Category Archives: law

My New Republic piece on faith-healing laws

I guess I’ve developed a side hobby of writing about laws that exempt parents from prosecution after they’ve hurt or killed their kids by rejecting scientific medicine in favor of faith healing. But it really angers me, for it’s a tangible case of harm that’s not only caused by religious faith (or faith in woo), but […]

Another parent gets a slap on the wrist for medically abusing her child in the name of faith

I’ve written a lot about religion exemptions for children’s medical care, which I see as one of the greatest harms of the clash between science and faith in America. Thousands of sick children have died because their parents, rather than taking them to regular doctors, rely on faith healing instead. And most states give the parents […]

Alabama judge defies federal order, instructs state not to issue licenses for gay marriage

Oh Jebus (sorry, Dr. Craig!), Alabama continues to show itself as a retrograde state with a Bronze Age morality. According to the New York Times, Alabama’s Chief Justice (i.e., of the state supreme court) has ordered that state employees ignore the ruling of a Federal District Court that state licenses for gay marriage would be […]

Interview with a “fetal attorney” in Alabama

Alabama has passed a bill, HB494, that allows fetuses to be represented by lawyers. It is, of course, a law designed to prevent abortions by having lawyers argue on behalf of a fetus that it should be born. You’ll find the relevant part on pp. 15-16 of the bill: (j) In the court’s discretion, it may […]

Bizarre family court ruling: go to mass

by Grania Spingies This story floated to the top of the pile of court news last evening in the UK. The Telegraph reports that Judge James Orrell of Derby County in the Midlands has put a rather bizarre stipulation on a divorce settlement, a stipulation apparently not sought by either party to the case. The ex-wife is Catholic, […]

The cell or the pew? Courts give prostitutes choice of religion or jail

On the face of it, this sounds like a blatant violation of the First Amendment. In Arizona, prostitutes arrested by police in big sting operations are now given the choice of going to jail or participating in a  “rehabilitation program” run by Catholic Charities, which includes 36 hours of classroom instruction in a church. Although […]

Oh, dear God: the Supreme Court sides with Hobby Lobby

My CNN news alert has just given me the depressing decision: The Supreme Court today sided with Christian-owned companies that don’t want to pay for some types of contraceptives for their employees. The owners of Hobby Lobby, furniture maker Conestoga Wood Specialties and Christian bookseller Mardel argued that the Affordable Care Act violates the First […]

“We are a better people than what these laws represent”: Dover’s Judge Jones rules Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from federal judge John E. Jones III, but you’ll surely remember him as the judge who presided over the Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District et al. case in Pennsylvania in 2005. And, though a George W. Bush appointee, a Lutheran, and a Republican, Jones simply […]

Ohio executes inmate with drug untested for executions; results are both predictable and unjustifiable

The state of Ohio executed convicted murderer Dennis McGuire yesterday by lethal injection.  Because some the drugs used in the lethal cocktail (usually three) are made overseas, and foreign countries are increasingly unwilling to export drugs used for genuine medical purposes to the U.S., where they can be used to kill people, American states are […]

Snake handlers not charged for violating state law; “religious freedom” cited

One of the peculiarities of American evangelical Christianity is the bizarre practice of “snake handling” by some Southern sects. I’ve posted about this several times (see here, here, and here); the practice, which involves handling venomous snakes (usually rattlesnakes) is based on two Biblical verses: And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my […]

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