Blog of Rights

Joel
Engardio

Walling off the Witnesses

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 3:57pm
(Originally posted on the Washington Posts's On Faith blog.)

Russia's Bans on Jehovah's Witnesses

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 2:28pm

(Originally posted on the Washington Post's On Faith blog.)

If Secretary of State Hillary Clinton draws inspiration from Eleanor Roosevelt the same way she famously did as First Lady, maybe Clinton will speak out against the blow to the freedoms…

Supreme Court Briefing 2009–10 Term

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 5:57pm

ACLU lawyers met with the press who cover the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. recently to provide an overview of important cases during the 2009-10 term of the high court.

Watch ACLU Legal Director Steven R. Shapiro discuss United…

Good News for Gay Christians

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 11:39am

(Originally published in On Faith at washingtonpost.com.)

There's an online group of 13,000 gays who profess their belief in Christ. The Gay Christian Network is a bit of a miracle, given how hostile some religions are to gays.

While fundamental ministers decry the "homosexual agenda" and gay activists deplore "ex-gay treatment," the members of GCN must live the tug-of-war over their sexual identity and faith. That's why gay Christians will benefit from a recent report by the American Psychological Association that says efforts to change someone's sexual orientation don't work.

This isn't news to the many GCN members who are survivors of the programs that failed to turn them straight. But it might be comforting to a number of teens in the online network who fear being sent to a "reparative therapy" camp by their parents. A new generation of gay Christians could be spared pointless misery now that the word's largest association of psychologists has definitively declared ex-gay therapy is quackery.

Jimmy Carter on Accountability for Torture

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 9:10pm

Former President Jimmy Carter recently stated that he respects but disagrees with President Obama's decision to block the release of photographs that depict U.S. use of torture and other harsh interrogation methods under the Bush administration. The…

Our Gay Christian Neighbors

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 4:42pm

(Originally posted on the Washington Posts's On Faith blog.)

Near San Francisco's gay center, past the hill where Castro becomes Divisadero Street, a portable sidewalk sign points to City Church. That's where evangelical Christians gather every Sunday for worship in a converted theater. They are true believers: Jesus saves, Satan is real, sex is for the married and marriage is for the straight.

I didn't think a market for such beliefs existed in San Francisco, but hundreds of people and a full balcony proved me wrong. There were back-to-back services the day I attended. The congregants looked no different than the employees I saw on a visit to Google's Bay Area campus. These evangelicals wore Skechers, watched hulu, twittered and composted. They were high-tech professionals in their 20s and 30s who were mostly pro-life and partook of the body of Christ each Sunday. Many even voted Democrat because, abortion aside, it was the party they said that focused most on what mattered to Jesus — the poor, sick and environment. Same-sex marriage wasn't a factor because Barack Obama was against it.

I visited City Church because I wanted to see who in San Francisco might have voted for Proposition 8, which banned gay and lesbian couples from marrying in California. Nearly a quarter of San Francisco voters favored the ban, and that surprised me. Sure, the Bay Area overwhelmingly supported gays marrying, but in Silicon Valley — home to Google, YouTube, iPhone and a number of churches like City Church — 44 percent of voters didn't.

Alabama has the highest percentage of evangelicals, but by sheer size California has the greatest number: Two million, according to the Christian research firm Barna Group. The votes over marriage in California last year totaled 13 million and gays lost by 52 to 48 percent. That means any fraction of evangelicals changing their mind in the next, close election could make a difference.

Internet Filters: Voluntary OK, Not Government Mandate

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 3:18pm

People are talking about internet content filtering, especially since the ACLU won its case against the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which tried to censor all speech about sex from the internet. But don’t be confused between voluntary use…

9/11 Families Ask for True Justice

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 1:38pm

A new ACLU video features family members of 9/11 victims calling for federal trials of terrorism suspects.

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google…

Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 5:45pm

The Sunday collection plate is as American as religion itself. Americans are religious and generous when it comes to charitable giving. They often go together. There’s Catholic Charities and Mormons famously tithe a percentage of their…

Liberate the Breast Cancer Genes

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 8:26am

The ACLU has taken on a patent case for the first time in its nearly 90-year history. The government's been allowing private companies to patent human genes. The ACLU thinks that violates the First Amendment and patent law. This is heady, complicated…

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