The Lutheran pre-school before the Supreme Court

Once again, a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is appearing before the Supreme Court in a religious liberty case.  First there was Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church successfully arguing that it should be able to define who its ministers are, without being subject to discrimination complaints.  Now, as we blogged about. Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, is arguing that its preschool should have not been denied a state grant to make its playground safer just because it is a religious institution.

There is a good story about the background of the Trinity pre-school case in the Kansas City Star, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

“Conscientious objection against the state”

Hillsdale professor and LCMS member Korey Maas has an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal about the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod convention action to allow women facing combat and registering for the draft to claim conscientious objector status.  He goes into the legal implications of this decision, as well as the larger phenomenon of how the state has been picking fights with religious people and their institutions over issues of conscience.

He closes by quoting LCMS president Matthew Harrison, who said last year after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision that Christians will soon  “begin to learn what it means to be in a state of solemn conscientious objection against the state.”

Prof. Maas’s article is excerpted and linked to after the jump. [Read more…]

No exemptions for church services “open to the public”?

The Iowa Civl Rights Act forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  Churches have an exemption for “a bona fide religious purpose.”  But the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has ruled that if a church service “is open to the public,” it is a “public accommodation” that may not discriminate.

This would mean a congregation must allow only members to attend worship services, excluding visitors and non-members.

UPDATE:  The commission is now clarifying that it didn’t have in mind “worship services,” just services offered by the church, in the sense of child care, food pantries, etc.

[Read more…]

Lutheran school investigated for LGBT discrimination

St. John’s Lutheran School in Baraboo, Wisconsin, is under federal investigation for discriminating against gay or transgender children.  Not that it discriminated against any of its students but because the principal sent a letter to parents asking them to affirm that they and their child support the school’s handbook when it comes to sinful behavior and to send a copy of the child’s birth certificate to show his or her gender.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a complaint against the Wisconsin Synod school, arguing that since it accepts some federal funding (for school lunches, busing, and a No Child Left Behind program), it is subject to the civil rights provisions of Title IX and so is guilty of discrimination.

[Read more…]

Canadian Lutheran schools & LGBTQ laws

The government of Alberta has decreed that all schools must conform to its LGBTQ-affirming guidelines, apparently including private (and thus Christian) schools.  After the jump, a statement from the president of the Alberta district of the Lutheran Church of Canada. [Read more…]

Religious hospitals may refuse to perform procedures against their beliefs

In what may be an important precedent, a California court ruled against a woman who sued a Catholic hospital for not performing a sterilization procedure that she requested, arguing that since the hospital took federal funds it could not discriminate against her.  (This is also the argument being used to force religious hospitals to commit abortion.)

The judge ruled that there was no discrimination, since the hospital wouldn’t sterilize men either, which would also violate Catholic teaching; and, more importantly, that the government should not interfere with religious hospitals acting on their religious beliefs. [Read more…]