Paul L. Caron

Sunday, October 2, 2022

NY Times: F3 (Fitness, Fellowship, Faith) — A Cure For Middle-Age Male Loneliness?

New York Times, For Suburban Texas Men, a Workout Craze With a Side of Faith:

By day, Glenn Ayala is a 50-something account manager who spends much of his time behind a desk. But at Rick Rice Park in the early morning darkness, doing push-ups and jogging with a 20-pound rucksack on his back, he is known as K9, and he is with his people.

One Friday in August, Mr. Ayala joined about 20 other men in what they called the predawn “gloom” for the group’s regular workout. They grunted and hooted un-self-consciously, razzing one another and shouting encouragements, using nicknames generated by the group. (Mr. Ayala got his because he trains dogs in his spare time.)

The members also often gather to pray together and talk, building friendships that have extended into their daily lives: When Mr. Ayala separated from his wife, members of the group helped him move. When his relationship with his adult son floundered, they texted him Garth Brooks songs to buoy him.

This is F3 — that’s fitness, fellowship and faith — a fast-growing network of men’s workouts that combine exercise with spiritually inflected camaraderie. After its founding in 2011 as a free, outdoor group workout, its popularity exploded during the pandemic, expanding to some 3,400 groups across the country from 1,900, aiming to solve, as John Lambert, a.k.a. Slaughter, the network’s chief executive, put it, “a problem that society at large and men definitely didn’t even know they had: middle-age male loneliness.” ...

I first heard about F3 through a few acquaintances in Texas, men who spoke about their local groups with the zeal of evangelists. It reminded me of how urban women used to talk with me about SoulCycle, only these guys were suburban fathers.

Its no-frills formula inspires fervent devotion. “F3 has changed my life,” Mr. Ayala said. He first attended last year, when a friend repeatedly nudged him to try it — or in F3’s baroque jargon, put him in an “emotional headlock.” He was hooked immediately. About a year ago, he got an F3 tattoo on his chest. ...

In F3, there are no facilities, no formal gear and no membership fees. Popular in the South, where outdoor workouts are pleasant most months of the year, the groups are ostensibly nonsectarian, in the style of Alcoholics Anonymous, though many have a Christian emphasis. Some men describe the group as complementing and expanding on their experiences in church.

F3 is also the rare setting devoted to male bonding. It means you “have guys to do life with,” said Pastor Giraud, a.k.a. Baby Shark, who works out with Mr. Ayala. “To really care for others and be cared for, to acknowledge others and be acknowledged.” ,,,

Many F3 men want to be traditionally strong providers, but also be more active and attentive in their family lives than their own fathers were.

David French (The Dispatch), A Short Story of Men:

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October 2, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

What Christian Colleges Can Glean From The Supreme Court’s ‘Yeshiva’ Case

Christianity Today, What Christian Colleges Can Glean from the Supreme Court’s ‘Yeshiva’ Case:

Yeshiva Pride LogoThe United States Supreme Court’s decision in Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance may seem like it spells trouble for Christian colleges that hold conservative positions on sexuality and gender identity.

After all, the court held that the orthodox Jewish university must formally recognize an LGBT student group. But a more complete reading of the decision forebodes a favorable outcome for Christian higher education in the future.

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October 2, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

What Football Can Teach Us About Death: Fathers Are Fullbacks

The Federalist Op-Ed:  What Football Can Teach Us About Losing A Loved One, by Mike Kerrigan (Hunton Andrews Kurth, Charlotte, NC):

Two close friends, Greg and Michael, lost their fathers earlier this summer. I never met either of their dads, but I know they were good men from the sons they raised. ... For the first time when they look up, their fullback is not out in front blocking. It’s unsettling at any age because clearing a path is what good fathers do. They quietly take the hits so their children can achieve things they never imagined for themselves. It’s what John Quincy Adams was articulating when he said, “I am a warrior, so that my son may be a merchant, so that his son may be a poet.” ...

Greg and Michael are not children anymore. They have their own families for whom they’ve sacrificed for years. ... [M]y friends are no longer running backs. They are fullbacks now, permanent blockers. A gradual, lifetime transition is made official. ... Each knows embracing their new roles is the best way to honor the legacy of their fathers.

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October 2, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 25, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: Parents, Dementia, Memory, And God

New York Times Op-Ed:  Our Memory Is Flawed. Luckily, God’s Isn’t., by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Warren 3Mom is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She knows who we are and remembers everyone’s names. She can tell you who her third-grade teacher was, but not what happened a week ago or a month ago or 10 minutes ago. ... I wonder in the months and years to come what she will continue to remember about her life, about who she used to be.

Memory, for all of us, speaks to our inherent limitations. Forgetting is part of what it is to be human. That becomes more evident when facing Alzheimer’s. But even for those of us who do not have dementia, almost all of our days have faded from view.

What was I doing three years ago today? Or five? Or ten? What conversations did I have? Who was I with? Did I find joy or discouragement that day? I have no idea. I can only tell you the broad outline: where I lived, where I worked, how old I was. The details — those invaluable and ordinary conversations, coincidences and choices that make up each day of our lives — are lost to time. There are, of course, beautiful memories that we hold onto, moments that glow amber in our minds. And dark moments that we may rather erase. But even our most precious days may eventually be forgotten. ...

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September 25, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Inazu: The Life We're Looking For

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), The Life We're Looking For:

Life 3Last week, I participated in a public dialogue organized by The Carver Project with my friends Andy Crouch, Tish Harrison Warren, and Michael Wear. We focused on Andy’s new book, The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World. Following Andy's framing comments, the rest of us applied the book to the three areas of The Carver Project’s mission: university (me), church (Tish), and society (Michael). We had all read Andy’s book, but none of us had much of an idea of what the others were going to say. Yet it all seemed to work. And I think it worked because we trusted each other. ...

These themes of friendship and trust called to mind Tish’s recent New York Times piece on marriage [I Married The Wrong Person, And I’m So Glad I Did]. Tish shares vulnerable reflections on her own marriage including fights with her husband and lots of counseling, noting that at times they stayed married “sheerly as a matter of religious obedience and for the sake of our children.” ... [S]he offers an alternative to the cultural trend:  "I don’t give a lot of marriage advice. But I want to simply offer that choosing to stay in a marriage for all kinds of unromantic reasons is a good and even a brave choice."

The New York Times Twitter crowd was not pleased with Tish’s suggestion. ...

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September 25, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Cardozo Law School Fights Fallout From Yeshiva University LGBT Club Case

Following up on last Sunday's post, Supreme Court (5-4) Denies Yeshiva University Request To Block State Ruling On Recognition Of LGBTQ Club; Yeshiva Responds By Canceling All Student Groups:  Reuters, Cardozo Law Fights Fallout From Yeshiva University LGBT Club Case:

Yeshiva Pride LogoThe Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is taking steps to distance itself from the policies of its parent institution Yeshiva University, after Yeshiva's legal efforts to block an undergraduate LGBT student group reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

More than 50 Cardozo law faculty have signed a letter opposing the university's ban, and the law school is launching a six-week course devoted to the LGBT civil rights movement, which it announced to students as the Supreme Court was weighing the case.

"Cardozo Law School will continue to support our LGBTQ+ students, faculty, administrators and alumni fully and without reservation," Cardozo spokesperson John DeNatale said on Monday. He declined to comment on the Yeshiva litigation.

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September 25, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Low Anthropology: The Unlikely Key To A Gracious View Of Others (And Yourself)

David Zahl (Director, Mockingbird Ministries), Low Anthropology: The Unlikely Key to a Gracious View of Others (and Yourself) (2022):

Low AnthropologyMany of us spend our days feeling like we're the only one with problems, while everyone else has their act together. But the sooner we realize that everyone struggles like we do, the sooner we can show grace to ourselves and others.

In Low Anthropology, popular author and theologian David Zahl explores how our ideas about human nature influence our expectations in friendship, work, marriage, and politics. We all go through life with an "anthropology"—an idea about what humans are like, our potentials and our limitations. A high anthropology—thinking optimistically about human nature—can breed perfectionism, anxiety, burnout, loneliness, and resentment. Meanwhile, Zahl invites readers into a biblically rooted and surprisingly life-giving low anthropology, which fosters hope, deep connection with others, lasting love, vulnerability, compassion, and happiness.

Zahl offers a liberating view of human nature, sin, and grace, showing why the good news of Christianity is both urgent and appealing. By embracing a more accurate view of human beings, readers will discover a true and lasting hope.

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September 18, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Celebrities For Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, And Profits Are Hurting The Church

Katelyn Beaty (Editorial Director, Brazos Press), Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church (2022):

BeatyMany Christian leaders use their fame and influence to great effect. Whether that popularity resides at the local church level or represents national or international influence, many leaders have effectively said to their followers, "Follow me as I follow Christ." But fame that is cultivated for its own sake, without attendant spiritual maturity and accountability, has a shadow side that runs counter to the heart of the gospel. Celebrity--defined as social power without proximity--has led to abuses of power, the cultivation of persona, and a fixation on profits.

In light of the fall of famous Christian leaders in recent years, the time has come for the church to reexamine its relationship to celebrity. Award-winning journalist Katelyn Beaty explores the ways fame has reshaped the American church, explains how and why celebrity is woven into the fabric of the evangelical movement, and identifies many ways fame has gone awry in recent years. She shows us how evangelical culture is uniquely attracted to celebrity gurus over and against institutions, and she offers a renewed vision of ordinary faithfulness, helping us all keep fame in its proper place.

With insight and empathy, Katelyn Beaty diagnoses the broken patterns of leadership we see in the church. This book shows us the isolation and loneliness and abuse that can come from, and contribute to, these expectations of celebrity. But this book is no mere jeremiad. It points the way forward to renewed visions of power, accountability, and humility.
Russell Moore, chair of public theology, Christianity Today

Christianity Today Book Review, Christian Celebrity Isn’t a Problem to Fix, But an Eye to Gouge Out:

There is such a thing as making a problem too easy. And there are times where that error can yield devastating consequences.

This thought came to mind while reading Katelyn Beaty’s book Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church. The book has much to admire. Beaty, a writer and former CT editor, is a keen observer of power dynamics within institutions and movements, for starters. She also is a good student of contemporary technological trends, with a well-developed understanding of how digital technology has transformed and exacerbated the problems of fame and celebrity both in the church and outside.

What’s more, I found her prudent counsel for how we might curb the worst excesses of celebrity to be wise and admirable. Her conversation partners in the final chapter are, if predictable, also wise: Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson, Andy Crouch, Dallas Willard.

Pulling punches
Yet for all its merits, I found the book to be ultimately too moderate in its critique. While Celebrities for Jesus is a wise book, it is also, for a certain type of evangelical, a relatively pleasant book. ... As Beaty profiles the many cases of egregious moral failure and abuse of power by Christian celebrities ranging from Mark Driscoll to Ravi Zacharias to Bill Hybels, she consistently tries to keep the fact of evangelical celebrity separate from the abuse of evangelical celebrity, holding out hope that we can have one without the other. Effectively, she holds out hope that you can have the huge online platform, get the massive six-figure book deal, enjoy the luxurious mansion, and be okay as long as you recognize the dangers of celebrity and don’t abuse your power.

In one passage she writes,

Christian leaders should always ask whether their spending signals modesty or opulence—especially to those they are ministering to. The point here is not that private jets are always evil (although, on the whole, I’d argue their problems far outweigh their temporary conveniences). Or that nice meals, second homes, and expensive clothes are always and everywhere wrong. The point here is that all these things in our time signify lavish displays of wealth. To keep the worldly lure of money in check, Christian leaders should cultivate financial modesty—and ask others to hold them accountable to it.

There is a tension between discussing problems inherent to celebrity and problems dealing with the abuse of celebrity. Teasing the two apart is seldom easy. Yet it seemed like much of the book’s rhetorical firepower was fixed on the latter rather than the former. Thus there are points where Beaty’s analysis suggests that we might avoid the pitfalls of celebrity if only the celebrities themselves would cut back on ostentation and excess, instead adopting healthier habits (and even pursuing a kind of obscurity).

But this doesn’t altogether work, as the passage above illustrates: If you have a private jet, you are being opulent. There is not a modest way of buying a private jet or, to use another example Beaty offers in that chapter, a $2,000 purse. By refusing to just say no to these displays, Beaty shrinks back from saying the hard thing and gives readers an out from the problem she’s highlighting. By pulling her punches in this way, Beaty tames the force of her critique.

Yet the fuller, more assertive version of Beaty’s critique is precisely what American evangelicals need to hear today. ...

When I survey the wreckage of evangelical celebrity, I don’t see any reason for moderation. The seeker-sensitive movement and its natural descendant, online church, is the evangelical version of the eye that we must gouge out and cast into the fire before it condemns our entire movement to those flames. Yet Beaty seems hesitant to go there. Even as she ends the book she writes, “To be sure, screens are not inherently evil, nor are large churches, social media platforms, or charismatic personalities.” ...

It’s possible I am wrong, of course, and that calling on Christian leaders to distance themselves from social media, break up their megachurches into smaller neighborhood parishes, and fully repudiate the lavish lifestyles of Hillsong preachers is asking too much. But when I survey the American church today, I see no reason to think celebrity of any sort should be preserved. And I see many reasons to think it’s leading us to hell.

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September 18, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Supreme Court (5-4) Denies Yeshiva University Request To Block State Ruling On Recognition Of LGBTQ Club; Yeshiva Responds By Canceling All Student Groups

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal, Supreme Court Declines Yeshiva University’s Bid to Deny Recognition of Gay Student Group:

Yeshiva Pride LogoThe Supreme Court on Wednesday denied Yeshiva University’s emergency request to block New York state court orders requiring it to recognize an LGBT student club, but left room for the Orthodox Jewish institution to object again in future proceedings.

The YU Pride Alliance and several students sued the university in state court last year after administrators refused to recognize the undergraduate group as an official student club.

A trial judge, finding Yeshiva’s position violated New York City’s Human Rights Law, ordered it to recognize the Pride Alliance on the same terms as other student clubs. After state appellate courts declined to block the ruling’s implementation while the university appealed, Yeshiva filed an emergency motion asking the Supreme Court to intervene.

Last Friday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the judicial circuit including New York, granted a temporary stay while the justices weighed the request.

The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, lifted that stay Wednesday and said in an order that Yeshiva had yet to exhaust its options in the state court system [Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance, No. 22A184 (Sept. 14, 2022)]. ... Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson were in the majority.

New York Times, Yeshiva University Halts All Student Clubs to Block L.G.B.T.Q. Group:

Yeshiva University abruptly announced on Friday that it had placed all undergraduate club activities on hold, the latest maneuver in the legal battle by the Modern Orthodox Jewish institution to keep from recognizing an L.G.B.T.Q. student group.

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September 18, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 11, 2022

WSJ: Pastor Timothy Keller Speaks To The Head And The Heart

Wall Street Journal Weekend Confidential, Pastor Timothy Keller Speaks to the Head and the Heart:

KellerDr. Keller, 71, has earned a wide following for his erudite and engaging teaching of the Gospel. Since he founded Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan in 1989, his appeal to young, educated professionals has helped it grow from a few dozen members to more than 5,000 weekly attendees across three locations. His sermons, which address believers and nonbelievers alike, are available on a podcast that over 2.5 million people download each month. He has also written more than two dozen books on subjects such as God, death, marriage and meaning; his new book Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? will be published in November. ...

Though he is theologically conservative, Dr. Keller is wary of calling himself “evangelical,” largely owing to the term’s political implications. “It creates images in people’s minds that don’t fit me,” he explains. Although the Bible teaches that we should welcome immigrants and help the poor, he notes that it doesn’t specify whether government should be big or small, or whether taxes should be high or low. Thus Christians shouldn’t feel they are obligated to vote for either Democrats or Republicans. He adds that politics are creating serious fissures within the church. “People are walking away from each other,” he says. “It’s quite painful.”

An introverted “egghead” when he arrived at Bucknell, Dr. Keller recalls that he felt pride in usually being the smartest kid in the room. “I didn’t realize that was killing me,” he says now. He explains that he learned from reading St. Augustine that his loves were “not ordered properly.” Seeking fulfillment from his intelligence made him susceptible to despair if he got a bad grade. By learning to love God first and making this love central, he says, he became more able to manage life’s disappointments.

“Unless you love God the most, you will turn your children or spouse or job into a kind of god that you will expect to completely fulfill you,” he explains. This is a recipe for dissatisfaction, he adds, and often alienates those we love by burdening them with unreasonable expectations. Dr. Keller often quotes C.S. Lewis: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in.’ Aim at earth and you get neither.” ...

Dr. Keller preaches a conservative Christianity to his cosmopolitan flock, in which marriage is between a man and a woman and abortion is murder. ...

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September 11, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Inazu: On The 21-Year Anniversary Of 9/11, What Unites Us?

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), What Unites Us?:

911 Photo[Today] marks the twenty-first anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I’ve previously reflected about my experience in the Pentagon that morning as a young lawyer working for the Department of the Air Force. In this week’s newsletter, I’d like to focus on a different dimension of 9/11: the fleeting but genuine sense of unity in the days and weeks that followed, and how we might think about that unity today. ...

A unity built on tragedy, fear, and a common enemy cannot sustain a people—at least not without great cost to others. ...

Last week, President Biden attempted to tap into American unity in a primetime speech to the nation. Biden relied on tragedy (the January 6th assault on the Capitol), fear (current and prospective threats to the Democratic process), and naming a common enemy (“extreme MAGA Republicans”). In doing so, he neglected appeals to political compromise or gestures of goodwill toward his non-MAGA political opponents. As with much of the post 9/11 rhetoric, Biden’s speech offered little positive vision for American unity.

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September 11, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times: Justice Sotomayor Says Yeshiva University Can Bar LGBT Student Club — For Now

Following up on my previous posts:

New York Times, Yeshiva University Can Bar L.G.B.T. Club for Now, Justice Sotomayor Rules:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said on Friday that Yeshiva University in Manhattan can for now disregard a state court ruling that ordered it to recognize an L.G.B.T. student club — a case she said could be considered by the full Supreme Court.

The ruling in State Supreme Court in Manhattan in June was celebrated by gay students and their supporters but was condemned by administrators at Yeshiva, America’s most prominent institution of Modern Orthodox Jewish higher education. They derided it as an attack on religious freedom and vowed to appeal; the university applied for an emergency stay late last month.

On Friday evening, Justice Sotomayor granted it. The justice, who has jurisdiction over the lower court, wrote that the state decision was “hereby stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the court.”

The ruling suggests that the Supreme Court, which has taken an increasingly broad view of religious freedom in recent years, may take up the university’s case. Since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court in 2020, petitioners in religious freedom cases have almost always prevailed there. ...

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September 11, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 4, 2022

NY Times: A Catholic Podcasting Star Says Theocracy Is Not The Way

New York Times Magazine, A Catholic Podcasting Star Says Theocracy Is Not the Way:

Father MikeThere are things that, at first blush, might appear marginal but are in truth major. Since it was introduced by the Catholic priest Mike Schmitz, who goes by Father Mike, in January 2021, the little-heralded “The Bible in a Year (With Fr. Mike Schmitz)” has been the most popular Apple religion podcast for a majority of 2021 and 2022 and has even, on two occasions, reached the No. 1 spot among all podcasts on Apple’s platform. The show has been downloaded 350 million times and an average of 750,000 times a day. Its popularity is easy to understand — the show goes down smoothly. Each 20-to-25-minute installment, designed according to a study plan developed by the Catholic biblical scholar Jeff Cavins, features two or three short scriptural readings and a pithy reflection by Father Mike, an affable 47-year-old Midwesterner whose upbeat and self-deprecating manner — not to mention regular-guy good looks — exude strong Ted Lasso vibes. The staggering success of the podcast has helped turn its host, whose day job is as a chaplain at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the director of the youth ministry for the Duluth diocese, into a kind of celebrity. He travels the country giving speeches, and some of his YouTube videos have racked up millions of views. This all comes at a moment, of course, when the church, like so many of our institutions, finds itself firmly at the heart of roiling social tensions — a fact of which Father Mike is keenly conscious. “I know a lot of my own brokenness and faults,” he says about the challenge of becoming a public figure. “I hate the idea of misrepresenting God or the church because of them.”

Before you and I spoke, I asked if you could send me the names of some books that were important to you, all of which I then read. And I’ve been listening to your podcast for a while and watching your YouTube videos. I also read almost all the books you've written [Made for Love: Same-Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church (2017); Beautiful Hope: Finding Hope Everyday in a Broken World (2018); How to Make Great Decisions (2019); Pray, Decide, and Don't Worry: Five Steps to Discerning God's Will (2019); A World Undone: Finding God When Life Doesn't Make Sense (2020); Untroubled by the Unknown: Trusting God in Every Moment (2022); The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume I (2022); The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume II (2022); The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume III (2022)]. There’s a lot of love and beauty in so much of it. But I can’t, as you put it, wrap my heart around any teaching saying that gay sex is “disordered,” or that because of an abortion ban at six weeks, a 10-year-old girl who was impregnated via rape should have to travel from one state to another to get one or that women with ectopic pregnancies could potentially be denied procedures. Can you help me understand where the heart is in that?

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September 4, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

French: The Christian Case Against Biden’s Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Plan

David French (The Dispatch), Is There a Christian Case for Biden’s Debt Relief Plan?:

Biden’s [student loan debt forgiveness] plan is not a legislative proposal. He’s not asking Congress to enact this reform. He’s initiating it through the executive branch only, asserting that the so-called HEROES Act, passed after the 9/11 attacks, grants him the authority to forgive student debt “in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency.”

The reaction was intense, even for our polarized times, and part of that intensity was directly related to faith. ... 

The concept of debt forgiveness—including the forgiveness of monetary debt—is all over the Bible. ... Roger Nam, a Hebrew Bible professor at Emory’s Candler School of Theology wrote a helpful piece for the Religion News Service in which he described the Old Testament’s commands of debt forgiveness as embodying a “spirit of compassion” that helped lift the poor from grinding poverty, debt slavery, and oppression. ...

Debt forgiveness figures directly in one of Jesus’s most famous parables—the parable of the ungrateful servant. It relates the story of a servant who begs for his king to forgive a crushing loan debt, the staggering sum of 10,000 talents. The king forgives and the servant rejoices, only to immediately refuse to forgive a tiny sum owed him.

It’s a lesson in forgiveness that’s grounded in a reality that the people of Israel would understand. Forgiving debt can be an indispensable element of biblical justice. But does that mean it always is? Does that mean Christians should support Biden’s policy?

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September 4, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Helfand: Illegal Discrimination Or Religious Freedom? Understanding Yeshiva University’s Case Against The YU Pride Alliance

Following up on my previous posts:

CNN, Yeshiva University Asks Supreme Court to Let It Block LGBTQ Student Club:

Yeshiva University filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking to block a court order requiring the New York university to recognize a "Pride Alliance" LGBTQ student club.

In court papers, the school says that "As a deeply religious Jewish university, Yeshiva cannot comply with that order because doing so would violate its sincere religious beliefs about how to form its undergraduate students in Torah values."

Lawyers for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing Yeshiva, argued that the lower court's order is an "unprecedented" intrusion into the University's religious beliefs and a clear violation of Yeshiva's First Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court has asked for a response to the school's petition by Friday.

Forward, Yeshiva University LGBTQ Group Responds to School’s Emergency SCOTUS Petition:

The school wants to turn a case it lost in June into a First Amendment showdown

The Yeshiva University Pride Alliance responded Friday afternoon to the school’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to block the LGBTQ student group.

The group’s response challenges the university’s escalation of the dispute from a Manhattan courtroom to the U.S. Supreme Court largely on procedural grounds. It mostly does not address YU’s framing of the case as a First Amendment question in the emergency petition it filed to Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday.

“Applicants’ extraordinarily premature application blows past all prerequisites to this Court’s jurisdiction and its orderly review of state court orders,” the Pride Alliance wrote in its 48-page response, which Sotomayor had requested by end of day Friday.

Forward Op-Ed:  Illegal Discrimination or Religious Freedom? Understanding Yeshiva University’s Case Against the YU Pride Alliance:, by Michael Helfand (Pepperdine; Google Scholar):

YU’s constitutional claims in its case against the undergraduate LGBTQ club are strong, but it’s not clear that SCOTUS will choose to intervene

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September 4, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, August 29, 2022

Deaning While Stuttering


As a life-long stutterer, I found this New York Times video, I Stutter. But This Is What You’re Not Hearing. with writer John Hendrickson (What Joe Biden Can't Bring Himself to Say), particularly compelling:

As my fellow stutterers will understand, I have endured the daily terror of fearing the next time I will be required to speak. As far as I know, I was the only student in my elementary school, high school, college, and law school, and the only lawyer in my law firm and professor in my law schools, with this speech disorder. I am forever grateful for the teachers, professors, lawyers, and faculty who saw something in me that I never saw in myself and gave me the opportunity and unspoken encouragement to succeed as a student, lawyer, and law professor.

As you can imagine, deaning has made the daily terror particularly acute, with meetings and speeches filling my calendar. But for the first time in my life, I have begun talking about it with others, first in my presentation to the Pepperdine Caruso Law faculty when I ran for dean. I closed my remarks by saying:

There are many reasons why you may decide that I shouldn’t be dean.
But one of them shouldn’t be how I talk.
Because how I talk has made me the man that I am.

I have since shared my story with old and new friends, usually over dinner. Their reactions encouraged me to talk about my struggle at our Baccalaureate Service for our Christian students and their families the night before graduation in May. We give a Pepperdine Caruso Law-branded Bible to each of the graduates, inscribed with their name and the five Bible verses from my message on Purpose, Perseverance, and Psalm 139 Post-Pepperdine. I explain how these verses have equipped me to not only survive but thrive in my dean role despite the difficulties I face. I encourage the graduates to lean on these verses when they face the inevitable challenges that will come their way. Among those in attendance at the service this year was Frank Biden, the brother of the President. One of the most unexpected twists in my dean journey was becoming friends with Frank, due to our shared faith and shared struggle with our speech.

In July, I was invited to be one of six "experienced" deans to lead the annual workshop hosted by the ABA for all new law school deans. My assigned topic was Leadership and Management, and I spoke on the ten things I wish I had known when I had become a dean five years earlier. My last item was Leading Through Weakness, and I shared the challenges I have faced deaning with my stutter. I closed by telling the new and experienced deans about what I had said to the faculty when I ran for dean, and what I have learned since then. I talked about an expression that originated in the computer industry in the 1970s: programmers found what they thought was a “bug” in some software, but when they dug deeper, they realized that it was a “feature” intentionally added by the developer to serve an important purpose that was not apparent on the surface. I said that if I could go back in time, I would change my message to the faculty to:

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August 29, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (10)

Sunday, August 28, 2022

God, The Bible, And Hamilton

Longtime readers know of my obsession with interest in Hamilton, especially the faith aspects of the play (see C.S. Lewis & Lin-Manuel Miranda: How I Found My Faith In Mere Christianity And Deepened It In Hamilton and the links below). I just came across these great books and article:

Kevin Cloud, God and Hamilton: Spiritual Themes from the Life of Alexander Hamilton and the Broadway Musical He Inspired:

God and HamiltonDiscover Spiritual Truths from the Smash Broadway Hit Hamilton that Will Transform Your Life

Hamilton―the hip-hop musical about a forgotten Founding Father―is the most compelling musical of our time. But if you watch it without understanding the spiritual themes of Alexander Hamilton’s life, you only get half the story. Discover how Hamilton is a modern-day parable that will:

  • Lead you into a deeper experience of God’s grace
  • Help you battle guilt and shame
  • Challenge you to forgive
  • Inspire your faith
  • Engage you in the struggle for human equality

God and Hamilton impressively weaves together insights from the musical itself, the lives of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton, and the story of Scripture into a tapestry that challenges people of faith to reexamine their lives.

God and Hamilton turned me inside out and revealed a side of Hamilton I had never thought to explore.Lauren Boyd, Hamilton Broadway Cast

A wonderful example of drawing from contemporary culture to understand how God works…I cannot recommend it more highly!―Mike Breen, Founder, 3DM; Author, Building a Disciplining Culture 

A bold and creative exploration of the themes in life that matter most. In this beautiful book, Kevin Cloud helps us see, listen, and open to the all-consuming love God pours out to us.―Phileen Heurtz, Founding Partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

For all who struggle with doubt, depression, and despair, God and Hamilton offers an inspiring way forward. Kevin Cloud’s book made my heart sing!Craig Detweiler, President, Seattle School of Theology and Sociology

Christianity Today, Here’s Every Biblical Reference in ‘Hamilton’:

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August 28, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

French: Christian Political Ethics Are Upside Down

David French (The Dispatch), Christian Political Ethics Are Upside Down:

Three things are true at once. First, the United States is the most Christian advanced democracy in the world. Even with declining rates of religious belief and declining rates of church attendance, a solid supermajority (65 percent) of Americans identify as Christian. ...

Second, both the Republican and Democratic parties are utterly dependent upon their most devout members for their electoral success. As I’ve noted before, nonwhite Democrats (and especially black Democrats) are among the most God-fearing, churchgoing members of American society. At the same time, the Republican Party would be irrelevant without its own white Evangelical base. ...

Third, American political culture is a toxic, hyperpartisan, corrupt, and increasingly violent mess. Given the first two factors mentioned above, this should not be. After all, Jesus could not have been more clear. In John 13, he declared, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” That’s the dream. Here’s the reality


Again, remember that both of these coalitions are chock-full of Christians. It is not the case (at least not yet) that America has one religious party and one secular party. The mutual loathing you see comes from people who could recite every syllable of the Apostles’ Creed side-by-side and believe wholeheartedly in the divine inspiration of scripture.

How does this happen? The longer I live the more convinced I am that our Christian political ethic is upside down. On a bipartisan basis, the church has formed its members to be adamant about policies that are difficult and contingent and flexible about virtues that are clear and mandatory.

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August 28, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Inazu: Interfaith Doesn't Mean Compromise

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), Interfaith Doesn't Mean Compromise:

Uncommon GroundOne of the things I most appreciate about my friend Eboo Patel and his colleagues at Interfaith America (where I serve as a Senior Fellow) is that they take seriously the religious differences that divide us. I remember interfaith efforts when I was in college in the 1990s. Their general vibe suggested that religious differences didn’t really matter, all roads pointed to the same God, and we could do great things together if we stuck to the lowest common denominator.

That’s not how religion works for most people. It’s not how it works for Eboo or me. A genuine interfaith effort takes seriously our differences and works on relationships across those differences. ...

The reality of an interfaith America provides an opportunity for Christians like me to engage with confidence and compassion in a world of difference. This opportunity is captured in the verse that Tim Keller and I selected as the epigraph for our book, Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference. In Ephesians 4:1-2, the Apostle Paul exhorts Christians to: “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.”

Paul’s charge to Christians applies to anyone seeking greater empathy and understanding without minimizing significant differences. As I wrote in Uncommon Ground:

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August 28, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, August 21, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: The God I Know Is Not A Culture Warrior

New York Times Op-Ed:  The God I Know Is Not a Culture Warrior, by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Warren 3Two Sundays ago, my church had a baptismal service. Baptisms at our church are a mixture of solemnity and unbridled glee, often full of laughter and tears of joy. Those who were being baptized or, in the case of infants, their parents, took vows to put their trust in God’s grace and love and to renounce spiritual darkness, evil and “all sinful desires that draw” us from the love of God. After the baptism, the kids in our service ran forward, giggling, trying to get sprayed with the baptismal water that our priest, Ryan, slung over the congregation as he called us to “remember your baptism.”

On that Sunday, Ryan invited anyone else who wanted to get baptized to let him know. To my surprise, after the service ended and we were all mingling, two more people approached Ryan and asked if they could also get baptized. So after a short conversation with them, he hollered for the congregation to regather and, then and there, two others joined our ranks through baptism. People cheered and applauded as they emerged from the water. I left that service feeling pensive, grateful and in awe of the beauty of God and human lives.

I have thought of that incandescent Sunday a lot the past couple of weeks because there is a perplexing difference between the way we celebrated God that morning and the way I typically hear God discussed online and in our broader cultural discourse.

The God of that baptismal service is one of joy, kindness and peace. The God I often hear about in American politics, in the news and on Twitter is one of cultural division and bickering. The God of that Sunday service seemed powerful and holy, yet gentle and beautiful. The God in our cultural discourse seems impotent and irrelevant, a mostly sociological phenomenon related to political posturing and power plays. ...

It’s not that I think God has no place in politics or public discussions. Faith touches all areas of life, and issues such as abortion, religious liberty and the relationship between church and state are important. But when we primarily talk about God in the context of political or ideological debate, believers’ actual experience of God, worship and faith — not to mention spiritual virtues like humility, gratitude and kindness — often gets lost. God becomes merely another pawn in the culture wars, a means to a political end, a meme to own our opponents online or an accessory donned like a power tie. ...

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August 21, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: New York’s Hottest Club Is The Catholic Church

New York Times Op-Ed:  New York’s Hottest Club Is the Catholic Church, by Julia Yost (Senior Editor, First Things):

YostAs senior churchmen seek to make Catholicism palatable to modernity, members of a small but significant scene are turning to the ancient faith in defiance of liberal pieties. The scene is often associated with “Dimes Square,” a downtown Manhattan neighborhood popular with a pandemic-weary Generation Z — or Zoomer — crowd, but it has spread across a network of podcasts and upstart publications. Its sensibility is more transgressive than progressive. Many of its denizens profess to be apolitical. Others hold outré opinions, whether sincerely or as fashion statements. Reactionary motifs are chic: Trump hats and “tradwife” frocks, monarchist and anti-feminist sentiments. Perhaps the ultimate expression of this contrarian aesthetic is its embrace of Catholicism.

Urban trends can shape a culture, as millennial Brooklyn did in its heyday. The Dimes Square scene is small, but its ascent highlights a culture-wide shift. Progressive morality, formulated in response to the remnants of America’s Christian culture, was once a vanguard. By 2020, the year of lockdowns and Black Lives Matter protests, progressivism had come to feel hegemonic in the social spaces occupied by young urban intellectuals. Traditional morality acquired a transgressive glamour. Disaffection with the progressive moral majority — combined with Catholicism’s historic ability to accommodate cultural subversion — has produced an in-your-face style of traditionalism. This is not your grandmother’s church — and whether the new faithful are performing an act of theater or not, they have the chance to revitalize the church for young, educated Americans.

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August 21, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Why Alexander Hamilton Gave His Heart To Jesus At A Texas Church

Longtime readers know of my obsession with interest in Hamilton (see links below). Religion News Service, Why Alexander Hamilton Gave His Heart to Jesus at a Texas Church This Weekend:

Hamilton ChurchAlexander Hamilton, right, gives his life to Jesus in The Door Church’s unauthorized production of the musical “Hamilton,” in McAllen, Texas. Video screen grab

When offered a chance to save his soul at a Texas church this past weekend, Alexander Hamilton did not throw away his shot.

During a slightly adapted production of the hit musical “Hamilton” at The Door Church, a large, diverse congregation, the main character bowed his head, closed his eyes and gave his life to Jesus.

“What is a legacy?” the actor playing Hamilton said, according to a recording of the show obtained by Religion News Service. “It’s knowing you repented and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ that sets men free.”

There was just one problem. The church did not have the rights to perform “Hamilton” or post videos from a performance online.

“‘Hamilton’ does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions and did not grant one to The Door Church,” a spokesperson for the musical told RNS in an email. 

After learning about the unauthorized performance on social media, the producers of “Hamilton” sent a cease-and-desist letter to the church.

But I'm not afraid,
my hope is in Jesus.
If you could just give him a chance today
That would be enough."

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August 21, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, August 14, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: A Model For An Evangelical Christianity Committed To Justice

New York Times Op-Ed:  A Model for an Evangelical Christianity Committed to Justice, by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Warren 3HIn my first couple years of college I had a minor crisis of faith. I had grown up going to a large Southern church that prided itself on preaching the Gospel, but leaders there did not talk much about systemic injustice or economic disparity. I was taking a class on poverty in the United States and another course taught by an avowed socialist passionately committed to radical politics. I was volunteering with a ministry that worked with undocumented immigrants and among the economically disadvantaged. I felt increasingly disconnected from my evangelical community on issues of nonviolence and social and economic justice.

One night, feeling frustrated and cynical, I walked into a bookstore and stumbled on a book titled Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity by Ronald J. Sider, which argues that vast global wealth inequality is a moral failure resulting from systems of oppression and sin. I didn’t know it at the time, but this book, which was first published in 1978, is considered a classic. In 2006, it was listed at No. 7 in The Top 50 Books that Have Shaped Evangelicals by the flagship evangelical magazine Christianity Today and has sold 400,000 copies in nine languages.

The book changed my life — probably not as much as it should have. Its call to generosity is something I still wrestle with and need to grow toward, even now. But more than the particular contents of the book, what discovering Sider offered me was hope that there was a movement of Christians who cared deeply about the Bible and also about the Bible’s call to seek justice here on Earth. Sider introduced me to an entire world of Christians whose passion for God defies political and cultural categories.

Sider died last month at 82 and as I’ve read tributes to his work, I find myself grateful for his legacy and struck by how his countercultural voice remains vital and important even now. Christianity Today described Sider as the burr in “‘the ethical saddle’ of the white evangelical horse.” ...

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August 14, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Justice Alito's Keynote Address At Notre Dame's Religious Liberty Summit In Rome

Following up on my previous post, Notre Dame Dean Marcus Cole's Address In Rome On Religious Liberty:  Notre Dame News, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Delivers Keynote Address at 2022 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome:

The Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative hosted the 2022 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome last week to highlight that freedom of religion or belief is a global issue.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito — who delivered the keynote address at the Religious Liberty Summit’s gala dinner on Thursday, July 21 — noted that the Roman setting also brought to mind how religious freedom has been challenged and championed throughout history.

“I find myself thinking about the proud civilization that was centered here two millennia ago,” Alito said near the beginning of his remarks.

“As I think back, I also think ahead, and I wonder what historians may say centuries from now about the contribution of the United States to world civilization,” he said. “One thing I hope they will say is that our country, after a lot of fits and starts, and ups and downs, eventually showed the world that it is possible to have a stable and successful society in which people of diverse faiths live and work together harmoniously and productively while still retaining their own beliefs. This has been truly an historic accomplishment.”

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August 14, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Faith, Forgiveness, And Little League Baseball

Following up on my posts on the power of forgiveness (links below):  Deseret News, Think There’s No Crying in Baseball? Then Don’t Watch This Viral Little League Moment:

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August 14, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, August 7, 2022

NY Times: What's God Got To Do With It? The Rise Of Christian Nationalism In American Politics

New York Times, What's God Got to Do With It? The Rise of Christian Nationalism In American Politics:

Mccaulley stewartEsau Macaulley and Katherine Stewart on how the G.O.P weaponized Christianity — and where we go from here

Christian nationalism has been empowered in American politics since the rise of Donald Trump. From “Stop the Steal” to the storming of the U.S. Capitol and now, the overturn of Roe v. Wade — Christian nationalist rhetoric has undergirded it all. But given that a majority of Americans identify as Christian, faith also isn’t going anywhere in our politics. So what would a better relationship between church and state look like?

To discuss, Jane Coaston brings together two people who are at the heart of the Christian nationalism debate. Katherine Stewart is the author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism and has reported on the Christian right for over a decade. Esau McCaulley is a contributing writer for Times Opinion and theologian-in-residence at Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago.

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August 7, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

The Secret Of Vin Scully's Success: Faith

Los Angeles and baseball fans everywhere are mourning the death of Vin Scully at age 94. Vin was the voice of the Dodgers (and Los Angeles) for 67 years. My dear fried and former colleague Bob Cochran sent me this wonderful interview with Vin for my Sunday faith posts: 

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August 7, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Christian University Sues Attorney General, Says Investigation Of Anti-LGBTQ+ Hiring Practices Violates Its Religious Freedom

Inside Higher Education, Seattle Pacific Sues Washington AG:

Seattle Pacific 2Facing a state investigation for discriminatory hiring practices against LGBTQ+ individuals, Seattle Pacific University is going on the offensive, suing Washington attorney general Robert Ferguson.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, accuses Ferguson of violating the Free Methodist Church–affiliated university’s constitutional right “to decide matters of faith and doctrine, to hire employees who share its religious beliefs, and to select and retain ministers free from government interference.”

At the root of the lawsuit is a policy that has long been a source of friction at Seattle Pacific: a prohibition on the hiring of openly gay faculty and staff members, which the president and Board of Trustees have vigorously defended despite opposition from students, employees and alumni. Students have walked out and sat in to protest the policy; the board refuses to budge out of concerns that doing so would end its 130-year membership in the Free Methodist Church. ...

SPU subscribes to the belief that “sexual experience is intended between a man and a woman,” according to its Statement on Human Sexuality. Its policy holds that “employees are expected to refrain from sexual behavior that is inconsistent with the University’s understanding of Biblical standards, including cohabitation, extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex sexual activity.”

In the lawsuit, lawyers for the Christian university accused Washington’s attorney general of “wielding state power to interfere with the religious beliefs of a religious university, and a church, whose beliefs he disagrees with. He is using the powers of his office (and even powers not granted to his office) to pressure and retaliate against Seattle Pacific University.”

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August 7, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Render Unto Caesar: Do We Have A Moral Obligation To Pay Taxes?

Robert F. van Brederode, Render Unto Caesar: Do We Have a Moral Obligation to Pay Tax?:

In this installment of Tax Matters, van Brederode considers whether paying taxes is a moral duty by referring to the famous New Testament passage in which Jesus is asked whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. ...

Today, many take the position that paying your fair share is a moral duty and that tax dodging is antisocial behavior. Jesus’ answer — “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” — is traditionally interpreted to mean an endorsement of paying taxes, which serves contemporary tax enforcers well. ...

The traditional interpretation of the so-called tribute episode makes no sense in the political context of first-century Palestine and given the treacherous purpose of the question. All three synoptic Gospels mention the tribute episode almost verbatim and claim that the question is a trap by the Jewish establishment [Matt. 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, and Luke 20:20-26]. ...

The question was a trap because regardless of Jesus’ answer — yes or no — it could and would have been used against him. If Jesus were to answer that taxes should be paid, he would lose his credibility with his followers by being seen as a collaborator with the Romans, perceived as occupiers by the Jews. If he were to answer that these taxes should not be paid, he would run afoul of the Roman authorities, who could put him to death for inciting sedition. This question, therefore, put Jesus between a rock and a hard place. For the trap to work, his questioners must have known Jesus’ opposition to Roman rule and taxes. This is the Judeo-Roman political aspect of the question.

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August 7, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Forty Democratic Lawmakers Call For IRS Investigation Into Family Research Council's ‘Church’ Status

Following up on my previous post, ProPublica: Family Research Council Is Now A Church In The Eyes Of The IRS:  Washington Post, Democrats Call on IRS to Review Right-Wing Group’s ‘Church’ Status:

FRCCongressional House Democrats are asking the IRS to review the tax-exempt status of a prominent conservative advocacy group recently reclassified as a church, arguing the organization may be exploiting the designation to avoid scrutiny.

Forty Democratic lawmakers, led by U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene (Wash.) and Jared Huffman (Calif.), outlined their concerns about the Family Research Council in a letter sent to the head of the IRS and the secretary of the Treasury on Monday. According to a recent report from ProPublica, the FRC successfully applied to be reclassified as a “group of churches” in 2020.

Lawmakers say that while the FRC often appeals to faith and advocates for a “biblical worldview,” the status change “strains credulity” because the group operates primarily as “a political advocacy organization.”

“They do not hold religious services, do not have a congregation or affiliated congregations, and do not possess many of the other attributes of churches listed by the IRS,” the letter reads. “FRC is one example of an alarming pattern in the last decade — right-wing advocacy groups self-identifying as ‘churches’ and applying for and receiving church status.” ...

Among the letter’s signatories are U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin (Md.), Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.).

Washington Times, Democratic Lawmakers Demand IRS Probe of Family Research Council’s Tax Status:

The head of the Family Research Council said Tuesday evening that a call by 40 Congressional Democrats for a Treasury Department/IRS investigation of the group’s “association of churches” tax-exempt status was “factually challenged” and asserted the organization isn’t “trying to hide anything” from the public.

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August 7, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Battle Over 'Wokeness' At Christian Colleges Isn't Just About Politics, It's About Dollars

Detroit Free Press, Battle Over 'Wokeness' at Christian Colleges Isn't Just About Politics, It's About Dollars:

Grove City HillsdaleThe latest battle in Christian higher education isn't centered on theological issues, but rather on politics.

For decades, Hillsdale College and Grove City College mirrored each other.

Fiercely independent, neither takes any federal dollars, including government-backed student loans, in order to be exempt from most federal rules.

Located in bucolic settings — Hillsdale in agricultural southern mid-Michigan and Grove City in the hills of western Pennsylvania — one feels smarter simply by stepping on the carefully groomed campuses with spectacular academic buildings, chapels and residence halls. Both have reputations as bastions of conservatism.

But the last two years have started to push the two apart, at least in the minds of their core markets.

Hillsdale, to the delight of conservatives and the consternation of liberals, has continued to burnish its conservative credentials. It has worked closely on education matters with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis  and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

"The college's belief in genuine classical education and its deep admiration for the principles of the American Founding, as espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, has made it a target for those who oppose such challenges to the status quo of what is now taught in most American institutions of higher education," Hillsdale spokeswoman Emily Davis told the Free Press, adding that Hillsdale wants all students, not just those in Michigan, to have a quality education. "Hillsdale College has been dedicated to pursuing truth and defending liberty since 1844 and has no plans of retreating from that noble effort."

And while Hillsdale alumni, students and faculty have been supportive of the college, alumni, students and faculty at Grove City have been engaged in all-out-war  over whether it is woke.

The two schools represent the newest battle in Christian higher education, one that isn't centered on theological issues such as creationism or who is God, but rather on whether Donald Trump won the last election or whether Black people are still targeted by systematic racism in America. It's about politics brought to campus, witnessed by students who arrive as self-styled culture warriors, armed with smartphones and social media.

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July 31, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

WSJ Op-Ed: Religion Is Dying? Don’t Believe It

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  Religion Is Dying? Don’t Believe It, by Byron R. Johnson (Baylor; Pepperdine; Google Scholar) & Jeff Levin (Baylor):

Baylor ISRReports of religion’s decline in America have been exaggerated. You’ve heard the story: Churchgoers are dwindling in number while “Nones”—those who tell pollsters they have no religious affiliation—are multiplying as people abandon their faith and join the ranks of atheists and agnostics. Headlines declare that the U.S. is secularizing along the lines of Europe. From Britain’s Daily Mail in 2013: “Religion could disappear by 2041 because people will have replaced God with possessions, claims leading psychologist.”

These conclusions are based on analyses that are so flawed as to be close to worthless. In a new study with our colleagues Matt Bradshaw and Rodney Stark, we seek to set the record straight [Are Religious “Nones” Really Not Religious?: Revisiting Glenn, Three Decades Later, Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, Vol. 18, Art. 7 (2022)].

Data from five recent U.S. population surveys point to the vibrancy, ubiquity and growth of religion in the U.S. Americans are becoming more religious, and religious institutions are thriving. Consistent with some previous studies but contrary to widely held assumptions, many people who report no religious affiliation—and even many self-identified atheists and agnostics—exhibit substantial levels of religious practice and belief. ...

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July 31, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

LA Times: Jews, Muslims And Others Say Roe vs. Wade Reversal Threatens Their Religious Freedom

Following up on my previous post, Does Religious Freedom Protect A Right To An Abortion?:  Los Angeles Times, Jews, Muslims and Others Say Roe vs. Wade Reversal Threatens Their Religious Freedom:

L.A. TimesFor 25 years Rabbi Barry Silver has served as the spiritual leader of L’Dor Va-Dor, a progressive synagogue in Boynton Beach, Fla. Like most congregational rabbis, he offers a Jewish perspective on major life events, giving weekly sermons, performing weddings, funerals and baby namings, and occasionally counseling congregants wrestling with whether to have an abortion.

Silver tells his congregation that contrary to Roman Catholic and evangelical teachings, which state that life begins at conception, traditional Jewish law, known as Halakha, says life begins at birth: when the baby draws its first breath. Before then, the mother’s physical and emotional well-being is paramount.

In some extreme cases — such as when the mother’s life is at stake — an abortion is not just permitted by Jewish law, but required.

“Right in the beginning of the Torah, Genesis states that God formed the human, Adam, from the dust of the Earth, like you create a work of pottery. Then he breathed the breath of life in him and he lived,” Silver said. “We equate breathing with living.”

For decades, antiabortion Catholic and evangelical Christian perspectives have dominated the religious conversation around abortion. But people of faith hold a variety of views on the issue, rooted in their own traditions, teachings and laws.

Muslim teachings hold that the soul is breathed into a fetus 120 days after conception, and other religious groups — Unitarians, the Oklevueha Native American Church, and the Satanic Temple (a global organization that is headquartered in Salem, Mass., and that, despite its name, doesn’t actually worship the Prince of Darkness) — considerreproductive choice and bodily autonomy to be sacred.  ...

Silver, a progressive activist who also works as a civil rights attorney, made headlines this month after he filed a religious liberty lawsuit challenging a Florida law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. He said the ban makes abortion unlawful even in situations in which it’s mandated by Jewish law. Silver is the first religious leader to file such a suit; legal experts say that after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, he won’t be the last. ...

Jews in particular are waking up to what abortion restrictions at the state level could mean for their religious freedom. ...

Michael Helfand, a professor at Pepperdine University’s Caruso School of Law, says Jews are well positioned to argue that abortion restrictions violate an individual’s religious liberties, especially in states where so-called religious freedom restoration laws provide heightened protections for religious exercise. ...

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July 31, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, July 24, 2022

David French: The God Gap Helps Explain A 'Seismic Shift' In American Politics

David French (The Dispatch), The God Gap Helps Explain a 'Seismic Shift' in American Politics:

There’s talk of realignment in the air. If you think all the way back to 2012, you might remember a certain phrase—the coalition of the ascendant. This was the Obama coalition, the collection of all of America’s growing demographics, from nonwhite voters to single women. The Romney voters, by contrast, were fading. White, Christian, and married, they were the demographic losers in a population that was becoming both more diverse and more secular. Democratic dominance was inevitable. ...

Optimistic Democrats didn’t see Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 so much as a refutation of the coalition of the ascendant theory as a quirk of the electoral college and a reminder that Hillary Clinton wasn’t Barack Obama. The nation wasn’t quite majority-minority yet, and thus that the white majority could still win races when identity politics reign supreme.

But 2020 told a different tale. The Democrats got whiter, the Republicans got more diverse, and now all the assumptions are scrambled. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by a far wider margin than he did in 2016, but he did materially better with Hispanic, Asian, and black voters. In fact, Trump did better than Romney with nonwhite voters in 2016 (an improvement then mainly attributed to Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses), and he improved on that showing in 2020. What was once seen as an aberration now looks like a trend.

The trend continues. Last week Axios’s Josh Kraushaar described an ongoing “seismic shift” in the two parties’ coalitions. As outlined in a New York Times/Siena College poll, “Democrats now have a bigger advantage with white college graduates than they do with nonwhite voters.” The Democratic Party’s losses with Hispanics are remarkable. Whereas Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012, and Biden won 65 percent in 2020, now the Hispanic vote is “statistically tied.”

Moreover, there are good reasons to believe that Hispanic voters will continue to migrate to the GOP. As Ruy Teixeira described this week on his Substack, comprehensive issue polling from Echelon Insights demonstrates that strong progressives have substantially different political and cultural views from Hispanics.

Hispanic voters are far more likely to believe that America is “the greatest country in the world,” far less likely to support defunding the police, far less likely to believe “racism is built into our society,” and far less likely to believe that transgender athletes should play on sports teams that match their current gender identity. In most cases, the polling gap is just immense.

What accounts for such monumental differences in beliefs in values? As my colleague Jonah Goldberg often (and rightly) says, we should reject monocausal explanations for complex social phenomena, but here’s a factor that simply isn’t discussed enough. The Democratic Party has a huge “God gap,” and that God gap is driving a wedge between its white and nonwhite voters.

Let’s look at the data. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey on American religious beliefs provides us with a picture that’s worth a thousand words:


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July 24, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Notre Dame Dean Marcus Cole's Address In Rome On Religious Liberty

Notre Dame News, Dean G. Marcus Cole’s Welcome Address at the 2022 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome:

Good morning! I am Marcus Cole, Dean of Notre Dame Law School, and Founder of the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Initiative. On behalf of myself and our Faculty Director, Professor Stephanie Barclay, our interim Faculty Co-Directors Professor Nicole Garnett and Professor Rick Garnett, Senior Supervising Attorney John Meiser, and the entire legal and administrative staff of the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Initiative, it is my distinct honor and privilege to welcome you to the Second Annual Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit, highlighted by the presentation of the Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty.

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July 24, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Confessions Of A Catholic Litigator

David A. Shaneyfelt (Alvarez Firm, Calabasas, CA), Confessions of a Catholic Litigator, 17 U. St. Thomas L.J. 111 (2020):

I imagine there are Navy Seals whose consciences prick them when they swim aboard an enemy’s base in the dead of night, slit the throats of guards on duty, retrieve a hostage, gun down pursuers, and swim back to their escape boat. They do what is necessary under the circumstances, within a framework that renders their actions morally unobjectionable. I am
not a Navy Seal. I am a civil litigator. And I am a Catholic, just as I know there are Catholic Navy Seals. I feel like the same lessons that apply to them apply to me, because I, too, seem to be doing the moral equivalent of slitting throats and gunning down enemies, while operating in a framework—the legal profession—that renders my actions morally unobjectionable.

For more than thirty years, I have struggled over my role within the framework of litigation. I want to be a good Catholic. I want to be a good lawyer. Can I be both? Are there things I must do in my practice that offend my faith (and thus offend God)? Conversely, will practicing my faith to the fullest make me an inferior lawyer? Am I binding myself to some higher standard than legal ethics require?

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July 24, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Abraham Lincoln’s Use Of The Bible In His Second Inaugural Address

The National Museum of American Religion has released this wonderful 40-minute documentary, Abraham Lincoln’s Use of the Bible in His Second Inaugural Address.  It features fascinating commentary on Lincoln's faith from Pepperdine's Pulitizer-Prize winning legal historian Ed Larson (for Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion), as well as Derek Hicks (Wake Forest), Condoleezza Rice (Stanford), Rosetta Ross (Spelman), Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh (Stanford), and Ron White (Trinity Forum; Author, Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural).

For more on the role of faith in Lincoln’s second inaugural address, see:

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July 17, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

Do Christians Have A Moral Duty To Tweet?

Christianity Today Op-Ed:  Don’t Quit Twitter Yet. You Might Have a Moral Duty to Stay. by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Warren 3HAs leaders, how do we avoid the faults of online life without shirking our public responsibility?

Caitlin Flanagan argued in The Atlantic that we really need to quit Twitter. She joins a long line of people who’ve sworn off the medium (at least for a time). ...

In her essay, Flanagan examines how Twitter destroyed her “ability for private thought” and enjoyment of reading. She even admits to being a Twitter addict.

I am too. I have committed a thousand times to take a break from social media, just to find myself sneaking a look, consumed by shame, as if I huffed some glue real quick between work and picking up the kids. There are nights when I’m up too late, reddened eyes locked onto a screen, finally shaking myself out of my stupor with a cry: “Why am I doing this?”

We’ve all heard the studies. Social media decreases our ability to think critically, increases rates of depression, and fuels anxiety and distraction. Facebook and Twitter often make our conversations more combative. And online advocacy often usurps the more enduring (and more boring) work of governance and institutional change.

Nevertheless, most public discourse is now online. So even if social media is a cesspool, we still have to ask the question: Do some Christians have a moral responsibility to wade into the mire to voice opposition to bad legislation, promote good work, or amplify the concerns of the marginalized? ...

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July 17, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

ProPublica: Family Research Council Is Now A Church In The Eyes Of The IRS

ProPublica, Right-Wing Think Tank Family Research Council Is Now a Church in Eyes of the IRS:

FRCThe FRC, a staunch opponent of abortion and LGBTQ rights, joins a growing list of activist groups seeking church status, which allows organizations to shield themselves from financial scrutiny.

The Family Research Council’s multimillion-dollar headquarters sit on G Street in Washington, D.C., just steps from the U.S. Capitol and the White House, a spot ideally situated for its work as a right-wing policy think tank and political pressure group.

From its perch at the heart of the nation’s capital, the FRC has pushed for legislation banning gender-affirming surgery; filed amicus briefs supporting the overturning of Roe v. Wade; and advocated for religious exemptions to civil rights laws. Its longtime head, a former state lawmaker and ordained minister named Tony Perkins, claims credit for pushing the Republican platform rightward over the past two decades.

What is the FRC? Its website sums up the answer to this question in 63 words: “A nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to articulating and advancing a family-centered philosophy of public life. In addition to providing policy research and analysis for the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government, FRC seeks to inform the news media, the academic community, business leaders, and the general public about family issues that affect the nation from a biblical worldview.”

In the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, though, it is also a church, with Perkins as its religious leader.

According to documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and given to ProPublica, the FRC filed an application to change its status to an “association of churches,” a designation commonly used by groups with member churches like the Southern Baptist Convention, in March 2020. The agency approved the change a few months later.

The FRC is one of a growing list of activist groups to seek church status, a designation that comes with the ability for an organization to shield itself from financial scrutiny. Once the IRS blessed it as an association of churches, the FRC was no longer required to file a public tax return, known as a Form 990, revealing key staffer salaries, the names of board members and related organizations, large payments to independent contractors and grants the organization has made. Unlike with other charities, IRS investigators can’t initiate an audit on a church unless a high-level Treasury Department official has approved the investigation.

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July 17, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Sunday, July 10, 2022

U.S. District Court Orders Law School To Rescind No-Contact Orders Issued Against Christian Legal Society Faculty Advisor And Students Who Shared Their Religious Views With Another Student

Washington Times, Christian Law Students, Professor Win Injunction Against U. of Idaho ‘No Contact’ Orders:

Idaho LogoA federal judge has ordered the University of Idaho to rescind no-contact orders issued against three evangelical Christian law students who shared their religious views with another student [Perlot v. Green, No. 3:22-cv-00183 (D. Idaho June 30, 2022)].

Peter Perlot, Mark Miller and Ryan Alexander — members of the law school’s Christian Legal Society chapter — are “free to speak in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs” as a lawsuit against university President C. Scott Green and three other school officials progresses, an announcement from the Alliance Defending Freedom stated.

The public-interest law firm represents the three students, who sued the University of Idaho administrators in April after the no-contact orders were issued against them and subsequently against law professor Richard Seamon, faculty adviser to the school’s Christian Legal Society chapter.

The dustup at the university’s law school stems from an April 1 “moment of community” where students, faculty and staff gathered in front of the Moscow, Idaho, campus after an anti-LGBTQ+ slur was found on a whiteboard at the university’s Boise campus. The Christian Legal Society members were present and prayed “in a showing of support,” the order from federal Chief District Judge David C. Nye says.

After the prayer, “Jane Doe,” identified in the opinion as “a queer female and a law student at the University of Idaho School of Law,” approached the society members and asked why the group requires its officers to affirm marriage as being between one man and one woman.

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July 10, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: I Pray. But I Don’t Want To See A High School Football Coach Praying At The 50-Yard Line.

Following up on my previous posts:

New York Times Op-Ed:  I Don’t Want to See a High School Football Coach Praying at the 50-Yard Line, by Anne Lamott:

Many of us who believe in a reality beyond the visible realms, who believe in a soul that survives death, and who are hoping for seats in heaven near the dessert table, also recoil from the image of a high school football coach praying at the 50-yard line.

It offends me to see sanctimonious public prayer in any circumstance — but a coach holding his players hostage while an audience watches his piety makes my skin crawl. ...

Prayer means talking to God, or to the great universal spirit, a.k.a. Gus, or to Not Me. Prayer connects us umbilically to a spirit both outside and within us, who hears and answers. Is it like the comedian Flip Wilson saying, “I’m gonna pray now; anyone want anything?”

Kind of.

I do not understand much about string theory, but I do know we are vibrations, all the time. Between the tiny strings is space in which change can happen. The strings are infinitesimal; the space between nearly limitless. Prayer says to that space, I am tiny, helpless, needy, worried, but there’s nothing I can do except send my love into that which is so much bigger than me.

How do people like me who believe entirely in science and reason also believe that prayer can heal and restore? Well, I’ve seen it happen a thousand times in my own inconsequential life. God seems like a total showoff to me, if perhaps unnecessarily cryptic.

When I pray for all the places where we see Christ crucified — Ukraine, India, the refugee camps — I see in my heart and in the newspaper that goodness draws near, through UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, volunteers, through motley old us.

I wake up praying. I say a prayer some sober people told me to pray 36 years ago, because when all else fails, follow instructions. It helps me to not fixate on who I am, but on whose. I am God’s adorable, aging, self-centered, spaced-out beloved. One man in early sobriety told me that he had come into recovery as a hotshot but that other sober men helped him work his way up to servant. I pray to be a good servant because I’ve learned that this is the path of happiness. I pray for my family and all my sick friends that they have days of grace and healing, and I end my prayers, “Make me ever mindful of the needs of the poor.” ...

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July 10, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Does Religious Freedom Protect A Right To An Abortion? One Rabbi’s Mission To Find Out.

Time, Does Religious Freedom Protect a Right to an Abortion? One Rabbi’s Mission to Find Out:

TimeWhen Florida passed a law this spring that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Rabbi Barry Silver was furious. And when it looked like the Supreme Court was likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would allow such bans to take effect, he decided he needed to act. Silver’s progressive synagogue, Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Palm Beach County, sued the state of Florida in June, arguing that the anti-abortion law infringes on religious liberty.

Judaism has viewed abortion as morally acceptable—and even required in some circumstances—for thousands of years. In contrast to some Christian beliefs that say life begins at conception, Jewish law says that life begins at birth, and that the fetus is part of the pregnant person’s body. This is widely understood to mean that the pregnant person’s rights take precedence, and that if the fetus endangers the pregnant person’s life or health, Jewish law would require them to have an abortion.

“The First Amendment, which is the first one that they enacted, upon which all other freedoms are based, was designed to prevent the exact type of thing that we see now: the merger of a radical fundamentalist type of Christianity with the state,” Silver, who is also a civil rights lawyer and a former Democratic Florida state legislator, tells TIME. “This law criminalizes the practice of Judaism.”

It’s unclear if Silver’s lawsuit will prevail, though some legal experts say it raises legitimate points. “There’s a strong argument that [courts] would also have to grant a religious exemption given the requirements of Jewish law,” says Michael Helfand, a professor of religion and ethics at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law.

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July 10, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

Sunday, July 3, 2022

How Religious Colleges View The Dobbs Abortion Decision: Celebration (Liberty), Neutrality (Notre Dame), Condemnation (Emory)

Inside Higher Ed, How Religious Colleges View the Dobbs Decision:

Inside Higher EdThe U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a 6-to-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to reverse the long-standing federally protected right to obtain an abortion. ... [A]mong religious colleges, the response has not been uniform. While conservative institutions are celebrating, more moderate or liberal religious colleges have issued neutral statements, and some have even condemned the ruling.

The Victory Lap
Liberty University, the evangelical university in Virginia founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell in 1971—shortly before Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973—is among the religious universities noting their long-standing opposition to abortion.

“Today, on behalf of Liberty University, I want to express our gratitude to Almighty God for the landmark decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States. While this does not effectively end abortion in America, it is a monumental step in the direction of protecting life and placing that decision squarely in the hands of the American people,” Liberty University president Jerry Prevo said in a statement released Friday. “For nearly 50 years, Liberty University students, faculty, and staff have prayed, volunteered, and advocated for the life of mothers and their unborn babies. The Liberty student body has led the way and marched year after year, prayed on the steps of the Supreme Court, and committed their lives to pro-life causes. As Liberty University president, I am proud that we are now officially training the first Post Roe-v-Wade generation of leaders who will be Champions for Christ to continue to advocate for the life of mothers and their unborn babies.” ...

The Catholic University of America likewise celebrated the ruling [President John Garvey, On Dobbs: Let's Build a Civilization of Love]. ...

Treading Lightly
Other religious institutions were less direct. The Reverend John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, offered a seemingly neutral statement.

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July 3, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: How Churches Can Do Better At Responding To Sexual Abuse

New York Times Op-Ed:  How Churches Can Do Better at Responding to Sexual Abuse, by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Warren 3HIn May, a third-party investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, concluded that some former members of its top leadership committee, along with outside counsel, “closely guarded information about abuse allegations and lawsuits” and “were singularly focused on avoiding liability.”

As a result, the report said, “survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action” because of its organizational structure “even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry.” The report also showed that hundreds of people associated with the denomination had been accused of abuse, and that a list containing their names had long been kept secret.

Rachael Denhollander is a lawyer and a former gymnast who was the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former doctor for U.S.A. Gymnastics, of sexual abuse. In addition, she has worked with survivors and Southern Baptist leaders over the past several years to urge action and accountability, to call for a third-party investigation and to demand that the denomination surrender confidential documents to investigators. She also served as an adviser for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Sexual Abuse Task Force, which was formed last year to respond to widespread allegations of abuse.

August Boto, the former general counsel for the Southern Baptist leadership branch that was investigated, called the work of advocates and survivors “a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.” He criticized Denhollander and another abuse survivor, saying that their “outcries” were evidence of the devil’s success.

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July 3, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

After The SCOTUS School Prayer Decision, What Comes Next For American Jews?

Following up on my previous post, New Pepperdine Religious Liberty Clinic Asks Supreme Court To Rule For High School Coach Fired For Praying On Football Field After Games:

Forward Op-Ed:  After the SCOTUS School Prayer Decision, What Comes Next For American Jews?, by Michael Helfand (Pepperdine):

KennedyThe Supreme Court issued yet another landmark church-state decision on Monday, finding in favor of Coach Joseph Kennedy — a public high school football coach — who had been terminated for praying at the 50-yard line after games.

The case presented not only a convoluted record of when and with whom these prayers took place, but also hinged upon issues of religious liberty, church-state separation and free speech—and has therefore become somewhat of a Rorschach test. To some, the case was all about a coach losing his job for a personal prayer; to others, the case was all about a school district preventing a school employee from indoctrinating students.

Many in the American Jewish community had expressed concern that the decision in favor of the coach might allow public school employees to foist prayers on their students, while others had worried that a decision in favor of the district might prohibit school employees from engaging in religious practices.

Ultimately, the Court’s decision has the potential to protect individual religious liberty while still protecting public school students from religious coercion. Only time will tell whether lower courts will successfully walk that line.

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July 3, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

Sunday, June 26, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: I Prayed And Protested To End Roe. What Comes Next?

Prior Warren French

New York Times Op-Ed:  I Prayed and Protested to End Roe. What Comes Next?, by Karen Swallow Prior (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary):

Roe v. Wade’s reversal has elicited cries of anger and despair from those who feel a sense of dread for the future of women and the future of America.

I understand that feeling of dread.

As a pro-life advocate, I lament with those who feel they have lost a basic human right, as well as moral agency and hope for the future. But for me it is Roe that brought these losses.

Roe stripped from the prenatal child the right to continue to live and grow, safe and free from intentional harm. If you believe, as I do, that abortion unjustly ends the life of a being that is fully human, a life that exists independently of the will of the mother, is self-organizing and unique, developing yet complete in itself, then you will understand Roe not as a ruling that liberates but as one that dehumanizes, first the fetus, then the rest of us.

Further, Roe elevated radical autonomy over moral agency. Roe struck down the hope that is inherent in every human life, whether new or old, for as long as life remains.

Roe was an unjust ruling. I have always believed it would be overturned, as other unjust decisions by the court were, although I thought it would take longer. I rejoice that it did not. But of course it will take longer for abortion to become unthinkable, which is the real goal of the pro-life movement. ...

[I]n a recent Times Opinion essay, Patrick T. Brown acknowledged the need for “a broader vision of policy than just prohibiting access to abortion.” A post-Roe world, he wrote, “is one that compels a greater claim on public resources to support expectant mothers” and demands that we “take seriously the challenges that women and families experience not only during and immediately after pregnancy but also in the years that follow.”

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June 26, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

They Cite the Same Bible And Evoke The Same Jesus. But These Two Christians Are On Opposite Sides Of The Abortion Debate

CNN, They Cite the Same Bible and Evoke the Same Jesus. But These Two Christians Are on Opposite Sides of the Abortion Debate:

Both cite the same Bible. Both follow the same Jesus. And both talk about the sanctity of life.

And yet both stand on opposite sides of the contentious debate over abortion.

Trent Horn, an author, speaker and podcaster, is a Roman Catholic and an opponent of abortion rights. Laura Ellis supports legal abortion rights and is project manager at Baptist Women in Ministry, a Baptist group that advocates for women in ministry.


Both personify the divisions over abortion in the church — and show how complex the issue can be when two smart and well-informed people cite scripture to support their point of view. ...

While much of the debate around abortion has been filtered through angry protests and shouted slogans, CNN chose to interview these two Christians because each has penned thoughtful public essays on the issue.

Horn, author of "Persuasive Pro-life," wrote a recent essay, "Catholics Can't Be Pro-Choice," in which he argued that all "reasonable" people should oppose legal abortion because it is the taking of a life. "If the unborn are not human beings, then abortion is harmless surgery. But if the unborn are growing, they must be alive," he wrote.

Ellis is author of a recent essay, "Why I'm a pro-choice Christian and believe you should be too." One of her biggest criticisms of abortion rights opponents is that "often these activists fail to support other political causes that preserve the life of the child after being born."

We asked both Ellis and Horn the same four questions and received dramatically different responses. Their answers were edited for brevity.

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June 26, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: I Married The Wrong Person, And I’m So Glad I Did

New York Times Op-Ed:  I Married the Wrong Person, and I’m So Glad I Did, by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Warren 3HI truly believe that everyone marries the wrong person. But even by that standard, my husband’s and my match was particularly fraught. We got married young with no idea what we were getting into or how to decide who — or if — to marry. We both brought plenty of baggage into our relationship. We argued a lot, and didn’t handle conflict well. We had a vague sense that marriage was good and a mistaken idea that it was a necessary passage into adulthood. But even as I walked down the aisle, I harbored doubts about whether we should marry.

My husband is now also an Anglican priest and over the last two decades we’ve both presided over weddings and offered premarital counseling. We both admit that if a couple came to us with the doubts and issues we had when we got engaged we’d probably say, “maybe don’t do this,” which is what our premarital counselor told us at the time. He sensed that our life paths were pulling in different directions, that neither of us had a clear idea of who we were or what we wanted, and that I was romantically hung up on another guy. We didn’t listen to his advice.

Nearly two decades later, I’m glad we didn’t. But I can also say that he was right to warn us of trouble ahead.

The last 17 years have held long stretches when one or both of us were deeply unhappy. There have been times when contempt settled on our relationship, caked and hard as dried mud. We’ve both been unkind. We’ve both yelled curse words and stormed out the door. We both have felt we needed things that the other person simply could not give us. We have been to marriage counseling for long enough now that our favorite counselor feels like part of the family. We should probably include her photo in our annual Christmas card. At times, we stayed married sheerly as a matter of religious obedience and for the sake of our children. ...

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June 26, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Father's Day And The Prodigal Son

The Federalist Op-Ed:  What I Learned From My Father About The Prodigal Son, by Mike Kerrigan (Hunton Andrews Kurth, Charlotte, NC):

Prodigal SonI was driving home from Mass with my family on Sunday morning. There the readings had included the Gospel of Luke’s parable of the prodigal son [Luke 15:11-32]. It’s the tale of the headstrong son who demanded and squandered his inheritance and then begged for forgiveness, his older brother who never rebelled, and the father who loved them both.

I had always identified with the prodigal son, and figured everyone else did, too. ... I said this to my wife, Devin, as we drove home from church. She said she understood the sentiment, but admitted at times feeling a certain kinship with the dutiful elder son. We clearly had interpreted the lesson differently, which surprised me. I decided to consult my father to break the tie.

I called him from the car, asking which character in the parable he identified with most. “Easy,” he answered. “The father.” Believing God alone had been, well, perpetually cast in that role, I never thought picking the father was an option. It seemed my dad, when faced with multiple-choice options (a) or (b), was puckishly choosing (c) as a write-in answer. Or so I thought.

Weeks later I shared the breezy exchange with Dr. William Muse of Knoxville, Tennessee. Muse, a contemporary of my father. ... “Read this,” he said, pitching me Catholic priest and writer Henri Nouwen’s spiritual classic The Return of the Prodigal Son. ... “Your dad is not wrong. None of you are.”

I devoured the book. It taught me that while we tend to be each actor — prodigal son, elder son, even the father — at different stages of life, we ultimately are called to progress to spiritual fatherhood. That is, we’re called to love one another exactly as the compassionate father did, with self-emptying hearts of mercy.

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June 19, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Gallup: Belief In God Falls To All-Time Low In U.S.: 81%, Down 6 Percentage Points (12 Percentage Points Among Democrats)

Gallup, Belief in God in U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low:

The vast majority of U.S. adults believe in God, but the 81% who do so is down six percentage points from 2017 and is the lowest in Gallup's trend. Between 1944 and 2011, more than 90% of Americans believed in God. ... 


Belief in God has fallen the most in recent years among young adults [down 10 percentage points] and people on the left of the political spectrum (liberals [down 11 percentage points] and Democrats [down 12 percentage points]). ...

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June 19, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink