Religion briefs: Meeting prayer halted; Ten Commandments suit; religious beliefs law | News

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Complaint halts meeting prayer

LAS VEGAS — A Nevada school board will no longer begin its meetings with prayer after receiving a complaint that it is a violation of the constitutional separation between religion and government, board members said.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation contacted the Clark County School District Board in December with a letter listing a number of legal decisions and calling the practice “coercive, embarrassing, and intimidating for non-religious citizens to be required to make a public showing of their non-belief.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation received a letter from the district dated Jan. 10 indicating the prayers would stop, said members of the group, which protects the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state.

July trial for Ten Commandments suit

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A federal judge has set a July trial for a lawsuit challenging a Ten Commandments display outside the Arkansas state Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ordered the trial over the display installed on the Capitol grounds in 2018 to begin the week of July 13. Opponents of the privately funded display argue it’s an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government and are seeking its removal.

The granite monument replaces a display that was destroyed in 2017 less than 24 hours after its installation. A 2015 law required the state to allow the privately funded monument on Capitol grounds.

Texas challenges Calif. religious beliefs law

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an action in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to strike down California’s ban on state-funded travel to Texas in the wake of a law that was viewed as discriminatory against LGBTQ people.

In 2017, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3859, which allowed child welfare service providers to deny services to Texans based on conflicts with their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” At the time, critics said the law allowed faith-based adoption agencies to deny placing children for reasons such as religion, sexuality or a person’s gender identity.

Meanwhile, supporters said the provision protected providers’ “right of conscience” and stressed it required that anyone turned away be referred to another agency.

California added Texas to its list of states banned for non-essential, state-funded travel after Abbott signed the bill in June that year.

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