Category Archives: First Amendment

FFRF once again fights government over unconstitutional housing allowance for ministers

For years the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has been fighting a no-brainer legal battle against the U.S. government, which by law makes all ministers’ housing allowances completely tax-exempt. This means that if a minister is given, say, $10,000 per year by his church to subsidize housing, that money is completely tax free. It is, […]

“In God We Trust” signs become mandatory in Louisiana schools

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has its work cut out for it, as there is never an end to the Christian, conservative, and Republican efforts to push God, Jesus, and faith into the public schools, despite its violation of the First Amendment. When they lose a case, they simply grow a new head, like […]

Movie: McCollum v. Board of Education

Heather Hastie called my attention to the existence of a movie, McCollum v. Board of Education, that exists in its entirety on YouTube. This case, which was argued before the Supreme Court in late 1947 and decided in 1948, decided the issue of whether public schools could support religious education by setting aside class time […]

Campus disinvitations: where do they come from?

The Heterodox Academy (HA) has two posts (here and here) analyzing speaker disinvitations (attempted vs. successful), as well as mild versus substantial attempts to disrupt the speaker (the former allows the speaker to give the talk, though interrupting it; the latter brings the talk to a premature close). The analysis, based on FIRE’s disinvitation database […]

Free speech: what we’re up against

This comment appeared in the remarks following my letter to the Chicago Maroon (our student newspaper) asking the paper to take a stand on free speech. Nearly all of the comments were pro-free speech, which is good, but this one stood out in contrast: Becker’s link at the end is to the faculty letter opposing Bannon’s […]

Michigan town will sell houses only to good churchgoing Christians

The Guardian recently had a piece on the extraordinary town of Bay View, Michigan, which is located here: It’s a lovely, leafy town, full of big and expensive houses that look like this: The bizarre aspect of this town, unique in America so far as I know, is that only Christians who have a certificate […]

Louisiana public school sued for extreme and repeated Christian proselytizing of students

When I travel and talk about evolution, say in India, I’m sometimes asked about the teaching of creationism in American public schools. When I reply that it’s illegal, but some schools do it anyway, people are incredulous. In India, for example, I’ve never heard of public schools dragging creationism into a science class. When I’m […]

A new survey on Americans’ views of free speech gives mixed results

I’ve known about this survey on free speech for a while, but was told not to divulge the details until it was published. Well, it still hasn’t come out yet, but since Conor Friedersdorf published some of its results in The Atlantic (“American’s many divides over free speech“), these are now in the public domain. […]

Bisexual student threatened by a University of Texas official after saying he said he didn’t have a “high opinion of Islam” because he’d be killed in some Muslim countries

This report comes from the Volokh Conspiracy site at the Washington Post, which got it from Gay Star News. The quote below, from the WaPo, includes links where you can hear the audio recording and read the transcript that documents the incident. In short, Alfred MacDonald, a bisexual philosophy student at the University of Texas […]

The FFRF wins a big one: federal court rules that ministers’ tax-free housing allowances violate the Constitution

You may know that American ministers have some tax advantages under the law: they often get a housing allowance from their church, and that allowance, in contrast to non-ministers who get such perks, is free from taxes.  Here’s the stipulation from the Internal Revenue Service code: A licensed, commissioned, or ordained minister may be able […]