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Image: Remembering Dr. John Templeton

Remembering Dr. John Templeton

May 20, 2015

by Maria Montserrat Alvarado, Director of Operations of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 

There are few more uplifting moments in life than realizing, that in some small way, you have truly made a difference.” – Dr. John M. Templeton

Today we remember Dr. John M. Templeton Jr., former pediatric surgeon and president and chairman of the Templeton Foundation who dedicated much of his life to answering humanity’s “Big Questions” through the rigorous study of science, religion, and human understanding.

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Image: Why you shouldn’t be asking “Can I shop at Hobby Lobby?”

Why you shouldn’t be asking “Can I shop at Hobby Lobby?”

March 31, 2015

by Mark Rienzi Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 

The Green family won their case at the Supreme Court in June 2014.

A new complicity argument from opponents of religious liberty?

Well, here’s something I didn’t expect to read about in the New York Times.

You may recall that the Times strongly opposed the efforts by the Green family (who own Hobby Lobby) to avoid paying for abortion-inducing drugs. Hobby Lobby employees, of course, are free to spend their money on these drugs (or anything else) if they want to.  But the Greens did not want to be complicit in abortion and therefore asked not to pay for the drugs.  The Times derided the Greens’ effort to step aside as trying to “impose their religious views on employees.” 

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Image: UCLA debate over bias of believers

UCLA debate over bias of believers

March 17, 2015

by Adèle Keim, Legal Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

In a similar case targeting religious student groups, Chi Alpha was kicked off its Cal State campus for asking its leaders to share its beliefs.

“Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” That sentence, uttered last month by a UCLA undergraduate evaluating a Jewish student-government candidate, has ignited a firestorm. The New York Times reports that the Jewish student was asked to leave the room while the rest of the group spent 40 minutes discussing whether her participation in on-campus Jewish student groups meant she would be biased as a member of student government. In response, UCLA’s chancellor said it was “intellectually and morally unacceptable” to “assume that every member of a group can’t be impartial or is motivated by hatred.” He was, of course, correct: It is straightforward discrimination to assume that because someone is religious, they will be biased. My law firm, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, exists to combat discrimination like this.

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Image: Prisoner beards and religious freedoms — what a recent Supreme Court decision means for you

Prisoner beards and religious freedoms — what a recent Supreme Court decision means for you

February 3, 2015

By Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a unanimous victory for religious freedom in Holt v. Hobbs. It held that a federal civil rights statute requires prison officials to accommodate peaceful expressions of religious devotion, an issue arising from a dispute between a bearded Muslim inmate (named Holt) and the Arkansas Department of Correction. Because the same statute also happens to protect the land-use needs of religious organizations, the circle of winners from the court’s endorsement of the statute’s power extends well beyond a prison’s walls.

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Image: WATCH: O’Reilly cheers on City’s Ebenezer-like change of heart

Image: Mr. Smith goes to Washington

Mr. Smith goes to Washington

December 11, 2014

Mr. Robert Soto, Lipan Apache religious leader and feather dancer and plaintiff in McAllen Grace Brethren Church v. Salazar

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

The Atlantic just published a fascinating elegy for Alfred Smith. You may not recognize the name, but if you’ve seen a constitutional law textbook in the last twenty years—or spent more than a few minutes on the Becket Fund’s website—you’ve probably heard of his case. Mr. Smith is the plaintiff in Employment Division v. Smith, a case which changed the landscape of religious freedom law in the United States.  This controversial decision allowed neutral, generally applicable laws to trump religious belief—even when they placed a heavy burden on religious freedom.

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Image: Thanksgiving Reprise: Forgetting the Holy; The Feast of the Intransitive Verb

Thanksgiving Reprise: Forgetting the Holy; The Feast of the Intransitive Verb

November 25, 2014

By Zachary Enos, Assistant Director of Communications

If certain bureaucrats had their way, Christmas and Hanukah would become “Sparkle Season,” St. Valentine’s Day would be branded “Special Persons Day,”  and Easter—the “Spring Festival.” But hey, since stingy officials ignore common sense all the time, why stop there? We celebrate other public Holidays—a word which comes from the Old English for “holy day.” Why not eradicate the spirit of faith from Thanksgiving, too?

Becket Fund Founder Seamus Hasson tackles that question in his now classic bit of wit, Forgetting the holy; The Feast of the Intransitive Verb. In the fall of 1999, Seamus suggested that crusading government bureaucrats would rather host a November non-sense feast, than risk encouraging someone to thank God. Here’s how he began:

“Every fourth Thursday in November work and school are canceled so that families can gather together for the day and thank – well, we’ll get to just who it is they may be thanking in a minute. They also enjoy good food, good company and good football. The holiday is currently called Thanksgiving, although there is reason to think that may have to change.

Just about every other religious holiday has been stripped of its original meaning and transformed into a more secular version of its former self. Why should Thanksgiving be any different?”

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