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A Safer Playground

The Trinity Lutheran case is the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest religious liberty decision. Learn more about this important case with the overview update.

An Unusual Perspective in the Clash of Rights—Thomas Berg’s “Progressive Arguments for Religious Organizational Freedom: Reflections on the HHS Mandate”

Thomas Berg has written an interesting article suggesting that progressives should improve their commitment to religious liberty for traditionalists. Progressives understand, forinstance, that the recent HHS contraceptive mandate impinges on religious liberty. But, as they will tell you, they just don’t care when the issue is one that is important to them, such as access to reproductive choice or gay rights.

Local Government and Legislative Prayer--Can They Pray or Not?

Two recent decisions on invocational prayer before local government Board meetings, filed in March of 2013, came out in opposite directions, but give some insight into the legal principles involved in determining whether Boards can properly sponsor a formal prayer before meetings. In Hudson v. Pittsylvania County, the federal district court for the Western District of Virginia issued an injunction against the prayers being offered. In Atheists of Florida v. City of Lakeland, the Eleventh Circuit found no constitutional violation. Different courts on different days, or consistent underlying principles?

Defending America's Essence: Did Government Violate Muslim Prisoners Rights?

A group of eight Muslim men detained in the aftermath of 9/11 filed claims against a number of government officials in a case called Turkmen v. Ashcroft, including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Director of the FBI, the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and personnel at the detention center where they were held. Ultimately, the Muslim men were charged with immigration violations, but not terrorism.

Do I Have to Work on Sundays?

Some jobs require a person to work on the Sabbath. Does the law require you to work on your Sabbath, or does your employer have to accommodate your religious beliefs and let you go to church (or mosque or synagogue or temple)? As attorneys love to say, that depends. Two recent cases in late 2012 give some idea of how employers’ and employees’ rights are balanced in the context of time off for worship. Both cases are based on Title VII, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on religion (and includes all aspects of religious observance and practice)—unless the employer can demonstrate that it cannot reasonably accommodate the religious observance without undue hardship.

Witnessing in Public--Muniz v. City of San Antonio

One area of religious liberty that has been challenged a few times recently is the right to share one's faith and hand out religious literature on a public sidewalk. The Muniz lawsuit is only in the initial stages, but will revolve around the religious liberties principles.

Bronx Household of Faith--Ten Years of Squabbling Over the First Amendment

In a one-sentence simplistic summary, the Bronx Household of Faith (Church) wants to rent space in the public schools for Sunday meetings, and the New York City Board ofEducation (Board) wants to keep it—and other churches—out.  This dispute has produced over an inch-thick sheaf of judicial opinions over the last ten years, learnedly discussing the intricacies of the clauses of the First Amendment.  New arguments and injunctions (or directives from the court) keep popping up like dandelions, and Judge Preska recently granted yet another preliminary injunction that prevents the Board, for now, from enforcing its policy to keep the Church out.  This post tries to explain how we got “here,” and where “here” is.

Religious Diversity: Talking in the Shadow of the Liberty Bell

The national dialogue on religious law issues often generates more heat than light. In public debate, speakers stand on a soapbox shouting and cheer-leading their own side.Voices get shrill and invective flies about the “other side.” Let’s take one common example. Free exercise in the public schools touches two passions—people’s religion and their children. And it triggers protective feelings because of deep fears.

Conservatives Counseling Gay or Lesbian Clients

Three recent federal circuit court decisions address how conservative Christian therapists may interact with homosexual clients in cases where personal beliefs may conflict with a duty of client care.  Despite different outcomes, there may be common principles. Schools and employers may not require therapists to change their religious convictions, but under the American Counseling Association (ACA) code of ethics, therapists may not impose values on their clients. Referrals can solve the problem, if done tactfully.

Update to "Conservatives Counseling Gay or Lesbian Clients"

A few years back, values-based referrals by counselors were proper under the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics if done tactfully, so as not to wound the client, and were ethically permissible if the therapist, because of personal beliefs, could not provide what the client was seeking. Since we first reported on this issue, several big changes have altered that premise, most importantly, a major change in the ACA Code of Ethics.

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