Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Those Wacky Christians Take to the Road

There are those who laugh about the promises given to suicide bombers by Islamic clerics that 72 virgins will greet them in the holy thereafter. Well, that's not any more wacky and ludicrous than some goofy Christians believing that a chapter in the Bible refers directly to a highway.

by Gary Tuckerman

DALLAS, Texas (CNN) -- If you turn to the Bible -- Isaiah Chapter 35, Verse 8 -- you will see a passage that in part says, "A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness."

Now, is it possible that this "highway" mentioned in Chapter 35 is actually Interstate 35 that runs through six U.S. states, from southern Texas to northern Minnesota? Some Christians have faith that is indeed the case.

It was with that interesting belief in mind that we decided to head to Texas, the southernmost state in the I-35 corridor, to do a story about a prayer campaign called "Light the Highway."

Churchgoers in all six states recently finished 35 days of praying alongside Interstate 35, but the prayers are still continuing.

Some of the faithful believe that in order to fulfill the prophecy of I-35 being the "holy" highway, it needs some intensive prayer first. So we watched as about 25 fervent and enthusiastic Christians prayed on the the interstate's shoulder in Dallas.

Read more here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holy Jeebus

Sometimes others just hit the nail on the head ... so what's the point in trying to improve on what Harold Myerson has written in the Washington Post. Here is his opinion piece titled Hard Liners for Jesus (I have italicized some parts I especially agree with).

by Harold Myerson
December 19, 2007

As Christians across the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it's a fitting moment to contemplate the mountain of moral, and mortal, hypocrisy that is our Christianized Republican Party.

There's nothing new, of course, about the Christianization of the GOP. Seven years ago, when debating Al Gore, then-candidate George W. Bush was asked to identify his favorite philosopher and answered "Jesus." This year, however, the Christianization of the party reached new heights with Mitt Romney's declaration that he believed in Jesus as his savior, in an effort to stanch the flow of "values voters" to Mike Huckabee.

My concern isn't the rift that has opened between Republican political practice and the vision of the nation's Founders, who made very clear in the Constitution that there would be no religious test for officeholders in their enlightened new republic. Rather, it's the gap between the teachings of the Gospels and the preachings of the Gospel's Own Party that has widened past the point of absurdity, even as the ostensible Christianization of the party proceeds apace.

The policies of the president, for instance, can be defended in greater or (more frequently) lesser degree within a framework of worldly standards. But if Bush can conform his advocacy of preemptive war with Jesus's Sermon on the Mount admonition to turn the other cheek, he's a more creative theologian than we have given him credit for. Likewise his support of torture, which he highlighted again this month when he threatened to veto House-passed legislation that would explicitly ban waterboarding.

It's not just Bush whose catechism is a merry mix of torture and piety. Virtually the entire Republican House delegation opposed the ban on waterboarding. Among the Republican presidential candidates, only Huckabee and the not-very-religious John McCain have come out against torture, while only libertarian Ron Paul has questioned the doctrine of preemptive war.

But it's on their policies concerning immigrants where Republicans -- candidates and voters alike -- really run afoul of biblical writ. Not on immigration as such but on the treatment of immigrants who are already here. Consider: Christmas, after all, celebrates not just Jesus's birth but his family's flight from Herod's wrath into Egypt, a journey obviously undertaken without benefit of legal documentation. The Bible isn't big on immigrant documentation. "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him," Exodus says the Lord told Moses on Mount Sinai, "for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."

Yet the distinctive cry coming from the Republican base this year isn't simply to control the flow of immigrants across our borders but to punish the undocumented immigrants already here, children and parents alike.

So Romney attacks Huckabee for holding immigrant children blameless when their parents brought them here without papers, and Huckabee defends himself by parading the endorsement of the Minuteman Project's Jim Gilchrist, whose group harasses day laborers far from the border. The demand for a more regulated immigration policy comes from virtually all points on our political spectrum, but the push to persecute the immigrants already among us comes distinctly, though by no means entirely, from the same Republican right that protests its Christian faith at every turn.

We've seen this kind of Christianity before in America. It's more tribal than religious, and it surges at those times when our country is growing more diverse and economic opportunity is not abounding. At its height in the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan was chiefly the political expression of nativist Protestants upset by the growing ranks of Catholics in their midst.

It's difficult today to imagine KKKers thinking of their mission as Christian, but millions of them did.

Today's Republican values voters don't really conflate their rage with their faith. Lou Dobbs is a purely secular figure. But nativist bigotry is strongest in the Old Time Religion precincts of the Republican Party, and woe betide the Republican candidate who doesn't embrace it, as John McCain, to his credit and his political misfortune, can attest.

The most depressing thing about the Republican presidential race is that the party's rank and file require their candidates to grow meaner with each passing week. And now, inconveniently, inconsiderately, comes Christmas, a holiday that couldn't be better calibrated to expose the Republicans' rank, fetid hypocrisy.
by Harold Myerson

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thought This was Funny

The mosquito has landed on a bottle of herbal mosquito repellant.

Sounds like a line from a Monty Python episode. The naughty bits of an ant. The mosquito has landed. Oh well, my humor is a little whacked.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another Offering from that King of Comedic Writing, John

Our friend John, the right-wing commenter strikes again with more humor, grammatical errors and unrelenting rant over at Rick Esenberg's Shark and Shepherd.

Rick and our very own hero, the unpatriotic, LIBERAL, lose at all costs villain, Jay Bullock (folkbum's rambles and rants) are engaged in a fine discussion on waterboarding (is it torture or a fun summer activity) and whether or not waterboarding (the tortuous kind) was really effective in getting Abu Zubadayh to confess to vicious plots against American citizens, or to the location of his favorite hot dog stands on the east coast.

John decided to take matters into his own hands and he came up with this gem ... nay, masterpiece (note the exquisite use of the sticky caps lock key).

Rick, whether waterboarding has been effective "enough", is specious and unrelated to the question of whether it is TORTURE or not.

To wit, Jay et al, will NEVER acknowledge a rough technique as being "effective", as long as Jay, et al, are "invested" in discrediting President Bush, and as such are "invested" in our countries "discredit or failure" in terms of political discourse.

It's far beyond obvious. Jay Bullock, will NEVER, accept any victories by our Country, so long as HIS, party/friends, are not responsible for said victories.

That is pretty much the emblematic definition of being a traitor,(yes I am questioning Jay's patiotism or lack thereof).

Rick, I'm confident that you agree, but as usual, I recognize that you are above most of this rancor.I'll end with this.

Jay Bullock sais the following:

((No one has been able to demonstrate that a single life has been saved or a single attack prevented through the use of the technique}}

Rick, if you do not recognize how far Jay Bullock and his like, will go to deny what is obvious, then you too are nuts.
John's confidence that Rick will agree with him may or may not be founded in fact. I'd bet the house John's confidence is misplaced, however, it does beg another question. Most of us would agree that a large percentage of conservative writers are well-meaning and thoughtful (stop laughing back there, it's the season for generosity). Truly though, most do not stoop to John's level. The question being begged is when does Rick, and even Jessica McBride (whose blog John frequents) who has famously decried anonymous commenters though John has no blog and anyone could set up with the name John to make comments, say something about this clown?

I see all the time where liberal voices will disagree with each other and even call out someone for something said. Heck, in one of my more sleepy moments I once wrote something untrue about James Wigderson as a comment at Jay's blog. James caught it and wrote a gracious denial, even suspecting that I had to have been tired. Jay jumped on it and told me quite frankly it wasn't true.

I offered my apologies to James, which he accepted. We all make mistakes, but Jay stood up for a - gasp – conservative. Frankly, other than James who is always fair (and perhaps Dean Mundy, though I read his blog less often, to my shame) I have never seen another do the same.

It's really not that big of a deal. John's comments do provide comic relief and fodder for more Whallah posts, but it would be nice to see it happen just occasionally.

Dan Fogelberg

I was a fan of Dan Fogelberg back in the 70s and early 80s and then lost track of him. I see over at James' place that he has passed away at the age of 56. Of course, the passing of most anyone is a sad affair, and I'm 51 and everytime someone who is a contemporary of mine passes away I feel the cold hand of mortality ever so briefly. Shiver.

Anyway, though I've not listened to Fogelberg for years, this song's title popped into my head immediately upon reading of his death. For my two or three readers, here's Fogelberg's "Leader of the Band."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Beautiful Voice

Being an accomplished baritone in private, much like Mr. Tanner of Harry Chapin fame, I have always been a fan of great voices, from Luciano Pavarotti , Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday to my personal favorite, the late Freddie Mercury of the rock band, Queen. Of Mercury's talents, I think this paragraph in Wiki sums it up nicely:

Regarded as one of the greatest singers in popular music, Freddie Mercury possessed a very distinctive voice, including a recorded range of four and a halfe octaves. Although his speaking voice naturally fell in the range, he delivered most songs in the tenor range. His highest notes are F6 in falsetto and C5 with his normal voice. He used a falsetto in many songs as well. Biographer David Bret described his voice as "escalating within a few bars from a deep, throaty rock-growl to tender, vibrant tenor, then on to a high-pitched, almost perfect coloratura pure and crystalline in the upper reaches." On the other hand, he would often lower the highest notes during live performances. Mercury also claimed never to have had any formal training and suffered from vocal nodules. Catalan soprano Montserrat Caballé, with whom Mercury recorded an album expressed her opinion that "the difference between Freddie and almost all the other rock stars was that he was selling the voice."
This version of "Who Wants To Live Forever" is a telling example of the soaring beauty of his voice.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What? It Could Happen

With apologies to Tom Tomorrow.

In McBride World, where non-objectivity in journalism is a virtue, where one can be on the faculty of a major university even though they are not, and where down is up and she broadcasts a radio show from her bed ... well, anything is possible.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Harry, one of my 12-year old son's beloved gerbils died after a very brief illness ... cause unknown. He was about three years old. There were some tears, but Ian has been assured that Harry has joined his gerbil brothers whereve

RIP Harry

Harry, one of my 12-year old son's beloved gerbils died after a very brief illness ... cause unknown. Harry was about three years old. There were some tears, but Ian has been assured that Harry has joined his gerbil brothers wherever gerbils go when they leave this plane of existence.

It's been a slow post week.

Friday, December 7, 2007

McBride, Again

Good grief. Jessica McBride has a post, entitled "Big Surprise," about Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Laurel Walker. She says of Walker:

The Journal Sentinel's lefty Waukesha columnist Laurel Walker adorns her "Christmas" tree with "secular baubles." Why am I not surprised?

This is what Walker actually wrote:

My tree (once it's up and decorated) is a Christmas tree, decorated with mostly secular baubles, souvenirs, a lot of "Sesame Street" characters (dating to the boys' childhoods), a handful of angels and a tiny hanging crèche - maybe even two.

So, if one had only looked at McBride's post, as at least two commenters obviously did, one would get the mistaken idea that Walker's Christmas decorations are all secular.

It's a pathetic game of gotcha by McBride. Some might even say she was being disingenuous (you know, lying). In any case, it was incredibly petty and beneath a "professional journalist."

Why is she teaching at my alma mater anyway?

I Am A Muslim

FYI: I'm an athiest, but I still like Christmas trees, I like seeing creches in front yards, I have no problem with prayer and I like it that there are so many people who are devout in their faith, regardless of their faith.

I have no problem with Christmas plays in public schools, or Christmas trees or kids exchanging presents ... it is a large part of our heritage. I do have an issue with school sponsored prayers, but I don't have an issue with politicians leading others in prayer in Congress.

We are most definitely not a Christian nation, but we are a nation populated by a majority of people who identify with Christianity. Christians, who by the way, wrote the Constitution to be all-inclusive and accepting of all faiths and those who choose not to believe.

I will not debate any apparent inconsistency in anything I've said here because I don't see that it is important. I like the season. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Thanks, Bill W. for this well-traveled Internet pice. Still fun, though, and a good message.

For those who wear their faith as a sign of their piety and wear lapel pins to proclaim their patriotism.

A man was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hit the roof -- and the horn -- screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the Choose Life license plate holder, the What Would Jesus Do bumper sticker, the Follow Me to Sunday School bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

New Meaning to Losing Your Marbles

Bush Ancestor a Thief

Bert Mancuso Hart, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that George W. Bush's great-great uncle, Remus I. Bush, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription:

Remus Bush; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.
Mr. Hart e-mailed the President for comments. The White House staff sent back the following biographical sketch:

Remus I. Bush was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.
Wasn't this funny? If you don't think so, click here.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Leveraging the Vote

In today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is an article highlighting the career of Paul Weyrich, the Gregor Strasser of the American right-wing conservative movement. Unfortunately, the relatively friendly piece (ah, that ol' liberal bias thing) fails to mention Weyrich's role in efforts to suppress the vote in the United States. With a new round of elections slated for 2008, including the all-important presidential election, it's best to remember this quote from Weyrich, given at an 1980 training seminar for conservative right-wing preachers:

"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
People for the American Way has documented the career of this anti-American visionary. Here is the introduction to a report on voting suppression efforts by the conservatiove right-wing over the years. Any of it sound familiar? Remember this the next time some glowing piece is written.

There are two ways to win an election. One is to get a majority of voters to support you. The other is to prevent voters who oppose you from casting their votes.

In the 27 years since Paul Weyrich's astonishingly candid admission, the radical right wing in America has developed an array of subtle and overt methods to suppress voter registration and turnout. The methods are targeted to constituencies most likely to oppose right-wing causes and candidates: low-income families, minorities, senior citizens and citizens for whom English is a second language.

Occasionally, attempts at voter suppression are illegal dirty tricks, such as the phone-jamming scheme carried out by Republican operatives against a Democratic phone bank in New Hampshire in 2004.

Some voter suppression is unintentional, the result of applying or misapplying changes in voting laws. However, voter suppression today is overwhelmingly achieved through regulatory, legislative and administrative means, resulting in modern-day equivalents of poll taxes and literacy tests that kept Black voters from the ballot box in the Jim Crow era.

Couched in feel-good phrases such as "voter security" and "anti-voter fraud," these measures limit voter registration, turn voters away from polling places, and cast doubt on the validity of ballots. For example, stringent voter ID rules that require photo ID at the polls sound reasonable, until the estimated up to 12 percent of eligible voters who do not have a driver’s license are figured in. And while "anti-fraud" measures sound good, in truth there is little evidence of organized voter fraud anywhere in the nation, while voter suppression tactics are varied and widespread:

- In Ohio, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has implemented rules to carry out a new state elections law. Blackwell’s rules make it extremely difficult for small churches and other nonprofit organizations to hire and train voter registration workers—and they expose voter registration workers to felony charges for making mistakes.

- In Texas, Congressman John Carter has suggested implementing literacy tests and English-only ballots, despite the existence of a federal law requiring minority language ballots at the polls.

- In Florida in 2004, Governor Jeb Bush was forced to deactivate a list of purported felons who were to be blocked from voting when the news media discovered that the list included Black, but not Hispanic, voters and that many people on the list were actually eligible voters.

- In California this year, nonsensical requirements for matching new voter names to existing state databases (e.g., a "Michael R. Neuman" would not match a "Mike R. Neuman" at the same address) resulted in numerous voter registrations being rejected. Between January and June, 26,824 voter registration forms received by Los Angeles County alone were rejected because of these new restrictions.

- In New Mexico, the number of "provisional ballots," which are mandated under new federal voting rules, that went uncounted exceeded the margin of victory in the presidential race in 2004.

- In Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona, since the 2002 passage of the federal Help America Vote Act, state legislatures have passed new voter identification rules that would disenfranchise thousands of elderly and poor voters who do not have drivers' licenses or passports. Some of these measures have been blocked, but others are now in effect.

- In Ohio in 2004, precincts in predominantly low-income and minority neighborhoods were chronically understaffed and had fewer voting machines than higher-income precincts, resulting in long lines and uncounted numbers of voters leaving the polls before they had a chance to cast a vote.

The Radical Right strategy of turning out base supporters while suppressing the votes of its opponents has often been successful. Legislatures controlled by far-right conservatives now determine the voting laws and how redistricting is conducted in many states. Governors, secretaries of state, and other election officials, supported by the Radical Right, now administer many states’ elections. This report, by no means comprehensive, provides a brief overview of various suppression techniques so that citizens, community activists and the news media can recognize similar attempts as patterns of voter suppression emerge across the country.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

In Defense of Religious Expression

The next time one of your conservative friends speaks poorly of the American Civil Liberties Union, have them look here (and here). The ACLU exists to defend the civil liberties of all Americans.

The ACLU vigorously defends the right of Americans to practice religion. But because the ACLU is often better known for its work preventing the government from promoting and funding selected religious activities, it is often wrongly assumed that the ACLU does not zealously defend the rights of religious believers, including Christians, to practice their religion. The cases below - including several where the ACLU even defended the rights of religious believers to condemn homosexuality or abortion - reveal just how mistaken such assumptions are.

Although the cases described below emphasize "the free exercise of religion," the guarantees of the Establishment Clause also protect the rights of religious believers (and non-believers) from having the government promote some religious beliefs over others.

Defending the Rights of Those Identifying Themselves as Christian

The ACLU of Florida (2007) argued in favor of the right of Christians to protest against a gay pride event held in the City of St. Petersburg. The City had proposed limiting opposition speech, including speech motivated by religious beliefs, to restricted "free speech zones." After receiving the ACLU's letter, the City revised its proposed ordinance. www.aclufl.org/pdfs/StPeteLetter.pdf www.tampabays10.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=57665

The ACLU of Oregon (2007) defended the right of students at a private religious school not to be pressured to violate their Sabbath day by playing in a state basketball tournament. The Oregon School Activities Association scheduled state tournament games on Saturdays, the recognized Sabbath of students and faculty of the Portland Adventist Academy. The ACLU argued that the school's team, having successfully made it to the tournament, should not be required to violate their religious beliefs in order to participate. www.aclu-or.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Lit_tp_nak www.aclu-or.org/site/DocServer/Lit_OSAA_mtgmry_3_07.pdf?docID=1861

The ACLU of West Virginia (2007) sued on behalf of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) university student who won a prestigious scholarship to West Virginia University. Although the state scholarship board provided leaves of absence for military, medical, and family reasons, it denied the ACLU's client a leave of absence to serve on a 2-year mission for his church. The ACLU filed a religious freedom claim in federal court. www.aclu-wv.org/Newsroom/PressReleases/07_19_07.html

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri (2007) represents Shirley L. Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, whose religious beliefs lead her to condemn homosexuality as a sin and insist that God is punishing the United States. The protests in which she has been involved have been confrontational and have involved funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. While the ACLU does not endorse her message, it does believe that she has both religious and free-speech rights to express her viewpoint criticizing homosexuality. www.aclu.org/freespeech/protest/26265prs20060721.html

The ACLU of Wisconsin (2007) filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that individual pharmacists should be able to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their religious scruples, provided that patients can obtain prescriptions from willing providers in a safe and timely manner. www.aclu-wi.org/wisconsin/rights_of_women/ 20070201_Pharm_Refusal_amicus_complete.pdf

The ACLU of New Jersey (2007) defended the right of an elementary school student who was prohibited from singing "Awesome God" in a voluntary, after-school talent show for which students selected their own material. The ACLU submitted a friend-of-the-Court brief. After a favorable settlement was reached for the student, the federal lawsuit was dismissed. www.aclu.org/religion/schools/25799prs20060605.html

The ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania (2007) prevailed in their case on behalf of an Egyptian Coptic Christian who had been detained and who claimed he had been tortured by the Egyptian government because he refused to convert to Islam. After permitting Sameh Khouzam to stay in the United States for nine years based on evidence that he would probably be tortured if he returned to Egypt, the U.S. government changed its position in 2007 and sought to deport Mr. Khouzam based on diplomatic assurances from the Egyptian government that Mr. Khouzam would not be tortured upon return. As a result of the ACLU's advocacy, a federal court granted Mr. Khouzam an indefinite stay of deportation to Egypt. www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/egyptiantorture.htm

The ACLU of North Carolina (2007) wrote a letter to the Dismas Charities Community Correction Center on behalf of a former resident who was not allowed to consume wine during communion services while staying at the Center. After the ACLU advised the Center of its obligations under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, the Center revised its policy to comply with federal law.

The ACLU of North Carolina (2007) challenged a North Carolina Department of Corrections policy making all religious services in prison English-only, thereby denying access to many inmates. The North Carolina Division of Prisons agreed to review the policy and the need for religious services in languages other than English in the state correctional system.

The ACLU of Delaware (2007) prevailed in a lawsuit brought on behalf of Christians, pagans, and Wiccans, alleging that a department store violated a Delaware public accommodations law by canceling community courses after individuals complained about the religious beliefs that were being taught in the centers. (This case is also listed in Part II.)

The ACLU of North Carolina (2007) assisted with the naturalization of a Jehovah's Witness who had been told he could not obtain United States citizenship because of his conscientious refusal to swear an oath that he would be willing to bear arms on behalf of the country.

The ACLU of Rhode Island (2007) prevailed in its arguments on behalf of a Christian inmate, Wesley Spratt, who had been preaching in prison for over seven years before administrators told him to stop based on vague and unsubstantiated security concerns. After the ACLU prevailed in the First Circuit, the parties reached a settlement under which Mr. Spratt is free to preach again. www.projo.com/news/content/ Preacher_07-31-07_T76IHBQ.34294dd.html

The ACLU of the National Capital Area (2007) brought suit on behalf of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish firefighters and paramedics who wear beards as a matter of religious observance. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed with the ACLU that the District of Columbia's policy prohibiting these individuals from wearing beards violated their religious freedom rights. www.aclu-nca.org/boxSub.asp?id=84 (This case is also listed in Part II.)

The ACLU of Louisiana (2006) reached a favorable settlement after filing a federal suit against the Department of Corrections on behalf of an inmate who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). The inmate, Norman Sanders, was denied access to religious services and religious texts including The Book of Mormon. www.laaclu.org/News/2005/Aug26SandersvCain.htm

The ACLU of Texas (2006) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a Christian pastor and his faith-based rehabilitation facility in Sinton, Texas. The ACLU of Texas urged the court to reverse a decision that prohibited the pastor from operating his rehabilitation program near his church and also sharply limited the reach of the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). www.aclutx.org/article.php?aid=391

The ACLU of Louisiana (2006) filed a lawsuit defending the right of a Christian who wished to exercise both religious and speech rights by protesting against homosexuality in front of a Wal-Mart store with a sign that read: "Christians: Wal-Mart Supports Gay Marriage and Gay Lifestyles. Don't Shop There." www.aclu.org/freespeech/protest/27266prs20061027.html

The ACLU of Georgia (2006) filed a federal lawsuit to help obtain a zoning permit for a house of worship on behalf of the Tabernacle Community Baptist Church after the city of East Point denied the request. www.aclu.org/religion/discrim/25518prs20060419.html

The ACLU of Nevada (2006) defended the free exercise and free speech rights of evangelical Christians to preach on the sidewalks of Las Vegas. When the County government refused to change its unconstitutional policy, the ACLU filed suit in federal court. www.kvbc.com/Global/story.asp?S=3379553&nav=15MVaB2T

The ACLU of Louisiana (2006) reached a favorable settlement on behalf of a student teacher at a public school who objected to classroom prayers led by her supervising teacher. After disagreeing with her supervisor's unconstitutional practice of telling children how to pray, the student teacher received a failing grade and was not permitted to graduate from the teaching program. Under the settlement obtained by the ACLU of Louisiana, the university removed the failing grade and allowed the student to reenroll and complete her graduation requirements. www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=17478 www.laaclu.org/News/2006/ aclu_settlement_ThompsonvSLU_Oct0306.htm

The ACLU and its affiliates (1999-2006) have been instrumental supporters of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which gives religious organizations added protection in erecting religious buildings and enhances the religious freedom rights of prisoners and other institutionalized persons. The ACLU worked with a broad coalition of organizations to secure the law's passage in 2000. After the law was enacted, the ACLU (2005) defended its constitutionality in a friend-of-the-court brief before the United States Supreme Court and the ACLU of Virginia (2006) opposed a challenge to the law before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. www.aclu.org/scotus/2004/ 20956res20041230039877/20956res20041230.html www.aclu.org/religion/frb/26018prs20060612.html

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union (2005) defended the rights of two teenage girls who, for religious reasons, sought to wear anti-abortion t-shirts to school after school officials threatened to punish them. www.aclu.org/studentsrights/expression/12852prs20050429.html

The ACLU of New Mexico (2005) helped release a street preacher who had been incarcerated in Roosevelt County jail for 109 days. The case was brought to the ACLU by the preacher's wife and was supported by the American Family Association. www.aclu.org/religion/gen/19918prs20050804.html

The ACLU of Michigan (2005) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Joseph Hanas, a Roman Catholic who was punished for not completing a drug rehabilitation program run by a Pentecostal group whose religious beliefs he did not share. Part of the program required reading the Bible for seven hours a day, proclaiming one's salvation at the altar, and being tested on Pentecostal principles. The staff confiscated Mr. Hanas's rosary beads and told him Catholicism was witchcraft. www.aclu.org/religion/govtfunding/22354prs20051206.html

The ACLU of Southern California (2005) defended an evangelical scholar who monitored the fundraising practices of several ministries and their leaders after a defamation suit was brought against him in order to silence him. www.aclu-sc.org/News/Releases/2005/101364/

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2004-2005) won two cases on behalf of predominantly African-American churches that were denied permits to worship in churches previously occupied by white congregations. In 2005, the ACLU of Pennsylvania settled a case against Turtle Creek Borough brought on behalf of Ekklesia church. After the ACLU of Pennsylvania's advocacy, the Borough of West Mifflin granted Second Baptist Church of Homestead an occupancy permit in 2002 and, in 2004, agreed to pay it damages and compensate it for its losses. www.post-gazette.com/neigh_south/20021029churchsuitsouth2p2.asp www.post-gazette.com/localnews/20021116aclureg6p6.asp www.post-gazette.com/pg/04111/303298.stm www.aclu.org/RacialEquality/RacialEquality.cfm?ID=11083&c=28

The ACLU of New Jersey (2004) appeared as amicus curiae to argue that a prosecutor violated the New Jersey Constitution by striking individuals from a jury pool after deciding that they were "demonstrative about their religion." One potential juror was a missionary; the other was wearing Muslim religious garb, including a skull cap. The ACLU-NJ also argued that permitting strikes based on jurors' display of their religion would often amount to discrimination against identifiable religious minorities. www.aclu-nj.org/legal/closedcasearchive/statevlloydfuller.htm

The ACLU of Nebraska (2004) defended the Church of the Awesome God, a Presbyterian church, from forced eviction under the city of Lincoln's zoning laws. The ACLU of Nebraska also challenged city ordinances requiring religious organizations to meet safety standards not imposed on non-religious groups. www.aclu.org/religion/frb/16347prs20040811.html

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2004) prevailed in its arguments that the government had to allow Amish drivers to use highly reflective gray tape on their buggies instead of orange triangles, to which the drivers objected for religious reasons. www.post-gazette.com/localnews/20021020amish1020p6.asp

The ACLU of Virginia (2004) threatened to file suit against the Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority after the Park Authority enacted an unconstitutional policy prohibiting religious activity in the park and the Park Manager stopped a Cornerstone Baptist Church minister from conducting baptisms in the park. Under pressure from the ACLU, the Park Authority revoked the prohibition and allowed baptisms in the park. www.aclu.org/religion/discrim/16230prs20040603.html www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A16839-2004Jun4 www.aclu.org/ReligiousLiberty/ReligiousLiberty.cfm?ID=15897&c=141

The ACLU of Washington (2004) reached a favorable settlement on behalf of Donald Ausderau, a Christian minister, who wanted to preach to the public and distribute leaflets on the sidewalks around a downtown bus station in Spokane, WA. www.aclu-wa.org/detail.cfm?id=57

With the help of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (2004), an Episcopal social services group was able to keep its program of feeding the homeless running. The County Health Department reversed its decision that meals served to homeless people in a church must be cooked on the premises, as opposed to in individual homes. Had the decision not been reversed, the ministry would have been forced to cease the program.

The ACLU of Virginia (2004) told the city of Richmond that it would file suit unless Richmond officials reconsidered their decision to close a Sunday meal program for the homeless at a local church because of zoning violations. "[T]he right of a church to perform a core function of its religious mission," the ACLU wrote, "is protected by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993." web.archive.org/web/20040109051557/archive.aclu.org/news/ w091196b.html

The ACLU of Nevada (2004) represented a Mormon high school student, Kim Jacobs, whom school authorities suspended and then attempted to expel for wearing T-shirts with religious messages. Jacobs won a preliminary victory in court when a judge ruled that the school could not expel her for not complying with the dress code. www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/2004/sep/09/517482854.html

The ACLU of Michigan (2004) represented Abby Moler, a student at Sterling Stevenson High School, whose yearbook entry, a Bible verse, was deleted because of its religious content. A settlement was reached under which the school placed a sticker with Moler's original entry in the yearbooks and agreed not to censor students' yearbook entries based on their religious or political viewpoints in the future. www.aclu.org/religion/gen/16093prs20031222.html

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union (2004) filed suit on behalf of the Old Paths Baptist Church against the City of Scottsburg after the city repeatedly threatened to cite or arrest members who held demonstrations regarding various subjects dealing with their religious beliefs. www.aclu.org/freespeech/protest/11484prs20040716.html

The ACLU of Massachusetts (2003) intervened on behalf of a group of students at Westfield High School who were suspended for distributing candy canes and a religious message in school.

The ACLU succeeded in having the suspensions revoked and filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit brought on behalf of the students against the school district. www.aclu.org/StudentRights/StudentRights.cfm?ID=11876&c=159

The ACLU of Rhode Island (2003) interceded on behalf of an interdenominational group of carolers who were told they could not sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve to inmates at the women's prison in Cranston, Rhode Island.

The ACLU of Virginia (2002) and the late Rev. Jerry Falwell prevailed in a lawsuit arguing that a Virginia constitutional provision banning religious organizations from incorporating was unconstitutional. www.aclu.org/religion/frb/16040prs20020417.html

The ACLU of Ohio (2002) filed a brief in support of preacher who wanted to protest abortion at a parade, but was prohibited from doing so in an Akron suburb. www.freedomforum.org/templates/document.asp?documentID=16471

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union (2002) filed a friend-of-the court brief supporting a group of Christian students who filed a lawsuit against Davenport Schools asserting their right to distribute religious literature during non-instructional time. www.aclu.org/studentsrights/religion/12811prs20020711.html

The ACLU of Nebraska (2002) filed a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit challenging the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission's definition of a church as excluding religious organizations that do not own property. ACLU lawyer Amy Miller said the "definition of a church established by the Liquor Control Commission violated the rights of members of the House of Faith to the free exercise of their religion." www.freedomforum.org/templates/document.asp?documentID=16114