In Edelstein v. Stephens, (SD OH, Feb. 16, 2018), a Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing many of the claims of a state court staff attorney/magistrate who was fired after she requested eight days off for Jewish holidays. One of plaintiff’s claims was that the county violated her free exercise and equal protection rights by designating Christmas as a legal holiday without similarly protecting the rights of non-Christians to celebrate their holidays.  The court said in part:Butler County’s policy establishing Christmas as a paid legal holiday for county employees is a neutral law that does not discriminate against a particular religion or set of religious beliefs or prohibit any conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons…. The Sixth Circuit has acknowledged that because there are

A bill titled Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act (H 4949) was introduced into the South Carolina legislature last week (Feb. 15). A similar bill with the same title (HB 0167) was received for introduction in the Wyoming legislature on Feb. 14.  Taking a new approach to challenging same-sex marriage, the bills define marriage that does not involve one man and one woman as

From SSRN:Jeremy Patrick, ‘A La Carte’ Spirituality and the Future of Freedom of Religion, (January 31, 2018).Rafael Domingo, Penal Law in the Roman Catholic Church, (Ecclesiastical Law Journal 20 (2018), Forthcoming).Nelson Tebbe, Conscience and Equality, (Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development (2018 Forthcoming)).Andrew P. Cicero, III, Is It Well with Your Soul? The Surprising Divide within the Baptist Community Concerning Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, (February 1, 2018).Ryan T. Anderson, Marriage, the Court, and the Future, (Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 40, No. 2, 2017).Courtney G. Joslin, Discrimination In and Out of Marriage, (98 Boston University Law Review 1 (2018)).Emily Warwick, Title IX, Tax-Exemption, and Transgender Students: Using Federal Guidelines to Determine the Tax-Exempt Status of Single-Sex Institutions, (January 31, 2018).From SSRN (Law of charities):Natalie Silver, Regulating the Foreign Activities of Charities: A Comparative Perspective, (Report for the Pemsel Case Foundation, 2017).Brian D. Galle, Design and Implementation of a Charitable Regulation Regime, (January 28, 2018).Paul B. Miller, The Identification of Fiduciary Relationships, (Evan J. Criddle, Paul B. Miller, and Robert H. Sitkoff, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018)).From SSRN (European law):Evina Heydari, A Post-Secular Europe? – A Critical Discourse Analysis of European Rulings Regarding Religious Symbols in the Public Sphere, (November 18, 2017).Natalie Alkiviadou, Regulating Hate Speech in the EU, (Online Hate Speech in the European Union. A Discourse-Analytic Perspective. Springer briefs in Linguistics (2017)).From SSRN (Islam and Islamic Law):Fajri Muhammadin, Should Muslims Argue Exceptionalism/Particularism in International Law?, (February 8, 2018).Marco Longobardo, The Self-Proclaimed Statehood of the Islamic State between 2014 and 2017 and International Law, ((2017) 33 Anuario español de derecho internacional 205-228).Ending Solehudin, The System Zakat Reform of Management and the Zakat in Indonesia (A Study of the Fatwa of Islamic Organization Persis and MUI on the Management of Zakat), (International Journal of Financial Management (IJFM), Vol. 7, Issue 1, Dec – Jan 2018, 1-20).Reza Banakar, Double-Thinking and Contradictory Arrangements in Iranian Law and Society, (Digest of Middle East Studies, Forthcoming).From SmartCILP:Douglas Laycock, Churches, Playgrounds, Government Dollars — and Schools? 131 Harvard Law Review 133-169 (2017).Stacey A. Tovino, On Health, Law, and Religion, 74 Washington

The Charlotte Observer last week reported that a North Carolina state Superior Court judge has upheld a contempt conviction of 36-year old Kendra Stocks for disobeying a court order regarding custody of her daughter. One day after a district court judge gave full custody, specifically including decisions concerning religion, of Stocks’ 3-year old daughter to the child’s father, Stocks went ahead with a previously-planned baptism of the child. She did not inform the father of the planned ceremony; he learned of it through Stocks’ Facebook postings. The Superior Court reduced Stocks contempt sentence from ten to seven days. [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/02/mother-held-in-contempt-for-ignoring.html

In Mikell v. Folino, (3d Cir., Feb. 13, 2018), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he did not receive Ramadan meals.In Corbett v. Annucci, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24291 (SD NY, Feb. 13, 2018), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims for injunctive relief alleging that he did not receive Halal meals.In Jones v. Annucci, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24359 (SD NY, Feb. 13, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was required to change his religious registration from Islam to Shia before he could participate in Shia religious events.In Thomas v. Slusher, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25916 (ND OH, Feb. 16, 2018), an Ohio federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was transferred out of the faith-based prison unit.In Woods v. Paramo, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25989 (SD CA, Feb. 15, 2018), a California federal court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his suit challenging delays in providing a kosher diet when he is transferred for extensive periods.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/02/recent-prisoner-free-exercise-cases_18.html

In United States v. Cruz, (SD NY, Feb. 15, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge rejected a Free Exercise defense to a charge of knowingly attending a cockfight in violation of 7 USC §2156.  The court said in part:Here, Cruz has failed to make a showing that the act of engaging in animal fighting ventures stems from sincerely held beliefs that are religious in nature. Although Cruz continually refers to the “God given” dominion of man over animals, he does not identify any specific religious tenets or practices that are burdened by the statute. Nor does he identify any religion or denomination from which his beliefs derive. Indeed, in “attest[ing] to the importance of the God given rights of the American farmer,” Cruz cites quotations in which the founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin, exalted agriculture…. This suggests that Cruz’s beliefs are philosophical or political in nature.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/02/no-free-exercise-defense-to-charge-of.html

CNN reports that an Ohio trial court judge today gave custody of a 17-year old transgender male to his grandparents after his parents sought to bar the hormonal transition treatment strongly recommended by the youth’s medical team.  Grandparents will now be able to make medical decisions for the teen.  The parents argued that the teen was not old enough to make such a consequential decision.  A county prosecutor contended that the parents objected because of their religious beliefs. Court testimony revealed that the parents, in addition to opposing treatment, refused to call the youth by his chosen name, triggering suicidal feelings in him.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/02/ohio-court-gives-custody-of-transgender.html

The EEOC announced this week that it has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Owossso, Michigan based Memorial Healthcare.  The company revoked its job offer to Yvonne Bair to work as a medical transcriptionist after she objected on religious grounds to receiving an influenza shot or spray immunization.  Memorial refused her suggested accommodation of allowing her to wear a mask, even though company policy allowed masks as an alternative for those who cannot take a vaccine for other reasons.  MarketWatch reports on the lawsuit.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/02/eeoc-sues-over-accommodation-for.html

Islamist militants – with Turkish army support – are wreaking havoc with a pocket of peace and sanity in the Syrian warThree years ago the world watched a ragtag band of men and women fighters in the Syrian town of Kobane, most armed only with Kalashnikovs, hold off a vast army of Islamist militants with tanks, artillery and overwhelming logistical superiority. The defenders insisted they were acting in the name of revolutionary feminist democracy. The Islamist fighters vowed to exterminate them for that very reason. When Kobane’s defenders won, it was widely hailed as the closest one can come, in the contemporary world, to a clear confrontation of good against evil.Today, exactly same thing is happening again. Except this time, world powers are firmly on the side of the aggressors. In a bizarre twist, those aggressors seem to have convinced key world leaders and public opinion-makers that Kobane’s citizens are “terrorists” because they embrace a radical version of ecology, democracy and women’s rights. Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/23/world-leaders-brutal-attack-kurdish-afrin-turkish-army

Corn dogs, rodeos and rides are all part of America’s enduring love for fairs, which is the subject of a new book by Pamela Littky. She travelled across the US capturing the essence of an institution little changed for over 170 years, which binds and celebrates communities. American Fair is published by Kehrer Verlag Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2018/feb/24/american-fair-pamela-littky-kehrer-verlag-summer-in-pictures