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Re: [humanism-174] Stanford Law School establishes religious liberty clinic

From: Tim C.
Sent on: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 8:01 PM
Surprised and disappointed in Stanford.

-----Original Message-----
From: [address removed]
To: humanism-174 <[address removed]>
Sent: Tue, Jan 22,[masked]:31 pm
Subject: [humanism-174] Stanford Law School establishes religious liberty clinic

Stanford Law School has created a religious liberty clinic, in the mold of medical clinic schools, where students will receive "clinical" training in developing religious liberty cases. I'd be interested in the thoughts of others on this forum about this development. Here is the link to the New York Times story about this program:

Excerpted below is a comment that caught my attention because it refers to a false dichotomy: 

"Or as Alan J. Reinach, a leader and lawyer with the Seventh-day Adventists, put it, there is a fight between those who want government to control the church and those who want the church to control government."

The false part of this comment is the first half  where Reinach claims that there are parties who are advocating for government control of the church. He offers no examples. I can think of no person or group advocating for this. I am going to take a leap here and assume that he is referring to those parties who file lawsuits to prevent the government from taking sides or giving any kind of preference to religion (groups such as Americans United, FFRF, ACLU). One of the disturbing things about this comment is that the reporter who conducted this interview failed to ask for examples or research to find if there are those advocating this position. The reporter just apparently took it to be true. 

Here is another troubling quote from the article: 

"But Hannah C. Smith of Becket, who took part in a panel discussion here on Monday to observe the clinic’s opening, said what liberals like Mr. Lynn call the strict wall of separation is found nowhere in the Constitution. Her group, she said, is working to show that “there are certain God-given rights that existed before the state. God gave people the yearning to discover him. Religious freedom means we have to protect the right to search for religious truth free from government intrusion.”

If I'm not mistaken Smith has just set up a huge strawman. Who on the separation side of the fence has said that the religious should not have the "right to search for religious truth free from government intrusion"?

Are any of you as troubled by the creation of this program as am I? What I find most troubling is that the clinic focuses only on the free exercise part of the First Amendment's religion clause and completely ignores the establishment clause. These students are going to get a lopsided, distorted understanding of religion portion of the First Amendment. Finally, I am greatly troubled by the fact that this program is funded by the Becket Foundation. Even Barry Lynn found something to be concerned about. 

"Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he was “shocked that a major law school would accept a gift from Becket,” which he described as “a group that wants to give religious institutions or individuals a kind of preferential treatment, even if that hurts a third party.”


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