In this episode, the third in a series, we talk about the Court’s decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Association, the Peace Cross case. We analyze the Court’s opinion, the plurality opinion, and several of the other opinions in the case. We also consider the implications of American Legion for future cases involving state-sponsored religious displays. And we talk together about some disagreements we have about exactly how to interpret the reach of the case. Listen in!
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, a case involving the constitutionality of a state tax credit program that helps families send their children to private schools, including religious schools.
- The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Eleventh Circuit to rehear a case involving the constitutionality of a thirty-four-foot cross in Pensacola’s Bayview Park (FL) in light of the Court’s ruling in the Bladensburg Peace Cross case.
- The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Alabama’s appeal of an Eleventh Circuit decision that blocked from taking effect a state law that would have banned a common second-trimester abortion procedure known as the dilation and evacuation procedure, or “dismemberment abortion.”
- Carlus Page, former police chief of Lumberton (MS), filed a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming he was ousted as chief because of religious discrimination.
- Memorial Healthcare in Owosso (MI) agreed to pay almost $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of a job candidate who was passed over because her religious beliefs preclude her from getting flu shots.
- A Roman Catholic bishop in Texas escorted Central American migrants across the U.S. border as part of a protest against conditions migrants face as they wait for their asylum claims to be processed.
- Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal held that a man who, citing his religious beliefs, refused to make posters for an LGBT foundation should not have been convicted because workers have a right to act according to their conscience.
- The Evangelical Covenant Church has voted to remove the First Covenant Church in Minneapolis (MN) from its roster over the congregation’s position on LGBT inclusion.
- The California State Assembly recently passed a resolution singling out faith-motivated individuals and organizations for causing disproportionately high rates of suicide, depression, and other mental health issues among LGBT individuals.
- Two public swimming pools in France were shut down after seven Muslim women, as part of a coordinated protest, entered the pools wearing burkinis, in violation of a city-wide ban on the full-body Islamic swimsuits.
- Vice President Pence delivered remarks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Patriot’s Gala in Washington (DC), discussing, among other things, abortion and freedom of religion.
- Follow up from last Monday’s AtW: The Midwest Jesuits plan to appeal a decree by Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis (IN) that Brebeuf Jesuit High School is no longer recognized as a Catholic school after school administrators refused to fire a teacher in a same-sex marriage.
- New York City will give up $1.3 million in federal Title X funds rather than comply with a Trump administration rule that bars federally funded clinics from making abortion referrals.
- A federal judge blocked an Indiana law that would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure known as “dismemberment abortion,” just days before the law was set to take effect.
- Abortion providers filed a federal lawsuit challenging Georgia’s controversial new fetal heartbeat law, which bans abortions once a fetus’s heartbeat is detected.
- An Alabama woman was charged with manslaughter over the death of her five-month-old fetus that perished when she was shot in the stomach because, as police stated, she started the fight that led to the shooting and failed to remove herself from harm’s way.
- Missouri’s only abortion clinic will temporarily remain open after the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission gave it more time to resolve its current licensing dispute with the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services.
- Protests were held in several cities in India last Wednesday following the lynching of a Muslim man by a Hindu mob that suspected he was a thief.
- Ross Farca, a California man who was released on bail days after being arrested for threatening to murder dozens of Jews, is contesting an order that prevents him from accessing firearms.
- A Massachusetts rabbi is urging his congregation to bring their guns to Shabbat, claiming thoughts and prayers are not enough to save them during a mass shooting.
- The Vatican asked the Chinese government to stop intimidating Catholic clergy who wish to remain loyal to the pope and refuse to sign official registration forms, a requirement of all priests and bishops under Chinese law.
- Pope Francis praised the Sunday meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he hopes it will lead to peace, not only on the Korean Peninsula, but for the entire world.
- Anthony Haynes, former leader of the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo (OH), was sentenced to life in prison for grooming a fourteen-year-old girl to have sex with him and then sharing her with two other pastors.
The Peace of Augsburg (1555) ended a struggle within the Holy Roman Empire between the Catholic Emperor Charles V and Lutheran princes. A key principle of the treaty was cuius regio, eius religio–“whose realm, his religion”–a prince could determine the religion of his state without interference from outside. It doesn’t seem like much, today; we wouldn’t say that freedom consists in believing as the prince directs you. But the principle acknowledged national, if not individual, autonomy in matters of religion, a major innovation at the time.
Last week, Yale University Press released a new biography of the Hapsburg prince and devoted Catholic who agreed to this arrangement, Emperor:A New Life of Charles V, by historian Geoffrey Parker (Ohio State). Here’s the description of the book from the Yale website:
Drawing on vital new evidence, a top historian dramatically reinterprets the ruler of the world’s first transatlantic empire.
The life of Emperor Charles V (1500–1558), ruler of Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and much of Italy and Central and South America, has long intrigued biographers. But the elusive nature of the man (despite an abundance of documentation), his relentless travel and the control of his own image, together with the complexity of governing the world’s first transatlantic empire, complicate the task.
Geoffrey Parker, one of the world’s leading historians of early modern Europe, has examined the surviving written sources in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, as well as visual and material evidence. He explores the crucial decisions that created and preserved this vast empire, analyzes Charles’s achievements within the context of both personal and structural factors, and scrutinizes the intimate details of the ruler’s life for clues to his character and inclinations. The result is a unique biography that interrogates every dimension of Charles’s reign and views the world through the emperor’s own eyes.