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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”