsing Christianity. . . . The Museum’s purpose is to tell the history surrounding September 11, and the cross … helps tell part of that history.” American Atheists are planning on appealing the ruling.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also defended the display of religious symbols like the ground zero cross, stating “A lot of people looked to religion for strength after the attack . . . . My personal opinion has always been you shouldn’t tell people what religion to practice or whether to practice a religion but you shouldn’t also prevent people from practicing a religion they want in any ways they want.”
Religiously-Based Health Providers Under Attack Again as ACLU Targets Faith-Based Hospitals
The ACLJ in Washington state has launched a PR war and is considering legal action against faith-based hospitals, stating that they jeopardize reproductive and end-of-life care (physician-assisted suicide is legal in Washington). The ACLU is opposing subsidizing faith-based hospitals with tax dollars, arguing that they will likely try to impose the institutionally held religious doctrines on the individuals they serve. “As a government entity, the hospital district should not subsidize religious facilities that discriminate against women’s fundamental rights,” said Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU’s operation in Seattle.
The right and freedom of a religious institution to object on the basis of conscience has been characterized by critics as interference with patients’ rights and needs, as well as with modern medicine. However, PeaceHealth, a major non-profit Catholic-sponsored health care system in Washington, is standing by its right to deny certain services on the basis of religious principles, stating that is partnerships with secular providers in the state are well within legal parameters.
Articles to Note
Huffington Post: A portrait of Jesus that has been hanging in an Ohio public school since 1947 has been taken down under threat of suit by the ACLU. “The superintendent of Jackson City Schools said the decision was made after the district’s insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses. He said the faculty adviser and two student members of the Hi-Y Club, a Christian-based service club that the school says owns the portrait, took it down at his direction. With vocal backing from many community members, Jackson’s board initially voted to keep the portrait up, saying it belonged to the Hi-Y Club that donated it and that removing it would infringe upon students’ private rights to freedom of speech. The board said it was part of a ‘limited public forum,’ and that other student clubs could put up appropriate portraits reflecting their mission.”
ACLU: This week, the ACLU attacked subsidizing private and religious schools with taxpayer dollars in the Maryland state budget. “’Taxpayer funding should not be used for textbooks and technology at private and religious schools, especially when the state’s fiscal climate that is just beginning to recover,’ said Sara Love, Public Policy Director for the ACLU of Maryland.”
Liberty Counsel: “Since 2011, Shirley Elliott has sold produce and homemade jellies at Thibodaux Farmer’s Market near Jean Lafitte National Historic Park in Louisiana. Additionally, Ms. Elliott has provided free Bibles on her table for anyone to take at will. On December 1, 2012, a park ranger told Ms. Elliott to take the Bibles off her table because ‘they were on federal property.’” Attorneys from Liberty Counsel intervened and sent a letter to the Superintendent of Jean Lafitte National History Park. “Two days later, the acting superintendent wrote, saying, ‘Please assure Ms. Elliott that she is welcome to offer free Bibles at her produce and homemade jellies table.’”
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04)
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