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MEET THE GOVERNMENT’S IMAGINARY FRIEND!

A Message from Becket’s Executive Director
August 31, 2018
Dear Friends,

The government has an imaginary friend, and he is offended. What exactly offends him? It’s almost easier to ask what doesn’t—the list is shorter.

At the University of Iowa, this imaginary person is offended by religious student groups. This summer, the university purged 39 student groups, including InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship, from campus. Their sin? Requiring their leaders to agree with their mission. According to the university, asking leaders of a Christian organization to believe in the Christian faith would offend and discriminate against other students. Fortunately, while the government brings its imaginary friends to court, Becket brings real people and real legal arguments. Just a week after filing suit against the University of Iowa, Becket succeeded in winning back a place on campus for religious student groups—for now.

This trend, of government trying to freeze out religious groups under the guise of protecting hypothetical people from harm, is rampant. The City of Philadelphia recently banned Catholic Social Services from working with foster children because of the Catholic group’s religious beliefs about marriage—even though no one has ever filed a complaint. But protecting the government’s imaginary friends comes at a cost. Because the City refuses to work with Catholic Social Services, 35 willing foster families’ homes sit empty, while hundreds of children remain in the foster care system waiting for homes.

The government insists on protecting people who don’t exist, at the expense of those who do. Becket will defend real people over imaginary ones any day.

What’s happening at Becket:

Hold onto those pennies. This week, a federal appeals court rejected another attempt by atheist activist Michael Newdow to strip the motto “In God We Trust” from our national currency. Instead of applying the long-criticized “Lemon test” (see our video), the court adopted Becket’s argument—that the court should rely on history and treat religion as a normal part of the public square.

Becket and the bishops defeat an abortion group in court—again. Last month, I wrote to you about our win in Texas for the Catholic bishops. An abortion group called Whole Woman’s Health had tried to use the force of the courts to require the bishops to hand over private, internal conversations about abortion. After we won in the Fifth Circuit, the abortion group requested an en banc hearing (a hearing in front of all the court’s judges). The court rejected that request, solidifying its decision to protect the bishops from a “‘Hobson’s choice’ of retreating from the public square or defending its position.”

Becket’s client, Florida rabbi, speaks at DOJ religious liberty panel. On July 30, the U.S. Department of Justice held a panel called Religious Liberty: Our First Freedom and Why it Matters. The panel included opening remarks by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, addresses by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of the Archdiocese of Louisville and Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, and featured Becket’s client, Rabbi Ruvi New of the Chabad of East Boca Raton, Florida.

Becket in the news:

Courts can get Stockholm Syndrome, too. Becket attorney Daniel Blomberg explains how a recent decision from the Eighth Circuit has confirmed the Supreme Court’s instructions to federal appellate courts to stop ignoring history when considering religious symbol cases.

Restoring “true diversity” on campus. Forbes contributor describes how the University of Iowa “went nuclear” on student groups, and why the new Supreme Court makeup could make a difference for Becket’s case for InterVarsity.

“When is a Christian cross not Christian?” Deseret News talks about Becket’s case on a memorial cross in Pensacola, Florida. Scrubbing the public square of religious references does nothing but “tell a false story about who we are as human beings,” says Becket’s Luke Goodrich.

Churches can’t be punished for removing bad pastors. The Christian Post’s take on Becket’s case representing Sixth Mount Zion, a historic church under attack for voting for its pastor to step down after his poor leadership led to a huge drop in attendance and a surge in expenses. In July we defended the Pittsburgh church in court, where the judge verbally affirmed the Hosanna-Tabor ruling that protects churches’ autonomy in hiring decisions.

What Becket is reading:

City of Brotherly Love? Not for foster families. Congressman Mike Kelly writes about the “obvious illegality” of Philadelphia’s attack on Catholic Social Services’ foster agency, and how it’s all about a “religious dispute of the city’s own invention.”

First they came for the Catholic hospitals. For over a hundred years, Catholic hospitals have been leading healthcare in America and doing so in a way that aligns with Catholic beliefs. This FiveThirtyEight portrait of rural Catholic hospitals is an example of why they could see more attacks on ideological grounds.

The law as teacher. A recent poll shows growing support for religious freedom, Religion News Service reports. Whether it’s a short-term shift or a lasting trend is unclear, but it could be because of big wins like Masterpiece.

Gratefully,

Montse Alvarado
Executive Director

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