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Back To Basics: It’s Time To Reclaim Real Religious Freedom

Americans United has been keeping tabs on a number of bills in the states that purport to defend “religious freedom” while actually undermining that principle.

These proposals are a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision upholding marriage equality. They take several forms.

Multiple states are considering socalled “First Amendment Defense Acts.” Some of these bills simply state that no member of the clergy can be compelled to preside at a same-sex wedding.

Judging A Justice: Antonin Scalia And The Verdict Of History

Your mother probably taught you that it’s impolite to say something negative when a person dies. 

There’s some truth to that, but in the case of public figures whose actions and decisions affect the lives of others, we must not don blinders. Such individuals deserve a frank assessment of their legacy.

Homegrown Hate

Brussels. Istanbul. Ankara. Paris. San Bernardino. Beirut.

These cities are famous for their history and their culture. More recently, they’re also known for the suffering they’ve experienced at the hands of radicalized Muslims.

Terrorism by Islamic extremists is real, but the fringe of that faith holds no exclusive provenance on religiously motivated hate. The sad truth is that in the United States, domestic terrorists have bombed abortion clinics and LGBT-themed venues, murdered minorities and agitated for the overthrow of the federal government.

Americans United In Action!

Members of the Americans United staff were out in full force at the U.S. Supreme Court March 23. The justices heard oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, a case concerning access to birth control. (You can read more about the argument in the legal challenge in “People & Events.”)

Campus Crusade For Bias?

By Vickie Sandell Stangl 
 

A small but growing number of Americans have been inching ever closer to the principle that even in a secular democratic society, their religious beliefs should exempt them from modern laws. 

The most recent examples are laws regarding discrimination to promote a religious belief, ignoring federal laws curbing partisan electioneering from the pulpit and denying women the right to contraceptives through health care plans. These are serious issues multiplying across the nation.

New Regulations Issued For ‘Faith-Based’ Groups

“Faith-based” groups that provide public services with taxpayer money must not discriminate against beneficiaries based on the latter’s religious beliefs, the Obama administration announced in March.

The new regulations cover nine federal agencies. They clarify that faith-based groups providing federally funded social services cannot discriminate against beneficiaries based on religion, require them to participate in religious activities or offer “explicitly religious activities” within those programs.

Ga. Governor Vetoes Discriminatory LGBT Bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in March vetoed H.B. 757, a so-called “religious freedom” bill  that opponents said could have allowed any individual or “faith-based” business, non-profit entity or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage.

“All it does is it makes sure that the government is not going to punish people of faith,” State Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) told Fox 10, a local TV channel.

Miss. Adopts Sweeping Discrimination Measure

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a broadly worded bill into law in April that allows government employees, corporations, individuals, healthcare providers and non-profit organizations to use religion as a justification to discriminate against same-sex couples, single mothers, divorcees and anyone who has had sex outside of marriage.

According to National Public Radio, Bryant claimed on Twitter that he signed the bill, H.B. 1523, “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions...from discriminatory action by state government.”

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