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

Understanding religious freedom’s effects on society can increase support for it

The teachings and practices of religious groups and people of faith have powerful, wide-ranging benefits for society. A wider understanding of this could strengthen the nation’s commitment to religious freedom protections.

Supreme Court’s focus on constitutional procedure in Texas decision is healthy

The decision won’t settle the abortion issue, but it provides direction to courts that might be tempted to undermine the constitutional separation between state and federal courts.

What does 2022 hold for religious freedom?

Supreme Court decisions of 2021 continued a streak of strong protections for religious freedom – not only in the context of pandemic restrictions, but also in social services, education and employment. So what will 2022 hold?

Supreme Court and Amish plumbing: how a minority’s dedication can benefit society

An entire society can benefit from the dedication of a minority. The role that Quakers played in the movement to abolish slavery is one example. A recent Supreme Court decision, involving an Amish community in Minnesota, illustrates another.

Survey shows public support for religious freedom is strong – even growing

The Becket Fund’s Religious Freedom Index for 2021 reports on a national survey of U.S. adults who respond to 21 questions about “a wide spectrum of religious liberty protections under the First Amendment.”

Robust recognition of religious freedom is a fortification against antisemitism

Antisemitism – an ugly feature of human history – persists today. A recent publication argues that a more robust recognition of religious freedom could provide a powerful defense against antisemitism in the U.S. and that its absence leaves Jewish citizens vulnerable to mistreatment.

A tangle of legislation, executive action, and litigation over abortion

Encouraging legislative lawmaking over judicial lawmaking, as President Dallin H. Oaks did in a recent speech, is a sound prescription. Unfortunately, at present the courts play an outsize role in defining legal guarantees of religious freedom.

Supreme Court update on 4 religious freedom cases

Sutherland’s Bill Duncan updates the four religious freedom cases that he previewed at the beginning of the current Supreme Court term. They are a good illustration of the important role of the court: In deciding which cases to take and which it avoids, it modifies the law in practice if not in fact.

The long shadow of Marbury v. Madison reaches to today’s Texas law dispute

Although it is impossible to tell how the judges will rule based on their questions, a number of the questions seem to indicate a concern that the current law is having the effect of dissuading abortion providers while being legally unreviewable until a complaint is brought.

Build Back Better’s rules could complicate faith-based childcare

While the role of government and the complexity of our economy have increased, the need to ensure protection of religious freedom has not changed.

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Phone: 801-355-1272

Fax: 801-355-1705

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