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Missouri Family E-News

December 4, 2012

  
Santa Monica Says No to Christmas Displays

 

 

"The Grinch hasn't stolen Christmas.  He has stolen our liberty."

 

That's how attorney William Becker describes the recent decision by a federal judge upholding a ban on the annual nativity scenes in city parks in Santa Monica, California.   

 

For the last 59 years, churches in Santa Monica have joined together to erect a variety of nativity scenes in booths in Palisades Park in Santa Monica.  The annual event ground to a halt this year when city officials established a ban on such overnight displays in city parks.   

 

Santa Monica officials stated that the ban was enacted to protect the beauty of Palisades Park, a picturesque property overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 

 

City officials acted after atheist groups succeeded in applying for 18 of the 21 booth spaces available last year, and set up displays mocking Christmas and Christianity.  One display paid homage to the "Pastafarian" religion's Flying Spaghetti Monster. 

 

U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins ruled that the city's prohibition on private displays on public property was constitutional because it neither "advanced nor inhibited religion."  The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee says it will appeal the ruling.

 

Eric Rasbach, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, says opponents of the Nativity scene displays used a growing strategy described as "blowing up a public forum." Under that strategy, atheists erect hostile displays next to Christmas creches, and the resulting consternation prompts government officials to ban all seasonal displays.

 

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee has moved their displays this year to an industrial park.  Committee members also succeeded in obtaining a permit for a live Nativity Display this Saturday in Palisades Park.

 

Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, commended the Santa Monica churches.  "The faith community will never go silently into the night when these issues are at risk." 

                                         


Boy Scouts Blackballed by "Big Brown"

United Parcel Service has announced that they are suspending all funding to the Boy Scouts of America because of the organizations' requirement that Scouts and their leaders be "morally straight."

UPS says it will end its annual grants to the Boy Scouts until homosexual Scout leaders "are welcome within the organization."  The UPS Foundation gave $85,000 to the Boy Scouts last year.

"We promote an environment of diversity and inclusion," says UPS spokeswoman Kristen Petrella.  "UPS is a company that does the right things for the right reason."

Peter LaBarbera, President of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, says that the company's definition of "diversity" amounts to discrimination of its own.

"They call it non-discrimination, but what they mean is they intend to discriminate against and punish organizations which abide by a moral code or a faith creed."

Deron Smith, public relations director for the Boy Scouts of America, says the decision will negatively impact the youth of the nation. 

"These types of contributions go directly to serving young people in local councils.  We have 110,000 units across the country who benefit from corporate grants like these."

Homosexual activists have been badgering the Boy Scouts of America to abandon their policy on homosexuality, which is strongly supported by those active in Scouting and by the parents of Boy Scouts.

UPS is a strong supporter of the homosexual rights movement.  The UPS Foundation provided a recent grant of $100,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's leading homosexual advocacy organization.

  

 
Federal Court Spares
St. Louis Business from Abortion Mandate 


In a major victory for religious freedom, a federal appeals court has blocked enforcement of the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate against a St. Louis business owner.  A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary injunction halting implementation of the law against O'Brien Industrial Holdings of St. Louis.

The company is owned by Frank O'Brien, a devout Catholic, who contends that the federal mandate violates his religious beliefs.  The lawsuit alleges that the mandate violates the First Amendment's free exercise clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The action by the 8th Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, reverses for the time being a ruling by U.S District Judge Carol Jackson upholding the mandate.

The contraceptive and abortion drug mandate was issued by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  It requires that every health insurance policy must include coverage without copays of all "contraceptives" approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  This includes abortifacient drugs and devices such as Ella and Plan B, often marketed as "emergency contraceptives."

Sebelius was given authority to issue the mandate as a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, regularly referred to as Obamacare.  That law empowered the Director of Health and Human Services to determine what "preventative services" must be included in the basic benefits package of every health insurance policy offered and sold in the country.

"This order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government," says Francis Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, the law firm representing O'Brien Holdings in the case.  "Employers like Frank O'Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government."

The mission statement of O'Brien Industrial Holdings says that the company will be operated by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.  "Our purpose is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society," the mission statement reads.  A statue of Jesus Christ graces the company's main lobby.

Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt welcomed the appeals court decision.  "This decision is yet another important victory as we fight to preserve the fundamental religious freedoms that Americans have enjoyed for more than 220 years.  The court's action stops the Obama Administration from infringing on those fundamental freedoms."

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder also cheered the 8th Circuit ruling.  "This decision on behalf of this Missouri business owner is a victory for everyone who values religious freedom in this country.   This onerous contraceptive mandate forces a Catholic business owner like Mr. O'Brien to provide healthcare coverage for contraception methods that many consider a form of abortion."

More than 30 lawsuits have been filed in federal court against the abortion drug edict, most of them by Catholic dioceses and Christian universities and ministries.  Initial decisions at the federal district court level have been mixed.  The injunction issued by the 8th Circuit is the first action by an appeals court on the ultimate fate of the contraceptive mandate.

In a recent favorable case, the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the mandate against Tyndale House Publishers.  The court concluded that Tyndale is a non-profit religious organization with a faith-oriented mission with a right to the free exercise of religion. 

Tyndale House is the world's largest Christian publisher of Bibles, Christian books, and digital media.  The company devotes over 96 percent of its profits to non-profit religious causes around the world.  Tyndale does not qualify for the narrow religious exemption contained in the contraceptive mandate because it is not a church.

"Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish," says Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom.   For the government to say that a Bible publisher is not religious is startling.  It demonstrates how clearly the Obama Administration is willing to disregard the Constitution's protection of religious freedom to achieve certain political purposes."

In a recent unfavorable decision, a U.S District Court Judge in Oklahoma ruled that Hobby Lobby must include coverage of abortifacient drugs in its corporate health insurance plans.  Hobby Lobby operates more than 500 arts and crafts stores in 41 states, and is known for being closed on Sundays.  The company is headed by David Green, one of the nation's leading evangelical Christians.

In a frightening ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that religious exercise is a "purely personal" matter, and is not the province of a general business corporation.  Judge Heaton claims that the actions and beliefs of owners of a general business corporation are separate and apart from the operations of the business, and that a corporation has no free exercise of religion.

Under the regulatory provisions of Obamacare, Hobby Lobby will face exceedingly punitive fines of $1.3 million per day, and $26 million per year for failing to comply with the contraceptive mandate.

Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, says that the legal arguments of the Obama Administration are "shocking."  "Justice Department attorneys are saying that when individuals start a 'secular' business they lose any right to run that business in accordance with their conscience.  Business owners must simply leave their First Amendment rights at home when they go to work."

The U.S. Supreme Court has given some hope to opponents of the abortion drug mandate.  Despite ruling earlier in the year against a multi-state challenge to the federal health care law, the High Court recently revived yet another legal challenge to Obamacare. 

The Supreme Court instructed the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear an appeal filed by Liberty University against both the individual mandate and employer mandates contained in the law.  Liberty University contends that those mandates violate the institution's right to religious freedom. 

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