Indiana Leads the Way With an Outrageous RFRA Proposal Again (Justia.com)

The Indiana legislature and Gov. Pence did so well toying with free exercise rights in its two versions of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) last year, as discussed hereand here, that some now feel empowered to take the extreme standard in RFRA and extend it to other rights. That’s right: the RFRA proposal now on Indiana’s radar would pile on to inflate protections for free speech, free assembly and petitioning the government, and that one right that really needs more pumping up in this era: the right to bear arms. What could be wrong with such rights, you Read More …

Catholics for Choice: Celebrating Religious Freedom Day

Every year since 1992 our nation has set aside January 16 to honor the core American value of religious freedom. Religious Freedom Day commemorates the signing of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which laid the groundwork for the First Amendment to the US Constitution. At a time when so many nations still had a state religion, Thomas Jefferson crafted the Virginia document and considered it to be among his most important achievements. Fellow Founder James Madison helped to shepherd the law through the legislature in 1786. The statute stated, “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any Read More …

For Those Who Think State Governors Get to Decide If Their State Admits Refugees, And Why Congress Can’t Constitutionally Pick Said Refugees’ Race or Religion, by Jordan Walsh

The idea that we would have barred all access to a starving five-year-old child during the nineteenth-century potato famine, based solely on his or her Catholic-ness (or Irish-ness) is anathema to everything this immigrant nation stands for, and more, in direct opposition to one of the most basic tenets upon which it was founded. Read More …

Message from Philadelphia: The Framers Kept Religion Out of Politics

It is a sad irony that so many Americans are hoping that Pope Francis’s trip to historic sites in Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia will bring more harmony and less polarization to American politics. The whole point of the Constitution, which prohibits both religious tests for public office and the establishment of religion, was to create a government in which the people, not the prelates, hold power. Our constitutional government is based on common legal and political principles shared by all, not on idiosyncratic and particular religious beliefs. The Framers understood that the European Wars of Religion, in which Protestants and Catholics fought to the death Read More …

Same Sex Marriage, the Rule of Law, and the Absence of Religious Objectors in Utah: the Lesson the LDS Church Learned from Polygamy, by Angela Morrison

Since a Utah federal judge recognized marriage equality in Utah, there have been no public officials asserting “religious liberty” as a reason to refuse government services to same sex couples. This lack of resistance, especially given the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ very public support of Proposition 8 and subsequent advocacy against the recognition of same sex marriages, may be surprising. On the face of it, two laws passed in March 2015, the “Utah Compromise”, may explain the absence of legal battles over public officials asserting their personal religious beliefs to deny marriage rights to same sex couples. Read More …