Hobby Lobby is fine with forced abortions and mandatory contraception in China, but balks at voluntary contraception for American women


Mandatory birth control in China is of no moral concern for Hobby Lobby, but access to voluntary birth control for American women is something it will fight all the way to the Supreme Court. The company has no conscientious objection to forced abortion in China if such objection would interfere with its ability to get kitschy rooster ornaments for pennies for the dollar. But preventive health insurance for female employees violates it’s deepest purported religious convictions. [Read more...]

Loaves and cakes: Jesus tramples on the religious liberty of his disciples


“Hold on a minute, there, Jesus,” the twelve said. “Some of these people might be sinners and people we disapprove of. Feeding them all would be like opening a store and having to sell your wares to everyone who came in, without discriminating between the worthy and unworthy customers. That violates our religious liberty.” [Read more...]

American Legion demands that free citizens must recite a loyalty pledge written by a socialist

American school students salute the flag in what is meant to be a not-at-all creepy  mandatory daily recitation of a loyalty oath. The original salute accompanying the pledge was abandoned in the 1940s for some reason, replaced with the current still-mandatory hand-on-the-heart.

The Morton Grove (Ill.) Park District requires the members of its board to stand, salute, and recite a loyalty pledge written by a socialist. It’s not mandatory, exactly — that would clearly be illegal. But it’s still indescribably creepy. The claim is that this formal recitation of a loyalty oath is somehow an expression of patriotism. That’s obviously not true. Patriotism means love for one’s country, and coercion cannot coexist with love. [Read more...]

Parsonages, paychecks and rendering unto Caesar (2)

Photo snurched from the website of St. Petri Lutheran Church in Flanagan, Ill.

The current system of clergy compensation is unconstitutional. But it’s still the current system of clergy compensation. It may be a kludgey, unconstitutional mess, but that mess is how things operate at the moment. You can’t knock out a bearing wall and then put in the new support beams to replace it. You’ve got to replace it first or you’ll wind up with an even bigger mess when the ceiling falls in. [Read more...]

Parsonages, paychecks and rendering unto Caesar (1)

Calista Vinton is Not Impressed by the notion that only clergy with a taxpayer-subsidized housing allowance can be effective ministers.

The housing-allowance exemption for clergy is a mess. It’s a kludge — an inelegant work-around for one problem that has, in turn, created other problems for which other clumsy, inelegant work-arounds have had to be devised. It works, sort of, but it doesn’t work well. Oh, and it’s also obviously unconstitutional. [Read more...]

The persecution of Christians: 4 ways to respond

Workers bury the victims of religious violence. In this case, the victims were Christians, but I hope that information does not make you more or less saddened by what you see here.

Religious persecution is not a function of the religious character of the majority nor a function of the religious character of the minority. The only variable that matters is whether or not there is a legal framework guaranteeing the rights, freedoms and safety of minorities. [Read more...]

Marriage equality in Illinois, 15 … 16 … 17 …


The surprising speed of this vote has sunk my marriage equality office pool — I’d picked Hawaii for No. 15, New Mexico at 16, and then Illinois. Since I’m clearly no good at guessing the order of these things, I won’t speculate about which will come first, but Hawaii and New Mexico are poised to join Illinois before the end of this year, or perhaps before the end of this month. [Read more...]

High-school football prayers provide a data-rich field for research


A high school football team is entwined in two of the most scrupulously measured arenas: sports and education. Sports and public education are chock-full of statistics. They keep all kinds of stats, measuring all kinds of outcomes. So what we have here is a ton of data — win/loss records, offensive and defensive rankings, SAT scores, scholarships earned, graduation rates, attendance, disciplinary records, concussion rates, injury rates, percentage of student-athletes going on to college, etc. [Read more...]