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All Articles For VanEngen, Brian

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Mr. VanEngen, a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa, is a practicing attorney. Reformed parents have always cherished the ability to train up their children in the covenant. In the United States, parents have always enjoyed broad control over the upbringing of their children. A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit, however, has ruled that parents do not have the exclusive right to determine what their children are taught. The case, Fields v. Palmdale School District,¹ involved the distribution of information of a sexual nature in the public school setting, but the case could have drastic implications for...

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Mr. VanEngen, a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa, is a practicing attorney. Although the issue of the separation of church and state has long been debated in American society, recent years have seen a noticeable increase in legal challenges to previously accepted practices. For instance, the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance has been under attack because of the inclusion of the phrase “under God,” although that phrase has been in the Pledge for over 50 years. Similarly, many public buildings and courthouses have displayed the Ten Commandments for decades, but in recent years groups such...

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Many readers have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church and its picketing and protests against homosexuality using signs and language that are intentionally offensive. Recently the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Snyder v. Phelps. The defendants were the Westboro Baptist Church itself and the Phelps, who are members of the church. The church is known for its activities in protesting and picketing against homosexuality, usually with provocative signs and slogans. The church and its members were sued for their picketing and protesting, but the suit was dismissed because their speech was Constitutionally protected....

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Mr. VanEngen, a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa, is a practicing attorney. The First Amendment addresses the constitutional limitations on government power in matters of religion. The First Amendment provides simply that the government may not: 1) make any laws establishing a religion, or 2) limit the free exercise of religion. Several of the articles appearing under the “Church and State” rubric in recent years have discussed the First Amendment in terms of the first clause, known as the “Establishment Clause.” Establishment Clause cases typically deal with the issue of whether the government is directly or...

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On March 11, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals filed opinions in two separate cases that considered whether government-sponsored references to God violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. One was a challenge to the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on United States currency. The other was a challenge to the inclusion of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In both cases, the court found that the references to God did not violate the Establishment Clause. These rulings are interesting in a couple of different respects. First, the Ninth Circuit, headquartered...

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Drastic changes are taking place all around us in society today. Although the mainstream “Christian” churches in Western civilization departed from doctrinal orthodoxy generations ago, most of society still, until more recently, followed the outward practices of Judeo-Christian principles. For instance, stores and businesses were closed on Sundays. Adultery and homosexuality were looked down upon by the majority of society. Society even incorporated these practices into its laws. Laws prohibited adultery and homosexuality and provided criminal sanctions for violations. State and municipal laws prohibited businesses from operating on Sunday. The killing of unborn children through “abortion” was prohibited by the...

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Mr. VanEngen, a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa, is a practicing attorney. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1 We hear much discussion in the world today about the “global warming” that many scientists claim man is causing. The “green,” or environmental, movement is even becoming a substantial factor influencing elections and political candidates. Automakers are producing more and more “hybrid” or “flex-fuel” vehicles in an attempt to lower emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases. In June of 2009, the United States House...

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