All posts from “June 2012”

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June 15, 2012

Obama Administration Halts Prosecution of Some Young Immigrants

Homeland Security will now exercise prosecutorial discretion against those brought to the nation as children.

President Barack Obama will announce today a new policy that will affect around 800,000 young people who are in the U.S. illegally. The announcement comes on the heels of a call by a broad coalition of evangelical leaders to reform the nation's immigration system.

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The new policy applies to only some of the millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Homeland security will not prosecute immigrants who came to the country before their 16th birthday, are currently under the age of 30, and have lived in the U.S. for at least the past five years.

Immigrants who qualify must also be in school, finished high school, or be honorably discharged from the military. The policy will not apply to any immigrants convicted of a felony or who pose a threat to national security.

Secretary Homeland Security Janet Napolitano wrote a memo explaining the new policy, where the Department of Homeland Security will exercise its prosecutorial discretion by no longer pursuing cases against many of the young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. without documentation.

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June 13, 2012

North Dakota Rejects Religious Liberty Measure

Measure 3, rejected by two-thirds of voters, would have prohibited the state government from "burdening" religious liberty.

North Dakota voters rejected a controversial measure yesterday that would have added an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting the government from putting a “burden [on] a person’s or religious organization’s religious liberty.” The amendment was defeated by approximately two-thirds, 64 percent to 36 percent.

Known as the Religious Liberty Restoration amendment, supporters of Measure 3 argued it would prevent attacks on religious freedom. The North Dakota Family Alliance, headed by Tom Freier, led the push to put the measure on the ballot.

“This measure would really put in place the protection for North Dakota that would make sure the people are protected, and religious organizations are protected, when and if they do need that protection,” Freier told NPR last week.

But critics argued the amendment could cause unintended problems, included providing a curtain of protection for parents who abuse their children or employers who discriminate based on differences in morals and religious beliefs. Tom Fiebiger, a labor lawyer in Fargo and a former Democratic state senator, told the Christian Science Monitor the measure was too vague.

“On first blush, it looks great, but you pull back the curtain, and you see all the problems,” Fiebiger told the Monitor. “It’s a solution in search of a problem.”

But Christopher Dodson, head of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, countered those arguments. “The measure itself says that it doesn’t affect those acts which the state has a compelling interest in preventing,” he told NPR. “And it’s somewhat irresponsible to even imply that the state doesn’t have an interest in protecting children, women and vulnerable persons.”

The fight over the amendment attracted a lot of outside attention—and outside funds. According to CitizenLink, the group North Dakotans Against Measure 3 raised more than $1 million to fight the measure, with the vast majority of funds coming from out-of-state groups. (CitizenLink said its numbers came from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s site, which only lists gifts greater than $200.) In contrast, Freier told CitizenLink that most of the $150,000 raised in support of the measure came from state residents.

In its report, the Christian Science Monitor noted that while many states have created some sort of religious exemption in health care since the new federal laws were enacted, only Alabama has adopted a constitutional amendment like Measure 3. However, a similar bill is currently sitting in committee in the Kentucky state senate, and a religious freedom amendment was withdrawn from the Colorado ballot last month.

June 5, 2012

California Moves To Pass First State Ban of Gay Conversion Therapy

Many Christian therapists have already abandoned the practice.

The California senate has voted to ban reparative therapy for gay and lesbian teens. The bill, which interestingly enough has been opposed by both the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the California Psychological Association (though for very different reasons), now goes on to the state assembly.

CT has reported how many Christian therapists have abandoned reparative therapy amid broad changes in the ex-gay movement, as well as how Willow Creek Community Church and other groups have ended partnerships with Exodus International.

Practitioners of reparative therapy in the United Kingdom have recently lost their licenses over the disputed practice.