Tag: Freedom of Religion

We Can Find Common Ground on Gay Rights and Religious Liberty

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling extending employment-discrimination protections to L.G.B.T. Americans — in a 6-to-3 decision, with a conservative justice writing the majority opinion and another conservative, the chief justice, joining it — was a milestone. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia overjoyed many progressives and L.G.B.T. advocates, who will redouble their push for the Equality […]

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The Tempting of Neil Gorsuch

It might surprise contemporary Americans that for most of our history, what we call “culture war” debates — arguments about rights, social justice, the moral organization of society — were often settled through democratic deliberation, rather than the kind of ruling the Supreme Court just delivered on gay and transgender civil rights. Congress debated and […]

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Just How Secular Should America Be?

When I was a young man just starting off in the ministry, I knew an older Christian minister who, though deeply conservative theologically and politically, believed that it wasn’t a good idea to mandate state-written, teacher-led prayers in public schools. In response, he faced withering attacks from some in the evangelical world. Some called him […]

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Supreme Court Stays Execution of Texas Inmate Over Issue of Spiritual Adviser

The Supreme Court stayed the execution of a Texas inmate on Tuesday, about an hour before it was to occur, in response to his lawyers’ argument that his religious liberty was violated when he was denied a request to have a Christian chaplain present during his execution. The inmate, Ruben Gutierrez, who was scheduled to […]

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Conservative Christians See ‘Seismic Implications’ in Supreme Court Ruling

WASHINGTON — For conservative Christian groups, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling protecting the rights of gay and transgender workers was not only the latest sign that they are losing the American culture wars over sexuality. It also caused widespread concern that it could affect how they operate their own institutions. Many faith-based organizations, like schools or […]

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The Constitutional Separation of Church and State Faces Demise

The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This has long been thought to prohibit direct government support for religion. The contours of that idea have been contested, and they have contracted over time. But the commitment to some form of separation of church and state […]

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The Supreme Court, Too, Is on the Brink

The Supreme Court made the indisputably right call last week when it refused to block California from limiting attendance at religious services in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19. A Southern California church, represented by a Chicago-based organization, the Thomas More Society, which most often defends anti-abortion activists, had sought the justices’ intervention […]

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Supreme Court, in 5-4 Decision, Rejects Church’s Challenge to Shutdown Order

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday turned away a request from a church in California to block enforcement of state restrictions on attendance at religious services. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority. “Although California’s guidelines place restrictions […]

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The Supreme Court Hears Two Important Religion Cases

Every Supreme Court decision tells a story, its author attempting to marshal the facts and the law in such a way as to make the conclusion appear not only obvious but inevitable. A divided decision will tell two or more competing stories, which is why I usually read dissenting opinions first. That way, by the […]

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Supreme Court Takes On Employment Bias at Religious Schools

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday on how broadly federal employment discrimination laws apply to schools run by churches in two cases that will give the court another opportunity to rule on the proper relationship between church and state, a topic that has deeply engaged the justices. The cases, which involve teachers […]

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An Anti-Lockdown Protest Leader Has Now Tested Positive for COVID-19

One of the people behind the large anti-lockdown protest movement in North Carolina says she’s tested positive for COVID-19 — and thinks her subsequent quarantine order violated her civil rights. Audrey Whitlock, an administrator of the ReOpen NC Facebook page, posted about her condition in the group, which has nearly 70,000 members, on Sunday morning, […]

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Coronavirus as a Reminder of the Urgency of Getting Your Vaccines

While the new coronavirus, against which there is currently no vaccine, causes global economic chaos, illness and death, there are other serious infections that are too often ignored or dismissed. Experts say that, before the disruptions caused by Covid-19, most American parents were diligent about keeping their kids’ immunizations up-to-date, but too many others have […]

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New York Hasidic Jewish Communities Hit Hard by Coronavirus

One of the first people Shulim Leifer knew who died of the coronavirus was his great-uncle. Then his grandmother fell ill, as did two of his cousins. The man who lived next door to his childhood home died on a Tuesday, and by Friday the neighbor on the other side was dead as well. Each […]

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Supreme Court Rules on Traffic Stops and Age Bias

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that police officers may stop vehicles registered to people whose driver’s licenses had been suspended on the assumption that the driver was the owner, rather than, say, a family member. The court also ruled that federal workers can win age discrimination suits under a more relaxed standard […]

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Will the Supreme Court Protect ‘Ministers’ From Their Church?

The Supreme Court, now even more invisible than usual, may seem beside the point these days, although we saw from the batch of opinions handed down on Monday that the justices are still at work. The 11 cases that were fully briefed and ready for argument this week and next will be heard eventually. I […]

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Justice Dept. Religious Freedom Training Spurs Concern Among Lawyers

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department this week hosted training for its lawyers on religious liberty laws as part of Attorney General William P. Barr’s push to prioritize religious freedom cases, but the workshops prompted concern among some career lawyers that they were being educated on ways to blunt civil rights protections for gay and transgender […]

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Don’t Let Trump Pay Back Evangelicals Like This

Many Americans know by now that when Christian nationalists talk about “religious freedom” they are really asking for the privilege to impose their religion on other people. What Americans may not yet understand is that they are also demanding money from taxpayers to do so. Long before Donald Trump hitched his political fortunes to the […]

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At Supreme Court, a Case on Abuse of the No-Fly List

When F.B.I. agents asked Muhammad Tanvir to spy on his fellow Muslims, he turned them down. His faith, he said, did not allow him to become an informant. The agents were persistent. According to a lawsuit filed by Mr. Tanvir, they cajoled him, threatened him and finally, in 2010, applied a novel sort of pressure: […]

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The Supreme Court’s Collapsing Center on Religion

Every Supreme Court case tells a story. Both sides vie to persuade the justices — and, in big cases, the public as well — to see the issues through one particular narrative lens. Heading into last week’s argument on whether Montana was obliged by the federal Constitution to keep subsidizing religious-school tuition under a scholarship […]

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Supreme Court Seems Ready to Allow Some State Aid to Religious Schools

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed poised to rule that states may not exclude religious schools from state programs that provide scholarships to students attending private schools. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., looking none the worse for wear following a late night presiding over the impeachment trial of President Trump, seemed to […]

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