British rabbi stands to defend America’s first freedom

When Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks arrived in America recently representatives of the United States government did not greet him with a demand that Great Britain's former chief rabbi remove his yarmulke while in public.That's a good thing. But there are places -- France leaps to mind -- where this would not be the case. In fact, religious liberty is under siege in many corners of Europe, said Sacks, a member of the House of Lords."In Britain we have seen a worker banned from wearing a small … [Read more...]

Fights among Catholics, with the IRS picking a side

There is nothing particularly unusual about conservative Catholics arguing with liberal Catholics, especially when it comes to hot-button issues such as abortion.It is unusual, however, for the IRS to jump into these pew wars.Catholic sociologist Anne Hendershott is convinced that's what happened to her in 2010. This was during the time when IRS leaders, according to their own testimony, were inappropriately targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny, especially those with … [Read more...]

Into the depths of USA’s church-state Inferno

IRS Commissioner Steven Miller was already having a rough day at the House Ways and Means Committee when one particularly hot question shoved him into the lower depths of a church-state Inferno.The question concerned a letter sent by IRS officials in Cincinnati to the Coalition for Life of Iowa, linked to its application for tax-exempt status."Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational," said the … [Read more...]

Parents, circumcision and the law

At first, it seems strange for Christians to jump into the firestorm surrounding the Nov. 8 ballot initiative in San Francisco to ban circumcisions. After all, the issue of whether gentiles had to be circumcised when converting to Christianity was -- literally -- settled in the age of the apostles.Nevertheless, the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco quickly went public with his views on this hot-button issue."As a religious leader I can only view with alarm the prospect that this misguided … [Read more...]

Return of (part of) the chaplaincy story

Editor's note: There was no "On Religion" column this past week due to the death of Terry Mattingly's mother, Berta Geraldine Mattingly, in Texas. The following post originally ran at****It seems that we are going to see more mainstream coverage of those debates about religious liberty, military chaplains and Don't Ask, Don't Tell." So let's back up and note a few basic fact, some of which were handled quite well in that report that I praised the other day in the post … [Read more...]

About those ‘secular’ menorahs

When it comes to decorating tabernacles and temples, the God of Israel cares about the fine details.Consider these Exodus instructions: "Thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side."Counting the … [Read more...]

Soulforce preaches to the Navy

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- All the Rev. Mel White, Jacob Reitan and the rest of their Soulforce team wanted to do was talk to people.That was the good news. The bad news was that they wanted to talk about God, politics and homosexuality, although not necessarily in that order. It also didn't help that the people they wanted to talk to were midshipmen on the U.S. Naval Academy campus -- on a football-weekend Friday, no less."Free speech is free speech," said White, who, before going public as a gay … [Read more...]