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Image: Top 7 Scroogiest Scrooges of the Holiday Season

Top 7 Scroogiest Scrooges of the Holiday Season

December 16, 2015

Who deserves a lump of coal this holiday season? Each year Becket names the most absurd affronts to Christmas and Hanukkah, listing the most outrageous offenders of holiday cheer until we reach the top bah-humbugging, grinchiest transgressor. Not only do they deserve a lump of coal, they are crowned with the great (dis)honorable Ebenezer Award.

7. Portland Public School choirs gagged from singing in a venue deemed “too religious.”

Christmas and choirs go together like Han Solo and Chewbacca. But this year, the choirs from Jackson Middle School and Wilson and Lincoln High Schools in Portland, Oregon, had a change of plans. They’ve been banned from singing at the annual “Festival of Lights” concert, held at the Grotto Catholic shrine, because their oh-so-close neighbor, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, raised a stink. FFRF, A.K.A. Krampus, said the venue is too Catholic-y for their taste. No Grotto, no Christmas celebrations, and certainly no religion! The schools were instead forced to move to a “non-religious” venue—ironically named “The Old Church”—in downtown Portland. The title of this year’s program? “Let us Sing!” Troll level: Expert

6. Court bans Indiana high school from performing Nativity scene in school pageant.

A federal judge banned the 45-year-old tradition of having a nativity scene in Concord High School’s Christmas Spectacular after the ACLU and FFRF complained.

But it gets better.

Prior to the ruling, Concord High School added other symbols from both Hanukkah and Kwanza. But like the Grinch, who didn’t just suck the Christmas spirit from one house in Whoville, the judge said the Nativity scene received more time in the pageant than the other holidays so it had to go.

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Image: Religious Communities in College: A Home Away from Home

Religious Communities in College: A Home Away from Home

September 25, 2015

by Adèle Keim, Legal Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

This week was special for three different religious communities – Catholics welcoming Pope Francis to U.S. soil, Jews celebrating Yom Kippur, and Muslims observing Eid Al-Adha. For many, these events could only be fully experienced in community with others. Although far from home, religious college students share this longing.

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Image: The Eighth Circuit Gets It Right

The Eighth Circuit Gets It Right

September 18, 2015

by Daniel Blomberg, Legal Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit split with seven other U.S. Courts of Appeal, issuing two opinions ruling that the HHS Mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While the Eighth Circuit was in good company (12 other appellate judges had already come to a similar conclusion, and the vast majority of over two dozen district courts had as well), it is the first circuit to issue a merits ruling that went the right way on this issue. That creates a circuit conflict which will make it even more likely that one of the seven petitions currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court will be taken up in the coming term.

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Image: To tax and destroy.

To tax and destroy.

by Adèle Keim, Legal Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

To tax and destroy. The Washington Post is running a fascinating series of essays on whether to roll back two centuries of history and impose state and federal taxes on religious organizations. This is not a new debate; in 1970 the ACLU and others challenged New York’s church property tax exemption and lost. The Supreme Court pointed out that “[f]ew concepts are more deeply embedded in the fabric of our national life, beginning with pre-Revolutionary colonial times, than for the government to exercise at the very least this kind of benevolent neutrality [i.e., tax exemptions] toward churches … .” Walz v. Tax Comm’n of City of New York, 397 US 664, 666-67 (1970). In the latest round of this debate, constitutional law professor Rick Garnett weighs in:

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Image: Remembering Whitney Ball, Defender of Liberty

Remembering Whitney Ball, Defender of Liberty

August 18, 2015

Like all those who knew Whitney Ball, I was so sad to hear of her passing on August 17th; it was too soon and she was too young.  Despite contracting cancer at a young age, Whitney lived her life looking forward.

In every encounter I had with Whitney I was astonished by her strength, lack of fear, sense of humor and her ardent optimism.  Whitney’s driving force was her faith in God and she was fearless in her mission to defend our liberty.  She always asked what she could do to help the cause of religious freedom.

Throughout her disease Whitney never complained or felt sorry for herself, even while enduring the most unpleasant effects of her treatments. Instead, Whitney is a role model to all of us on how to live and make the most of the time we’ve been given. She is also a role model on the work one person can do in defending our rights as individuals. Thank you Whitney for helping me, as you did so many others, advance the cause of liberty!

Julie Riggs
The Becket Fund for Religous Liberty

Image: Honoring Becket Friend and Religious Liberty Ally: Elder L. Tom Perry

Honoring Becket Friend and Religious Liberty Ally: Elder L. Tom Perry

June 1, 2015

“A good character is something you must make for yourself. It is the reward that comes from living good principles and manifesting a virtuous and honorable life.”

Today we remember a dear friend of the Becket Fund and a staunch defender of religious liberty, L. Tom Perry, a member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Bill Mumma, president of the Becket Fund recalls Elder Perry:  “He really was a giant of man – full of good-natured zeal.  He believed the fight for religious liberty was worthwhile and he insisted on action right away!”

At nearly 6-foot-five, Elder Perry’s commanding physical presence combined with his enthusiasm and optimistic style made him a powerful force for good. He spoke frequently about the importance of religion in society, the family and preserving religious freedom, emphasizing that the “essential freedoms of conscience, embedded in religious liberty, must be diligently preserved and protected.” He worked closely with leaders of other faith and religious institutions to promote the cause of religious freedom.

His support of faith started long before he was called as a member of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Perry often recounted the devastation of WWII in Nagasaki, Japan as one of the saddest experiences of his life. The loss of life and lack of food left many Japanese children to fend for themselves. He and his friends organized an orphanage with sisters from the Catholic Church and rebuilt local chapels during their off-duty time.

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Image: Remembering Dr. John Templeton

Remembering Dr. John Templeton

May 20, 2015

by Maria Montserrat Alvarado, Director of Operations of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 

There are few more uplifting moments in life than realizing, that in some small way, you have truly made a difference.” – Dr. John M. Templeton

Today we remember Dr. John M. Templeton Jr., former pediatric surgeon and president and chairman of the Templeton Foundation who dedicated much of his life to answering humanity’s “Big Questions” through the rigorous study of science, religion, and human understanding.

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