By Christy Barritt
No Religious Freedom for For-Profit Corporations
A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently ruled that for-profit corporations do not have religious freedom protections.
The case involved a Pennsylvania furniture company owned by a Mennonite family that sued the government over the birth control mandate. The injunction would have blocked enforcement of a controversial rule from the Department of Health and Human Services that requires employers to pay for coverage of contraceptives, including ones that can cause abortions.
This ruling is at odds with a 10th Circuit decision that ruled in favor of the store Hobby Lobby.
One of the judges who ruled against the Mennonite family wrote, “We simply cannot understand how a for-profit, secular corporation—apart from its owners—can exercise religion.”
Many legal experts think the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually examine these cases.
Some Porn OK on Military Bases
Two branches of the U.S. military will now remove adult magazines from their instillations after a complaint by Morality in Media.
MIM, an anti-pornography group, respectfully requested that the military remove and cease the sales of pornography in military exchange services, commissaries, and on ships. The group argued that getting rid of these magazines would help curb the plague of sexual assaults afflicting the United States Military at this time.
Initially, a top Pentagon official has said that adult magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse would continue to be sold at military instillations because their material is not “sexually explicit” and in violation of their current policies.
The Army and Air Force decided to remove the sexually explicit publications anyway. Morality in Media president and CEO Patrick A. Trueman cited research that linked porn to increased sexual violence.
New Orleans Lifts Street Preaching Ban
The New Orleans City Council voted in July to lift the 2011 ban against street preaching after dark on the city’s famous Bourbon Street.
The ordinance revision deletes a sentence that forbids people to loiter or gather on Bourbon Street to disseminate “any social, political, or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.” Another change removes “conduct which reasonably tends to arouse alarm or anger in others” from forbidden activities.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the city since the ban was put into effect, including two street preachers who are suing the city after being arrested during a gay pride event.
GOP Votes to Ban Atheists from Being Military Chaplains
House Republicans voted in favor of an amendment to the annual defense spending bill to prohibit the Department of Defense from appointing atheists as chaplains in the military.
Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana said that the amendment was necessary because the Pentagon was considering an atheist for the military’s chaplaincy. He called that idea “nonsensical” and “an oxymoron.”
The motto for Army chaplains is “For God and Country.” Since the chaplain corps was started in 1775, one of their statements has been “Bringing God to soldiers and soldiers to God.”
Proponents of atheist chaplains continue to push hard for the measure. Edwina Rodgers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, said, “Chaplains for nontheistic military service members are absolutely crucial for so many men and women who are serving our country. Religious chaplains are ill equipped to handle the problems of nontheistic service members and, unfortunately, seeking psychiatric help can stigmatize a service member for the rest of their career.”
Christy Barritt is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and speaker living in Chesapeake, Virginia. She and her husband Scott have two sons.