AP reports that a North Dakota couple is suing Catholic Charities for $6.5 million because the organization refused to allow them to adopt a 15-year old girl who was in foster care.  The refusal was based on the fact that the adopting couple, in violation of Catholic religious teachings, were living together and were not yet married.  Their planned wedding was 5 months away and they had hoped the 15-year old would be a bridesmaid.

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Former White House adviser slams former president at California eventBush ‘embarrassed himself’ in speech decrying ‘bullying and prejudice’The former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has launched a scathing attack on George W Bush, portraying him as a buffoon whose presidency was as “destructive” as any in American history. Related: Khizr Khan: the patriotic American Muslim who called out Donald Trump Continue reading…

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Trump Addresses Values Voter Summit

Yesterday, President Trump gave a 30-minute address (full text) to the 2017 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., becoming the first sitting President to address the annual event.  His remarks focused largely on themes of faith and of religious liberty. Here are some excerpts:George Washington said that “religion and morality are indispensable” to America’s happiness, really, prosperity and totally to its success.  It is our faith and our values that inspires us to give with charity, to act with courage, and to sacrifice for what we know is right. The American Founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence — four times.  (Applause.)  How times have changed.  But you know what, now they’re changing back again.  Just remember that.  (Applause.) Benjamin Franklin reminded his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention to begin by bowing their heads in prayer. Religious liberty is enshrined in the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights.  And we all pledge allegiance to — very, very beautifully — “one nation under God.”  (Applause.)  This is America’s heritage, a country that never forgets that we are all — all, every one of us — made by the same God in Heaven.  (Applause.) ….We have also taken action to protect the conscience rights of groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.  You know what they went through.  (Applause.)  What they went through — they were going through hell.  And then all of the sudden they won.  They said, how did that happen?  (Laughter.) We want to really point out that the Little Sisters of the Poor and other people of faith, they live by a beautiful calling, and we will not let bureaucrats take away that calling or take away their rights.  (Applause.)We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  And something I’ve said so much during the last two years, but I’ll say it again as we approach the end of the year.  You know, we’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore.  (Laughter.)  They don’t use the word

In Taylor v. Town of Cabot, (VT Sup. Ct., Oct. 6, 2017), the Vermont Supreme Court vacated a preliminary injunction that a trial court had issued to block a municipal grant to a historic church for repairs to its building.  The grant came from funds that originated with the federal government but now belonged to the town to use consistent with federal regulations. The court held that plaintiffs have municipal taxpayer standing to challenge the grant under the state constitution’s prohibition on compelled support of any place of worship (Chapter I, Article Three). In remanding the case for further proceedings, the court said in part:The fact that the ultimate recipient of these funds is a church does not itself establish a violation of the Compelled Support Clause; the critical question is whether the funds will support worship. Chittenden Town Sch. Dist., 169 Vt. at 325, 738 A.2d at 550. In fact, denying the UCC secular benefits available to other like organizations might raise concerns under the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution. To meet these concerns, plaintiffs will have to demonstrate that painting the church building and assessing its sills is more like funding devotional training for future clergy, as in Locke, than paying for a new playground surface on church property, as in Trinity Lutheran. Specified repairs to the church building itself admittedly fall somewhere between these two poles. In making their case, plaintiffs must persuade the court either that the Compelled Support Clause categorically precludes the use of public funds to pay for any repairs to a building that serves as a place of worship, without regard to the breadth and neutrality of the program pursuant to which the funding is provided, or that the specific repairs funded under this grant are prohibited. The first proposition is legally questionable; the second is not supported by the record.

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