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Plaintiffs Argue Utah Medical Marijuana Initiative Violates the Rights of Religious Objectors in New Lawsuit

Written by Don Byrd

A complaint filed last week claims that a medical marijuana initiative headed to Utah voters in November would violate the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs and should be taken off the ballot. Proposition 2 would legalize marijuana for Utahns with certain health conditions and includes one provision that is a particular target of the complaint. The Salt Lake Tribune explains:

The lawsuit takes issue with a provision of the ballot measure that would prevent landlords from not renting to a medical marijuana cardholder, saying that could create an issue of Mormon property owners being forced into renting to people who use cannabis.

“In the United States of America, members of all religions, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have a constitutional right to exercise their religious beliefs,” the complaint reads. “This includes the right not to consort with, be around, or do business with people engaging in activities which their religion finds repugnant.

The suit argues that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, supports the view that religious liberty rights include the right to be exempt from state nondiscrimination laws. Accordingly, the argument goes, landlords should not be required to rent …read more

A Church-State Lesson From Pennsylvania’s Pedophilia Scandal boston Mon, 08/20/2018 – 09:47 Authored by Rob Boston Image Last week, officials in Pennsylvania released a grand jury’s report detailing more than 1,000 cases of the sexual abuse of children by more than 300 priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The report goes into detail about what […]

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NYTimes: Religious Freedom Focus Undermined by Political Agenda

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Written by Don Byrd

A NYTimes editorial today rightly praises the efforts of recent U.S. administrations, including the Trump administration, to promote religious freedom around the world. “Even President Trump’s fiercest critics,” the piece begins, “can find something to applaud” in the initiative. But the moral authority of the program is being eroded, it goes on to warn, by politicization, religious favoritism, and hypocrisy in policy and decision-making within the current administration.

Here is an excerpt, which takes as its starting point the recent – and in many ways promising – State Department conference, hosting officials and advocates from more than 80 countries to discuss the importance of protecting religious liberty:

Despite his own strict Catholic leanings, Sam Brownback, the ambassador for international religious freedom, said the goal was to protect religious freedom for all, “not to say we favor this faith or that faith.”

Yet, the event, headlined by Vice President Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian, was clearly meant to appeal most to the evangelicals who are among the president’s most fervent political supporters, reflecting a selectivity that is antithetical to the very concept of religious freedom.

One major focus was a demand for the …read more

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More Bad News For Private School Vouchers In Florida And Indiana

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More Bad News For Private School Vouchers In Florida And Indiana LHayes Fri, 08/17/2018 – 10:14 Authored by Liz Hayes Image Private school voucher programs in Florida and Indiana have made headlines in recent weeks, and the news is not good. This comes as no surprise to us at Americans United, as years of studies […]

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FFRF convinces Ohio city to remove decalog from public park

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A Ten Commandments plaque has been removed from Murphy Park in Steubenville, Ohio, after a national state/church watchdog sent a letter to the city asking for the religious display to move to private property. The Freedom From Religion Foundation contacted City Manager Jim Mavromatis on Aug. 10 after receiving a complaint from a concerned Steubenville resident […]

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Masterpiece Cakeshop Owner Files New Complaint over Cake Refusal Dispute

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Written by Don Byrd

Are we headed for a sequel? Masterpiece Cakeshop, Part 2? It would seem so now that cake artist Jack Phillips has filed a new lawsuit challenging a Colorado agency’s determination that he has violated the state’s public accommodation laws by refusing to create a custom cake as requested by a transgender attorney. The cake, Phillips’ complaint argues, would have expressed a message in conflict with his religious beliefs and as a result his refusal is protected by the First Amendment. In addition, he alleges, Colorado officials have engaged in “unconstitutional bullying” in its enforcement of nondiscrimination law against him.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s ruling came less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in a case involving the same baker. There, the controversy surrounded his refusal to provide a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage. The 7-2 opinion in that case, written by recently retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, found that expressions of religious animus by commissioners had amounted to discrimination invalidating the commission’s action against him for violating the nondiscrimination law. Notably, the ruling declined to address the substantive question of whether Phillips was entitled …read more

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They’re Baaaaaack! Masterpiece Cakeshop Seeks New Right To Discriminate Against LGBTQ People

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They’re Baaaaaack! Masterpiece Cakeshop Seeks New Right To Discriminate Against LGBTQ People Hassanein Thu, 08/16/2018 – 10:42 Authored by Rokia Hassanein Image The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the baker who violated Colorado anti-discrimination laws when he refused on to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, is in the national spotlight again. This time, […]

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A tour through history raises questions for our time

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By BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler

This summer,I had an enriching opportunity to learn and deepen my connection to our Baptist history. I participated in the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond’s course and immersion experience, “A Shelter
for Conscience: Religious Liberty among Baptists and other Dissenters,” which included visits to historic religious liberty sites in Virginia. The group’s tour included a stop at the BJC’s Center for Religious Liberty on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where I was a guest lecturer.

Starting in Richmond, we toured historic churches that connect the present to the past. We saw Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, founded by Pastor John Jasper, a celebrated preacher who began his ministry as an enslaved person. We visited St. John’s Episcopal Church, where Patrick Henry delivered his famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech. We went directly from the Liberty Trail to the Richmond Slave Trail and Lumpkin’s Jail, referred to as “the Devil’s Half Acre” by enslaved Africans held for auction there.

We learned how dangerous it was to be a Baptist in Virginia in the 18th century, when you would have almost …read more

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Irreverent billboard campaign continues in Cobb County, Ga.

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is continuing its irreverent 2018 Georgia billboard campaign in suburban Atlanta with two new additions this August. “Enjoy life now — There is no afterlife” is appearing on a digital board on Spring Road half a mile east of Atlanta Road in Smyrna, Ga.  A contrasting message promoting the constitutional separation […]

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What’s At Stake With Brett Kavanaugh On The U.S. Supreme Court? Religious Minorities’ & Immigrants’ Rights.

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What’s At Stake With Brett Kavanaugh On The U.S. Supreme Court? Religious Minorities’ & Immigrants’ Rights. LHayes Wed, 08/15/2018 – 10:34 Authored by Liz Hayes Image If you care about the rights of religious minorities and immigrants, then you should be concerned about President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. […]

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