RECENT ARTICLES ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Scottish CEO Wins Religious Discrimination Case. An employment tribunal has ruled that Scotland’s largest grant-making trust unlawfully discriminated against its CEO because of his Christian views on marriage. Read more here.
U.S. Appeals Court Rules Christian Web Designer Must Give Equal Access to LGBT Customers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit said graphic designer Lorie Smith must design graphics and websites that “celebrate same-sex marriages” because Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act compels her to do so if she also is going to create websites that celebrate heterosexual marriages. Read more here.
EU Bishops’ Commission Urges Action to Protect Religious Freedom. European bishops called on the European Union to do more to protect religious freedom in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
Christian Family Banned From Michigan Farmer’s Market for Religious Beliefs Goes to Trial. A federal district court will hear the case of a Catholic organic farmer who was banned from a Michigan farmer’s market over his belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Read more here.
Ninth Circuit Favors Washington Church in Case Against State Abortion Coverage Mandate. In a ruling by a federal appeals court, Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington won its case against a state abortion coverage mandate. Read more here.
UK’s Blackpool Council Ordered to Pay Over £100K for Discriminating Against Christians. Blackpool Council has been ordered to pay £25,000 in damages and £84,000 in costs for discrimination against a local Christian festival involving over 200 churches. Read more here.
Kentucky Contracts With Baptist-Affiliated Children’s Agency. Kentucky reached a contract deal to continue placing youngsters with a Baptist-affiliated children’s agency, coming after the governor’s administration removed LGBTQ anti-discrimination language that the agency steadfastly refused to sign. Read more here.
U.S. Appeals Court Rules Against University That Targeted Christian Group. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled against the University of Iowa, calling its decision to deregister a Christian student group one of the most obvious examples of discrimination that it has ever seen. Read more here.
U.S. Judge Rules School Can Require Teacher to Use Transgender Pronouns and Names. A federal judge has ruled against a Christian teacher who claimed he was forced out of his job because he declined to use the preferred names and pronouns of transgender students. Read more here.
U.S. Fifth Circuit Allows Chaplain-Led Courtroom Prayers to Continue After Being Ruled Unconstitutional. A federal appeals court sided with a Texas justice of the peace, allowing him to continue chaplain-led invocations before state court hearings while the lawsuit against him is adjudicated after his courtroom prayer tradition was ruled unconstitutional by a lower court. Read more here.
State AGs Push Back on Biden’s LGBT Guidance, Warn Religious Liberty Is in Peril. A group of 21 state attorneys general has signed on to a letter to the Biden administration, denouncing recent efforts to expand LGBT policies in schools that they believe would circumvent religious liberty protections and free speech rights. Read more here.
U.S. Appeals Court Rules Catholic Parish Can Fire Homosexual Employee Under Ministerial Exception. An appeals court has ruled that an Illinois Catholic parish and its archdiocese could legally fire a music director because he had entered a same-sex marriage, as his relationship conflicted with Church teaching. Read more here.
Washington Church Challenges State Law Requiring Abortion Coverage in Healthcare Plans. A Washington church is challenging a state law forcing it to cover elective abortions in its health insurance plans. Read more here.
Colombian Court Agrees to Hear Case of Celebrity Forced to Remove Video Supporting Traditional Marriage. The Colombian Constitutional Court has agreed to review the case of a social media star that seeks to overturn a national court ruling that ordered her to take down an online video wherein she expressed her belief in traditional marriage. Read more here.
Judge Who Won’t Oversee Same-Sex Weddings Due to Religious Beliefs Wants Lawsuit Revived. A Jack County, Texas judge who declines to marry same-sex couples due to his Christian beliefs has standing to challenge a state commission’s interpretation of a judicial canon in a way that chills his religious rights, his lawyers will tell an appeals court. Read more here.
UK Govt ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Religious Freedom Violations in North Korea. The UK government has said it is “deeply concerned” about reports of serious human rights violations against people of faith in North Korea. Read more here.
SCOTUS to Hear Religious School Tuition Case. The U.S. Supreme Court decided that it will hear a case brought by families from Maine who want to use a state tuition program to send their children to religious schools. Read more here.
Kentucky’s Contract With Children’s Agency Remains in Limbo. Kentucky’s contract renewal with a Baptist-affiliated children’s agency remains in limbo over a disputed contract clause that could require the agency to place children with same-sex couples in violation of their deeply held religious beliefs. Read more here.
Ohio Passes Bill Allowing Religious Hospitals, Doctors to Refuse Procedures That Violate Convictions. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a state budget that allows for medical professionals and insurers to be excused from performing procedures that conflict with their religious beliefs. Read more here.
SCOTUS Declines to Hear Key Religious Liberty Case Next Term. The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not take up a key religious liberty case centered around a Christian artist who has come under fire for declining to service events that violate her faith, such as same-sex marriage ceremonies. Read more here.
UK Christian Foster Agency to Appeal Ruling Against ‘Heterosexual Couples’ Policy. An evangelical Christian fostering agency that lost part of a High Court case over its policy of only placing children with heterosexual married couples has made a bid to overturn the decision at the Court of Appeal. Read more here.
Activist Says China’s ‘Killing’ of Hong Kong Paper Has Serious Implications for Religious Liberty. A human rights activist has said that the Chinese Communist Party’s “killing” of a pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong has “serious implications” for religious liberty. Read more here.
U of California Sets Rules for Religious Hospitals. The University of California’s governing board has adopted a new policy that tightens the rules on affiliations with hospitals that impose religious restrictions on health care, such as refusing to perform abortions or “gender reassignment” surgery. Read more here.
UK Street Preacher Wins Wrongful Arrest Case. A Christian street preacher has won damages from the West Yorkshire Police after he was wrongfully arrested and falsely imprisoned for preaching the gospel. Read more here.
SC Considers Extending Religious Objections to Therapists. South Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill to let mental health professionals refuse to provide care that violates their religious beliefs in response to an ordinance banning “conversion therapy” for minors in the state’s capital city. Read more here.
Atheists Sue Mississippi Over New ‘In God We Trust’ License Plates. Mississippi is facing a lawsuit from a group of atheists because of the southern state’s new license plates featuring the phrase “In God We Trust.” Read more here.
Over 80 Percent of Americans Say Religious Freedom Is Key to Healthy Society. More than four-fifths of surveyed Americans believe that freedom of religion is an important aspect of a “healthy American society,” according to a recent poll. Read more here.
Protestors Gather Around Calgary Prison to Support Pastor Arrested for Holding Worship Services. A group of pastors and protesters gathered around the Calgary Remand Centre in Alberta to support Pastor Tim Stephens who was jailed after a police helicopter found where his congregation was meeting outside. Read more here.
SCOTUS Asked to Rule If Boston Can Legally Refuse to Fly Christian Flag at City Hall. A Christian legal nonprofit has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh whether the city of Boston violated the rights of a Christian organization by refusing to allow a Christian flag to fly on public property. Read more here.
SCOTUS Strikes Down Philadelphia Law Forcing Same-Sex Adoption at Catholic Org. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court ruling regarding the City of Philadelphia barring foster children from being placed with the Catholic Social Services due to its unwillingness to endorse same-sex couples. Read more here.
Texas Gov Signs Religious Freedom Law Prohibiting Govt From Closing Churches. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law prohibiting government agencies and officials in the state from ordering churches and other houses of worship to close. Read more here.
IRS Denies Tax-Exempt Status to Christian Org Accused of Being Too Political. A Christian group is appealing a decision from the Internal Revenue Service denying nonprofit exemption status due to the government believing that its endeavors are too political. Read more here.
Irish Children Being Bullied at School for Practicing Their Religion. A recent study carried out by Ireland’s National Anti-Bullying Centre found teachers of religious education have specific concerns about students who are practicing Catholics being targeted for bullying more than those who are not. Read more here.
Canadian Pastor Arrested for Holding Outdoor Services. Pastor Tim Stephens was arrested on new charges after Fairview Baptist Church gathered for underground worship for the second week in a row since their church was effectively seized by Alberta Health Services. Read more here.
Wealthy Donors Pour Millions Into Anti-Religious Freedom Efforts as Adoption Ruling Looms. Reports show that millions of dollars continue to pour into advocacy groups opposed to broad religious freedom protections, some of which appears to target a critical religious freedom case soon to be decided by the Supreme Court. Read more here.
UK ‘Conversion Therapy’ Activist Calls for Ban to Include ‘Gentle’ Prayer. A leading LGBT activist in the UK has called for “gentle, non-coercive prayer” on sexual ethics to be included in legislation banning LGBT “conversion therapy.” Read more here.
Coalition Is Concerned Christians Face Discrimination With IACHR. A coalition of human rights experts and religious freedom advocates voiced their concern that people of faith are barred from being elected to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Read more here.
Spanish High Court Defends Christian Television. The highest court in Spain has ruled that a Christian broadcaster who expressed biblical views on sexuality acted under the protection of the right to freedom of expression. Read more here.
Florida Gov Signs Bill Requiring Moment for School Prayer. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that would require public schools in his state to set aside at least one minute of silence for children to meditate or pray. Read more here.
Biden DOJ Amends Position of ‘Vigorously’ Defending Religious Freedom After LGBT Blowback. The Department of Justice quickly amended a court filing that initially said it would “vigorously” defend religious liberty after blowback from LGBT activists. Read more here.
Council Admits Unlawful Discrimination in Canceling Church Event. Edinburgh Council has admitted acting unlawfully in cancelling a Christian conference because of the speaker’s biblical beliefs on marriage and sexuality. Read more here.
Canadian Judge Rules Religious Freedoms Not Violated by Pandemic Restrictions. A judge has ruled that the religious freedoms of an Alberta pastor who is on trial for violating COVID-19 regulations were not violated. Read more here.
Biden DOJ Defends Religious Exemption for Christian Schools. The Biden Justice Department split with key LGBT allies on a major issue when it said in a court filing it will defend a federal rule that exempts Christian universities and schools from anti-discrimination laws. Read more here.
Christian University Ends Social Work Program Over Imposed Sexuality Values. Cairn University is ending its highly regarded social work program partly because school officials say the accrediting agency was attempting to impose sexuality and gender values that don’t align with the university’s religious mission. Read more here.
Canadian Church Faces $183K in Fines for Holding Worship in Defiance of Lockdown Orders. A congregation in Ontario has been slapped with $183,000 in fines for holding outdoor worship services after its church building was ordered closed by a judge, according to the pastor. Read more here.
Illinois School Reverses Course After Banning Second-Grader From Reading Bible During Recess. School officials in Illinois have reversed their decision to ban a second-grade girl from bringing her Bible to school. Read more here.
Russia Imprisons Six Jehovah’s Witnesses for ‘Extremism.’ Russia has sentenced six Jehovah’s Witnesses to multi-year prison terms on extremism charges, the religious organization said. Read more here.
Over 30K Call on Inter-American Court to Affirm Religious Freedom. More than 30,000 signatories from Latin America and the Caribbean are supporting a brief urging the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to uphold religious freedom and parental rights in the case of Pavez v. Chile. Read more here.
KY Ties to Baptist Kids’ Agency at Risk Over Non-Discrimination Contract. A clash between religious beliefs and homosexual “rights” has jeopardized Kentucky’s relationship with a foster care and adoption agency affiliated with the Baptist church that serves some of the state’s most vulnerable children. Read more here.
CI Threatens Legal Action if ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban Is Used to Outlaw Prayer. The Christian Institute has said it “will not hesitate” to take legal action if the Northern Ireland Executive introduces a ban on “conversion therapy” which outlaws “the wrong kind of prayer.” Read more here.
Fears Rising Over China’s Looming ‘Re-Education’ of Christians. A Vatican-approved bishop, priests and seminarians in north-central China were arrested for violating new regulations on religious affairs, a stark example of growing religious persecution in the communist country. Read more here.
Finland’s Prosecution of Christian MP Is ‘Act of Oppression,’ Legal Scholars Warn. Law professors and scholars are calling on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to pressure the State Department to sanction Finland’s prosecutor general for prosecuting a Christian politician who shared her biblical beliefs on sexuality and marriage. Read more here.
Russian Church Fined for Violating Anti-Evangelism Law. A magistrate judge in Russia found the Bread of Life Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith guilty of committing an administrative violation and fined them 30,000 rubles. Read more here.
HS Reverses Decision, Will Allow Valedictorian to Reference God. A public high school in Michigan has reversed its position following massive public pressure and will allow a Christian valedictorian to reference God in her graduation speech. Read more here.
Finnish Bishop Charged Over Biblical Teaching on Human Sexuality. The Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola has been charged by Finland’s prosecutor general with incitement against a group of people for teaching biblical principles of human sexuality. Read more here.
Realtor Drops License Over Association’s Ban on ‘Hate Speech.’ A Christian realtor is allowing his license to expire rather than comply with a new requirement from the National Association of Realtors that he and other members refrain from engaging in “hate speech” which includes expressing biblical views on LGBT issues. Read more here.
Christian College Vows to Challenge Biden Order Opening Dorms, Showers to Opposite Sex. A Christian college in Missouri plans to appeal its case against the Biden administration after a federal judge ruled the school must open its dorm rooms and showers to members of the opposite sex. Read more here.
Judge Rules Christian College Must Open Dorms, Showers to Opposite Sex. A federal judge rejected a Christian college’s request to bypass new rules under the Biden administration that force religious schools to open their dormitories — including shared bedrooms and shower spaces — to members of the opposite sex. Read more here.
Christians in NI Concerned About Push for Vague ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban. After Northern Ireland lawmakers passed a resolution to develop a ban on sexual orientation and gender identity “conversion therapy,” several Christian leaders have warned that the ban’s language is vague and could cover ordinary pastoral care and Christian activity. Read more here.
State Dept Report Shows 80 Percent of People Live Under High Restrictions on Religious Freedom. The U.S. Department of State’s 2020 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom shows that most people in the world live in environments with significant restrictions on freedom of religion. Read more here.
Jailed Alberta Pastor Released on Bail. Pastor Artur Pawlowski, whose arrest for holding church services in defiance of Alberta’s Public Health Act drew international attention, recounted his experience in jail and reiterated his warning to Canadians about growing state tyranny. Read more here.
USCIRF Releases 2020 Annual Report. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released its 2020 Annual Report, documenting significant developments and making recommendations to enhance the U.S. government’s promotion of freedom of religion or belief abroad. Read more here.
Church Leaders to Irish PM: Never Ban Public Worship Again. As restrictions on churches are finally lifted in the Republic of Ireland, religious leaders have urged the Taoiseach never to allow a blanket ban on public worship again. Read more here.
Church Autonomy and Parental Rights Challenged at Top Human Rights Court of the Americas. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights will soon decide a case on the importance of protecting the right to freedom of religion and belief as well as the right of parents to direct the moral and religious upbringing of their children. Read more here.
California Bill Targets University Healthcare Links to Catholic Hospitals. A California bill threatens to ban University of California health systems from partnering with institutions that follow Catholic ethics, prompting concern that ideological motives on abortion and LGBT issues will limit medical care access. Read more here.
Colorado Christian School Seeking Broad Ministerial Exception From 10th Circuit. A U.S. appeals court panel will take up the latest high-profile case to test the limits of an exemption from anti-discrimination laws for religious schools. Read more here.
Calgary Police Arrest Pastor Who Refused to Allow Officials to Disrupt Service. Pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother were stopped on their way home from church by a motorcade of police vehicles and arrested for allegedly violating Alberta’s Public Health Act. Read more here.
UK School Reports Chaplain to Anti-Terror Unit After Telling Students They Can Disagree With LGBT Teaching. A school priest was reported to an anti-terrorism program after delivering a sermon in which he told pupils they were allowed to disagree with new LGBT policies. Read more here.
Indiana Court Rules Catholic School Can Fire Teacher for Being in Same-Sex Marriage. An Indiana court has dismissed a lawsuit filed against a Roman Catholic Archdiocese by a former private school teacher who was fired for being in a same-sex marriage. Read more here.
Charges Against Christian Politician Are Because of ‘Discriminatory Hate Speech.’ Finland’s state prosecutors are pushing back against the international outcry over the charges against a Christian politician by describing her statements on marriage and sexuality as “discriminatory hate speech.” Read more here.
Irish People of Faith Call for Govt Commitment to Religious Freedom. People of faith in Ireland are signing an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Micheál Martin, demanding a commitment never to ban church worship in the country again. Read more here.
Swiss Doctor Wins Legal Challenge to Unlawful Ban on Public Worship. A court in Switzerland has become the latest to rule a COVID-19-related blanket ban on worship to be unlawful. Read more here.
EU Appoints New Religious Freedom Envoy. The European Commission appointed Christos Stylianides as Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. Read more here.
Police Called After Argentine Priest Holds Outdoor Mass for First Communion. Police in Argentina were called when a priest held a First Communion Mass in an open air space with close to 100 participants in violation of COVID-19 regulations. Read more here.
U.S. Legislators Urge Biden to Address Global Religious Persecution. A bipartisan group of members of Congress asked President Biden to prioritize responding to global religious persecution. Read more here.
Proposed Ethics Code Threatens to Undermine Right to Conscientious Objection. A new draft of the International Code of Medical Ethics aims to severely curtail the rights of doctors to conscientiously refuse the administration of certain drugs and procedures. Read more here.
UK Pastor Alleges Police Elevate LGBT ‘Rights’ Above Others. A church minister who witnessed the arrest of a street preacher has accused the Metropolitan police of putting the rights of LGBT people above those of other protected characteristics. Read more here.
Ireland Announces Partial Lifting of Worship Ban. The government of Ireland announced that church services can resume on May 10th with face coverings, distancing, and a limit of 50 worshippers. Read more here.
China Brutalizes Religious Groups With Repressive Policies. Communist China has continued its crackdown on religious groups and practices by arresting and abusing hundreds of members, accusing them of being associated with entities that the state authorities deem illegal. Read more here.
Mexican Church Defends Right to Speak on Public Issues After Govt Warning. Faced with a covert warning from the government about interfering in the political arena, the archdiocese of Mexico City released a statement defending its rights to speak out on public issues. Read more here.
CI Threatens Legal Challenge Over UK Ban on ‘Wrong Kind of Prayer.’ The Christian Institute has threatened the UK government with legal action if a proposed “conversion therapy” ban outlaws the “wrong kind of prayer.” Read more here.
Wealthy Corporations Back Equality Act Stripped of Religious Freedom Protections. Federal LGBT legislation that excludes important religious freedom protections has the backing of over 400 American corporations with trillions of dollars in annual revenue. Read more here.
Police Lock Ontario Church for Violating COVID-19 Restrictions. A judge in Ontario, Canada has allowed authorities to temporarily lock the doors of Trinity Bible Chapel that has refused to follow provincial restrictions on gatherings aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. Read more here.
Finnish Politician Formally Charged for Hate Crime Against Homosexuals. A Christian politician in Finland will face a court process for speaking openly about her views on homosexuality and the Bible. Read more here.
London Pastor Arrested for Quoting ‘Homophobic’ Bible Verses. Police in London arrested a Christian street preacher for allegedly causing “alarm and distress” to pedestrians for citing allegedly “homophobic” verses from Genesis. Read more here.
Pastor Holds Outdoor Service in Ireland Despite Worship Ban. An Evangelical pastor said he will hold a second socially distanced service in Dublin this weekend, despite religious services being outlawed in Ireland. Read more here.
Russian Authorities Prohibit Use of Church Building. A Christian church is challenging Russian authorities at the European Court of Human Rights for seizing the congregation’s property and leaving the community to gather outside in a tent. Read more here.
Christian Photographer Continues Legal Fight Against Law That May Force Him to Violate Conscience. A photographer suing Virginia over a law that would force him to service same-sex weddings despite religious objections is continuing his legal battle after a district court dismissed his complaint. Read more here.
SCOTUS Dodges Dispute Between TX, CA Over Religious Freedom, ‘LGBT Rights.’ The Supreme Court declined to take up a heated dispute between Texas and California which passed a law prohibiting taxpayer-funded travel to any state that doesn’t ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Read more here.
New Indiana Law Acknowledges Churches Are Essential. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has signed a new law that protects religious freedom and prohibits the state government and its agencies from discriminating against houses of worship during a public health emergency. Read more here.
Proponents of ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban in Northern Ireland Attack Prayer. Prayer addressing sexual ethics has been branded a “harmful practice” during a debate on so-called “conversion therapy” in Northern Ireland. Read more here.
Quebec to Appeal Court Ruling on Disputed Religious Symbols Law. The Canadian province of Quebec said it would appeal a court ruling that exempts some teachers and provincial politicians from a controversial law that bans public employees from wearing religious symbols. Read more here.
NI Party Threatens to Veto ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban. The Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland has warned it will veto any proposed legislation to ban “conversion therapy” if there are not “robust protections for churches.” Read more here.
Church of England Says Prayer Should Not Be Criminalized in ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban. The Church of England has told members of parliament that any ban on so-called “conversion therapy” should not criminalize pastoral support. Read more here.
Montana Gov Signs Law Clarifying Religious Freedom Protections. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law a state version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act which holds the state to a high burden of proof when it violates someone’s religious beliefs. Read more here.
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Publishes Annual Report. The threat to religious freedom remains strong worldwide according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its recently released annual report. Read more here.
Croatia Offers Scholarships to Young Persecuted Christians. The Croatian government is offering college scholarships to young Christians from developing countries at risk of persecution. Read more here.
Irish Archbishops Seek Advice Over ‘Illegality’ of Attending Mass. Ireland’s archbishops are seeking legal advice after attending mass and other religious services was outlawed last week. Read more here.
Proposed NI ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban Targets ‘the Wrong Kind of Prayer.’ The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has set out its opposition to a ban on so-called “conversion therapy,” which it says could criminalize the ordinary work of churches. Read more here.
Judges: Court Must Consider Giving Docs Religious Exemption From Performing ‘Gender Reassignment’ Surgeries. A circuit court panel has ruled that a district court must consider giving faith-based hospitals and doctors an exemption from an Obama-era mandate requiring them to perform elective “sex-change” operations. Read more here.
Up to Three Years in Prison for Hate Speech Under NZ Reforms. A reform of “hate speech” offences in New Zealand will now categorize “rainbow communities” as a protected class and include increased fines and prison sentences for offenders. Read more here.
Colombian Social Media Star Challenges Censorship Ruling. Social media star Erika Nieto is seeking to have the Colombian Constitutional Court uphold her right to freely share her opinions online after being ordered to remove a video in which she affirmed biblical views about marriage. Read more here.
Eritrean Christians Remain Imprisoned After Raids on Prayer Meetings. Thirteen Eritrean Christians remain imprisoned after authorities raided two separate prayer meetings where 35 people were taken into custody. Read more here.
Another Canadian Church Faces Legal Battle After Exceeding Capacity Limits. Canadian Justice Paul Sweeney denied the Ontario attorney general’s call to lock the doors of Trinity Bible Church after multiple citations for exceeding capacity limits and instead agreed to a request for an adjournment by the church’s lawyer. Read more here.
Court Rules No Evidence for Alberta Health Order Required in Coates Trial. A Canadian court ruled that the government of Alberta will not be required to show scientific evidence backing up its COVID-19 restrictions during the upcoming trial of Pastor James Coates who was arrested and jailed for holding in-person worship gatherings. Read more here.
Legal Scholars Discuss America’s Shifting Religious Freedom Landscape. Legal scholars discussed during a virtual event concerns about how the religious freedom landscape is shifting in the United States. Read more here.
Flagship Protestant Colleges in Russia Stripped of Right to Offer Higher Education. The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Ingria’s Theological Institute lost its higher education license, the third flagship Protestant educational institution in Russia to lose the right to conduct formal religious education. Read more here.
Laotian Pastor Released From Jail. A Laotian pastor who was kept in police detention for more than a year for conducting religious activities related to his Christian faith has been released from prison. Read more here.
California Lifts Capacity Limits on Churches. California Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted all capacity restrictions on houses of worship after months of highly publicized legal battles. Read more here.
Top UK Lawyer: ‘Conversion Therapy Ban Could Criminalize Christian Parents.’ A broad ban on conversion therapy could criminalize Christian parents who encourage their children to follow biblical teachings on gender and sexuality, a leading Queens Counsel has said. Read more here.
UK Church Sues Multimillion Pound Trust for Religious Discrimination. An evangelical church is accusing Scotland’s largest charitable trust of religious discrimination after it cancelled a rental agreement over the church’s views on same-sex marriage. Read more here.
Christian Colleges Fight Lawsuit Designed to Strip Students of Financial Aid. Attorneys representing three Christian post-secondary schools asked a federal district court to allow them to intervene against a lawsuit that seeks to strip all students at private religious colleges of federal financial aid unless their schools renounce core religious beliefs. Read more here.
Christians Tear Down Fences Around Shuttered Canadian Church, Govt Sends in Riot Police. Hundreds of Canadian Christians were met by riot police when they gathered at the GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta to tear down a barricade erected to prevent worship. Read more here.
High Court Halts California Rules Limiting Home Worship. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that California can’t enforce coronavirus-related restrictions that have limited home-based religious worship including Bible studies and prayer meetings. Read more here.
French Senate Approves Proposal to Ban Prayers at Universities. France’s Senate approved the addition of a ban on religious practices in university corridors to a controversial bill to fight “Islamist separatism.” Read more here.
Kazakhstan: ‘People Don’t Have the Right to Distribute Religious Materials in Any Form Whatsoever.’ Courts in Kazakhstan have fined at least 18 people in the first three months of 2021 for distributing religious literature, texts, videos, audio and religious items in places and ways the regime declares to be illegal under its compulsory religious censorship. Read more here.
Alberta Health Officials Shut Down GraceLife Church. Alberta Health Services has closed GraceLife Church and has prevented access until the church “can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta’s chief medical officer of health’s restrictions.” Read more here.
Wedding Photographer Sues New York Over LGBT Anti-Discrimination Law. A Christian wedding photographer has filed a complaint against New York over a state law that requires her to service same-sex wedding ceremonies despite her religious objections. Read more here.
U.S. State Dept Disbands Commission That Heightened Importance of Religious Freedom. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has formally dismissed the controversial Trump-era Commission on Unalienable Rights which sought to elevate the promotion of religious freedom worldwide. Read more here.
UK Evangelical Leaders Express Concern Over Broad ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban. Two evangelical leaders in the UK have expressed concern over a proposed ban on “conversion therapy,” which they say could criminalize aspects of Christian activity. Read more here.
Report: China Detaining Christians, Using ‘Brainwashing’ to Get Them to Renounce Faith. Chinese officials are detaining Christians in windowless “transformation” facilities and using “brainwashing” to get them to renounce their faith, Radio Free Asia reported. Read more here.
UK Court Blasts Blackpool Council for Discriminating Against Christians. Blackpool Council has been criticized by a judge who ruled that it discriminated against Christians by banning bus advertisements for the Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham. Read more here.
MI University Revoking Christian Group’s Benefits Was Unconstitutional, Judge Rules. A federal judge has ruled that Wayne State University violated the First Amendment in refusing to officially recognize the Christian group InterVarsity because it required its leaders to be adherents of the faith. Read more here.
Study: Religious Liberty Winning at SCOTUS. A study published in The Supreme Court Review finds that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts is much more likely to rule in favor of religious liberty than previous courts have during the past 70 years. Read more here.
Montana House Backs Bill on Religious Challenges to Rules. The Montana House passed a bill that would allow people to challenge government regulations that interfere with their religious beliefs. Read more here.
Ninth Circuit Upholds CA Restriction Against Home Bible Studies. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the state’s restrictions on in-home gatherings, including Bible studies and communal worship activities involving more than three households. Read more here.
EEOC Dismisses ‘Discrimination’ Charge Against Ministry. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed a charge of discrimination filed against Jews for Jesus by a job applicant who was denied a position with the organization. Read more here.
Virginia Public School Guidance on Transgender Students Challenged. A faith-based group filed a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s new state guidelines on the treatment of transgender students in public schools, alleging the policies violate student rights to freely exercise their religion. Read more here.
Irish Govt Continues Worship Ban One Year Later. This month marks nearly a full year of the blanket ban on public worship being in place throughout Ireland where worshippers could face a fine or up to six months jail time for leaving their homes to attend a place of worship. Read more here.
Former Bishop Punished for Not Allowing Same-Sex Marriages Leaves Denomination. A bishop of the Episcopal Church who was punished for refusing to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages in his diocese has decided to leave the mainline Protestant denomination. Read more here.
Christian Actress Fired for Biblical Beliefs Now Ordered to Pay $414K in Legal Fees. A Christian actress who was fired because of a Facebook post she made affirming a biblical view of sexuality found out she may have to pay the equivalent of more than $414,000 in legal fees. Read more here.
NSW Committee Backs New Religious Freedom Laws. A majority of a New South Wales parliamentary committee has endorsed a push to amend the state’s anti-discrimination laws to protect religious freedom. Read more here.
Germany’s Christian Churches in Meltdown. Worship restrictions in Germany have many Christian churches fearing they may lose their societal influence. Read more here.
Chilean Supreme Court Rules Worship Ban Discriminatory. The Chilean Supreme Court unanimously ruled that COVID-19 restrictions have been applied in a discriminatory manner against believers. Read more here.
Russian Bishops’ Official Worried About New Religion Regulations. The secretary-general of the Russian bishops’ conference said new legal regulations will give state officials extra powers to intervene in church life and revive communist-era restrictions. Read more here.
CA Bill to Ban Officers Tied to ‘Hate Groups’ Amended Over Religious Freedom Concerns. A California bill that would ban police officers from being members of entities deemed as “hate groups” has been amended to clarify that the term does not apply to being part of conservative or Christian groups. Read more here.
Swiss Parliamentarian Raises Concern Regarding Church Closures in Algeria. Swiss National Councilor Eric Nussbaumer called on the Swiss Federal Council to address the closure of Protestant churches in Algeria, which many see as an infringement upon the religious freedom of Algerians. Read more here.
LBGT Christian College Students Sue to Block Title IX Religious Exemptions. A group of Christian college students is suing the U.S. Department of Education, arguing that the religious exemption to Title IX is unconstitutional because it permits discrimination against LGBT individuals. Read more here.
Arkansas Gov Signs Medical Conscience Objections Law. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law legislation allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of religious or moral objections. Read more here.
Federal Judge Rules D.C. Capacity Limits on Religious Gatherings Are Unconstitutional. A federal district court judge ruled that caps on religious services in Washington D.C. were unconstitutional. Read more here.
Philippine President Threatens to Close Catholic Churches That Uphold Public Masses. A spokesperson for Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, said the government will force local churches to close if priests hold public Masses in defiance of public health orders. Read more here.
Irish Legislators Decry Restrictions on Religious Services. Ireland’s Minister of State for Health Anne Rabbitte has rejected claims that the cabinet is the most “anti-Christian government of all time” in an ongoing debate with members of parliament over restrictions on religious services. Read more here.
Federal Court Ends D.C. Church Restrictions. A federal judge ruled that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s numerical and percentage cap restrictions on churches “discriminate against houses of worship.” Read more here.
GoFundMe Page Raises Thousands to Pay Canadian Pastor’s Legal Fees. A GoFundMe page recently created to help pay the legal fees for a Canadian pastor who was jailed for not adhering to ongoing worship restrictions has received more than $45,000 in donations. Read more here.
Colorado Baker Sued Again Over Alleged LGBTQ Bias. A Colorado baker who won a partial victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple went on trial in yet another lawsuit, this one involving a birthday cake for a transgender woman. Read more here.
Bishops Warn Religious Freedom Under Threat in EU. A commission of Catholic bishops warned religious freedom is threatened in the European Union, as restrictive laws are imposed in the wake of Covid-19. Read more here.
Church Leaders Win Legal Battle Against Scottish Govt. The Court of Session has ruled that the Scottish government’s ban on public worship during the pandemic was unlawful. Read more here.
New UK Law Could Ban Street Preachers, MP Warns. UK MP Gavin Robinson has expressed concern that a new law which is currently making its way through Parliament is so far-reaching that it could lead to street preachers being banned. Read more here.
Alberta Pastor Charged With Breaking COVID-19 Measures Released. Edmonton-area pastor James Coates who was jailed for alleged violations of COVID-19 public health measures will be released from jail but must pay a $1,500 fine. Read more here.
Irish Police Fine Catholic Priest for Offering Public Masses. Police in Ireland have fined a Catholic priest for celebrating public Masses amid a nationwide lockdown. Read more here.
Federal Court Rules Against U of Iowa in Religious Discrimination Case. A federal appeals court ruled that University of Iowa officials who kicked a Christian student club off campus because of it was a faith-based club can be held personally accountable for their actions. Read more here.
Ninth Circuit Again Denies Coach Right to Pray on Field After Games. In a unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that high school football coach Joseph Kennedy’s practice of praying on the 50-yard line after games was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Read more here.
Jailed Alberta Pastor Expected to Be Released in Days. An Alberta pastor who has spent weeks in jail after holding church services in violation of public health rules is expected to be released in the coming days, his lawyers say. Read more here.
Scottish Govt Has Left Christians ‘in Deep Crisis’ Over Church Closures. The closure of churches under Scottish Government coronavirus measures has presented Christians with an “irreconcilable conflict” between loyalty to God and obedience to the state, a judge was told. Read more here.
Opponents of Equality Act Warn of ‘Sweeping’ Impact in Senate Hearing. Opponents of the Equality Act warned at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the legislation could have a far-reaching impact on religious organizations. Read more here.
California Bill Proposes Removing Cops Who Express Religious or Conservative Beliefs. A new bill introduced in the California State Assembly would prohibit police officers from serving if they are affiliated with a “hate group,” the definition of which could include faith groups opposed to abortion or same-sex marriage. Read more here.
Canadian MPs Call for Re-Opening of Office of Religious Freedoms. Canadian MPs are calling on the federal government to re-open an office advocating for religious freedom around the globe. Read more here.
Human Rights Complaint Filed Against Saskatchewan Church. A member of the local LGBTQ community is filing a human rights complaint against Victory Church in Regina, Saskatchewan after the pastor delivered a sermon denouncing gender fluidity. Read more here.
Scottish Govt Announces Concessions as Legal Challenge to Worship Ban Set to Begin. Days before a legal hearing on a government-imposed worship ban is set to begin, the Scottish government announced that places of worship will now be allowed to reopen in time for Easter, Passover and Ramadan. Read more here.
Bill Introduced to Protect Religious Beliefs of U.S. Faith-Based Foster Care Providers. Congressional Republicans introduced legislation designed to protect faith-based foster care providers who seek to carry out their business practices in accordance with their religious beliefs on marriage and sexuality. Read more here.
Parents Concerned Ahead of Religious Freedom Case at Top Human Rights Court. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights will soon decide a case to determine whether religious communities are free to decide who will teach religion on their behalf. Read more here.
UK MPs Attack Prayer, Pastoral Support in ‘Conversion Therapy’ Debate. A number of MPs took aim at churches which hold to the Bible’s teaching on gender and sexuality in a Westminster Hall debate on banning so-called “conversion therapy.” Read more here.
MA Supreme Court Calls Into Question Religious Exemption for Christian Colleges. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a social work professor at a Christian college is not a “ministerial employee,” and the college cannot claim a religious freedom exemption in its defense against allegations she was wrongly denied tenure for her LGBT advocacy. Read more here.
Police Investigate Catholic Dad for Asking Catholic School Board to Not Fly ‘Pride’ Flag. Police are investigating a Catholic father over allegations that he committed a “hate” crime for asking a Catholic school board not to recognize “Pride month” or fly the rainbow flag at Catholic schools. Read more here.
Biden Fires Attorney Who Defended Religious Liberty of Employees. An attorney within the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who had gained a reputation for defending religious liberty was fired by President Biden the same day she sent the White House a letter stating she would not resign. Read more here.
Court Orders Pastor to Remain in Jail Until May Trial for Violating COVID Restrictions. A church pastor arrested last month and charged with violating COVID-19 rules on maximum gathering capacity will remain behind bars until the trial begins in early May, a Canadian judge has ruled. Read more here.
SCOTUS Sides With Christian Student After College Blocked Him From Sharing Gospel on Campus. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a former Georgia college student who sued his school four years ago after officials prevented him from distributing Christian literature on campus. Read more here.
Oklahoma House Passes Bill Banning Govt Closure of Churches. The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation that would prohibit state and local government entities from forcing churches or any other houses of worship to close, even during a pandemic. Read more here.
White House Silent on Conscience Concerns in Health Care. The White House would not reveal its position on doctors being forced to perform abortions and “gender transition” surgeries under the Equality Act. Read more here.
Campaign Finance Bill Presents Religious Liberty, Pro-Life Concerns, Say Opponents. A campaign finance bill under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives could present grave concerns for religious liberty, an opponent of the bill has said. Read more here.
SCOTUS Blocks County’s Ban on Indoor Worship Gatherings. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of five churches that California’s Santa Clara County must allow indoor worship services to resume at 20% capacity. Read more here.
Iowa Legislature to Consider Religious Freedom Bill. Iowa Senate Republicans re-introduced a Religious Freedom Restoration bill that would hold government “to the highest standards before it can infringe on a person’s free exercise of religion.” Read more here.
Canadian Church Fined for Hosting In-Person Worship Service. A Canadian church was ordered to pay $83,000 by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice following an in-person church service with more than 10 people. Read more here.
Texas Bishop Warns Equality Act Threatens Heart of Nation. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas warned the Equality Act “is a threat to people of faith in this nation.” Read more here.
LGBT Activist Calls for UK Ban on Prayer for Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction. An LGBT activist has called for Christians to be banned from praying for someone with unwanted same-sex attraction and says the “pernicious power of prayer must be dealt with.” Read more here.
Catholics, Evangelicals Unite on Free Speech Fears Under Scottish ‘Hate’ Bill. A coalition of Roman Catholics and evangelicals have united to urge the Scottish government to drop the part of its controversial hate crimes bill relating to criticism of “transgender ideology.” Read more here.
Sturgeon Announces Scottish Churches to Reopen Under Lockdown Easing Measures. Scotland’s First Minister has announced that churches will be able to reopen for communal worship with attendance restrictions. Read more here.
Alberta Premier Who Jailed Christian Pastor Claims He is Protecting ‘Fundamental Freedoms of Religion.’ Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has released a statement regarding the jailing of Pastor James Coates, saying his imprisonment is “unfortunate,” but that Coates had “flagrantly” violated COVID rules. Read more here.
USCCB: Equality Act Would ‘Punish’ Religious Groups Opposed to Gender Ideology. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out in opposition to the Equality Act which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Read more here.
Christian Pastor Jailed for Holding Church Services in Canada. A Christian pastor from Edmonton, Canada has been jailed for breaking Alberta’s Public Health Act by continuing to hold church services when ordered to stop. Read more here.
Scottish Churches Granted Judicial Review Over Church Lockdown Closures. A group of 27 church leaders has been granted permission for a judicial review over the closure of places of worship in Scotland under recent COVID-19 measures. Read more here.
B.C. Public Health Wants to Force Churches to Close During Court Battle. A British Columbia provincial health officer and attorney general have requested an injunction forcing churches to remain closed after the churches filed a petition challenging COVID-19 restrictions on in-person religious services, arguing the ban violates people’s rights and freedoms. Read more here.
SC House Considers Bill to Keep Churches Open in Emergencies. A South Carolina House panel plans to review a bill that would confirm churches and other religious organizations are treated as essential services during a state of emergency. Read more here.
ADF: Equality Act Puts Christian Hiring Policies in ‘Jeopardy’ Without Religious Exemptions. The wide-reaching Equality Act would put the hiring practices of faith-based organizations in “jeopardy” and will create additional religious freedom concerns for Christian schools, churches and ministries, Alliance Defending Freedom warns. Read more here.
German Town Brought to Court Over Prayer Prohibition. Prayer group 40 Days for Life has sued the town of Pforzheim, Germany after repeatedly being prohibited from gathering to peacefully pray near a pre-abortion advisory center. Read more here.
Bill Declaring Religion is Essential Becomes Law in Arkansas. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law a measure that “recognizes that churches are essential” and “helps protect churches and other religious organizations from being targeted, penalized, or discriminated against during a time of emergency.” Read more here.
CA Legislator Introduces ‘Religion is Essential Act.’ California state Senator Brian Jones introduced the “Religion is Essential Act” to the state legislature which would require state and local governments to treat religious organizations as essential during pandemics. Read more here.
Christians Warn of Censorship as ‘Conversion Therapy’ is Banned in Australia. Church leaders in Victoria fear that they could fall foul of a new law simply for offering prayer or counseling to someone struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. Read more here.
Australian Christians Say They’ll Defy Ban on Prayer for Overcoming Unwanted Sexual Attractions. Christian leaders are poised to resist Victoria’s controversial Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition bill which bans “carrying out a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer-based practice” to help someone overcome unwanted sexual attractions. Read more here.
SCOTUS Ends California’s Total Worship Ban. In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California may not enforce its total ban on worship during the pandemic. Read more here.
VA House Advances Bill Repealing Protections for Faith-Based Adoption Agencies. The Virginia House of Representatives passed a bill to remove conscience protections for child-placing agencies. Read more here.
Maine Parents Head to SCOTUS Over Law That Bans Religious School Choice. Parents in Maine are taking their religious discrimination case to the U.S. Supreme Court after the appeals court ruled that students would only qualify for educational benefits if they attended a school that does not provide religious instruction. Read more here.
Atheist Group Demands Maryland City Stop Opening Meetings With Christian Prayer. A leading atheist organization is demanding that a city in Maryland stop allowing city officials to open council meetings with a prayer. Read more here.
Scottish Church Leaders Sue Govt for Criminalizing Public Worship. Some 27 church leaders in Scotland are suing the Scottish government and asking that the courts review pandemic lockdown orders that have closed churches. Read more here.
Facebook Bans Christian Professor for Opposing Biden’s Transgender Policies. A Christian university professor has been suspended from Facebook for voicing disagreement with President Joe Biden’s executive order allowing transgender-identifying individuals to serve in the U.S. military. Read more here.
Bishops Say LGBTQ Executive Order Has Implications for Religious Liberty. President Biden’s executive order to extend existing federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people exceeds the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue in Bostock v. Clayton County and has implications for religious liberty, said the chairmen of five U.S. bishops’ committees. Read more here.
Danish Churches Deplore Curbs on Religious Freedom. Churches in Denmark have condemned government-backed legislation requiring all sermons to be translated and published in Danish in a series of controversial moves to restrict alleged religious militancy. Read more here.
Former Director of Ed Criticizes Welsh RE Plans. A former Director of Education has criticized the Welsh government’s plan to force schools to teach humanism and atheism alongside religious views in Religious Education lessons. Read more here.
Virginia Bill Would Allow Agencies to Be Shut Down for Denying Adoption to Same-Sex Couples. The state of Virginia has introduced a bill that would repeal the right of adoption and foster care agencies to deny child placements with homosexual couples on the basis of the agencies’ moral opposition to same-sex parenting. Read more here.
Ninth Circuit Upholds California’s Ban on Indoor Worship. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a San Diego area church’s request to overturn California’s COVID-19 restrictions on indoor worship gatherings, although it acknowledged that the congregation is suffering “irreparable harm” due to the temporary ban. Read more here.
Court Rules Catholic Hospitals Can’t Be Forced to Perform ‘Gender Transition’ Surgeries. A federal court in North Dakota has ruled that a group of Catholic hospitals and others should not be required by the Department of Health and Human Services to perform “gender transition” procedures, including those for minors. Read more here.
Spanish Parents Appeal to EU for Relief Against Education Law. An association of Spanish education advocates will appeal to the European Union to prevent Spain’s government from implementing an education law that will restrict the right of parents to choose religious schools for their children. Read more here.
Chinese Officials Raid Christian Homeschool. Chinese police and other communist officials raided a house in Chengdu, China where children of Early Rain Covenant Church were being homeschooled. Read more here.
Photographer Challenges VA Values Act in Court. Bob Updegrove, a photographer from Virginia, has filed a lawsuit challenging the Virginia Values Act which would force him to photograph same-sex weddings despite his Christian beliefs on marriage. Read more here.
Charity Head: China Arresting Christians for Attending ‘Zoom Church.’ A charity organization reports that the Chinese Communist Party is using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to crack down on Christians, even arresting some for attending online services via Zoom. Read more here.
SCOTUS Orders NV Gov to Respond to Challenge Over State’s Worship Restrictions. The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the governor of Nevada to respond to a lawsuit from a church alleging that the state’s restrictions on in-person worship services violate their constitutional rights. Read more here.
SCOTUS to Decide if Christian Students Banned From Preaching Deserve Compensation. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether a college that ordered a Christian student to cease preaching on campus can be punished even though the administration has since changed the institution’s free speech policies. Read more here.
HHS Issues Final Rule Protecting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule allowing faith-based adoption agencies to receive federal funding regardless of their views on same-sex marriage. Read more here.
MA High Court to Decide if Christian College Discriminated Against Pro-LGBT Professor. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments regarding whether an evangelical Christian higher education institution can lawfully refuse to promote a former professor who held pro-LGBT views. Read more here.
Scotland’s Bishops Protest Closure of Churches Amid New Lockdown. Scottish Catholic bishops have protested the closing of churches as part of Scotland’s newest month-long coronavirus lockdown. Read more here.
New Mexico Fines Churches Thousands for Hosting Christmas Eve Services. Legacy Church and Calvary Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico are each facing up to $10,000 in fines for holding worship services on Christmas Eve. Read more here.
Scotland Bans Public Worship for Second Time During COVID-19 Crisis. Scotland has banned public worship across the country for the second time since the coronavirus crisis started almost a year ago. Read more here.
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