Masterpiece Cakeshop case takes center stage in the battle over religious freedom

WASHINGTON D.C. – The now famous Masterpiece Cakeshop case is set to begin its hearing Tuesday in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The case (Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., et, al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, et. al) pits a cake baker against the state of Colorado.The story has been closely followed by the media for several years as it brings into question the limits and the scope of religious freedom in the public sphere. In 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig walked into the Lakewood-based Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their wedding.

Update on Supreme Court religious freedom cases

UNITED STATES — In an update to a story we reported in May, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) did finally rule in the Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer case. The decision states that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources grant policy was in violation of the First Amendment. The state had rejected the church’s application for an improvement grant on the basis of it being a religious institution. However, SCOTUS stated that the church’s services and its improvements were a “public benefit.” Therefore, the state’s denial violated the free exercise clause.

Future SCOTUS ruling could impact Pagan organizations

The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in a case that could result in Pagan organizations becoming eligible for state and federal grant monies. The case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v Comer, revolves around a Missouri-based church that applied for a state grant to resurface its playground. The state of Missouri had originally decided that religious schools were not eligible to receive state grant funds. However, after the lawsuit was underway, the state reversed that decision and will now allow religious schools to participate in that program going forward. Even though the court case was resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, SCOTUS took the case for review anyway.

SCOTUS denies review of Buddhist temple case

NEW YORK –  Since 2011 the China Buddhist Association (CBA) has been involved in a legal battle over the excommunication of members and the management of its organization.  The original 2011 Tung v China Buddhist Association went through the New York courts, landing it at the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court. However, on Jan 9, certiorari was denied, allowing the lower court’s ruling to stand. “The court will not intervene in matters that are predominantly religious disagreements.” (New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Nov 13, 2014)

The China Buddhist Association was formed and incorporated in 1963 by Master Mew Fung Chen to support the Chinese immigrant population in Manhattan and, eventually, the growing community in Flushing, Queens.

Supreme Court Rules for marriage equality: reactions and thoughts

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), in a landmark decision, legalized same sex marriage in the United States of America. On Friday, June 26, SCOTUS issued its 5-4 opinion on the Obergefell v. Hodges case. Kennedy delivered the opinion, opening with, “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.” Through that opinion, SCOTUS reversed the decision of the lower Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which had upheld same sex marriage bans in four states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. SCOTUS ruled these bans unconstitutional, saying:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.