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Religious Liberty

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NATIONAL
February 8, 2013 | By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Judges across the country are increasingly split over whether private employers and their companies can cite their religious beliefs as a valid reason for denying birth control coverage to their employees. Earlier this month the Obama administration proposed a compromise for some nonprofit religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and colleges, that would allow them to avoid paying directly for such insurance. But the administration refused to consider a similar exemption for private, for-profit employers.
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NATIONAL
March 24, 2014 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - A challenge to part of President Obama's healthcare law that hits the Supreme Court on Tuesday could lead to one of the most significant religious freedom rulings in the high court's history. Four years ago, in their controversial Citizens United decision, the justices ruled that corporations had full free-speech rights in election campaigns. Now, they're being asked to decide whether for-profit companies are entitled to religious liberties. At issue in Tuesday's oral argument before the court is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide workers a health plan that covers the full range of contraceptives, including morning-after pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 27, 1985 | MARJORIE HYER, The Washington Post
A recent State Department-backed conference on problems of religious freedom internationally has stirred a bitter domestic religious debate and raised questions of whether the meeting amounted to improper church-state entanglement.
OPINION
March 18, 2014 | By Michael A. Helfand
Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate - the requirement that employers provide employee health insurance that covers contraception - impermissibly infringes on the religious liberty of religiously motivated corporations. The legal battles over the mandate have been legion; more than 300 plaintiffs have filed more than 90 cases across the country, all contending that providing health coverage for contraception would require them to violate their faith.
NEWS
February 17, 1997 | DAVID G. SAVAGE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The old Spanish-style church of weathered stone, perched proudly on a rise above this town's main street, sits at the center of a dispute that is likely to determine the reach of religious liberty in this nation. In the narrow sense, the battle here is over zoning. Although picturesque from the street, St. Peter's Catholic Church is cramped and plain inside. "We can't fit in it anymore. It seats 220 people and we have 1,050 families," Father Anthony Cummins said.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 3, 1990 | From Associated Press
The nation's schools will be offered a new curriculum on religious liberty that aims to circumvent a minefield of controversies by focusing on the historical role of religion in society, project officials said Wednesday. "A constructive handling of religious liberty is essential to good teaching about religion, democratic first principles and American common core values," said Charles Haynes, president of the National Council on Religion and Public Education.
NATIONAL
December 7, 2007 | Miguel Bustillo, Stephanie Simon and Mark Z. Barabak, Times Staff Writers
The glowing reviews began tumbling in at once: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's speech on faith was powerful and convincing, analysts said -- sincere, effective, hit all the right notes. But will it help Romney, a Mormon, win over the key voting bloc of conservative Christians? The broad consensus: probably not. "I'm not sure it's going to work for evangelical voters," said Collin Hansen, editor-at-large at the evangelical monthly Christianity Today.
OPINION
April 22, 1990 | WILLIAM BENTLEY BALL, William Bentley Ball is a constitutional lawyer in Harrisburg, Pa. He has argued many religious rights cases before the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court ruled last week that since Oregon could prohibit the religious use of the hallucinogenic drug, peyote, it could deny unemployment compensation to persons discharged for such use. Thus stated, the decision appears unremarkable. In fact, the court's opinion opens up a constitutional fault of San Andreas proportions. Many times before, the Supreme Court, and all lower courts, have issued rulings telling us that our First Amendment freedoms are not absolute.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 29, 1995 | From The Washington Post
Congressional hearings on the Branch Davidian siege are raising thorny questions about whether the government owes unconventional and insular religious sects as much religious freedom as that granted more mainstream faiths. Many religion scholars see the Waco case as a colossal government failure to balance a group's 1st Amendment rights to practice its faith freely with the government's imperative to intervene when it suspects laws are being broken.
NEWS
February 20, 1997 | DAVID G. SAVAGE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Hearing oral arguments in a major religious liberty case, several Supreme Court justices suggested Wednesday that Congress may have overstepped its bounds when it sought to reverse the court's recent ruling on the "free exercise of religion." Justice Anthony M. Kennedy commented that the court had properly concluded religious claimants should get equal treatment under the law but not special exemptions.
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.
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
September 19, 2013 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration set the stage Thursday for another Supreme Court showdown on the president's healthcare law, this time to decide whether for-profit companies can be forced to provide full contraceptive coverage for their employees despite religious objections from their owners. The administration's lawyers asked the justices to take up the issue this fall to decide whether these corporations can claim a religious exemption to this part of the healthcare law. U.S. Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr. called the issue one of "exceptional importance" that needs to be resolved soon.
NEWS
August 15, 2013 | By Michael McGough
The notion that religious freedom is under siege isn't just an American preoccupation. Some Christian leaders in Britain also have sounded the alarm, prompting a pointed rejoinder from the former spiritual leader of the Church of England that also should be required reading for paranoid American religious conservatives. Rowan Williams, who retired as Archbishop of Canterbury last year to return to academic life, said, “I am always very uneasy when people sometimes in this country or the United States talk about persecution of Christians, or rather, believers.” Christians in Britain and the United States may fairly complain about being ridiculed, Williams acknowledged.
OPINION
July 8, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
When the Supreme Court struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was a "tragic day for marriage and our nation. " But the bishops go further, arguing that when the state legalizes same-sex civil marriage, "conflict results on a massive scale between the law and religious institutions and families.... Religious liberty is then threatened. " The bishops are equally alarmist about what they see as the threat to religious freedom posed by the Obama administration's requirement that employee health plans - including those at religious colleges and hospitals - include contraception services.
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.
OPINION
July 8, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
When the Supreme Court struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was a "tragic day for marriage and our nation. " But the bishops go further, arguing that when the state legalizes same-sex civil marriage, "conflict results on a massive scale between the law and religious institutions and families.... Religious liberty is then threatened. " The bishops are equally alarmist about what they see as the threat to religious freedom posed by the Obama administration's requirement that employee health plans - including those at religious colleges and hospitals - include contraception services.
NEWS
January 24, 1998 | NORMAN KEMPSTER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced Friday that she is creating a high-level post in the State Department to ensure that concerns about religious liberty around the world are addressed in all aspects of U.S. foreign policy. The step was recommended by the Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, and Albright endorsed it only minutes after receiving the panel's report.
NATIONAL
February 8, 2013 | By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Judges across the country are increasingly split over whether private employers and their companies can cite their religious beliefs as a valid reason for denying birth control coverage to their employees. Earlier this month the Obama administration proposed a compromise for some nonprofit religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and colleges, that would allow them to avoid paying directly for such insurance. But the administration refused to consider a similar exemption for private, for-profit employers.
NEWS
November 27, 2012 | By Michael McGough
Religious conservatives in the United States  have been complaining that developments in the political arena - the Obamcare contraceptive mandate, the progress of same-sex civil marriage - threaten religious freedom. They're crying wolf, but similar alarums in the Mother Country make a bit more sense.  Because England has an established church, some of whose bishops sit in Parliament, the political question of same-sex marriage has religious reverberations that  don't sound here.
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