The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it will appeal a federal judge’s opinion that a federal income tax allowance for clergy housing is unconstitutional. Read more>>
By: Washington Post
Legal scholar Eugene Volokh summarizes an important case concerning religious free exercise rights for prisoners. The federal Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the prison did not show that it had a compelling reason to deny an American Indian access to a sweat lodge important for his religious practice. Read more>>
By: Washington Post
The Defense Department released new regulations that take a step forward in allowing people of minority faiths to serve their country while abiding by religious requirements to wear beards, turbans, and other articles of faith. American Sikh and Muslim groups have welcomed the improvements, but say this is only a minor change to current policy, and a more complete reform is needed. Read more>>
By: The White House
Today, President Obama released a proclamation in recognition of National Religious Freedom Day. January 16 is the anniversary of Virginia’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. Read the full text of the president's 2014 proclamation.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released a new edition of its study on Restrictions on Religion. It reports that the number of nations with the worst grade on their index measuring social hostility to religion reached a six-year high in 2012. Read the full report here.
Law professor Lucia Silecchia writes on the lessons to be learned about freedom of conscience from the Flushing Remonstrance, a 1657 petition by inhabitants of Vlissingen, New Netherlands (now Flushing, New York). The Flushing Remonstrance protected the rights of Quakers against religious persecution by the colony’s governor. Read more>>
By: India West
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) has asked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to clarify a Defense Department policy affecting the military service of Sikhs and other religious minorities. The letter says that DOD's policy “appears to presumptively exclude” Sikhs from serving in the military if they exercise their religious beliefs by wearing their required headgear and maintaining unshorn hair and beards. Read more>>
By: Religion Clause
Religion Clause Blog details three recent settlements secured by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for employees claiming religious discrimination. Each settlement included monetary damages for the employee and changes to the employers' policies or training. Read more>>
Human Rights Without Frontiers International, an advocacy group based in Belgium, reports eight of the 47 countries represented on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations imprisoned their own people in 2013 through laws restricting religious freedom. This happened despite the fact that Article 18 of the UN's own Universal Declaration of Human Rights has since 1948 purported to protect freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. Read more>>
By: Wall Street Journal
Stanford professor William Damon, director of the university's Center on Adolescence, notes that although the American dream is often equated merely with economic success, many who come to America also come for the availability and protection of fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom. Damon cites an ongoing, multi-year study at Stanford's Graduate School of Education showing that both native-born and immigrant children understand the American dream to be based on such freedoms, in addition to material prosperity. Unlike material wealth and financial prosperity, the freedom-based meanings at the core of the American dream need not be diminished by economic downturns. Read more>>
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