Religious Freedom

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

A pastor delivers a talk

Trump Promises to “Destroy” Johnson Amendment

February 8, 2017

Last Thursday while attending his first National Prayer Breakfast, Donald Trump reiterated his intention to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, thereby allowing houses of worship to engage in political endorsements.

Trump’s promise to overturn restrictions on pulpit politicking was one of his most consistent talking points during his presidential campaign. While meeting with a group of conservative Christian leaders in June, Trump Read more about Trump Promises to “Destroy” Johnson Amendment

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

Sikh U.S. Army captain wearing a camouflage turban

U.S. Army to Permit Religious Turbans, Beards, and Hijabs

January 15, 2017

The United States Army will now allow soldiers to wear turbans, hijabs, and other religious markers, according to a new policy issued last week.

The new uniform regulations come after years of petitions from Sikhs, whose religious beliefs mandate them to grow their hair long and keep their heads covered with a turban. Army grooming standards compelling men to be clean-shaven particularly restricted Sikh men from enlisting, because to do so would require them violate the precepts of their faith.

In March, the United States Army determined that their standards—which allowed Read more about U.S. Army to Permit Religious Turbans, Beards, and Hijabs

Little girl in swim cap leans on edge of pool

Swiss Court Rules Against Coed Swim Exemption for Muslim Girls

January 12, 2017

On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Switzerland’s public schools can enforce mandatory mixed-sex swim classes, even if parents object on religious grounds.

The ruling was the final step in a years-long legal battle waged by Turkish-Swiss couple Aziz Osmanoglu and Sehabat Kocabas. In 2008, when Osmanoglu and Kocabas’s daughters were 9 and 7, the couple refused to send them to mandatory school swim lessons.

Their objection was rooted in their Muslim faith. Although both girls were pre-pubescent and thus not yet beholden to the Quran’s requirements for Read more about Swiss Court Rules Against Coed Swim Exemption for Muslim Girls