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Federal Court Ruling Supports Religious Freedom, Strikes Down Florida County’s Prayer Practice

Over the weekend, a federal court struck down a Florida county’s practice of denying atheists, humanists and other non-theists the opportunity to offer invocations at the start of the county commission’s meetings.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled the policy of Brevard County’s Board of County Commissioners to allow only monotheistic, overwhelmingly Christian invocations violated both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions – namely by the government showing favoritism for certain faiths.

Federal Appeals Court Rules In Favor Of Mich. County’s Prayer Practice

The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Sept. 6 that a Michigan county’s policy of having its county commissioners open their meetings by delivering exclusively Christian prayers was constitutional.

The appeals court of 15 judges voted 9-6 to reverse an earlier decision of a three-judge panel that had ruled in favor of Jackson County resident Peter Bormuth. Bormuth had argued that, as a member of a minority faith who attends the commission meetings, Jackson County’s prayer policy violated his First Amend­ment rights.

Ending A Cycle Of Abuse

When social justice activist Mariya Taher was 7 years old, she was subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in India while visiting family. 

“My memory is kind of hazy… I just remember going into the room, and then I was on the ground and something cut me, and I don’t remember what it was. I just remember it was something sharp and then I started crying,” Taher told Church & State. “I remember my mom comforting me, and it was over, and the older women tried to comfort me, too, and they gave me a soda.” 

AU Attorneys Will Defend Religious Freedom In Two Federal Appeals Courts This Week

It will be a busy week for Americans United attorneys as they crisscross the country to stand up for religious freedom before federal appeals courts in two distinct cases.

Today, AU Legal Fellow Andrew Nellis will be in Seattle to tell the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals why it was unconstitutional for a high school football coach in Washington State to pray with students on the football field at the end of football games.

AU Files Brief In Michigan Legislative Prayer Case

Americans United in late March filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a legislative prayer case in Michigan.

AU is supporting the case of Peter Bormuth, a Druid who opposes the policy of Jackson County Commissioners to open their meetings with exclusively Christian prayers.

AU And Allies: Michigan Funeral Home Can’t Use Religion To Justify Discrimination Against Transgender Employee

Aimee Stephens worked for six years at a Detroit funeral home. Then, she came out as transgender and announced that she would begin to live publicly as a woman, which would include dressing consistent with her gender identity.

Two weeks later, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes fired her. Why? The funeral-home owner said Aimee’s behavior contradicted his religious beliefs.

Americans United And Allies File Legal Brief In Support Of Transgender Woman Fired By Michigan Funeral Home

Religious-Liberty Organizations And Faith Leaders Argue Business Owner Can’t Cite Religious Beliefs To Justify Discrimination

Americans United for Separation of Church and State was joined by 76 faith leaders and 13 religious and civil-rights organizations in urging a federal appeals court to rule that a Michigan funeral home had violated a transgender employee’s civil rights when it fired her for wearing women’s clothing in accordance with her gender identity.