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News archive — 2008-2013
New citations

Religious Liberty in America has been cited recently in several academic journals:

Human Rights Research Journal
Prof. Paul Morris reviews religious rights in countries based on English common law.

See more recent citations here.


Los Angeles Times news feed


News annotations

Torture and 'twilight war'

The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a sweeping indictment of the CIA's interrogation practices in the long “twilight war” on terrorism. “Mistakes” were made, says CIA chief. See SageLaw section on torture.

Immigration, civil religion and executive power

President Obama's executive action on immigration recalls prior presidential actions on war, torture and faith-based initiatives.The immigration debate also calls into question the meaning of American values, citizenship and identity.

Scalia on Hobby Lobby

Justice Antonin Scalia ruled with the Court majority that corporations are “persons” — and thus entitled to a judicial exemption to the Obamacare mandate to provide certain contraceptives. See this imagined opinion by Scalia, as well as a critique and an analysis of Scalia's judicial philosophy.

Do you know who I am?

Justice Antonin Scalia tells the world who he is, in no uncertain terms. See some choice words from Scalia, culled from the course of his colorful career on the Supreme Court. Stay tuned for a paper discussing how Scalia incorporates his values into his jurisprudence.

Fatal ‘free exercise

A snake-handling Kentucky pastor died from a rattlesnake bite during a worship service. Kentucky law prohibits snake handling, but followers of the practice believe they must “take up serpents” and follow the Holiness.
See more news on religious free exercise.

Satanists Unveil Statue for Oklahoma Capitol

New York–based Satanic Temple applied to place a monument to Satan at the capitol building in Oklahoma City after the Oklahoma ACLU sued to have a Ten Commandments statue — erected in 2012 — removed on the grounds that its presence discriminated against other religions. The proposed 7-ft.-tall sculpture would feature Satan depicted in the form of Baphomet, a bearded, goat-headed, winged hominid with horns seated on a throne beneath a pentagram with two smiling children to either side.

Supervisors propose adding cross to L.A. County seal

Los Angeles County Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe called for adding a cross to the image of the San Gabriel Mission on the official county seal. When the mission was added to the seal in 2004 during a redesign, the cross was missing from the structure because it had been removed for earthquake retrofitting. From 1957 to 2004, the county seal featured a tiny gold cross above a rendering of the Hollywood Bowl. When the ACLU threatened to sue, the County Board removed the cross.

Mountain cross ordered down

A federal judge ruled that the cross atop San Diego's Mt. Soledad violates the separation of church and state and therefore must be taken down. See article on “tearing down the idols”; also see article on Christmas displays by Rabbi Michael Gotlieb.

Waiting to happen

On the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, little progress has been made on gun control; mass shootings continue; and no “good guys with guns” show up to stop them. See SageLaw section on the Second Amendment.

Advent of the culture wars

A federal judge has upheld a ban on nativity scenes in Palisades Park, Santa Monica. While atheist groups celebrate their legal victory, Christian groups have moved the displays to private property. Read more about the “culture wars” in Religious Liberty in America.

‘Free exercise?’

A snake-handling Tennessee preacher has been charged with illegally keeping poisonous snakes — which he and his congregation “take up” during worship. Read more about the free exercise of religion in Religious Liberty in America. Also see more news related to free exercise.

‘City on a hill’ — shut down

Ronald Reagan was famous for his “city on a hill” imagery, and he was also famous for saying “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” What exactly did he mean by these things, and how do they square with one another in light of the recent federal shutdown? See article on civil religion.


In a New York Times op-ed, Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a pointed critique at “American Exceptionalism.” See the WebSage article on this theme. Alse see related articles on civil religion.

12 years after

On the 12-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Middle East is still unstable, and extremist groups still threaten the region and beyond. Read about religion and terrorism from a historical perspective and “religious tolerance in a time or terror.”

Martin Luther King and civil religion

The civil rights leader's words are so well known, the types of rhetoric he employed may be overlooked. Read about Dr. King's use of civil religion and also the prophetic tradition. Also see primers on the African-American church.

Invoking God in America

Joseph Margulies of Northwestern University Law School analyzes when civil religion is used for good and when it is used for bad. The connection between civil rights and civil religion vs. the invocation God and nationalism reflects this dichotomy.

The logic of Lincoln

On Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the site of the Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania. This speech is considered a model of civil religion. Read more about Lincoln's rhetoric and logic here.

Cheerleaders rally for religious banners

A group of cheer-leaders in Kountze, Texas, are asking the court overturn a prohibition on their display of banners — featuring Bible verses — at football games. The school district banned the displays due to concerns over separation of church and state. School Superintendent Kevin Weldon is under fire for instituting the ban. Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center comments.

‘New birth’

On July 3, 1863, the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg ended in a major victory for the Union. Marking the event, President Lincoln said, “this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

News archive — 2008-2013