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PRAISE REPORTS

PRAYER REQUESTS 

Matthews v. Kountze ISD –  On January 29, the Supreme Court of Texas delivered its opinion ruling in favor of the Kountze Cheerleaders in an 8-0 decision.  We had filed a petition asking the Supreme Court of Texas to protect the religious liberty and free speech rights of the Kountze cheerleaders and guarantee their right to display religious messages on run-through banners at Kountze ISD sporting events. This case now returns to the Beaumont Court of Appeals. We praise God that the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in favor of the Kountze Cheerleaders.

PILLAR: CHURCH

City of Dallas v. Congregation Toras Chaim – The City of Dallas has brought a lawsuit against Congregation Toras Chaim, a small Orthodox Jewish community in north Dallas. In early 2015, this same group of Jewish families won a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled neighbor to keep the small community from meeting in a private home for prayer, worship and religious study. We have filed a counter-lawsuit against the City. The case is in the pre-trial stage. Please pray for our attorneys as we defend this Jewish congregation.

Cornerstone Church v. Town of Bayview (TX) – We represent Cornerstone Church by the Bay, its pastor Hamilton Musser, and Laguna Madre Christian Academy in a lawsuit against the Town of Bayview, Texas for enacting an illegal zoning ordinance prohibiting the church and religious school from operating on its own property. The Court granted our request for a preliminary injunction late last year. A status conference was held in August 2015 and we were able to agree on a plan. Please continue to pray for a successful resolution of this case. Specifically, please pray the town’s requests to our client be reasonable and fair, and that the town approves the church’s special use permit so they can legally exist. 

Religious Liberty Audits for Churches and Ministries – In 2014, Liberty Institute began a new initiative to protect religious ministries from future legal attacks. We are currently helping over 75 churches and ministries. We just recently released a new web page with information to assist churches in protecting against attacks; CLICK HERE to learn more. Please pray for our attorneys as they work with ministry leaders throughout the country to ensure they are adequately protected and prepared. 

Vintage Church v. Jefferson Parish –We represent Vintage Church and its pastor Matthew Brichetto in a lawsuit against the Jefferson Parish. The lawsuit comes after officials in Jefferson Parish repeatedly intimidated church members and issued criminal sanctions against the church for exceeding the sound level of a conversation. While the church is being held to such limits, noises from power tools, lawn mowers, and demolition are permitted. The trial court denied our request for an injunction, which we are appealing. Our appeal brief was filed on February 5, 2016. Please pray for our attorneys as they work on this case. 

PILLAR: MILITARY 

Sterling, Monifa v. U.S. Marines – We are representing Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling, USMC, a Christian Marine who was court-martialed for displaying a Bible verse on her computer screen. At her trial, she invoked the First Amendment and RFRA, but the court said RFRA did not apply because displaying a Bible verse did not constitute a “religious exercise.” We are appealing Sterling’s case to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), which is the highest court in the military, with cases subject to SCOTUS review. We learned in late October 2015 that the CAAF granted review of this case and we expect the Court to hear argument early this year. We filed our appellate brief last month. Please pray for our attorneys as they prepare for oral argument and the judges of the Court as they hear this important case. 

PILLAR: PUBLIC 

Banks v. Ford Motor Company and RGBSI - We filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC on behalf of Tom Banks against his former employers, Ford Motor Company and Ford contractor, RGSMI, who unlawfully terminated him because of his religious beliefs. In July 2015, we filed our lawsuit. The case is in the pre-trial stage. Please pray for Mr. Banks’ case. 

Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation, Inc., et al. v. Burwell – We are representing four CMA retirement communities and two CMA colleges in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the HHS Abortion Pill Mandate in federal court in Fort Myers, Florida. Last year, the Court granted our request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of the mandate. The federal government is appealing that decision. On behalf of our clients, we filed a friend of the court brief at the U.S. Supreme Court in support of other faith-based organizations that are challenging the Mandate. That case is set for oral argument in March. Please pray for our attorneys as they work on the appeal.

“In God We Trust” – Threats and deadly violence against law enforcement officers have become disturbingly more frequent, and in response, many police chiefs and sheriffs across America have opted to place decals of the nation’s motto, “In God We Trust”, prominently on their cruisers to boost patriotism. Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) complained, sending letters to various police chiefs and sheriffs around the country who had chosen to display the national motto on their vehicles. At this time, Liberty Institute has been retained by several police chiefs and sheriffs. Please pray for our attorneys as they provide advice and counsel to sheriffs and police departments across the country. 

Insight for Living Ministries v. Burwell – We filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the HHS Abortion Pill Mandate in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas representing Pastor Chuck Swindoll’s international Bible teaching ministry. In November 2014, the federal district court granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the federal government’s enforcement of the HHS Abortion Pill Mandate. The government is appealing this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Please pray as we work on the appeal.

Lund v. Rowan County, NC - On this appeal, we are representing the County, who earlier this year had a federal district court judge declare unconstitutional the County’s practice of opening their meetings in prayer by individual county commissioners. In July 2015, we filed an appeal of that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit. The case is set for oral argument on January 28. Please pray as we and our volunteer attorneys prepare for oral argument.

Walsh v. State of Georgia – We filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC on behalf of Dr. Eric Walsh against his former employer, the State of Georgia Department of Public Health, who unlawfully terminated him because of his religious beliefs. Please pray for favor with the EEOC as they investigate this claim. 

PILLAR: SCHOOL

Coach Joe Kennedy v. Bremerton School District – In September 2015, Bremerton High School in Washington State ordered football Coach Joe Kennedy to stop his seven-year practice of speaking a personal prayer at the 50-yard line after every game. On October 28, 2015, Bremerton School District suspended Coach Kennedy. In December 2015 we filed a complaint with the EEOC on behalf of Coach Kennedy. Please pray for our attorneys as they work on this case. 

Matthews v. Kountze ISD – We filed a petition asking the Supreme Court of Texas to protect the religious liberty and free speech rights of the Kountze cheerleaders and guarantee their right to display religious messages on run-through banners at Kountze ISD sporting events. In September 2015, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief on behalf of the State of Texas in support of our clients. On January 29, the Supreme Court of Texas delivered its opinion ruling in favor of the Kountze Cheerleaders in an 8-0 decision. This case will now returns to the Beaumont Court of Appeals. Please continue to pray for favor as this case returns to the Court of Appeals.

Morgan v. Plano ISD – The “candy cane” case is back in the federal district court (after several trips to the 5th Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court). We are now proceeding with discovery on our claims against the school district for violating the constitutional rights of our clients. The case is set for mediation on Thursday, February 4, 2016. Please pray for a successful mediation on Thursday.

Tutka v. Phillipsburg (NJ) School District – In December 2014, we received a Final Determination letter from the EEOC stating that our client, Walt Tutka, was indeed discriminated against by his former employer, a school district in New Jersey. The school district fired Mr. Tutka, a teacher, for handing a student a Bible, who had requested it. Praise God for the victory in that the EEOC found the matter in favor of our client. Please now pray for final resolution of this matter as the federal government considers an enforcement action against the school district.    

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