By: Emily Conley
These are the stories that caught our attention this week:
1. Texting is Ok, But not Praying
Chase Windebank, a high school senior at Pine Creek High School, and the group of Christian students he’d met with during the open period at school for the past three years were told that they could no longer use that time to pray, sing hymns, and have religious discussions. The school allows students a free time, where they can read, text, have school club meetings, visit teachers, and hang out. Yet in a letter to us, the Director for Legal Relations for the school claimed that this still counted as “instructional time.”
In an attempt to comply, Chase and the other Christian students stopped including prayer in their meetings, and then tried meeting before or after school, but attendance dropped from 90 students to as low as 12.
Students can practically talk to anyone or about anything during this free time – except God. Now, with our help, Chase is taking legal action to stop the school from denying his right to live out his faith.
2. Atheists’ Challenge to Pastors’ Housing Allowance Dismissed
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued to challenge the constitutionality of an untaxed housing allowance that many churches provide their pastors. Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit’s decision threw out an attack on nontaxable housing assistance from churches to pastors in Lew v. Freedom From Religion Foundation.
As ADF attorney Erik Stanley said: “The government isn’t subsidizing something when its money is not even involved. That’s what the U.S. Supreme Court has determined in previous cases as recently as 2011. The atheists who filed this suit may have an axe to grind against religion, but as the 7th Circuit found, that doesn’t give them sufficient standing to challenge a tax benefit for which it has never applied and that has been provided to pastors for decades. The allowance many churches provide to pastors is church money, not government money. It is constitutional and should continue to be respected and protected.”
3. 5th Circuit Should Uphold Health and Safety Protections for Women
Along with other pro-life organizations and doctors, on Monday we asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to uphold the remainder of a Texas abortion law that abortionists have challenged: one that protects women against cut-and-run abortionists by requiring all abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital in the event a woman must seek hospital care due to post-abortion complications (a provision the 5th Circuit has previously upheld), and one that requires abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as other surgical centers. Find out more about this case here.
4. Missionary Released from North Korea
A positive update on the story I told you about in a round-up post in September:
Jeffery Fowle, who allegedly left a Bible in a nightclub, was released in October. Kenneth Bae, a U.S. missionary, was charged with preaching “against the North Korean government and planning a ‘religious coup d’état.’” He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, and his deteriorating health was a concern. But both he and the third man, Matthew Miller, were released last Saturday.
What do you think of this week’s stories? Comment below. And as always, recommend stories to me on Twitter at @Emily_ADF