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The disputes seem to pile up on top of each other. Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor, Arizona's SB1062, Colorado's cake baker, New Mexico's photographer and hair dresser, numerous Catholic dioceses and Christian universities -- all clamoring for the defense of their fundamental rights. But the rights conflict. Rights to practice faith in the public arena versus rights to health care versus rights to freedom from discrimination -- which will prevail and which will retreat when they come into conflict?

While the principle of religious freedom is inscribed in the Constitution and forms a core idea of American democracy, it has also become an increasingly embattled issue amid broader cultural tensions over individual rights, the power of government, and the separation of church and state. Is religious freedom under threat, as many advocates claim? What does it mean to defend religious freedom in a diverse, modern society where rights of different groups may be in conflict? Is religious freedom more important or fundamental than other rights?

The Patheos Public Square is produced in partnership with Christianity Today and the Progressive Christian Initiative.

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Featured Panelists

Free Is What We Are

Free Is What We Are

Frederick Schmidt, Professor, Episcopal Priest, Columnist, "The Spiritual Landscape"

The genius of the American experiment lies in the conviction that freedom is not given by the state, but is an inalienable gift given to human beings as God's creation.

Freedom of Worship Is Not Freedom of Religion

Freedom of Worship Is Not Freedom of Religion

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, Apostolic Administrator, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis

When I hear our elected leaders speak about protecting "freedom of worship" rather than "freedom of religion," I remember the powerful words of Bishop Warduni of Iraq.

Religious Freedom Under Siege...by the Religious

Religious Freedom Under Siege...by the Religious

Alyxander Folmer, Pagan Blogger, "Wyrd Words"

The greatest threat to religious freedom in the United States is this group of politically conservative religious organizations that the media have collectively dubbed "The Christian Right."

Yes, Religious Liberty Is Threatened in America

Yes, Religious Liberty Is Threatened in America

Thomas Kidd, Professor, Evangelical Blogger, "The Anxious Bench"

I am struck by the Obama administration's bold, relentless challenges to established understandings of religious liberty.

Singing in Dimly Lit Places

Singing in Dimly Lit Places

Erin Wathen, Progressive Christian Blogger, "Irreverin"

Every time someone abuses the Bible or the Constitution in order to inhibit the rights of another person, we are all at risk.

Religious Freedom in American Isn't Threatened--Not Even Close

Religious Freedom in American Isn't Threatened--Not Even Close

Phil Fox Rose, Progressive Christian Blogger, "On the Way"

Disagreement on specific issues often comes from the interplay between positive rights and liberties, and negative rights and liberties.

The Real Threat Is Still on the Theocratic Side

The Real Threat Is Still on the Theocratic Side

Peter Laarman, Progressive Christians Uniting

The one and only arena in which government must always give way in order to guarantee free exercise is in the internal and liturgical aspects of religious life.

An Administration at the Center of the Universe

An Administration at the Center of the Universe

Edward Morrissey, Editor and Correspondent, HotAir.com

When government arrogates the power of a command economy to itself, liberty cannot long survive.

Gentle Bigotry and Freedom From Religion

Gentle Bigotry and Freedom From Religion

Lydia MN Crabtree, Pagan Blogger, "Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft"

Our first amendment sanctified the holy right of religion to exist outside of government.

We Can't Afford to Let Religious Freedom Slip

We Can't Afford to Let Religious Freedom Slip

Von G. Keetch, Chief Outside Counsel, LDS Church

It is important to remember the value religion provides for society as a whole. When we shift our attention to the benefits religion provides as a public good, then the case for protecting religious freedom becomes even stronger.

Commentary From Our Blogging Community

Supremes hear Hobby Lobby’s case today

Supremes hear Hobby Lobby’s case today

Gene Veith

Today the Supreme Court hears the case being brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties challenging the Obamacare mandate that pro-life business owners, as well as non-church religious institutions, must provide their employees health insurance that includes contraceptives and “morning after” pills. After the jump, a remarkably cogent explanation of why pro-life Christians need [Read More...]

Hobby Lobby Chooses to See: Faces Supreme Court

Hobby Lobby Chooses to See: Faces Supreme Court

Bill Blankschaen

The US Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments today as the Green family continues its courageous stand against abortion-funding mandates in Obamacare. For those unfamiliar with the case, the (allegedly) Affordable Health Care Act requires employers to provide health insurance that includes funding for “morning after” pills. The Green family, and countless others, consider [Read More...]

#PrayforHobbyLobby

#PrayforHobbyLobby

Owen Strachan

In his recent book, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, eminent U. S. historian George Marsden offers a compelling definition of what we could call the American soul: it is an intellectual fusion of European Enlightenment thought and evangelical Protestantism. More than any other book I’ve read, Marsden’s short monograph makes sense of the different [Read More...]

Ready, Set, Go! Hobby Lobby at the Supremes

Ready, Set, Go! Hobby Lobby at the Supremes

Here's the round-up of journalistic introduction to the Hobby Lobby case.

The Un-Christian Nature Of New “Religious Freedom” Laws

The Un-Christian Nature Of New “Religious Freedom” Laws

Benjamin L. Corey

Kristen Powers and Jonathan Merritt had a great article the other day pointing out the hypocritical nature of these new “religious freedom” laws that are cropping up in many states. Such laws are clothed in terms of freedom for Christians, while being incredibly un-Christian at the core. In short, these laws are designed to give [Read More...]

Is Religious Freedom Threatened? Duhhh … Is This a Trick Question?

Is Religious Freedom Threatened? Duhhh … Is This a Trick Question?

Rebecca Hamilton

When the roll is called down yonder, we’ll all line up according to our politics. At least that appears to be the situation regarding the answers to the question of whether or not religious freedom is threatened. There’s a lot of gas expended on this question, and most of it falls so predictably into political [Read More...]

How’s that Religious Freedom Thing Working Out These Days?

How’s that Religious Freedom Thing Working Out These Days?

Jennifer Fitz

Let’s not delude ourselves: The United States has never quite lived up to her ideals in the civil liberties department.  Compared to the competition, of course, the US Constitution was and remains quite the breakthrough.  If we’re going to have to constantly fight the oppressiveness-reflex, give me a country where we can do it via [Read More...]

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