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Progress on All Fronts at the Becket Fund!

A Message from Becket’s Executive Director
May 16, 2018
Dear Friends,

What’s happening at Becket:

Don’t cross this town. A historic cross at a major Navy hub is threatened by a lawsuit by four disgruntled atheists, two of whom aren’t even U.S. citizens. Pensacola, Florida, is having none of it and asked Becket to defend its right to keep the cross, which was erected as the U.S. entered WWII. Becket was in court today to argue that the law does not prohibit religious symbols in the public square.

Little Sisters, Big Win. When HHS—after years of unnecessary lawsuits—finally issued a new order protecting the rights of the Little Sisters of the Poor, two state attorneys general filed new lawsuits seeking to throw out the new protections. After Becket once more stepped up to defend the Little Sisters and their right to continue their vital ministry to the poor and elderly, the states tried keeping the Sisters out of the case. The court in Pennsylvania sided with us and ruled that the Sisters have the right to defend themselves against this latest round of attacks.

A lesson in equality. Should poor and minority students in New Mexico be denied access to a statewide textbook-lending program solely because their schools are religious? Two atheist activists have relied on the state’s centuries-old, anti-religious Blaine amendment to file a suit blocking students at religious schools from a program designed to benefit all New Mexico children. At oral argument before the New Mexico Supreme Court last week, Becket argued against interpreting the Blaine Amendment to discriminate against religious schools, which heavily serve poor and rural communities in the state. A decision is expected before the end of this year.

Becket in the news:

Hope for a Jewish community center. Hamodia covered Becket’s victory on behalf of an Orthodox Jewish community in Boca Raton, Florida, which faced lawsuits designed to stop construction of its community center.

Re-writing history. The Morris County Daily Record wrote about Becket’s appeal to the Supreme Court to allow the county to issue historic preservation grants to churches and houses of worship as they would to any other landmark on the registry of historic sites.

Fear of feathers. American Indian feather dancer and Becket client Robert Soto made news by asking the federal government to formally end its criminal ban on using eagle feathers for Native American religious rituals. Pastor Soto’s request cited his victory in a lawsuit against the Department of Interior after a federal agent raided his religious powwow.

What we’re reading:

Doctor’s orders. Jack Solowey argued in The Hill that the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Department of Health and Human Services safeguards longstanding protections for healthcare workers, as opposed to creating a new set of privileges for “private faith over public health.”

Grand opening. Andrea Picciotti-Bayer covered the opening of the new Center for Religious Liberty, which will be headed by Becket President Mark Rienzi, at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.

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