Policy

Religious Freedom

Respecting human dignity requires that we respect the core elements of how people and groups identify themselves, including their religious beliefs. Religious belief has been a powerful motivation for protecting the rights and liberties of others; it kindled movements to abolish slavery and protect Americans’ civil rights. For millions of Americans, religion is the source of the values required in a free society, such as understanding, respect and sacrifice for others. Additionally, religious institutions provide irreplaceable care for the most vulnerable people in society.

For all of these reasons, the right to exercise religion is a fundamental human right. The law should respect the independence of religious institutions, defend the right of conscience, and protect the right of individuals to act on their religious beliefs, while establishing reasonable protections for public health and safety in a spirit of fairness for all.

Policy

Religious Freedom

Respecting human dignity requires that we respect the core elements of how people and groups identify themselves, including their religious beliefs. Religious belief has been a powerful motivation for protecting the rights and liberties of others; it kindled movements to abolish slavery and protect Americans’ civil rights. For millions of Americans, religion is the source of the values required in a free society, such as understanding, respect and sacrifice for others. Additionally, religious institutions provide irreplaceable care for the most vulnerable people in society.

For all of these reasons, the right to exercise religion is a fundamental human right. The law should respect the independence of religious institutions, defend the right of conscience, and protect the right of individuals to act on their religious beliefs, while establishing reasonable protections for public health and safety in a spirit of fairness for all.

Research & Insights

Mississippi abortion case more likely than Texas law to impact Roe v. Wade

The real possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade is found in a case pending with the Supreme Court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That case involves a Mississippi law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Knowing courts’ constitutional role, limits can calm reactions

The court’s basic role is to apply existing legal rules – which could be provisions of the Constitution, laws passed by Congress, treaty obligations, etc. – in specific situations.

How freedom of religion helps bolster the right of association

Like other critical rights, the ideal of freedom of association has roots in and has been enhanced by the efforts of religions and people of faith to assert their convictions.

Support, skills, networking – all are ways that churches help unemployed

Sometimes finding work requires upgrading skills, and faith-based organizations help here as well.

Faith motivates people to help refugees in a strange new land

It is important to recognize the critical contributions that religious organizations and religious individuals make to refugees, motivated by their faith. Such motivation is deep and durable and prompts actions that governments are unlikely to take, at least without great expense to taxpayers. The need to resettle refugees from Afghanistan highlights one illustration of this important work.

Are vaccine mandates constitutional?

The experience of Indiana University suggests that courts are likely to be especially sympathetic to mandates when they include exemptions. Where those affected by the mandate are given the opportunity to show medical or other reasons why they should be exempt, other courts will presumably also find the legal resolution of a challenge easy.

Parental control: The dramatic legal history over directing a child’s religion and education

These cases, taken together, form the foundation for the now well-established right of a parent to make decisions on behalf of their child, free of government coercion, except for cases of abuse or unfitness. It is also yet another example of how the efforts of individuals to secure their religious freedom have widened the secular circle of freedom for everyone.

Social benefits of religious schools extend beyond education

Research suggests that students educated in private schools are more likely to vote as adults. Another study found students “educated in Protestant secondary schools are considerably more likely than other young people to continue to volunteer.”

Football coach who lost job after post-game prayers heads back to Supreme Court

Coach Kennedy’s attorneys will again seek review by the Supreme Court. This could provide the court an opportunity to clarify what rights public employees have to privately act on their beliefs. That clarity would be helpful for employers and employees alike.

Decision on Colorado wedding website designer may have big implications

A recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit – the regional federal court that includes Utah – raises significant issues of free speech and religious freedom that are likely to reverberate into the future.

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Phone: 801-355-1272

Fax: 801-355-1705

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