In The News: #LoveWins, #TakeItDown, #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

A round-up of the week’s religion news. Continue Reading →

In the News: Lindsey Graham, Garland, TX, God’s Plaintiff, and more!

A round-up of the week’s religion news. Continue Reading →

In the News: Biomemes, Voodoo, Elie Wiesel and more!

A round-up of recent religion and media stories in the news. Continue Reading →

In the News: Prisons Churches, Museums, and, of course, Hobby Lobby

A round-up of recent religion and media stories in the news. Continue Reading →

Outside the Law: Cheryl Perich and the First Amendment

There’s nothing quite like a First Amendment dispute to illuminate the subtleties of interpreting separation of church and state.

By Elissa Lerner

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time to uphold a forty year-old practice known as the “ministerial exception” in the case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School vs. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In Hosanna-Tabor, Cheryl Perich, a teacher who mostly taught secular subjects but also religion and occasionally led prayers, was fired after taking a leave of absence to receive treatment for narcolepsy. She threatened to sue the school for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A federal appeals court concluded that since her primary duties were secular in nature, she was therefore not a minister and could sue under ADA. However, the Supreme Court, in its first ministerial exception case, unanimously decided to overturn the decision, ruling that the question of who is a minister could not be “resolved by a stopwatch.” For the government to interfere with a church’s firing process “intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision,” wrote Chief Justice Roberts. “Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs.” Continue Reading →

Satan: Literarily and Literally

Two stories, a song and a link:  For years I’ve been dabbling with a series of short stories about Satan.  In my drafts I call him Coldcheek.  He’s a dapper guy who only comes out at night, grudgingly enjoys his job of ushering souls to the next world with a kiss, is immortal (of course) and smells of gardenias.  He can travel through space (quickly) but not time. He’s got a clap-trap memory and he can delay your death but not forever.  And, as with most immortals, he’s incredibly patient (and very good in bed).

It’s nothing new, really.  Everybody from Flaubert to Pushkin, from Hawthorne to Ibsen has featured Satan as a character in their works.  Recently Saramago did it (and deliciously called him Pastor).  My friend Steve Moramarco and his band Hill of Beans did it for the rousing song, “Satan, Lend Me a Dollar.” Continue Reading →

"8: The Mormon Proposition" Coming To a Theater Near You

Out & About interviews director Reed Cowan about his new documentary film on the Mormon Church’s efforts to pass Proposition 8 in California, a law which makes same-sex marriage illegal. Cowan says his documentary is more about separation of church and state than it is gay rights and predicts that the church’s blatant political participation will come back to haunt them just as their racial discrimination in the 70’s caused an investigation of their tax-exempt status by the IRS. Continue Reading →

“8: The Mormon Proposition” Coming To a Theater Near You

Out & About interviews director Reed Cowan about his new documentary film on the Mormon Church’s efforts to pass Proposition 8 in California, a law which makes same-sex marriage illegal. Cowan says his documentary is more about separation of church and state than it is gay rights and predicts that the church’s blatant political participation will come back to haunt them just as their racial discrimination in the 70’s caused an investigation of their tax-exempt status by the IRS. Continue Reading →