The tortured consequences of a ‘religious freedom’ law

If you want to see how easily a so-called “religious freedom amendment” can be abused and distorted, take a look at what’s going on in Milwaukee.

1401739548000-AP-MILWAUKEE-ARCHDIOCESE-BANKRUPTCY-63655578

Alleged victims of child abuse by Milwaukee archdiocese priests stand on the steps of a federal bankruptcy court. (AP)

The Milwaukee archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church faces myriad lawsuits stemming from its longstanding failure to protect children from repeated, ongoing molestations by Catholic priests. To shield its assets from the estimated 575 plaintiffs, the archdiocese declared bankruptcy in 2011, claiming it had no money to pay damages. But before doing so, it shifted $55 million in church funds into a newly created trust fund, ostensibly to pay for the maintenance of Catholic cemeteries in the archdiocese.

In a letter to the Vatican that sought permission for the move, the Milwaukee archbishop noted that “[b]y transferring these assets to the Trust, I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.”

Not surprisingly, the victims of molestation protested the move to shield church assets. But as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains, “The church maintained that forcing it to turn over even $1 in cemetery funds … would substantially burden its free exercise of religion under the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

That doesn’t sound like much of an argument to me, but a federal district court judge found it convincing. Judge Rudolph Randa issued a summary judgment in 2013, ruling that the assets of the cemetery trust were off-limits to abuse victims. Tapping the trust fund to help those abused by priests “would substantially burden” the church’s freedom of religion, including its obligation to care for the remains of the dead, Randa ruled.

This week, the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals overturned Randa’s ruling, potentially opening the door for victims of child abuse to recover damages. But the grounds of that decision were pretty narrow. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would protect the church from governmental actions, the appellate court ruled, but it does not protect the church against a suit that is filed by private individuals, in this case the victims of abuse.

The church is likely to appeal, with its lawyers still arguing that “the facts, the federal law and the First Amendment clearly support our position.” In short, the Supreme Court may soon be asked to decide whether the banner of “religious freedom” can be used to protect religious institutions from the consequences of their behavior in areas that have nothing to do with religious faith, in this case the refusal of church authorities to protect children from pedophiles.

 

 

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1263 comments
TomMiddleton
TomMiddleton

I got Jay's latest post in an email but can't find it on the AJC website. Can anyone else find it?

JamVet
JamVet

In td's bizarro world NOBODY is a racist...

The man has a HUGE problem with the definition of the word, so being a good Republican, he just made up his own!

And poor hanger on 47%er.

I suspect that he really doesn't enjoy enabling his racist buddies, but peer pressure has made him go spineless.

Racism is taught.

Who taught you cons?


The report also found that the disproportionate arrests and citations of African Americans could not be explained by differences in the rate of crime committed by blacks and whites. 

According to NBC News, the investigation also "highlighted seven racist emails sent by police and court employees." CNN reported that the emails "resulted in three Ferguson, Missouri, city employees resigning or being fired," noting:

[T]he racist emails include one sent in October 2011 that showed a photo of bare-chested dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption "Michelle Obama's High School Reunion." A June 2011 email described a man trying to put his dogs on welfare because the canines were "mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no ... clue who their Daddies are."

During the March 9 edition of her Fox News show, Kelly hosted Stephens who downplayed the DOJ's report as merely a report about traffic citations, "not a story of institutional racism." Kelly agreed, saying it is unfair to "tar the entire organization" as racist because "there are very few companies in America, whether they are public or private" where "you won't find any racist e-mails, [or] any inappropriate comments."

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

Wow, Jammie ALMOST made it to 10:30 without calling people racist.  Good job, tool, you can have a cookie anyway.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@fiftythreepercenter 

No, he didn't.  Used the word "clan" with a K earlier today.  Keep your cookies and make sure to keep your body parts away from his cage. 

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@fiftythreepercenter 

From Jammie earlier today:

...typical Democratic voter...

And until you and your White Power thugs in the neoKlan can implement your Final Solution, it looks like you're stuck with them!

JamVet
JamVet

Boomer Sooner...

Oklahoma football players said they would hold a silent protest on Owen Field on Thursday instead of practicing to take a stand against racism on the heels of a video showing members of OU's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity participating in a racist chant that went viral last weekend.

Quarterback Trevor Knight, running back Samaje Perine and inside receivers coach Cale Gundy were among several members of the Sooners program who posted the statement on Twitter on Thursday morning.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

This is funny.  Libs are bashing a poster for claiming a story from the onion, and then they post a link from think progress as evidence of something.  


That's funny, libs.  Ya'll are a hoot!!!

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@fiftythreepercenter @Visual_Cortex libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs libs 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

I feel I must respond to this:

Link is The Onion.com.  It only appeared on Google news for a very short time, then was gone.

if you just do a search for "Malia Obama" - news.google.com quite clearly identifies this as "(Satire)". 

And I know it seems like piling on, but I really do wonder how many people simply accept that when they're provided a link to a news-ish seeming story, with text and pictures and whatnot, that it's necessarily legitimate as (say) something from a well known news outlet with fact checkers and editors and, you know, some kind of a reputation to uphold?

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

Dang,this site has been going bonkers for two days now.Whew!

LeninTime
LeninTime

Eric Holder: "This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson. This was a damn punk, a punk, who was trying to sow discord." 

Wow. I don't ever remember the DOJ chief expressing anything like that kind of condemnation when Michael Brown was gunned down. Nothing from a gut level, like this.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Yes_Jesus_Can @LeninTime

Obama having the temerity to characterize police behavior using the adverb "stupidly".

This was, I think, a truly traumatic occasion for many white guys of a certain age.

I bet many posting here remember where they were, what they were doing...

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Visual_Cortex @Yes_Jesus_Can @LeninTime 

I agree actually, except for the fact that "corpsemen" was military total ignorance, and 57 states was a not-so-rare inconsequential campaign goof that would have drowned a republican. 

Still, the beer summit was bamster's idea.  So there he was looking like an idiot, and yet it was his idea to continue the story by hosting all parties HE involved in making this a national story.  The whole thing was very minor--obama made it a bigger deal than should have been. 

EdUktr
EdUktr

Still waiting for Jay to address the shooting of cops in Ferguson.

The blame for this and other outrages lies squarely in front of Obama, Eric Holder and the liberal media—for allowing the "Hands Up Don't Shoot" lie to give cover to haters.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@EdUktr

Sooo very glad there's a "toggle collapse" feature available for this foolishness.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@EdUktr 

Still waiting for Jay to address the shooting of cops in Ferguson.

***
Yeah, who do you think might have done it? 

Sounds like the eyewitness accounts of the origins of the shots raise a lot of questions.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@td1234 

Lol, you can't even get a coherent thought out without contradicting yourself. 

You 'have no idea' who's responsible for the shooting yet you demand to know why Holder's DOJ hasn't come down on the responsible protestors.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@fiftythreepercenter @EdUktr 

From your verbiage there it seems you're under the strange notion that Obama and Holder are on the side of the protestors and not the police. 

What would account for such a gross misreading of things on your part. 

It's not rank stupidity is it? 

td1234
td1234

@EdUktr I was watching Fox do some interviews with the protesters last night. Fox did a great job of just shutting up and allowing the protesters to talk about hands up, don't shoot lie and that the cops got what they deserved for killing Brown. 


Showed the typical Democratic voter in all his/her glory.

JamVet
JamVet

@EdUktr 

Still waiting for Ed to address the systemic racism in the Ferguson PD.

The blame for written stupidity like that lies squarely with Ed's educators!

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@EdUktr what a crock. you don't know who fired the shots. they could have been firing at the police. or they could have been firing at the protesters. or they could have been firing at the media. or they couldn't have cared less and just wanted to cause a scene. coulda been a protester. coulda been a police man. coulda been anyone. 


but it's obama's fault. holder's fault. the "liberal" media's fault. 


what f-kin' BS swims inside your head man? seriously, every problem in the world is not obama's fault. get a grip.

JamVet
JamVet

@td1234 @EdUktr 

...typical Democratic voter...

And until you and your White Power thugs in the neoKlan can implement your Final Solution, it looks like you're stuck with them!

td1234
td1234

@LeninTime I have no idea but would like to know why Holder has not sent in the FBI and 40 DOJ investigators to find out if the protesters bigoted attitudes contributed to the shootings. 

td1234
td1234

@JamVet If there was "institutional racism" in Ferguson then you might have a point. 

All the DOJ report stated was there was RACIAL BIAS. 

td1234
td1234

@SFM_Scootter Bias is not institutionalized racism as Jamvet wants to claim. Huge difference. If there had been institutionalized racism as Jamvet claims then the Justice department would have filed criminal charges. 

JamVet
JamVet

@Yes_Jesus_Can @JamVet @td1234 @EdUktr 

I'll just continue to crush you white trash enablers and lovers!

Wht you boys really need is a leader!

Someone who knows and has written extensively about the role of the Negro in relation to the white Christian race.

Paging trish!

trishtrash, you are needed at Jays!


JamVet
JamVet

@Yes_Jesus_Can @JamVet @EdUktr 

Murderers who are emboldened and enabled by you and your spineless pals.

Blood is on your hands!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

(Don't cry, maybe you'll get to share a cell with Holder!)


EdUktr
EdUktr

By the way, AJC blog editors can effectively delete any comment by permanently assigning it “pending” status, even without notifying you. In either case you will still see it on your screen among the blog’s posted comments—but no one else will.

Cute, huh? That's what Jay did to me elsewhere this morning.

So if your contrarian viewpoint isn’t getting the reaction you might reasonably expect, maybe it’s because no other reader can see it.