Prayer before school board meetings survives ACLU attack!

July 26, 2007

Some great news today!!

From Free Market.

“The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled en banc, overturning a decision below that would have banned prayers at all school board meetings across Louisiana , Mississippi and Texas .   In an 8-7 ruling, a 15 judge panel rejected an ACLU attack, claiming the parents of the school children suing had no grounds for the case. “The Supreme Court has held for decades that deliberative bodies, school boards, city councils, and state legislatures are permitted to open meetings with prayers,” said Free Market attorney, Hiram Sasser.  “Thankfully the court did not stray from binding U.S. Supreme Court precedent.”

Texas Churches Combat Abortion-One Foster Child at a Time

July 25, 2007

From Free Market.

“Churches are partnering with the state of Texas to combat abortion through foster care.  This year, Texas is spending $500,000 to encourage churchgoers to step into the lives of children in the foster system, part of a 2003 initiative called “Congregations Helping in Love and Dedication (CHILD).”  Over 90 churches in Texas have signed up to partner with Child Protective Services through the program, inviting workers to train and certify adults in the church as foster parents.  As a result, many Christian adoption agencies, ministries and transformed families in Texas are giving a whole new meaning to ‘pro-life’ efforts.”

Developments in Odessa, TX Bible Case

July 7, 2007

From Religion Clause.

“On Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle reported some developments in the Odessa, Texas Bible-in-curriculum case, Moreno v. Ector County Independent School District. (See previous post here.) Defendants filed a Fed. R. Civ. P. 68 offer of judgment to plaintiffs, asking them to settle the suit for $500. A Rule 68 offer can change the financial stakes of the litigation: “[i]f the judgment finally obtained by the offeree is not more favorable than the offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the making of the offer.” At the same time, the Defendants also filed a motion for referral to mediation. Notably, Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for the Liberty Legal Institute, is one of the attorneys representing the defendants.”

Texas School District Defends Bible Class

July 5, 2007

From Doug Huntington and Christian Post.

“Attorneys on behalf of a Texas school district filed a motion Monday to the federal court supporting a Bible class that officials say has been taught appropriately.

The motion is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and People for the American Way Foundation against the Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) in Odessa on May 16 in which the two groups asked school officials to stop offering the class.”

To read more click here.

Liberty Legal Says ACLU Challenge to Bible Curriculum Invalid

July 3, 2007

An update on the ACLU’s lawsuit against Texas’ Ector County School District challenging the school district’s right to offer an elective course on the Bible.

To read the article click here.

Free Market’s Legal Division Wins Major Religious Liberty Case

July 3, 2007

A huge victory for pastors and churches.  Praise God for the work of the Liberty Legal Institute.

Texas Supreme Court rules 9-0,

 reversing 3-0 decision below


The Texas Supreme Court ruled 9-0 on Friday in Westbrook v. Penley, reversing a 3-0 decision below. Free Market President Kelly Shackelford and Director of Litigation Hiram Sasser argued the case in September 2006.

The case below opened up litigation by disgruntled members against all pastors and churches across Texas . The Texas Supreme Court, in a sweeping 9-0 decision, reversed the decision below and, for the first time in the state’s history, provided a broad shield of protection for all pastors and churches.

“We are very excited,” said Shackelford. “This is the first case in Texas of its kind. To get this kind of complete victory and protection for pastors and churches is humbling. To God be the Glory.”

To read more about this story click here.

Unanimous Texas Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Pastor

June 29, 2007

A local story from the Liberty Legal Institute.

A a member of an area church, sued Pastor Westbrook over a letter he coauthored to the congregation disassociating the congregation from Mrs. Penley. According to church bylaws, she acted contrary to biblical teachings regarding marriage and refused to repent of her sin.

“The U.S. Constitution protects the right of a church to choose its members and govern itself in any manner it chooses according to doctrine and faith, without government interference,” said Hiram Sasser, Director of Litigation for Liberty Legal Institute. “The Court upheld pastors’ constitutional right to inform other church members of the influence of sin on church members and the steps being taken to address such sin.”  To read more click here.