Legal

Up-close shot of couple holding hands during wedding ceremony

Christie Strikes Child Marriage Bill, Cites Religious Freedom

May 18, 2017

Last week, New Jersey governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill banning child marriage without exception—a bill which would have been the first of its kind in the United States. Christie cited religious freedom as a key reason for his refusal to sign the bill.

Although the legal marriage age is 18 across the U.S., every state has options for underage youth to wed. In New Jersey, children 15 and under need judicial approval to marry, while children ages 16 and 17 need only a parent’s consent Read more about Christie Strikes Child Marriage Bill, Cites Religious Freedom

Neil Gorsuch

New Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch Will Weigh in on Key Religious Freedom Case

April 10, 2017

Last Friday, the Senate broke with voting convention to confirm Judge Neil M. Gorsuch as the 113th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

49-year-old Gorsuch, a graduate of Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford universities, was nominated by President Donald Trump in January to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, which had been open since Scalia’s death in February 2016. Many anticipated a heated fight in the Senate over Gorsuch’s confirmation after Republican Senators performed what Sen. Patrick Leahy and others Read more about New Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch Will Weigh in on Key Religious Freedom Case

Whanganui River

Sacred Rivers in India, New Zealand Granted Legal Personhood

March 31, 2017

Last week, India became the second nation this month to grant legal personhood status to a river, raising ethical and practical questions about how to regulate environmental protections.

As of Monday, March 20, the Ganges river and its main tributary, the Yamuna, will be accorded the rights and responsibilities of a living person. The rivers are the first non-human entities to be granted such a status, The Guardian reported.

The crux of the Read more about Sacred Rivers in India, New Zealand Granted Legal Personhood

Man practicing yoga

Russian Yoga Teacher Acquitted of Proselytism Charges

January 30, 2017

Earlier this month, a St. Petersburg court dropped charges accusing a yoga instructor of illegal missionary activity. Critics of Russia’s crackdown on proselytism see the case as an example of the law’s ambiguity and ineffectiveness.

44-year-old Russian computer programmer Dmitry Ugay was arrested at the St. Petersburg “Vedalife” festival on October 22, 2016. Ugay was 40 minutes into a presentation on the spiritual principles behind the practice of yoga when police apprehended him on stage.  

Ugay was transported to a local police station and told to sign a confession on a Read more about Russian Yoga Teacher Acquitted of Proselytism Charges

DAPL Protest Banners

Federal Government Halts Pipeline Construction on American Indian Sacred Grounds

September 13, 2016

Last Friday, the federal government issued a temporary halt to construction on a crude oil pipeline that would run near American Indian tribal lands.

The joint statement from several governmental agencies came just 15 minutes after a U.S. District Judge had ruled that construction could continue unimpeded Read more about Federal Government Halts Pipeline Construction on American Indian Sacred Grounds

Michigan Court Drops Charges of Transgender Discrimination

Michigan Court Drops Charges of Transgender Discrimination

August 26, 2016

Last week, a Michigan district court ruled to dismiss charges of discrimination against a Detroit-area funeral home, citing religious freedom as legitimate grounds upon which one can fire a transgender employee.

The legal battle began in 2013, when funeral director Amiee Stephens—then known by her birth name, Anthony—presented her boss with a letter announcing her intention to begin living as a woman.

“I am writing this both to inform you of a significant change in my life and to ask for your patience, understanding, and support, which I would treasure greatly,” Read more about Michigan Court Drops Charges of Transgender Discrimination

Federal Court Rules Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster Not a Religion

Federal Court Rules Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster Not a Religion

April 19, 2016

Last week, a federal court ruled that Pastafarianism—the religion of those who profess belief in the deity of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM)—is not a real religion. 

The religion came into popularity when the Kansas State Board of Education gave preliminary approval for schools to teach alternative theories to evolution, including the theory of intelligent design. Bobby Henderson, then a 25-year-old with a bachelor’s degree in physics, wrote an open letter to the Kansas board Read more about Federal Court Rules Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster Not a Religion