In today’s News:
Prayer banned at graduation ceremony
A school district in Kentucky has agreed to stop presenting prayers at its graduation ceremonies following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a prominent atheist group advocating for a strict separation of church and state. According to a news release Thursday, Pikeville Independent School District’s legal counsel recently told FFRF, “I have had the opportunity to review your attached letter and wanted to let you know that I have advised the principal to refrain from religious prayer at future graduations.” In July, FFRF sent Pikeville Independent Schools Superintendent David Trimble a letter on behalf of a “concerned citizen” who reported that the 2020 Pikeville High School graduation ceremony included three student-led prayers.
Court rules church can gather for worship
A district court has temporarily granted a request from a Washington, D.C., Southern Baptist church to gather for outdoor worship services that violate the city’s rules for public gatherings. Capitol Hill Baptist Church argued that the District of Columbia’s covid-19 restrictions had violated its Constitutional rights and was causing “irreparable harm” to its congregation. Judge Trevor McFadden, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, agreed in a Friday ruling. McFadden said the limitations are causing a “substantial burden” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law enacted in 1993 that aims to protect against government interference with religious beliefs.
New York Governor sued
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is violating religious liberty again, and two Catholic priests, two Catholic school students, and four Orthodox Jewish individuals are renewing an ongoing lawsuit against the head of New York State for imposing new, draconian restrictions on religious services, nearly four months after a federal judge enjoined Cuomo from treating houses of worship differently from exempted businesses and activities. The Thomas More Society filed an emergency amended complaint and motion for temporary restraining order on Friday in United States District Court for the Northern District of New York on behalf of the priests and individuals. The new filing shows that Cuomo and other state officials are now singling out religious gatherings for special burdens without showing any evidence that religious gatherings, and not countless other exempted gatherings and activities, are unique sources of spreading covid-19. The Thomas More Society’s new complaint shows that Cuomo expressly singled out religious gatherings as the reasons for his new restrictions, without any evidence showing that they are unique sources of viral spread. In his Friday news conference, Cuomo admitted the new regime “is most impactful on houses of worship,” and any impact on secular businesses is “not what this is about.”