Virginia

Image via RNS/Adelle Banks

When President Obama signed a newly strengthened international religious freedom act on Dec. 16, the intention was to protect religious believers around the world.

But the freshly signed act is being heralded by some legal scholars as a different milestone — for the first time, atheists and other nonreligious persons are explicitly named as a class protected by the law.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Jason Reed

At this time of year, we often see animals subjected to cruel holiday stunts, or treated as living props in our confusing pageantry.

Domino’s Japan recently announced it was canceling its ill-conceived plan to train reindeer to deliver pizza, following a PETA Asia campaign. And just this week, a man was charged with abusing a camel that was part of a hospital’s live Nativity scene in Pikeville, Ky.

Image via RNS/Yonat Shimron

On the day after the election, Mervat Aqqad’s 7-year-old son woke up and asked who got elected president.

When Aqqad broke the news to Ibrahim, a second-grader at the Al-Iman School in Raleigh, his first question was, “Do we have to move now?”

Image via RNS/Election Day Communion 2016

The idea for an Election Day church service came to the pastor as he was pouring juice into little plastic cups.

Mark Schloneger was preparing for Communion that day in 2008, in the kitchen of Waynesboro Mennonite Church in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The phone rang. It was a robocall from Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee that year. She was imploring Christians to go to the polls, vote for her party, and take back the country.

Richard Wolf 07-29-2014

David Boies, left, and Ted Olson, of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Creative Commons image by Steve Rhodes.

A federal appeals court panel in Virginia became the second one this summer to strike down a state ban against same-sex marriage Monday, making it more likely that the Supreme Court will settle the issue as early as next year.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond ruled 2-1 that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry that is paramount to state marriage laws. The ruling affirmed a district judge’s decision rendered in February.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” said Judge Henry Floyd, originally appointed a district judge by George W. Bush and elevated to the circuit court by President Obama. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.”

The circuit court has jurisdiction over Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The panel’s decision will not take effect until at least Aug. 18 while circuit clerks defending the state’s ban decide whether to appeal to the full appellate court or the Supreme Court.

Like the first appeals court panel to rule on the issue this year in Utah and Oklahoma, the three-judge panel was deeply divided.

Image screenshot from CBS affiliate WDBJ

The family of a little girl in western Virginia has removed her from her private Christian school after administrators said she did not appear feminine enough.

Sunnie Kahle, 8, likes autographed baseballs and hunting knives alongside stuffed animals and jewelry, according to CBS affiliate WDBJ.

“It’s fun,” Sunnie said.

Sometimes her schoolmates at Timberlake Christian School asked whether she was a boy or girl, Sunnie told the station.

John Ragosta 01-16-2013
RNS photo courtesy Wikimedia

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Matthew Harris Jouett. RNS photo courtesy Wikimedia

Today is Religious Freedom Day — a day to celebrate the adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom. Why celebrate it?

Celebrate because our government does not use our tax dollars to propagate religion, something Jefferson found “sinful and tyrannical.” This does not mean that you have a right to stop any government action that you happen to think violates your religious beliefs — a ridiculous claim repeated during last year’s battle over insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Tripp Hudgins 07-30-2012
The band Old Crow Medicine Show, via oldcrowmedicineshow.com.

The band Old Crow Medicine Show, via oldcrowmedicineshow.com.

Old Crow Medicine Show's Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua first met in the seventh grade in Harrisonburg, Virginia in Rockingham County, and began playing music together. They performed open mics at the Little Grill diner which was "really the first chance that . . Critter had to play on stage." Being "a bit younger" than the "college students at James Madison University who typically hung out there" Secor "was considered a townie." As Secor says today: "They knew that we had talent, but it was raw. I mean, I was up there beating on a jaw harp when I was 13." (wiki)

Virginia boys.... Amen.

Watch the video for the band's song "Wagon Wheel" inside the blog ...

Subscribe