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

A prayer a day keeps the doctor away

The last year has been dominated by concerns about health – not only from the COVID-19 pandemic, but also from the effects on well-being and mental health due to the social isolation the pandemic response has sometimes required.

Hijab, turban cases highlight contrast between U.S., Canada on religious freedom

This type of commitment to religious freedom by the Supreme Court, and by Congress in passing Title VII, is the reason the United States remains a beacon for respect of religious freedom to the entire world.

‘Do no harm’ may sound good, but it’s a threat to religious and other freedoms

The “do no harm” argument says that religious freedom should be pre-emptively restricted by government power and regulation in instances where there is risk that the exercise of religious freedom could harm someone, even in intangible ways. On paper it makes sense. But we don’t live on paper. We live in the real world.

What’s behind the ‘winning streak’ for religious freedom at the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Constitution specifically includes protection of “free exercise of religion” from government interference. So we should not be surprised when a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court enforces that guarantee consistently.

COVID bill won’t let states use funds to reduce taxes; 14 states sue

Fourteen states have sued to challenge a provision of the recent COVID relief package that provides money to the states but prohibits the states from using the aid to lessen the tax burden on their citizens. The states’ argument arises from the aspect of America’s civil religion known as federalism. But the idea of federalism has much of its roots in actual religion.

Legal dispute in Texas spotlights the critical role religion plays in responding to homelessness

This unique motivation and inclusion of individual transformation in their work differentiates religious charities from the important work done by government agencies and secular charities. Ensuring room for that type of work is one of the reasons religious freedom protections are so important.

Supreme Court says California can’t limit worship in homes

California’s attempts to regulate worship during the pandemic have consistently been turned back by the U.S. Supreme Court for failing to ensure equal treatment of religious and other activities.

New lawsuit aimed at BYU and other religious universities argues religious accommodations are unconstitutional

A new lawsuit aims at ending a nearly 50-year-old accommodation for religious colleges and universities, including BYU, but it appears to be more about making a statement than stating a valid legal claim.

People of faith shouldn’t dismiss others’ fears of discrimination

It is probably the case that not everyone will be happy with arrangements that could result in harms to someone’s personal interests or religious faith. But historically, Americans have made accommodations that have proved workable.

‘Zero-sum’ view of religious freedom is a bad take

What is required is to reject the impulse to find unhappiness in the progress of a rival. If we can recognize that an abundance of rights for others means an abundance of rights for ourselves, we will be on the path to genuine equality.

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Phone: 801-355-1272

Fax: 801-355-1705

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