SCA’s Morning Read for 8/15/13

National
Regulation of Church, Nonprofit Political Speech ‘Untenable,’ Report Finds (Christian Post)Morning Read
Laws regulating the political speech of churches, religious organizations and other nonprofits are an “untenable mix,” a report by the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations found. The Commission, which was formed by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and includes representatives from all major faith traditions in the United States, was formed in response to a 2011 inquiry by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

Faith in Values: Where’s the Debate on Immigration Reform? (Center for American Progress)
If ever there were a dream team lineup, it’s the large and dazzling array of those who support immigration reform. On the business side, everyone from Microsoft and the American Farm Bureau to the Small Business Majority and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is onboard.

States and Puerto Rico
(OR) Free speech in Oregon: Bikini baristas, abortion protesters and Artemis (Oregon Live)
The First Amendment Center conducts an annual survey on the First Amendment, which in recent years has been an interesting barometer of the American mood. The 2013 survey, released last month, revealed that 34 percent of Americans who responded to the scientific poll think “The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.”

(NY) Orthodox Rabbis Want Jews To Vote For Fundamentalist Christian Mayor (Gothamist)
Even though he’s been a declared mayoral candidate for months now, you couldn’t be blamed for never having heard of Erick Salgado—the Democratic candidate sued Quinnipiac University this week for $1.5 million for consistently leaving him off their mayoral polls. But despite being a fundamentalist Christian who has his own Hispanic church (Iglesia Jovenes Cristianos), he does have one surprising group coming out in full force for him: orthodox Rabbis.

(LA) Louisiana Family Forum releases lawmaker report cards (The Times-Picayune)
The Louisiana Family Forum, a powerful conservative Christian group based in Baton Rouge, released its annual legislator report card on Tuesday. Of the 144 lawmakers, 22 received “A” ratings as “Outstanding Family Advocates” and four “F” ratings of “Hostile” to the group’s issues.

(PR) Puerto Rico prepares to debate new gay rights, gender bills (The Vancouver Sun)
Religious groups gathered Wednesday in front of Puerto Rico’s seaside capitol to protest proposed laws that would allow same-sex couples to adopt children and would establish a public school curriculum examining gender issues including sexual discrimination. One of the island’s largest Christian organizations, Puerto Rico Pro Family, said it would seek two constitutional amendments to limit marriage to heterosexual couples and to award parents the sole right to educate their children on gender matters.

(VA) Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate: Amend Constitution To Allow Taxpayer Funding For Religious Schools (Think Progress)
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party’s nominee in this November’s gubernatorial election, unveiled a 12-point education plan Tuesday. Among his proposals: Virginia should amend its constitution to allow public funding for religious education. Cuccinelli, who has blasted the Catholic Church for creating a “culture of dependency on government, not God,” proposed that Virginia should divert taxpayer funds from public education to parochial school vouchers

Judicial
The Supreme Court’s First Amendment Cowardice (Slate)
In Kansas, where restricting abortion is a frequent pastime, pro-life groups are making an amazing argument to the Wichita City Council. They’re trying to shut down the abortion clinic of the late Dr. George Tiller—the doctor who was murdered by an anti-abortion zealot in 2009—by saying that its presence causes too much disruption.

Supreme Court Weakens Worker Rights (Atlanta Daily News)
While the headlines have been dominated by the much-anticipated recent Supreme Court rulings on the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action and marriage equality, the court also issued two lesser-covered rulings that are an affront to workers’ rights and their ability to seek justice if they face discrimination on the job. As with the ruling on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, these two decisions strip away critical protections granted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and continue to overturn decades of anti-discrimination protections.

Women’s Reproductive Health & Right to Choose
Missouri Legislator Files For Exemption From Contraception Mandate In State Health Plan(Huffington Post)
A Missouri legislator on Wednesday asked the federal court to exempt his family from contraception coverage through the state insurance plan, saying it violates his religious beliefs as a Catholic. Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, and his wife, Teresa, filed suit in U.S. District Court downtown against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and two other federal agencies.

Critics of contraception mandate vow Supreme Court appeal (The Hill)
Critics of the contraception mandate in President Obama’s healthcare law said they will appeal to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court declined to re-hear their case Wednesday. Alliance for Defending Freedom, one of the organizations challenging the contraception mandate in the courts, said it will ask the Supreme Court to consider whether the mandate is unconstitutional.

LGBT & Discrimination
Pentagon extends military spouse benefits to same-sex married couples (Minn Post)
The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it will now extend benefits, including health insurance and base housing, to same-sex spouses of US troops. The decision comes on the heels of a US Supreme Court ruling in June overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which said that under federal law a marriage meant between a man and a woman.

Bills ban sex-orientation discrimination (Citizen’s Voice)
Individuals would benefit from greater legal protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity under bills introduced during the past two weeks in the House and Senate. The measures would extend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to prohibit discrimination on the above grounds in terms of employment, housing and accommodations.

Judge: Lawsuit Against Anti-Gay Scott Lively Will Move Forward (The Rainbow Times)
In an order issued today by Springfield, Mass. Federal Court Judge, Michael Ponsor, defendant Scott Lively’s motion to dismiss was “denied.” The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the case on March 14, 2012 on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a non-profit LGBT advocacy group in Uganda.

Steve Young and wife to speak at Salt Lake City conference promoting acceptance of gay Mormons (Pendleton Times Post)
Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young and his wife Barb are scheduled to give the keynote address at an upcoming conference promoting acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Mormon Church. The couple’s talk is set for Sept. 14, during the three-day Affirmation conference in Salt Lake City.

Oregon to Probe Baker’s Refusal to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cake (Newsmax)
A same-sex couple in Oregon who tried to buy a cake for their wedding has filed a discrimination complaint against the bakery that turned them down on religious grounds. The Oregonian reported  Wednesday that the state Bureau of Labor and Industries will investigate whether Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated a state law that protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Minnesota vendors queue up for gay-wedding business (Star Tribune)
It’s no secret that weddings are a bonanza for photographers, florists, jewelers, stylists and limo drivers. Now vendors are hastening to cash in on same-sex marriage, legal as of two weeks ago in Minnesota. Project 515, a gay rights advocacy group, has started an online directory of businesses that want to get their names in front of gay couples. By Wednesday the site had 314 entries.

New Study Shows Evangelicals Now More Supportive of Gays (EDGE San Francisco)
According to new research out of Baylor College, the number of evangelicals in the “messy middle” – those who oppose homosexuality morally but support equal rights – is growing. Of course, this growth is going to strongly affect the marriage opposition in certain Red states, and perhaps veer the national debate altogether.

Transgender in California: All are welcome in pluralistic America (Washington Post)
When the Rev. David Weekley, a transgender clergy ordained in the United Methodist Church, attended school in the 1960s, he endured discrimination from peers, teachers and school administrators had on his mental and physical health.

Science & Medicine
Editorial: Parents who don’t vaccinate put state’s children at risk (Detroit Free Press)
Here’s what we know about vaccines: They save lives. And yet, an increasing number of Michigan parents are choosing not to have their children immunized. During the last school year, Michigan had the fourth-highest rate of vaccine waivers in the nation, according to information released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California Bill To Allow Women To Sell Eggs For Research Vetoed By Gov. Jerry Brown(Huffington Post)
California Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of legislation that would have allowed women to sell their eggs for medical research has infuriated some women’s rights supporters. “Not everything in life is for sale nor should it be,” Brown, a Democrat, wrote in his veto message Tuesday.

Military
Who Needs an Atheist Chaplain? Taxpaying Atheists, That’s Who. (Op Ed News)
I know quite a few atheists and not a single one would conduct themselves in such a manner as this good Christian man, Andrews, projects onto them. Then this from mediaite.com, “Daniel Moran (who calls himself The Barking Atheist) approached Texas Republican Michael Burgess and asked him directly why he isn’t supporting his atheist constituents, which led to other people in the town hall angrily shouting, “Throw him out!”

Major Reversal: Air Force Chaplain’s Expunged Essay About ‘Atheists in Foxholes” has been Republished on Base Website (The Blaze)
Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes’ essay entitled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II,” sparked controversy last month, so it was quickly removed from the website of the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. But after initially being taken down for allegedly offending atheists and non-believers, the chaplain’s essay has been republished on the base’s site.

Education
Prayer at Smyrna public high school event stirs debate (WMSV)
The issue of religion and schools is the talk again in one Middle Tennessee county after a commissioner said a prayer at the celebration of a new school. Rutherford County Commissioner Steve Sandlin gave a prayer at the open house and ribbon cutting for the new Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna.

Some say vouchers push limits of the law (NWI Times)
As the Indiana voucher program enters its third year, with more than 9,300 students enrolled in private schools this academic year, some still say the program pushes the limits of the state constitution’s clause calling for separation of church and state. The voucher program, established in 2011 under House Enrolled Act 1003, enables parents to use state tax dollars to pay tuition for their children attending private schools, typically religious schools.

Faith-Based Coalition Mulls Boycott of Philadelphia School District (Christian Post)
A faith-based community organization presented the idea earlier this week of boycotting The School District of Philadelphia if city and state officials do not come through on providing the district with millions of dollars in much-needed funding. Leaders of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER) spoke to more than 300 parents, students, teachers, faith leaders and members of the community during a rally Monday evening.

Religion
Religion Becoming Obsolete? It Could Happen! (Huffington Post)
Religious people could be the minority by the year 2041 according to Biopsychologist Nigel Barber, who says this is the case in well-developed countries as personal wealth increases. In a recent article in Psychology Today,” Barber said: “Research has shown that religion declines not just with rising national wealth but also with all plausible measures of the quality of life, including length of life, decline of infectious diseases, education, the rise of the welfare state, and more equal distribution of income.

Lutherans elect Elizabeth Eaton first female presiding bishop of ELCA (Religion News Service)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Wednesday (Aug. 14) elected the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton as the denomination’s first female presiding bishop. Eaton received 600 votes against incumbent Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, who received 287.

World
Governor Sends “M.P Freedom of Religion Amendment Bill 2013” to President of India (South Asia Mail)
According to the trusted sources in Raj Bhavan and one of the media reports Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav has sent the “M.P Freedom of Religion Amendment Bill 2013” to the President of India for approval. The decision of the Governor comes following state wide protests by faith based organizations, secular organizations and different political parties.

American runner criticizes Russia’s anti-gay law after winning medal in Moscow (Baltimore Sun)
After Nick Symmonds won a silver medal at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, the American distance runner became the first foreign athlete to openly condemn Russia’s anti-gay law on Russian soil. And so far, for what it’s worth, he hasn’t been incarcerated.

Icelanders Protest Evangelist Franklin Graham By Reserving Tickets To His Festival With No Intention Of Showing Up (International Business Times)
Icelanders are outraged that Franklin Graham is holding a festival in Reykjavík next month, but they’re literally not taking it sitting down. In a social media-fueled protest against the avowed anti-gay-marriage evangelist, Iceland residents are reserving hundreds of tickets to Graham’s sermons with the intention of leaving the seats empty.

Death toll from violence in Egypt between police, ex-president’s supporters rises to 525(Washington Post)
Egyptian authorities on Thursday significantly raised the death toll from clashes the previous day between police and supporters of the ousted Islamist president, saying more than 500 people died and laying bare the extent of the violence that swept much of the country.

‘Inclusive Mosque Initiative’ Opens Doors To Women-Led Prayers And Gay Muslims In Britain(Huffington Post)
Though highly shocking to some Muslims, the Inclusive Mosque Initiative (IMI) is blazing a trail for inclusivity and equality by establishing a mosque where all are welcome as leaders and worshippers, including women and LGTB-identified  individuals. The Twitter bio of @inclusivemosque simply states, “Establishing a place of worship for the promotion and practice of an inclusive Islam.”

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