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Here are some important law-and-religion new stories from around the web:

  • In Mays v. Joseph, the Eleventh Circuit held that a prisoner may recover punitive damages for violation of his free exercise rights. The claim centered around a Georgia Department of Corrections’ grooming policy that barred inmates from growing their hair or goatees longer than three inches.
  • In U.S. Navy SEALs 1-26 v. Biden, a Texas federal district court issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. Navy from imposing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate on thirty-five Navy service members. The court concluded that applying the vaccine mandate to plaintiffs violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.
  • In Abraham House of God and Cemetery, Inc. v. City of Horn Lake, a consent decree was entered in a Mississippi federal district court. The suit alleged that the City of Horn Lake denied approval of the site plan for a proposed mosque because of religious animus.
  • Suit was filed in Ohio state trial court by five school districts and students’ parents challenging the Ohio legislature’s recent expansion of the EdChoice voucher program. The complaint alleges that the program violates Article VI, Sec. 2 of the Ohio Constitution, which calls for separation between church and state.
  • A British tribunal has ruled that a Christian nurse who was forced to resign from a hospital over her refusal to stop wearing a cross was wrongfully discriminated against.
  • The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a complaint against a Christian bakery in Northern Ireland that refused to make a cake supporting gay marriage on religious grounds.
    • The case, Lee v. Ashers Baking Co., was the subject of our first Legal Spirits podcast episode.

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Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • In Barakat v. Brown, a Muslim woman filed a religious discrimination suit in a Missouri federal district court alleging an indoor gun range refuses admission to women wearing hijabs.
  • In Iglesia Pentecostal Filadelfia, Inc. v. Rodriguez, a Texas state appellate court affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of an internal church dispute about church leadership roles on ecclesiastical abstention grounds.
  • In Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski,​​ a federal district court ruled that a lawsuit by a Georgia Gwinnett student alleging that college officials stopped him from sharing his Christian faith on campus should move forward on the merits.
  • In K.W. v. Canton City School District, a high school football player filed suit in an Ohio federal district court after he was forced to violate his religious beliefs as punishment for missing a mandatory class.
  • A North Carolina sheriff refused to remove a Bible verse from his office wall after the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation claimed that the “blatantly Christian message in a law enforcement division sends a message of exclusion.”
  • The Archdiocese of Baltimore has declared new COVID-19 protocols, including requiring clergy, liturgical ministers, and all attendees age five and older to wear a mask inside of churches in Baltimore County and Howard County.

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Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • In St. Augustine School v. Underly, the Seventh Circuit sent back to the district court a suit challenging Wisconsin’s refusal to provide bus transportation to students at St. Augustine School, a private religious school. The court concluded that the decision to provide transportation was not justified by neutral and secular considerations.
  • The Eighth Circuit heard oral arguments in Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra. Below, a North Dakota federal district court granted various Catholic-affiliated health care entities with an injunction prohibiting the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws against them in connection with providing coverage for transgender procedures.
  • In Downtown Soup Kitchen v. Municipality of Anchorage, an Alaska federal district court refused to grant injunctive relief to the Hope Center, a faith-based women’s shelter, after a new public accommodation law would require them to provide housing to trans-identifying women. The court concluded that since the city does not consider the Hope Center a public accommodation the center could not demonstrate a credible threat of enforcement.
  • Suit was filed in Virginia state trial court by parents challenging the Albemarle County School Board’s Anti-Racism Policy and the associated curriculum alleging religious discrimination.
  • In Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe v. U.S. Department of the Interior, the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe brought suit alleging that the new Dixie Meadows geothermal energy project will negatively impact the Dixie Meadows hot springs and the surrounding landscape and thus, violate their members’ sincerely held religious beliefs.
  • China has barred the chair, vice-chair, and two commissioners of the U.S. Commission on the International Religious Freedom from entering China.

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Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • In Doe v. San Diego Unified School District, a California federal district court denied a temporary restraining order in a suit brought by a high school student and her parents objecting to the school district’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate which did not provide religious exemptions.
  • In Payne-Elliott v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, an Indiana state appellate court reversed the dismissal of a suit by a former Catholic high school teacher. The teacher claimed that the Archdiocese intentionally interfered with his employment after he entered into a same-sex marriage.
  • In Seal I v. Biden, a Florida federal district court deferred ruling on a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by military service members seeking religious exemptions from the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
  • The U.S. State Department published the 2021 designation of countries and non-state actors that are major violators of religious freedom.
  • The city of Philadelphia agreed to pay Catholic Social Services a $2 million settlement and reinstate their foster care contract after the Supreme Court, in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, unanimously found that the city had discriminated against the group due to their religious beliefs.
  • The EEOC announced that Greyhound lines has agreed to pay a $45,000 settlement after a Muslim woman brought a religious discrimination suit. The woman was accepted into the driver training program but was later told that she could not wear her religious garments.

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Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The Supreme Court declined to grant review in a lawsuit brought by a transgender man against a Catholic hospital after the hospital declined to perform a hysterectomy on the plaintiff. The Catholic hospital claimed that performing this procedure would have required it to violate its religious beliefs.
  • In Redeemed Christian Church of God (Victory Temple) Bowie, Md. v. Prince George’s County, the Fourth Circuit held that RLUIPA applied to a county council’s decision denying a water and sewer upgrade for property purchased by the plaintiff church. 
  • In We the Patriots USA, Inc. v. Hochul  and Dr. A v. Hochul, the Second Circuit vacated a temporary injunction issued against a statewide order mandating that medical professionals receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • In Texas v. Department of Labor, the Fifth Circuit issued a stay freezing the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate that would require workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated or be tested weekly.
  • In Abraham House of God and Cemetery, Inc. v. City of Horn Lake, two local religious leaders brought suit in Mississippi federal district court alleging that the defendant denied approval of a mosque site plan because of religious discrimination.
  • In Ratio Christi at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln v. Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, a Christian student group filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln alleging viewpoint discrimination after the school denied funding for a guest speaker.
  • In Rojas v. Martell, an Illinois state trial court ruled that a county health department violated the conscience rights of a Catholic nurse who lost her job after refusing to provide patients with contraceptives or abortion referrals.
  • Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment which provides that the state “may not enact, adopt, or issue a statute, order, proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services.” This amendment was created in response to the numerous restrictions placed on religious gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The Illinois legislature passed SB 1169, which amends the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act to state that it is not a violation to impose any requirement intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • In Pasadena Republican Club v. Western Justice Center, the Western Justice Center refused to rent space to a group to host a speech by the president of the National Organization of Marriage. The Republican Club brought a suit claiming both viewpoint discrimination and religious-belief discrimination, but the Ninth Circuit dismissed the suit and the Supreme Court denied review.
  • In Ackerman v. Washington, the Sixth Circuit held that the Michigan Department of Corrections’ universal religious meal plan was inadequate to meet the religious needs of Jewish prisoners.
  • In Zhang Jingrong v. Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, the Second Circuit held that under the Freedom to Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, tables set up on the sidewalk occupied by protesters did not satisfy the “place of religious worship” requirement.
  • In Dr. A v. Hochul, a New York federal district court held that New York must continue to allow health care works to seek exemptions as a lawsuit challenging the mandate proceeds. The court concluded that the lack of a religious exemption conflicts with the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII and the Free Exercise Clause.
  • A Dallas Criminal District Court Judge recommended that Randy Halprin, a Jewish death row inmate, be granted a new trial because there is evidence that the Judge in his case, Vickers Cunningham, was prejudiced and may have discriminated against him because of his religion. The state’s highest criminal court will now have to decide whether a new trial should be granted.
  • In ASM v. State of Wyoming, the Wyoming Supreme Court rejected a nun’s claim that the state violated her free exercise rights when, after inflicting self-injuries, she was involuntarily hospitalized. The nun asserted she was engaging in the Catholic ritual of mortification.
  • In Hunter v. U.S. Department of Education, an Oregon federal district court issued an order allowing three Christian post-secondary schools to intervene against a lawsuit that seeks to strip all students at private religious colleges of federal financial aid unless their schools renounce their core religious beliefs.

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Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in Harold Shurtleff v. Boston and is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the upcoming October term. The First Circuit unanimously upheld the lower court’s ruling that the city of Boston did not violate the First Amendment by refusing to fly a Christian flag on one of the flag poles outside City Hall on Constitution day.
  • In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a petition for cert was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Tenth Circuit previously upheld the application of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act to a wedding website design company whose owner refused to create websites for same-sex marriages due to religious beliefs.
  • The Third Circuit heard oral arguments in Hilsenrath v. School District of the Chathams. A New Jersey federal district court previously held that the Chathams’ seventh-grade course that contained a presentation about Islam did not violate the Establishment Clause.
  • In Hamilton v. City of New York, a New York federal district court dismissed religious discrimination and failure to provide religious accommodation claims brought by a Jewish firefighter who wore a beard for religious reasons in violation of the FDNY no-beard policy.
  • In Leone v. Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, a New Jersey federal district court ruled against a prosecutor who sought a religious accommodation to work from home indefinitely because his religion requires him to pray aloud throughout each day.
  • In Geerlings v. Tredyffrin/Easttownn School District, a Pennsylvania federal district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction sought by the parents of four students who claimed that the students are entitled to religious exemptions from a school district’s COVID-19 mask requirement. The court found that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a sincere religious belief.
  • England’s Court of Appeal held that a Christian foster care agency violated the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 when it prohibited clients from placing children with individuals who were in same-sex relationships.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The Tenth Circuit, in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, upheld the application of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act to a wedding website design company whose owner refused for religious reasons to create websites that celebrate same-sex marriages.
  • The Ninth Circuit, in Cedar Park Assembly of God of Kirkland v. Kreidler, reversed a Washington federal district court’s dismissal of a challenge to a Washington statute that requires health insurance plans that cover maternity care to cover abortions as well.
  • The Ninth Circuit, in Brach v. Newsom, held that the closure of in-person instruction in private religious schools may have violated parents’ and students’ due process rights.
  • Suit was filed in a Michigan federal district court, in Country Mill Farms v. City of East Lansing, challenging a city policy to ban plaintiff from participating in the city’s farmer’s market due to his religious beliefs surrounding marriage.
  • A Brooklyn federal court ordered Hobby Lobby to forfeit an ancient tablet bearing a portion of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Hobby Lobby acquired in 2014 for the company’s collections at the Museum of the Bible.
  • Three Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia were charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison for “organizing extremist activities.”
  • The Luxembourg-based E.U. Court of Justice held that companies in the European Union can ban employees from wearing headscarves in the workplace if the employer wishes to present a neutral image towards customers or prevent social disputes.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • A petition for certiorari was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in Shurtleff v. City of Boston, in which the First Circuit upheld Boston’s refusal to allow an organization to raise its “Christian flag” on one of the City Hall Plaza flag poles at an event that would feature short speeches by local clergy.
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 525, which prohibits the state from restricting activities of religious organizations during a state of emergency.
  • Suit was filed in a Mississippi federal district court by atheist and secular humanist plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the Mississippi state seal and standard license plate, which carry the motto, “In God We Trust.”
  • A complaint was filed with the EEOC on behalf of two employees at Stanford University’s Counseling & Psychological Services division charging that a hostile work environment has been created for Jewish employees.
  • President Emmanuel Macron submitted a bill to Parliament, called the Law Reinforcing Respect of the Principles of the Republic, that would empower the government to permanently close houses of worship and dissolve religious organizations, without a court order, if it finds that any of their members are provoking violence or inciting hatred.
  • A British High Court Family Division Judge refused the request by Muslim parents for an order to require their son’s guardians to have their 21-month old son circumcised.

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