After Lawsuit Threat, Proselytizing Police Chief Now Saves Godly Messages for His Personal Facebook Page

Less than a week ago, I posted about how Harlem, Georgia Police Chief Gary Jones was using the police department’s Facebook page to keep citizens informed of not only local crime sprees, safety advice, and upcoming classes, but also how much everyone should love Jesus:

There were many more where those came from and the Freedom From Religion Foundation acted quickly, sending the department a letter warning them about how this was all very, very illegal. A lawsuit could be avoided if Jones simply stuck to using the department’s Facebook page for police-related matters and used his personal page to preach about Jesus.

Looks like Jones had a fun conversation with his superiors, since this is what he posted on the police department’s page earlier today:

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Painted Into a Corner, Catholic Bishops May Have Found a Way to Comply with the HHS Contraception Mandate

Earlier in November, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) held its annual fall meeting, after which it released a Special Message that has raised some a few eyebrows. Why? Well, it just might hold the key to letting the bishops make a graceful exit from the issue of reproductive health-care coverage.

The message focuses specifically on the HHS Mandate that would require all employers — even Catholic ones, such as hospitals and universities — to provide health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and other examples of reproductive care the Church calls sinful. It’s not even surprising anymore to hear the bishops double down on what awesome work Catholic charities do, and how unfair it all is.

But some commenters have picked up on a slight change in tone, so subtle it’s invisible unless you’re very, very good at picking out the nuances of the Church hierarchy’s political double-speak:

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Major FFRF Legal Victory Eliminates Tax-Free Housing for Pastors

For years now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in a legal battle to end the “parish exemption” that allows ministers to deduct the cost of rent for their church-owned houses from their taxable income. FFRF believes that this shows preferential treatment for religious leaders.

FFRF’s own board has even paid its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor $15,000 each as part of their housing allowance, but because they don’t qualify as “ministers of the gospel,” the law doesn’t apply to them. That’s one of the ways they’ve tried to prove the law is illegal.

A few months ago, the U.S. Department of Justice ridiculously argued that the exemption was legal and that FFRF’s leaders were eligible for the tax breaks… because atheism, they said, was a religion:

Non-theistic beliefs, including atheism, may qualify as “religious” beliefs in various contexts because they pertain to religion and fulfill a similar role in a person’s life:

Because [FFRF] can show no facts to suggest that the IRS will apply terms like “minister” and “religious organization” as if they turn on adherence to some theistic belief or other content, this Court should not presume that the IRS would act inconsistently with the governing law regarding whether atheism a religion for purposes of an atheist’s claim…

No thanks, says Gaylor.

“We are not ministers,” she said. “We are having to tell the government the obvious — we are not a church.”

Yesterday, in a very surprising (but legally sound) decision, U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb ruled in favor of the FFRF, writing that the “parish exemption” was indeed unconstitutional:



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Oklahoma House Speaker Adds a Chapel to the Blueprints of the Soon-To-Be-Renovated State Capitol Building

Things a State Capitol building needs: A place where legislators can cast votes. Some conference rooms. Offices for the elected officials. Maybe a gift shop.

Things a State Capitol building doesn’t need: A home for Jesus.

Yet, in blueprints for the soon-to-be-renovated Capitol building in Oklahoma, House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) appears to have added plans for a chapel:



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After Pushback, County Council Member Removes $7,000 Budget Item Earmarked for Child Evangelism Group

You may recall how Jim McCune, the Pierce County Council member (in Washington state), made a push last week to give Child Evangelism Fellowship $7,000 in funding. CEF is a Christian group whose mission involves proselytizing to and converting elementary school students via their Good News Clubs.

What made McCune’s budget amendment even more appalling was how he defended his decision:

McCune said Friday night Child Evangelism Fellowship is non-denominational, and the money would not go towards religious items.

“Yes, (CEF) may come from a certain book (the Bible), but it’s not a so-called religious foundation. Completely separate,” McCune explained.

Riiiiiiiight.

Yesterday, Pierce County held the final meeting to approve the budget — and the $271,000,000 bill passed unanimously. However, McCune’s future-lawsuit-bait wasn’t part of that final budget:

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