The 100 religious freedom bills in state legislatures

Over 100 religious freedom bills have been introduced in 28 states.  Some, with various liberty issues addressed, have been passed; some have been voted down; others are bottled up; others are pending; others have been retracted due to accusations of discrimination and boycott threats.

A useful state-by-state summary of where things stand after the jump. [Read more…]

The First Amendment Defense Act

A bill is before Congress that would protect individuals, churches, and other organizations from being discriminated against because of their beliefs about gay marriage.  The First Amendment Defense Act, which ingeniously frames the issue in terms of discrimination, has been bottled up in committee for over a year.  Lawmakers don’t seem to want to take it up, even though Republicans control both houses.

Though President Obama would surely veto the bill, both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump (though not John Kasich) have promised to sign it. [Read more…]

Finding out how the IRS investigates churches

Two years ago, the atheist group the Freedom from Religion Foundation sued the IRS in order to make it enforce the law that would take away a church’s tax exemption if it got involved in politics.  The IRS settled, to the atheists’ satisfaction, by drawing up rules and procedures that it would follow in investigating churches.

But those rules have not been made public, despite Freedom of Information applications.  So some religious liberty organizations have filed a lawsuit to make the IRS disclose how it will handle churches. [Read more…]

Big business vs. religious liberty

Indiana, Arkansas, and now Georgia have passed modest religious liberty bills that would, among other things, allow pastors and others with qualms about same-sex marriage to refuse to participate if it violates their beliefs.  In each case, pressure from big businesses have caused the governors of each of these states, conservative Republicans all, to kill the laws. [Read more…]

Exemptions for corporations, but not religious groups

The federal government insists that the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups enable their insurance companies to provide contraceptives for their employees.   There is to be no religious exemption, and yet big corporations like Pepsi, Visa, Exxon, and Chevron are exempt from the requirement.  This is because their existing plans have been grandfathered in under Obamacare.  In fact, as many as a third of Americans are in plans that are exempt from the mandate.  So in what sense is providing free contraception such a compelling government interest that it overrides religious liberty?

This point came out in the Supreme Court arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, involving not only the Little Sisters of the Poor but also over 30 other religious non-profits that have joined the case.

[Read more…]

Hostility to religion

In 2012, the First Liberty Institute documented over 600 overt cases in America of “legal, social, or cultural” attacks on religion and infringements of religious liberty.  This year’s report has 1,285.

This doesn’t count, of course, the climate of hostility to religion in certain social groups.

Jesus told his followers to expect hostility, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  But it remains a curious cultural shift.  Do you think American Christians, who have tended to crave popularity, are ready for this?

[Read more…]


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