Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Chief Kelvin Cochran, formerly Shreveport’s fire chief, has been suspended after a WSB-TV inquiry about a faith-based book published by the fire chief and distributed to subordinates.
Cochran has been suspended for one month without pay and will be required to complete sensitivity training.
In the book based on Christian values, Cochran identifies himself as Atlanta’s fire chief and says his first priority as chief is to run the department “to cultivate its culture to the glory of God.”
He also has critical views on homosexuality, at one point equating it to bestiality.
Anti-Gay Hate Preacher Accidentally Tweets 4,000 Followers Cartoon Clip of Him ‘Confessing’ to Be a ‘Homosexual Sodomite’
Adam Reakes Promotes Truth That Starbucks Markets Semen Laced Lattes http://t.co/RY06dEEb0I— James David Manning (@DrJamesDManning) November 20, 2014
A high school student has filed suit against the Everett, Wash., school district, claiming that the administrators of Everett High School unfairly suspended for proselytizing to his classmates. Michael Leal has retained the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a Religious Right legal outfit, to defend his case.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Leal believes school officials subjected him to religious discrimination by forbidding him from passing out tracts and preaching during class time and at official school events. Leal received three suspensions total for his actions on the basis that his behavior disrupted school activities.
He also claims that Everett’s principal, Cathy Woods, informed him that it would be illegal for the school to permit him to express his religious views. In his complaint, he reported asking Woods, “If you allow me to hand out tracts and to talk about Jesus, then you would be breaking the law?” only to be told definitively that the answer is “yes.”
“It has been well established by court precedent that students do not leave their free speech rights at the schoolhouse door,” said attorney Conrad Reynoldson, who’s representing Leal alongside PJI. “Unfortunately certain officials at the school have a disagreement on this matter which is why it has become necessary to file this lawsuit.”
But Everett officials say there’s more to the story than PJI or Leal have been willing to admit. In a letter, the school district’s attorney, Michael Patterson, rejected Leal’s characterization of events and noted that the district has policies that cover matters like this. Patterson stated that Leal is allowed to pray and to discuss his beliefs with his classmates in a non-disruptive manner.
Backlash as the quiverfull fundamentalist show gets canceled.
A petition launched in August urging TLC to cancel the Duggar family reality series 19 Kids And Counting, over a robocall recorded by Michelle Duggar, now has more than 131,000 signatures after it got noticed by the media.
In response, several pro-Duggar family petitions have been launched on change.org and elsewhere this week, claiming “it is against their human rights to cancel the show based upon one LGBTQ member making false claims.” The most popular of those petitions has hit 67,000 sigs.
Complementarity: the new separate but equal….
Complementarity is one of those obscure theological concepts that nevertheless casts a long shadow over modern conservative religious thinking. It’s the idea that men and women’s differing and complementary biological roles play out in their respective roles in religion and society, which are separate, but supposedly equal, and divinely ordained.
Pope John Paul II was a big proponent of the concept of complementarity as a core principle of the family, most famously expounded upon in his 1995 Letter to Women, which extolled the “special genius” of women to serve as helpmates to men and society. Like many of the church’s more regressive ideas, however, complementarity has been embraced more enthusiastically by conservative Protestants, who use it to justify the idea that women should be submissive to men, than it is by Catholics themselves.
This Catholic/Conservative Christian confluence was on full display at the conference, organized by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as, one might suspect, a counterbalance to all the talk of liberalizing influences under Francis. Participants included mega-Pastor Rick Warren, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 35 states due to a recent series of victories in the courts, legislatures, and ballot boxes. In response, some state legislatures are trying to come up with ways to push back against this trend.
Most state legislatures don’t come back into session for a few months, yet legislators are already announcing their intent to introduce so-called “religious freedom” bills for 2015. These bills would introduce identical or even broader versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—the law that was distorted to allow corporations like Hobby Lobby to use religion to ignore the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. Legislators are advocating for these bills by claiming they will create broad religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws.
AU strongly believes in religious freedom and appropriately tailored religious accommodations. Despite the fact that these bills claim to protect religious freedom, in reality they are a threat to civil rights. The language in these bills is too broad and unclear, and could open the door for serious and even harmful unintended consequences, including nullifying discrimination, public safety, and health laws.
Several states pushed RFRA bills in 2014, but experienced passionate backlash from civil rights groups and the business community: even the NFL threatened to change the location of the 2015 Super Bowl if the RFRA bill passed in Arizona. The bill still passed the legislature, but Governor Brewer thankfully vetoed it.
At least five states have announced religious freedom bills for the upcoming session: Georgia, Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, and Utah.
In the past week, a debate has been building surrounding this provocative paper, which concludes that religious belief, rather than political ideology, better explains why some people resist the science on issues like climate change, evolution, and stem cell research. “Partisan identification is not generally predictive of attitudes toward contested scientific issues,” the paper asserts.
Is that really right? I have to say, I’m pretty skeptical.
First, let’s concede the obvious: The rejection of evolution is deeply intertwined with certain religious beliefs. The same goes for embryonic stem cell research, where resistance is wrapped up with religiously grounded views about the sanctity of life.
But at the same time, we also know that these causes tend to be taken up on the religious right, not the religious left. And as for climate change? While there are some hints of a religious component to climate science denial — for instance, if you think we live in the “end times,” you really have no reason to worry about the planet — the vast bulk of research concurs that this phenomenon is strongly tied to conservative economic beliefs, not religious ones.
Starnes laid the sympathy on thickly and you can almost see his tears as you read his words:
“So if you happen to be walking by the choir room at Pine Creek High School you will no longer hear young people praying for their classmates,” he wrote. “You will no longer hear teenagers reading from the Bible. And you will most certainly not hear the sweet sounds of Christian young people singing about that Amazing Grace.”
The school handbook describes the “seminar” period as “an opportunity to develop a sense of community; to build lines of communication; to provide community and school services; and to have focused academic time. In addition, students will often have time to access the resources available to them at Pine Creek. These include peer tutors, teachers, counselors, administrators and the library. Club meetings may be scheduled during this time.”
In other words, this is instructional time, not a free period. The school has the right to ensure that the students are doing something academic.
In light of that, is the school violating Windebank’s rights? The facts don’t seem to be on the ADF’s side.
I contacted Pine Creek High School to get their side of the story. Nanette Anderson, a school district spokeswoman, provided the following statement, which I am listing in full:
“There is no Open Time Policy, written or unwritten.
“The period of time referenced by the complaint is seminar time during which students report to an assigned seminar class where attendance is taken. This time is counted as academic time toward the minimum hours of instruction that schools are required to provide by state law, and therefore, must be used for academic purposes.
“On Mondays and Wednesdays students in good academic standing may leave the seminar classroom to participate in curriculum-related activities such as studying in the library or with study groups, seeking individual assistance from staff members, or meeting with curriculum-related clubs.
“Seminar is not a period of time during which students may engage in non-curriculum-related activities, religious or otherwise, or participate in non-curriculum related clubs. Non-curriculum-related groups, which include religious groups, are permitted to meet both before and after instructional time.”
Based on that, it seems “seminar” time is not equivalent to a free period. It’s part of the academic day and students are supervised by teachers. Organized prayers, Bible reading and hymn singing would not be appropriate then, just as they would not be appropriate in the middle of physics class.