60 results for tag: religious freedom


Scalia was not an originalist on church-state separation

By Ken Burrows A little over a month before he died on February 13, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a Catholic high school audience in Louisiana that “there is no place in our constitutional tradition” for the argument that the state should refrain from endorsing religion. It was a position he embraced persistently, on the bench and in public and private speeches. This is the same justice who was quoted in a 2013 New York magazine interview as insisting it is only rational to believe in the devil. The same justice who argued in a 2005 Supreme Court case that the Ten Commandments stand for the direction of human affairs by God and are ...

Minority Rights, the Fight Against Terrorism, and the Constitution

by Dr. Schuyler Foerster   Professor Edward Corwin, an eminent legal and political scholar, wrote that the U.S. Constitution is an “invitation to struggle”—an invitation to struggle among competing ideas, among competing centers of power, and among competing responsibilities in the exercise of governmental authority. In the domain of national security, the “invitation to struggle” built into the Constitution has been tested many times.  In combatting terrorism, these Constitutional issues have taken on different and much more complex forms.  They also require more careful attention on our part if we are to strike the proper ...

Perils of RFRA: How “extreme” religious liberty violates the no-harm rule

Perils of RFRA: How “extreme” religious liberty violates the no-harm rule Why Colorado’s HB 16-1180 is fraught with damaging consequences **NOTE: On March 16, 2016 House Bill 1180 was postponed indefinitely. By Ken Burrows In the historical archives of church-state issues in America, no line is quoted more often than that in Thomas Jefferson’s reply to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 in which he endorsed “building a wall of separation between church and state.” However, a less quoted line in that same letter is becoming more and more relevant to church-state controversies today. It is Jefferson’s observation, leading into his ...

Religious exemptions: An experiment on our liberties — Part 2

by Ken Burrows In Part 1 on the subject of religious exemptions last month, we discussed why “religious freedom” and “freedom of conscience” are not absolutes to which all other principles in our pluralistic society must defer every time these freedoms are invoked to justify exemptions. We discussed why we need a separation between religion/conscience claims that affect only the individual claimant and those that go on to impermissibly harm others, concluding that freedom to practice your religion does not confer freedom to impose it on others, especially in light of our church-state separation principles. We pointed out that ...

Religious exemptions: An experiment on our liberties- Part 1

by Ken Burrows The Supreme Court’s 2014 decision exempting certain businesses from having to provide contraceptive health coverage (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) followed by this year’s decision establishing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right (Obergefell v. Hodges) have given rise to a wider movement demanding religiously based exemptions to providing services and/or products to selected individuals and groups on an equal basis. These demands are frequently described as “religious freedom” or “freedom of conscience” issues. In this two-part analysis, we’ll examine the concept of such exemptions in context of our history ...

Religious Liberty from a Religious Perspective

by Rev. Dr. Benjamin J. Broadbent Lead Minister of The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, of Colorado Springs This speech was given at the 2015 Creating Community Breakfast. It is a joy and honor to be here with all of you at Citizen’s Project’s 11th Annual Creating Community Breakfast. We’re here because we value inclusion, equality, justice, and respect for the dignity of all. In fact, we believe that these values can and should direct our future as a city, as a state, and as a nation. We’re here because we believe deeply in religious liberty. That is, we believe in the freedom to practice religion accord...

Citizens Project educates, empowers local churches to protect their tax-exempt status.

Every year, there is an effort to undermine IRS regulations regarding electioneering by tax-exempt organizations, called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday." In response, this month Citizens Project sent letters to over 350 local churches to make them aware of conflicts that could potentially arise this election season and how to protect their IRS 501(c)3 status. We are committed to being a resource to faith communities as they endeavor to engage in dialogue with church members about policy issues related to their faith while not jeopardizing their tax-exempt status. The letter highlighted guidelines of activities that faith communities must avoid and also ...

Legal Precedent, Religious Freedom, and the Hobby Lobby Court Decision

By Anya Arndt Religious freedom in the United States will never look the same again; while the majority of Supreme Court justices believe that their ruling on the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case will not be taken to extremes, history tells us otherwise. In fact, it was unexpected consequences of the ruling on the Citizens United case that partially allowed the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling to turn out as it did. When Citizens United is boiled down to its fundamental principle that corporations have the same rights as individuals, it translates into the Supreme Court’s ruling on the side of Hobby Lobby as a corporation with religious beliefs. As I ...

Madison and Jefferson v. Scalia and Thomas on Church-State Separation

by Ken Burrows The May 5th Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway concluded that the practice by the Greece, NY, town board of opening its meetings with predominantly Christian prayer does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. This despite the fact the practice causes a certain religious imposition on those citizens attending the town board meetings who see themselves as excluded or at least marginalized by being subjected to official governmental prayer, sectarian in nature, that effectively endorses a faith they do not themselves subscribe to. Justice Anthony Kennedy in writing the Greece opinion insisted it ...

We Are Not So Separate

A poem by Emma Brachtenbach Last night, I slept upon the springtime, mountain ground and thought about the universe. Under the ancient constellations I pondered the possibilities of sacredness and secular creation and my mind just wouldn't stop turning. Like how beautiful would it be if god was genderless and endlessly gendered all at once because then religion could be constructed as truly all encompassing. More than bodies and how we can compartmentalize human beings. And what if the earth was our original mother: heart beat ringing beautifully every time a new soul slipped from the dark womb of the mother who made us into the light and ...