Thursday, February 28, 2008

FSU Reinstates CLS Chapter Funding

Last night, the Student Government Association at Florida State University reinstated funding of the Christian Legal Society chapter at FSU's law school.

Earlier this month, the student government froze funding already allocated to the chapter on the ground that it "discriminates" on the basis of religion and sexual orientation because it draws its leaders and those who select them from among those to voluntarily profess faith in Christ and strive to comply with certain conduct standards. Homosexual rights activists had sought the revocation of funding.

A media account of the original suspension of funding is here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Center Joins Comments on DHS Charitable Choice Regulations

The Center for Law and Religious Freedom has joined comments filed earlier this month regarding the Department of Homeland Security's proposed Charitable Choice regulations. Stanley Carlson-Thies of the Center for Public Justice was the principal author of the comments. The comments applaud DHS for embracing Charitable Choice principles but suggest certain additions and clarifications that would further protect religious freedom.

Friday, February 8, 2008

CLS Urges Senate to Retain SAMHSA Charitable Choice Provision

CLS today joined a letter urging the Senate to reject calls to eliminate statutory protections of religious liberty in the legislation governing the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The "charitable choice" provision of legislation signed in 2000 allows faith-based social service providers to participate in government-funded programs without relinquishing their religious identity. The ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Human Rights Campaign and others want to eliminate this protection of religious liberty. The key issue is whether faith-based organizations participating in government-funded programs may continue to take religion into account in their personnel decisions.

CLS appreciates the tireless work of Stanley Carlson-Thies of the Center for Public Justice on behalf of charitable choice and religious freedom.

CLS Urges Senate Action on Judicial Nominees

CLS today joined a letter to Senators Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Patrick Leahy, and Arlen Specter encouraging them to take action on President Bush's judicial nominees. The letter points out that 28 nominees are pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Federalist Society Church Autonomy Conference

The Federalist Society is sponsoring what promises to be a really terrific conference on church autonomy at Georgetown Law on March 14. Speakers include Professors Carl Esbeck and Tom Berg, both of whom advise CLS's Center for Law & Religious Freedom.

New Threat to Charitable Choice

Secular and religious liberals have asked a Senate committee to eliminate a statutory provision that protects the religious liberty of faith-based social service providers.

The statutory provisions governing the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) guarantee that religious organizations providing critical services need not relinquish their religious identity to receive government support of those activities. More specifically, the statute codifies their constitutional liberty to preserve their religious character by drawing their personnel from among those who voluntarily share their religious beliefs.

Despite the widespread legal protection and accommodation of this freedom, a group called the "Coalition Against Religious Discrimination" (CARD) claims that the exercise of this freedom is the sort of invidious discrimination that should disqualify otherwise eligible religious social service providers from participating in government-funded social service programs. CARD sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, asking them to gut the charitable choice language in SAMHSA re-authorization legislation. The language was originally approved by a bi-partisan majority and signed by President Clinton.

CARD's members include the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and People for the American Way.

Faith-based social service providers that consider religion in their personnel decisions are more likely to be theologically orthodox or traditional. The religious and secular left understands that, and wants to de-fund their cultural opponents, with little regard to the costs imposed upon those individuals who want services from faith-based substance abuse and mental health treatment providers.