No easy answer when it’s religion vs. health care

by Ken Burrrows In his October 2017 Memorandum on Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that religious freedom must specifically include “the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.” [emphasis in original] His memo went on to suggest that religious freedom should be virtually free of restraint or compromise, a sort of super right above all other rights. But other freedoms in America that are deeply cherished are subject to select limitations. Freedom of speech famously does ...

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POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Should government require a Colorado bakery to design cakes for gay weddings?

Citizens Project executive director Deb Walker wrote this piece for The Gazette on December 3, 2017: Deb Walker It's not about cake. It's also not about religious freedom. At its core, the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court is about whether businesses should be able to discriminate against people because of who they are and whether all people will be treated equally, as is promised by the Constitution. The outcome of this case will be critical to civil rights for all and could undermine ...

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“Religious liberty” according to Jeff Sessions means protecting some while harming others

by Ken Burrows Note: Be sure to read information on the Do No Harm Act at the end of this article, a bill that would prevent many of the negative consequences of Jeff Sessions’ guidance on religious liberty.\ On October 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, acting on instruction from President Donald Trump, issued guidance on interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law by releasing a 25-page memorandum and appendix on the matter. This document, directed to “all administrative agencies and executive departments,” is, as expected, uniformly deferential ...

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Citizens Project: These are the values of the Pikes Peak region

This letter was published in the August 22, 2017 Gazette and August 23 Colorado Springs Independent in response to recent national and local hate speech. Our collective national attention has been consumed by the appalling behavior and rhetoric in Charlottesville, motivated by hatred and bigotry. We should not forget, though, that in our community we have recently brushed with the same dangerous ideology and behavior, which should have already been relegated to the shadows of history. On one recent night a synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic symbols and property ...

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The Sanctity of Human Life Act: Politicians Playing God

by Ken Burrows A group of thirty-one Republican US congressmen (yes, all men, as of this writing) have signed on as cosponsors of a bill to declare that human life “begins with fertilization…at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” The bill, H.R. 586, has been titled the “Sanctity of Human Life Act” (SHLA). Such “personhood bills” are nearly always religiously driven and have a primary (though unstated) goal of making virtually all abortions illegal. And while personhood bills ...

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We’re losing the fire of our Founders on church-state separation

By Ken Burrows When the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) on June 26th ruled 7-2 that it was unconstitutional to exclude Trinity Lutheran Church from being eligible for public funding of its playground surface improvements, the church-state separation wall did not collapse, but it took a hit. Chief Justice John Roberts limited the damage somewhat by stating in his majority opinion that “This case involves express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing. We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimin...

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Twin threats: Trump’s “religious freedom” executive order, like FADA, means freedom to discriminate

By Ken Burrows Amid the competing personal and political headlines of the early Trump presidency, one story that’s been comparatively quiet has been Trump’s executive order on “religious freedom.” A draft copy of the order was leaked in January, downplayed at the time by press secretary Sean Spicer as essentially a work in progress and said to be just one among several draft directives on a range of topics being considered by the president’s transition team. But it has not gone away. Indeed, in early March The Advocate, an LBGT-interest magazine and ...

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Balancing freedom and equality in a vibrant democracy

by Schuyler Foerster Sky is currently serving as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Social Studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. We live in a world ridden by conflict—conflicts of ideas.  Rarely are these ideas about how, together, we might improve the quality of our lives.  Instead, they are all too often about how some of us can improve our lives at the expense of others, usually because we want to blame those “others” for whatever we think is absent in our own lives. “We the People,” was not about “some” of us.  (Actua...

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