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Image: Becket Fund Congratulates Rabbi Saperstein on Nomination

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Becket Fund Congratulates Rabbi Saperstein on Nomination

July 28, 2014

Today President Obama announced his intent to nominate Rabbi David Nathan Saperstein to the position of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, a position within the U.S. State Department.The Becket Fund congratulates Rabbi Saperstein on his pending nomination. In his role as Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Saperstein has frequently supported religious liberty in general and clients of the Becket Fund in particular, both through amicus briefs and public statements. For example, Rabbi Saperstein and the Religious Action Center supported the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, a Becket Fund client in Tennessee, in its struggle to build a new mosque in the face of opposition from neighbors. At the time Rabbi Saperstein explained, “An attack on one religion is an attack on all religions.”

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Image: Hobby Lobby (In)Sanity and the Right to be Wrong

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Hobby Lobby (In)Sanity and the Right to be Wrong

July 17, 2014

By Adèle Keim, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Tired of all the overblown claims about what the Supreme Court actually did in Hobby Lobby? So is the Washington Post. And Politifact. Megan McArdle’s Q & A at Bloomberg is a terrific antidote as well. And of course, you can find Becket’s perspective here.

But the brouhaha about Hobby Lobby raises a bigger question: how do we get along in a nation where we strongly disagree about things like birth control, sex, and religion?

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Image: What Hobby Lobby Means for Religious Liberty

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What Hobby Lobby Means for Religious Liberty

July 14, 2014

Looking for the inside scoop on Hobby Lobby’s historic advance of religious liberty? You just found it! Only hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy blog (hosted by the Washington Post) published exclusive legal analysis from Professor Mark Rienzi—one of Hobby Lobby’s lead attorneys and Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund.

After highlighting landmark aspects of the opinion, Rienzi demonstrates that High Court’s reasoning sounds the death knell for the Administration’s assault on religious ministries. Here’s a brief sketch of Mark’s points:

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Image: Defending Ramadan and Religious Freedom

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Defending Ramadan and Religious Freedom

July 7, 2014

By Asma Uddin, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

It’s almost midnight, and my day has just started. While I was immersed in my daily work throughout the day, I moved among my tasks without breaking to eat or drink—for all 17 hours of my Washington, DC July fast. Now that the sun has set and my kids have gone to bed, I can turn to reflecting and meditating: the stuff Ramadan is all about. Ramadan, especially Ramadan at night, is about putting your worldly concerns behind as you turn inward, and toward God. The experience is deepened by the day’s fast, which gives you an intimate look inside the daily suffering of people all over the world whose hunger is never satiated.

This Ramadan, there’s an added layer of spiritual sorrow. News broke last week that Muslim teachers, students, and civil servants in the northwestern Xinjiang province of China have been forbidden from fasting or taking part in any religious activity during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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Image: How the Becket Fund became the leading advocate for religious freedom for all

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How the Becket Fund became the leading advocate for religious freedom for all

June 27, 2014

A Response to the American Prospect

By Luke W. Goodrich

On June 18, the American Prospect published an article about the Becket Fund and its role in the Hobby Lobby litigation. Much of the article is fair and balanced. But one of its core claims—that the Becket Fund has been drifting from its founding principles—misses the mark and misunderstands religious liberty.

First, the fair and balanced part. The article does a fine job of describing the Becket Fund’s founding principles. As the article notes, the Becket Fund’s founder, Seamus Hasson, “insisted that [the Becket Fund] would be different.” It was never designed “to restore a version of Christian hegemony.” Rather, it was based on “the notion that ‘religious expression is natural to human culture,’” that religious liberty is a “natural right,” and that therefore religious freedom belongs to everyone—including those with whom we disagree.

The article rightly notes that, from the beginning, “Becket’s ecumenical commitments set it apart.” The firm was “beholden to neither party”; it freely “offered its services to aggrieved believers of all stripes”; and it “took cases that gratified and vexed advocates on both sides of the political aisle.” As examples, the article cites Becket’s defense of a Catholic organization that sought to display a crèche on city property, and its defense of Muslim police officers who sought the right to grow a beard. It could have cited many more.

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Image: The Terrors of Blasphemy Laws

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The Terrors of Blasphemy Laws

May 30, 2014

By Asma Uddin, Legal Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

The conflict between religious freedom and blasphemy laws in Pakistan is a source of constant concern for the international community. Not only are the blasphemy laws in Pakistan outrageous in themselves, but they are also applied unfairly by those with an agenda, and even the act of defending someone who has been accused of blasphemy has come to be seen as a crime.

All of these elements are evident in the May 7, 2014 murder of human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman, who was killed for defending poet and Fulbright scholar Junaid Hafeez against allegations of blasphemy. Hafeez, a professor, was accused by his students of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The accusations were baseless, but as with most cases of blasphemy charges in Pakistan, no real evidence was needed. He was charged by the police, defenseless without a lawyer. Rehman, special coordinator at Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, agreed to represent Hafeez in court, knowing the decision would put his life in danger.

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Image: Canterbury Medalist Rabbi Sacks’ Stirring Defense of Freedom

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Canterbury Medalist Rabbi Sacks’ Stirring Defense of Freedom

May 21, 2014

By Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

“In America, the tree of liberty has religious roots. Don’t believe you can sever those roots and have the tree of liberty survive.”

Those words came from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, this year’s Canterbury Medalist. Sitting in the room Thursday night, I watched Catholics, Sikhs, Mormons, Jews and Evangelicals stand together to applaud Rabbi Sacks, who gave an impassioned defense of religious freedom. The entire speech is here, and it is well worth your time.

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