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Religious Freedom

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NEWS
June 13, 2012 | By Michael McGough
Liberals are exulting over the defeat by North Dakota voters of a proposed Religious Liberty Amendment to the state constitution.  In The Nation John Nichols said the amendment would have created “sweeping new exemptions for religious activity in secular life” and might even “allow those charged with domestic violence to claim that their religion allowed them to 'discipline' spouses and children.”  A Planned Parenthood official said...
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NATIONAL
April 4, 2014 | By Paresh Dave
Mississippi's governor signed into law Thursday a measure that allows individuals and organizations to sue the government over laws that they feel thwart their ability to practice religion. “I am proud to sign the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which will protect the individual religious freedom of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference,” Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement.  Civil rights groups and advocates of the gay community had opposed the measure and believe that when it takes effect in July it could lead to increased discrimination of gays and lesbians.
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NEWS
February 22, 2012 | By Michael A. Memoli
When the issue of contraception came up in tonight's Republican debate, it offered the front-runners an attempt to finesse their positions on social issues to address seeming weaknesses. For Mitt Romney, that meant taking a hard line against President Obama and his administration's decision to mandate that all employer insurance plans cover contraception -- even those that are offered by religious institutions like Catholic hospitals and universities. Needing to make up ground among those conservatives who have of late turned to Rick Santorum, Romney accused Obama of undermining religious freedom.
NATIONAL
April 2, 2014 | By Paresh Dave
Mississippi lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow citizens and businesses to challenge laws they see as substantially in conflict with their religious beliefs. The bill, in the hands of Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday, would put into place a law similar to what  Arizona has on its books -- and had sought to expand as part of a controversial proposal that was recently vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. Several other states have considered similar religious freedom bills this year.
OPINION
May 28, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. " So says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. But a voluminous report issued by the State Department last week demonstrates that those lofty principles continue to be widely dishonored.
NATIONAL
February 20, 2014 | By Cindy Carcamo
TUCSON -- Say a gay couple in Phoenix walks into a bakery to order their wedding cake. The baker refuses to take their order because of his deeply held religious beliefs. Under a measure that passed the Arizona Legislature this week, the baker would have greater protection to invoke religion to shield himself from a discrimination lawsuit. The bill, approved by the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday and the GOP-led House on Thursday, would bolster a business owner's right to refuse service to gays and others if the owner believes doing so violates the practice and observance of his or her religion.
NEWS
July 22, 1997 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
In its first report on the persecution of Christians around the world, the State Department sharply criticized China for suppressing religious freedom, the New York Times reported. The Chinese government has regularly cracked down on unregistered Catholic and Protestant groups, raided worship groups meeting in private homes and sometimes detained, interrogated or beat leaders, according to the report, which details international restrictions on religious freedom in 78 countries.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 18, 1985
The so-called equal access law enacted by Congress last year was expected to clarify the issue of religion on campus. It seems to have done anything but, considering the heated hearings it has caused in at least two Orange County school districts and the difference in the approaches that various districts are taking. For instance, the Anaheim Union High School District voted Aug. 8 to open school facilities to religious groups and other non-curriculum-related clubs and organizations.
OPINION
March 25, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider a proposition that will strike many Americans as bizarre: that large, for-profit businesses can refuse on religious grounds to comply with a federal mandate that they include contraception in their employee health plans. Three companies - Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores with 13,000 full-time employees; Mardel, a bookstore chain; and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinet manufacturer - are challenging the mandate. The businesses say it would require them to cover forms of contraception that the owners regard as equivalent to abortion - and thus offensive to their religious faith.
NATIONAL
February 20, 2014 | By Cindy Carcamo
TUCSON -- Say a gay couple in Phoenix walks into a bakery to order their wedding cake. The baker refuses to take their order because of his deeply held religious beliefs. Under a measure that passed the Arizona Legislature this week, the baker would have greater protection to invoke religion to shield himself from a discrimination lawsuit. The bill, approved by the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday and the GOP-led House on Thursday, would bolster a business owner's right to refuse service to gays and others if the owner believes doing so violates the practice and observance of his or her religion.
OPINION
February 16, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 says, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. " But, like other rights enshrined in that declaration, religious freedom is widely violated around the world. Is that any of the business of the United States? President Obama thinks so, and he's right. Before the most receptive audience imaginable - a National Prayer Breakfast - Obama recently insisted that "promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.
NEWS
February 15, 2014 | By Michael McGough
Is religious freedom under siege because of the ascendancy of the gay rights movement? That's literally an article of faith for some Christians. Supporters of gay rights in general and same-sex marriage in particular ridicule such alarms. My own view is that there are a small number of situations in which the 1st Amendment does entitle religious opponents of homosexuality or same-sex marriage to engage in what would otherwise be illegal discrimination. For example, I was sympathetic to the claim of the Christian Legal Society at the UC Hastings College of Law that it should be able to limit its leadership to students who assented to (and lived by)
OPINION
February 4, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Two decades ago, Congress overwhelmingly approved and President Clinton enthusiastically signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But now that the 1993 law is being used to challenge the Obama administration's requirement that employer health plans include contraceptive services, some supporters of the law are having second thoughts, and several organizations want the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. That would be a mistake. The law was a response to a 1990 Supreme Court decision involving two Oregon men who had been denied unemployment benefits after they were fired for using the hallucinogenic drug peyote during a Native American religious rite.
NATIONAL
January 2, 2014 | By David G. Savage and Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - The intensifying Supreme Court clash over whether birth control should be required under President Obama's signature healthcare law has revealed just how deep divisions remain between administration officials and Catholic leaders over where to draw the line between religious freedom and women's reproductive rights. After more than two years of negotiations, a compromise that satisfies everyone appears out of reach, likely leaving the matter for high court justices to decide later this year.
NATIONAL
November 26, 2013 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to jump into a growing legal dispute between the Obama administration and businesses run by conservative Christians over whether a company must pay for birth control drugs that conflict with its owner's religious beliefs. The decision to hear the cases, which could affect millions of women with employer-provided health plans, means that for a second time, the justices will decide the fate of a key part of President Obama's healthcare law. Last year, the court in a 5-4 decision upheld the requirement that individuals obtain basic health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
NATIONAL
November 25, 2013 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - When the Supreme Court confronted the case of Native Americans who were fired for smoking an illegal drug during a religious ceremony, Justice Antonin Scalia called a halt to granting religious exemptions under the Constitution's protection for the "free exercise" of religion. It "would be courting anarchy" to permit "religious objectors" to ignore the law, he said. But Democrats in Congress rose up to overturn his decision and to bolster religious freedom. Backed by a broad coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Christian Legal Society, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law 20 years ago this month.
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