Religious Liberty

The ACLU believes that the right of every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is one of the most fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Constitution’s framers understood that religious liberty can flourish only if the government leaves religion alone.

Immigration Policy in the Trump Era

Since 9/11, Muslims have been subjected to unlawful state surveillance, profiling, and deportation for imagined threats to the United States. This treatment has permanent consequences for individuals and their families and is a stain on our collective conscience. In his ...

Since 9/11, Muslims have been subjected to unlawful state surveillance, profiling, and deportation for imagined threats to the United States. This treatment has permanent consequences for individuals and their families and is a stain on our collective conscience. In his first days in office, President Donald Trump acted on his campaign promise of “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” by implementing anti-immigrant executive orders.

By January 27th, 2017, three executive orders were signed by the president concerning immigration. The “Muslim Ban” restricted immigration from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days, suspended all refugee entry for 120 days, and suspended Syrian refugee entry indefinitely. After numerous court cases, including one filed by the ACLU, federal courts stepped in to stop the “Muslim Ban” from being implemented.

Weeks later, the president signed a revised executive order, dubbed by the media “Muslim Ban 2.0.” The revisions removed Iraq from the list of banned countries as well as language about preferential treatment to non-Muslims, and exempted all visa and green-card holders. It also replaced the complete ban of Syrian refugees with a 120-day freeze. What stayed the same? The discriminatory and unconstitutional core of the executive order. As of March 16, federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland stopped the Trump administration from refusing to grant visas from six predominantly-Muslim countries on the grounds of religious discrimination. In Hawaii, the judge went further to also stop the freeze of Syrian refugee entry.

The ACLU will remain vigilant as we fight against unconstitutional and discriminatory legislation, policy, and executive orders. Learn More

 


Posted to Immigrant Rights, Religious Liberty, National Security, Police Practices, Free Speech, Privacy, General Civil Liberties

Town Hall Meetings: Constituent Cheat Sheet

The ACLU created this informational guide to assist Ohioans in having productive conversations with their United States Senators and Representatives at Town Hall meetings.  We highlighted some of the most pressing issues of 2017, including but not limited to the ...

The ACLU created this informational guide to assist Ohioans in having productive conversations with their United States Senators and Representatives at Town Hall meetings.  We highlighted some of the most pressing issues of 2017, including but not limited to the Muslim Ban, Sanctuary Cities, and Border Protection. We also included sample questions that may be of use to constituents and grass roots organizations. Please feel free to share with other members in your community!

Read the one-pager: Going to a Town Hall Near You?

 


Posted to Disability Rights, General Civil Liberties, Immigrant Rights, National Security, Police Practices, Religious Liberty, Reproductive Freedom, Womens’ Rights

ACLU Drops Support for 1993 RFRA

In 1993, the American Civil Liberties Union supported passage of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (...

In 1993, the American Civil Liberties Union supported passage of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law initially passed to protect the exercise of religious belief, including by vulnerable religious minorities.

The act gained ACLU support and became federal law after Native Americans were fired from their jobs and denied unemployment benefits because they had used peyote in their religious ceremonies.

But, for more than 20 years, the ACLU became increasingly concerned about how the RFRA also could be used―and has been used―to discriminate against others. Here’s an example. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says the RFRA allows it to use taxpayer funds to help unaccompanied immigrant minors, many of whom have been raped, despite the fact that it refuses to provide them access to abortion and contraception services as required by law. It even claims Catholic groups don’t have to tell the government when they have a teen who needs care (because then the government might step in and help).

The act often is used now to discriminate against women, LGBT people, and others on “religious grounds.” And this is increasing even more now that the Supreme Court has ruled same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, with some states passing their own version of the law as justification to denied service, employ or provide housing to LGBT individuals.

The ACLU is withdrawing its support for the RFRA, at least until Congress amends the RFRA so that it cannot be used as a defense for discrimination.

True Religious Liberty Does Not Promote Discrimination

There is a lot of buzz across the nation about legislation intended to protect religious freedom. Ohio House Bill 376, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), was similar to legislation proposed in Arizona, Kansas, and Mississippi. They are ...

There is a lot of buzz across the nation about legislation intended to protect religious freedom. Ohio House Bill 376, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), was similar to legislation proposed in Arizona, Kansas, and Mississippi. They are all of the same mold – actually meant to legalize discrimination, and share the same potential consequences.  Following a media frenzy around the Arizona bill, Ohio’s RFRA was indefinitely postponed.  For more information on the Ohio bill, read our RFRA fact sheet.

The Ohio RFRA would have substantially expanded opportunities for individuals to file a lawsuit if they felt that their religious liberty was burdened, even in the slightest way.  For example, someone could have  brought a lawsuit if they received a parking ticket during a worship service, or an employee could have refused to fill a birth control prescription if their religion condemns birth control.

The introduction of H.B. 376 and similar RFRA legislation in other states is not necessary to protect individual religious liberty, because the Bill of Rights has been doing that since the founding of our country.

The ACLU has worked for decades to protect true religious liberty. We have fought too hard for too long to allow individuals, for any reason, to be given a free pass to violate the basic civil rights of others and ignore the laws they do not wish to follow. 

True religious liberty is the freedom to practice your faith without government interference, not the right to impose your beliefs on someone else and harm them if they do not conform.

Defending the Right to Practice a Religion–or Not

Recent ACLU of Ohio cases highlight the organization’s commitment to both defending the right to practice religion and preventing the government from supporting religion. In State of Ohio v. Daley, the ACLU of Ohio defended John Daley, who had told ...

Recent ACLU of Ohio cases highlight the organization’s commitment to both defending the right to practice religion and preventing the government from supporting religion. In State of Ohio v. Daley, the ACLU of Ohio defended John Daley, who had told state employees that God would punish them. Although Daley made clear that he was not threatening them, he was charged with menacing and other crimes, and was hospitalized and medicated against his will because of his “unorthodox” religious beliefs. After several months, the ACLU of Ohio secured his release.

In ACLU v. DeWeese, the ACLU of Ohio filed a lawsuit to prevent Richland County Common Pleas Court Judge James DeWeese from displaying a poster supporting the Ten Commandments over “Humanist Precepts.” The ACLU of Ohio sued and prevailed in federal court, asserting that the poster was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. In February 2011, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with the lower court’s ruling. In October 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Judge DeWeese’s appeal, effectively upholding the decision that his poster is unconstitutional. Following the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal, the ACLU of Ohio asked for, and was granted attorney’s fees and costs. This marked the second time in a decade the federal courts have ruled Judge DeWeese’s courtroom posters were a violation of religious liberty. In 2002, the courts ruled Judge DeWeese remove a similar religious document from the courtroom wall.

Teaching Religion in Ohio Schools

In August 2011, two board members of the Springboro Community City School District asked the district to consider ways to integrate creationism into school curriculum. The ACLU of ...

In August 2011, two board members of the Springboro Community City School District asked the district to consider ways to integrate creationism into school curriculum. The ACLU of Ohio encouraged the district to give up these plans, which would surely lead to expensive and unnecessary litigation. As a result of pressure for civil liberties groups, the board members have rescinded their plan. The ACLU of Ohio continues to monitor the situation.

In 2002, the Ohio state school board approved a plan that opened the door to teaching intelligent design, a version of creationism that posits an unnamed “designer” is responsible for creating life. However, they rescinded the plan in February 2006, after a school board in Dover, Pennsylvania lost a legal challenge in a similar case.

Since that decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover, proponents now emphasize “teaching the controversy.” They argue that teaching evolution without criticism and alternatives violates the principle of objectivity. The scientific method, they claim, requires consideration of all possible theories, including the supernatural, unless proven false. However, nearly all scientists reject this argument because metaphysical explanations are unverifiable and unscientific.

The ACLU believes that the right of every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is one of the most fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Constitution’s framers understood that religious liberty can flourish only if the government leaves religion alone.

Immigration Policy in the Trump Era

Since 9/11, Muslims have been subjected to unlawful state surveillance, profiling, and deportation for imagined threats to the United States. This treatment has permanent consequences for individuals and their families and is a stain on our collective conscience. In his ...

Since 9/11, Muslims have been subjected to unlawful state surveillance, profiling, and deportation for imagined threats to the United States. This treatment has permanent consequences for individuals and their families and is a stain on our collective conscience. In his first days in office, President Donald Trump acted on his campaign promise of “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” by implementing anti-immigrant executive orders.

By January 27th, 2017, three executive orders were signed by the president concerning immigration. The “Muslim Ban” restricted immigration from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days, suspended all refugee entry for 120 days, and suspended Syrian refugee entry indefinitely. After numerous court cases, including one filed by the ACLU, federal courts stepped in to stop the “Muslim Ban” from being implemented.

Weeks later, the president signed a revised executive order, dubbed by the media “Muslim Ban 2.0.” The revisions removed Iraq from the list of banned countries as well as language about preferential treatment to non-Muslims, and exempted all visa and green-card holders. It also replaced the complete ban of Syrian refugees with a 120-day freeze. What stayed the same? The discriminatory and unconstitutional core of the executive order. As of March 16, federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland stopped the Trump administration from refusing to grant visas from six predominantly-Muslim countries on the grounds of religious discrimination. In Hawaii, the judge went further to also stop the freeze of Syrian refugee entry.

The ACLU will remain vigilant as we fight against unconstitutional and discriminatory legislation, policy, and executive orders. Learn More

 


Posted to Immigrant Rights, Religious Liberty, National Security, Police Practices, Free Speech, Privacy, General Civil Liberties

Town Hall Meetings: Constituent Cheat Sheet

The ACLU created this informational guide to assist Ohioans in having productive conversations with their United States Senators and Representatives at Town Hall meetings.  We highlighted some of the most pressing issues of 2017, including but not limited to the ...

The ACLU created this informational guide to assist Ohioans in having productive conversations with their United States Senators and Representatives at Town Hall meetings.  We highlighted some of the most pressing issues of 2017, including but not limited to the Muslim Ban, Sanctuary Cities, and Border Protection. We also included sample questions that may be of use to constituents and grass roots organizations. Please feel free to share with other members in your community!

Read the one-pager: Going to a Town Hall Near You?

 


Posted to Disability Rights, General Civil Liberties, Immigrant Rights, National Security, Police Practices, Religious Liberty, Reproductive Freedom, Womens’ Rights

Establishment Clause Still Intact After Town of Greece v. Galloway

On May 5, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a New York town’s practice of opening town meetings with official sectarian prayer. The practice had been challenged by residents of ...

On May 5, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a New York town’s practice of opening town meetings with official sectarian prayer. The practice had been challenged by residents of Greece, NY who argued that hearing governmental prayers at public meetings was in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The national ACLU filed a friend of the court brief supporting the residents of Greece. To read the brief and for more information on the Town of Greece v. Galloway decision, visit national ACLU’s web page on the case.

This very limited decision does not cancel the separation of church and state enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. To learn more about this decision’s limitations, read our blog post.

Read noted constitutional scholar Prof. Wilson Huhn’s analysis of this and the Hobby Lobby decision, and answer your most pressing questions about how these court decisions will affect religious liberty.

True Religious Liberty Does Not Promote Discrimination

There is a lot of buzz across the nation about legislation intended to protect religious freedom. Ohio House Bill 376, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), was similar to legislation proposed in Arizona, Kansas, and Mississippi. They are ...

There is a lot of buzz across the nation about legislation intended to protect religious freedom. Ohio House Bill 376, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), was similar to legislation proposed in Arizona, Kansas, and Mississippi. They are all of the same mold – actually meant to legalize discrimination, and share the same potential consequences.  Following a media frenzy around the Arizona bill, Ohio’s RFRA was indefinitely postponed.  For more information on the Ohio bill, read our RFRA fact sheet.

The Ohio RFRA would have substantially expanded opportunities for individuals to file a lawsuit if they felt that their religious liberty was burdened, even in the slightest way.  For example, someone could have  brought a lawsuit if they received a parking ticket during a worship service, or an employee could have refused to fill a birth control prescription if their religion condemns birth control.

The introduction of H.B. 376 and similar RFRA legislation in other states is not necessary to protect individual religious liberty, because the Bill of Rights has been doing that since the founding of our country.

The ACLU has worked for decades to protect true religious liberty. We have fought too hard for too long to allow individuals, for any reason, to be given a free pass to violate the basic civil rights of others and ignore the laws they do not wish to follow. 

True religious liberty is the freedom to practice your faith without government interference, not the right to impose your beliefs on someone else and harm them if they do not conform.

“Radicalization” Hearings in Congress

Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) has conducted three hearings on Muslim “radicalization” in the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in March, June, and July of 2011. King alleges that Muslims who hold devout religious beliefs are more likely to be ...

Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) has conducted three hearings on Muslim “radicalization” in the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in March, June, and July of 2011. King alleges that Muslims who hold devout religious beliefs are more likely to be associated with terrorism. The ACLU strongly opposes targeting of any person based on religious belief. Rep. King’s crusade evokes frightening imagery of past Congressional hearings targeting Jews, atheists, and left-leaning activists.

Religious Liberties Quiz

Nativity Scenes & Holiday Displays

Guide to School Holiday Programs

School Holiday Concerts

Halloween: A Religious Holiday?