Briefing: Religious liberty round-up: Courts, web, pulpits

Meredith Flynn —  October 4, 2016

Judge suspended in same-sex marriage case
The Alabama Chief Justice who instructed the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has been suspended without pay for the rest of his term. Judge Roy Moore told 68 probate judges in January that they had a duty not to issue the licenses until the Alabama Supreme Court could clarify the relationship between state law and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriage.

A 9-judge panel didn’t get the unanimous vote needed to remove Moore from office, but the suspension has the same result, Moore’s attorney, Mat Staver, said. They plan to appeal the ruling.

Some fear Internet change could threaten religious liberty
As of Oct. 1, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit organization that oversees domain names, is now governed by an independent board rather than the U.S. Department of Commerce. The shift has been seen by some as dangerous to religious liberty.

But while the change likely doesn’t pose a big threat to religious liberty, says a Baptist software engineering professor, it could allow people with an anti-religion agenda to block some websites with Christian content.

‘Free Speech’ act would loosen guidelines for churches
Two Republican Congressmen have introduced legislation that would make it easier for churches and non-profits to speak in favor of political candidates. The Free Speech Fairness Act is designed to counteract the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which limits political speech by churches and other organizations that receive tax-exempt status. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has promised to repeal the Johnson Amendment if he’s elected.

Split down the middle
Americans are evenly divided on two key religious liberty issues, according to a new study by Pew Research. 48% of Americans say businesses that provide wedding services should be able to refuse to provide those services to same-sex couples based on religious conviction, while 49% disagree. Americans are similarly divided on whether transgender individuals should be allowed to use the bathroom of the gender with which they currently identify.

Publisher changes its mind on ESV
A Bible publisher has reversed its decision to make the text of the ESV Bible permanent. Crossway had previously announced that after tweaks on 29 verses, the ESV translation would “remain unchanged in all future editions.”

“We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake,” President and CEO Lane Dennis said in a Sept. 28 release. “Our desire, above all, is to do what is right before the Lord.”


Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.