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Recent News

January 19, 2018

Tabura et. al v Kellogg Decision

In a ruling issued this morning, the Tenth Circuit US Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment for Kellogg’s sending a Sabbath discrimination case back to the lower court for trial. Richard Tabura and Guadalupe Diaz worked at a Morningstar Farms plant in Clearfield, Utah, until they were both fired, in 2012, for accumulating attendance points largely on account of their Sabbath observance. Kellogg’s had argued their religion neutral scheduling system permitting employees to use vacation or sick leave, or find swaps to obtain religious accommodation satisfied its legal obligation. The Appellate Court rejected that argument. The Court concluded: “an employer cannot take refuge behind a neutral policy if something more is required reasonably to accommodate a religious need.” Even so, the Court declined to adopt a “per se” rule that a reasonable religious accommodation must “eliminate” the conflict between the religious practice and the job requirement. As a practical matter, the decision makes it very difficult for employers in future cases to avoid jury trials on the reasonableness of any accommodation. The Court clearly said: “determining what is reasonable is a fact-specific determination that must be made on a case-by-case basis.” Fact determinations are reserved for the jury. The Court also expressed doubt about Kellogg’s claim that providing the accommodation would result in an undue hardship, citing the lack of evidence in the record. The Court reminded Kellogg’s that it had the legal burden to prove undue hardship. The case was filed by the Church State Council with local counsel, Eric Strindberg, of the law firm of Strindberg & Scholnick. Appellate expert Gene Schaerr handled the appeal, on behalf of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. READ MORE

November 16, 2017

MUSLIM AND JEWISH BAKERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO REFUSE TO BAKE WEDDING CAKES FOR EACH OTHER, SAYS LAWMAKER

An Australian lawmaker has caused controversy after saying that Jewish and Musim bakers should be allowed to deny the sale of wedding cakes to followers of the other faith. READ MORE

October 17, 2017

Legislative Update SB 569

Today, by God's grace and with your help, we are thrilled to report that Governor Brown has VETOED AB 569. This bill was a direct assault on the religious liberty of every faith-based organization and church across California. The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego), and its sponsor, NARAL Pro-Choice of California, said it should be illegal for religious organizations to prohibit behavior related to “reproductive choices.” However, Governor Brown disagreed. In his veto statement, he cited the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which already bans “adverse actions” against employees due to “reproductive decisions.” Critically, Brown noted that FEHA provides a statutory exemption for “religious institutions.” AB 569 attacked these protections, creating new rules in the labor code where there is no religious exemption. Brown disagreed with this assault on organizations’ constitutional rights. “I believe these type of claims should remain within the jurisdiction of the Department of Fair Housing and Employment,” Brown concluded. Although this bill would not have directly impacted the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it would have set a very dangerous precedent of using the California Labor Code to target religious institutions for restrictions on how they practice their faith. As such, the bill’s defeat is a huge relief, and a victory for religious freedom. Being engaged in the legislative process does make a difference. If you are interested in getting engaged please go to our web page www.churchstate.org and click on the “Get Engaged” button. There you can register and have direct access to bills that we are monitoring and working on. Making your voice heard directly impacts what we are able to accomplish! READ MORE

September 26, 2017

Religious Liberty Could be Big Loser in Wedding Cake Challenge

With news that the Supreme Court will hear Masterpiece vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission this fall, Washington’s think tanks have been abuzz with talk of religious freedom. In the past week, both the conservative Heritage Foundation and centrist Brookings Institution hosted discussions on the status of religious liberty in American public life. The events, while quite different in their approach to the issue, both help illuminate the massive gulf that has emerged around this often thorny issue. READ MORE

August 28, 2017

Charlottesville Statement from Ricardo Graham

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS … An op-ed by Elder Ricardo Graham, president, Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Elder Graham can be reached through Ray Tetz (805) 358-3056 READ MORE

July 7, 2017

School Vouchers Get 2 New Report Cards

It is the education debate of the Trump era. With the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos using policy and the bully pulpit to champion private school vouchers, supporters and critics have tangled over the question: Do low-income, public school students perform better when they're given a voucher to attend a private school? READ MORE

June 28, 2017

Family Appeals Father’s Deportation, Says It Violates Their Religion

For the first time in U.S. history, attorneys for an illegal immigrant in Houston are appealing to federal religious freedom laws to annul his impending deportation. READ MORE

April 20, 2017

2017 Religious Liberty Summit

Each year, the North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA) hosts a Religious Liberty Summit in Washington, D.C. It’s a unique opportunity for local members to play an active role in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s religious liberty advocacy work. This year’s event will be an exceptional experience for attendees: the three-day Summit will coincide with the annual Religious Liberty Dinner, as well as a half day symposium celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Three individually impactful events combined into one incredible experience! READ MORE

March 30, 2017

North American Division Responds to Proposed Repeal of Johnson Amendmen

Recent events by both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government have brought the Johnson Amendment and participation in elections by nonprofits (including churches) to the forefront. The Johnson Amendment is the 1954 amendment to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code prohibiting tax exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. This amendment is so named because of its sponsorship by then Senator Lyndon Johnson who had been targeted by a nonprofit during an election. READ MORE

March 30, 2017

Adventists Appeal Court Ruling on Kellogg Sabbath Case

On March 22, 2017, two former Kellogg employees made their appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit after a lower court found insufficient evidence that the two Adventist plaintiffs were treated unfairly when they were fired for failing to work on Sabbath. A decision from the court of appeals, located in Denver, Colorado, is expected in approximately three months. READ MORE

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