Is Religious Freedom Threatened?

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. Please visit our Religious Freedom Legislation page for more information on this topic.