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.
Boise State President Launches Fund to Support Football Team Pastor. Despite receiving complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation about her university football team having a chaplain, Boise State University President Marlene Tromp is supporting the unofficial team pastor by personally paying his way to the team’s upcoming championship game and starting a fund to support his future travel. Read more here.
Trump Issues Proclamation Calling for End to Religious Persecution. President Donald Trump issued a proclamation commemorating the 850th anniversary of St. Thomas Becket’s martyrdom and used his example to call for an end to religious persecution worldwide. Read more here.
Chinese Christians Imprisoned for Publishing Church Books. A Chinese man was sentenced to more than three years in prison for publishing Christian books in an alarming criminal case that involved more than two dozen people, according to a new report. Read more here.
UK Leftist Group Demands AmazonSmile Drop Christian Groups. The openDemocracy website is pressuring Amazon to drop several Christian organizations from its AmazonSmile charity because of their biblical views on homosexuality, according to a report. Read more here.
Fiona Bruce Appointed as New FORB Envoy. Fiona Bruce has been appointed as the UK government’s new Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Read more here.
VA Christian Orgs Urge Northam to Not Enforce Values Act. A group of 40 Christian churches, schools, businesses, and organizations signed a letter urging Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia General Assembly to back off recent legislation that demands that religious establishments violate their beliefs regarding sexuality and gender. Read more here.
L.A. County Lifts Ban on Indoor Worship. In response to recent Supreme Court rulings, Los Angeles County public health officials announced they are modifying stay home orders to allow for indoor and outdoor worship. Read more here.
Trump Eases Rules for Religious Social Service Providers. The Trump administration moved to loosen restrictions that make it difficult for religious groups to participate in federal programs. Read more here.
Christian Teens Win Legal Struggle to Attend School in Vietnam. Three Christian teenagers in Vietnam have been granted permission to attend high school after the government waived the requirement for identity documents which are typically denied to members of this minority faith. Read more here.
D.C. Mayor Loosens Restrictions on Churches to Resolve Lawsuit. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser loosened coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship following a lawsuit from the Archdiocese of Washington. Read more here.
Thousands of Pastors Go Into Hiding in China. Tens of thousands of house church pastors and evangelists across China have reportedly gone into hiding as the Communist Party attempts to eradicate Christianity from the country. Read more here.
No Ban on Wales and NI Worship in Coming Lockdown. Churches will remain open when tighter Covid-19 restrictions are introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland immediately after Christmas. Read more here.
Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Nevada Churches. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley and Calvary Chapel Lone Mountain in their lawsuits against Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s unconstitutional worship bans. Read more here.
SCOTUS Sides With New Jersey Clerics. The U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to clerics battling New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive orders restricting houses of worship to 25 percent capacity while secular businesses operate with no capacity limits. Read more here.
Civitas: Hate Crime Proposals for England and Wales ‘Must Be Challenged.’ Hate crime proposals for England and Wales would “erode the concept of equality before the law and curtail free expression,” according to a new report by the Civitas think tank. Read more here.
Cardinal Sues D.C. Mayor Over COVID-19 Restrictions. Cardinal Wilton Gregory is suing Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District of Columbia over their coronavirus restrictions, alleging they are “arbitrary” and “discriminatory” to churches and will cause “imminent and irreparable harm.” Read more here.
SCOTUS: Govt Agents Violating Religious Liberty Are Liable for Monetary Damages. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that three Muslim Americans who claim they were wrongfully put on the No–Fly List as punishment for their religious beliefs are entitled to sue for financial relief, which the Supreme Court said is sometimes the only form of relief that can remedy government violations of religious freedom. Read more here.
Michigan AG to Appeal Anti-Discrimination Ruling. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel plans to appeal a ruling in which a state Court of Claims judge found the state’s anti-discrimination law did not extend to those treated unequally on the basis of their sexual orientation. Read more here.
San Diego Priest Granted Temp Relief From COVID-19 Restrictions. A catholic priest overseeing a mission in San Diego has been granted temporary relief from the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on in-person worship. Read more here.
Manitoba Reverses Prohibition of Drive-In Worship Services. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced that churches will be able to hold drive-in services, though people will only be allowed to go with members of their household and will have to stay inside their vehicles. Read more here.
Belgium Sees ‘Slight Easing’ of Public Worship Ban. The government of Belgium has agreed to ease restrictions on Mass celebrated with the public, permitting a maximum of 15 people to participate. Read more here.
Nevada Churches Argue Against Inequality at Ninth Circuit. The 9th Circuit panel in San Francisco heard arguments via video from lawyers for two Nevada churches that say state COVID-19 restrictions treating churches differently than casinos and other secular businesses violate their First Amendment rights. Read more here.
Montana High School Reinstates Christian Student Club. Bozeman High School has lifted a ban on a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, allowing the student group to be officially recognized and hold meetings on campus after previously revoking their status because of members’ views on homosexuality. Read more here.
Colorado Governor Declares Churches Essential. Governor Jared Polis has dropped Colorado’s COVID limits on religious gatherings, declared that houses of worship are essential, and removed attendance caps on worship. Read more here.
Canadian Judge Rules Church Not Permitted to Hold Drive-In Services. A court in Manitoba, Canada ruled that Springs Church in Winnipeg is not exempt from COVID-19 lockdown orders against houses of worship and that the congregation is not permitted to gather even for drive-in services. Read more here.
Ninth Circuit Reverses Decision Upholding CA’s Worship Restrictions. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court decision that upheld California’s restrictions on in-person worship gatherings and has ordered the lower court to reconsider the case in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Read more here.
Belgium Seeks to Ease Virus Rules on Religious Services. Belgium’s government is under pressure to change its restrictive rules on religious services during the coronavirus crisis after the country’s highest court said the measures impede constitutional conditions on freedom of religion. Read more here.
CCP Orders Teachers to Establish Marxist Religious View. Chinese Communist Party officials have ordered primary school teachers to sign a form requiring them to teach a Marxist religious view, strengthen atheism education, and actively promote socialism, according to a persecution watchdog group. Read more here.
Labor Dept Strengthens Religious Freedom Rule. The U.S. Department of Labor finalized a rule that allows faith-based government contractors to make employment decisions based on their religious beliefs. Read more here.
Becerra: Churches Shouldn’t Get Same Religious Freedom Protections as People. President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for health secretary said in 2017 that institutions do not merit the same religious freedom protections under the Constitution as individuals, video footage shows. Read more here.
UK Labour MP Resigns Over ‘Conscience Clause’ Remark. The Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Faith has resigned for suggesting that registrars should not lose their jobs if they object to same-sex marriages. Read more here.
UK Govt Raises Concerns About Religious Persecution in North Korea. The UK government has voiced “strong concerns” about religious persecution in North Korea after the release of a report documenting the horrific abuse of Christians and other people of faith in the communist country. Read more here.
Swiss Court Suspends Geneva Worship Ban. Churches in Geneva can now reopen after a court in Switzerland suspended the canton’s total ban on religious services and events which was introduced to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Read more here.
SCOTUS Blocks Ruling Against Church Fighting CA Worship Restrictions. The U.S. Supreme Court granted temporary relief to a church fighting a legal battle against California over its restrictions on in-person worship gatherings. Read more here.
DOJ Sues NY Village for Religious Discrimination Against Orthodox Jews. The U.S. Department of Justice announced a lawsuit against the New York village of Airmont for “targeting” the local Orthodox Jewish community, making it “impossible” for its members to have private home worship and run their own schools. Read more here.
Religious Liberty Curtailed Under ‘Draconian’ NI Hate Crime Proposals. Judge Desmond Marrinan, commissioned by the Stormont Executive to review hate crime in Northern Ireland, recommends scrapping the existing protection for those who disagree with same-sex marriage. Read more here.
China Considers Exposing Religious Persecution As ‘Divulging State Secrets.’ The Chinese Communist Party is conducting a crackdown on people who expose the state’s suppression of religious activities and the people’s expression of faith, according to a report from Bitter Winter. Read more here.
EU’s Top Position Addressing Religious Persecution Still Vacant. Despite a finding that government restrictions on religious freedom have reached their highest levels globally, the European Union has left the position of the Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU in limbo. Read more here.
Federal Judges Uphold KY Governor’s School Order. A federal appeals panel has upheld Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s order to stop in-person classes at religious schools during the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
Archbishop Calls Latest California Church Closures ‘Blatant Discrimination.’ Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco described as “blatant discrimination” a return by California to more severe COVID-19 restrictions that closed churches in two of the three counties that comprise the San Francisco Archdiocese. Read more here.
SCOTUS Rules 5-4 to Grant Request to Block New York’s Church Attendance Limits. The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling prohibiting the State of New York from enforcing “the Governor’s severe restrictions on the applicants’ religious services” in a case brought by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America. Read more here.
Police Block Canadian Churchgoers From Drive-In Worship Service. After being fined $5,000 for holding an in-person worship service in violation of Manitoba province’s public health order, a Canadian church was prevented by police from holding a drive-in worship service. Read more here.
Biden Planning Swift Action on LGBT Agenda That Will Reverse Religious Liberty Protections. Joe Biden is “making sweeping promises” to LGBT activists and plans to roll back multiple Trump administration policies, including ones that impact religious liberty. Read more here.
Lawsuit Alleges Starbucks Fired Christian Barista Who Refused to Wear LGBT ‘Pride’ Shirt. A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit against Starbucks, claiming that she was fired from her barista job because she refused to wear a company t-shirt that promoted LGBT “pride.” Read more here.
UK’s Religious Liberty Constraints During Pandemic ‘Among Worst in Europe.’ A study by the European Centre for Law and Justice classified the United Kingdom as one of the most restrictive countries on the continent because of its prohibition of public religious services during times of lockdown. Read more here.
France’s High Court Orders Review of Worship Restrictions. France’s State Council ordered the government to review a law that limited church attendance to 30 in-person attendees in response to Catholic groups challenging the law. Read more here.
Restaurant Owner’s Free Speech Upheld Following Investigation in Germany. A court in Berlin has upheld a restaurant owner’s right to freedom of speech and religion after she was fined for hanging prints of Bible verses in her restaurant. Read more here.
KY Gov Sued Over In-Person Learning Ban for Religious Schools. A religious liberty law firm and the Kentucky attorney general have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andy Beshear, asking a court to block the implementation of his executive order banning religious schools from holding in-person learning. Read more here.
Spain’s Bishops Meet as Religious Freedom Threatened in the Country. Cardinal Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona spoke out against a bill in Spain which would rescind the right of parents to have their children receive religious and moral education that is in accordance with their own convictions. Read more here.
Court Weighs Challenge to Colorado Discrimination Law. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing the case of a Colorado web designer arguing that the state’s anti-discrimination law amounts to forced speech that violates her religious beliefs. Read more here.
LGBT Group Urges Biden to Strip Accreditation of Christian Schools With Biblical Beliefs. The Human Rights Campaign is urging presumptive President-elect Joe Biden and his administration to advance policies that would strip Christian colleges that uphold rules and stances that oppose homosexuality of their accreditation. Read more here.
NI Churches Ordered to Close in Lockdown. Churches in Northern Ireland are set to close following the announcement of a two-week lockdown and will only be permitted to open for weddings, funerals and to record or broadcast “an act of worship.” Read more here.
CA Churches File Emergency Petition at SCOTUS. Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry filed an emergency petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court for an injunction pending appeal in their federal lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional orders. Read more here.
Kansas School Cancels Toy Drive After Atheist Group Files Complaint. A Kansas school has canceled its participation in Operation Christmas Child, which is sponsored by a Christian organization, after an atheist group wrote to the school district alleging that the program “violates basic constitutional principles.” Read more here.
CA Court Respects Strip Club’s Rights While Discriminating Against Churches. A California court has determined that COVID restrictions against a San Diego strip club violated “constitutionally protected speech” despite the fact that churches are still closed for indoor services. Read more here.
Court Weighs Legality of Nativity Scene at Indiana Courthouse. The legality of an Indiana courthouse’s public nativity scene was argued in federal appeals court with religious freedom advocates contending that that U.S. Supreme Court precedent permits the presence of a nativity scene on public land. Read more here.
UK Religious Leaders Take Legal Action Over Ban on Sunday Worship Services. More than 100 church leaders are taking legal action against the English and Welsh government for forcing houses of worship to cease in-person Sunday services due to another COVID-19 lockdown. Read more here.
French Catholics Protest for End to Lockdown on Mass. With banners reading “Let us Pray” and “We Want Mass,” Catholic protesters held scattered demonstrations around France to demand that authorities relax virus lockdown measures to allow religious services. Read more here.
Religious Freedom Becoming ‘Second Tier Right’ Warns Supreme Court Justice. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has spoken of his concern that religious liberty is under threat in the United States. Read more here.
NYPD to Allow Religious Headgear in Mug Shots. The New York Police Department will stop making people who have been arrested remove their religious headwear for mug shots as part of a settlement in a federal lawsuit. Read more here.
Hundreds of Churches to Be Lit Red in Global Call for Religious Freedom. Cathedrals, churches and public buildings will soon be illuminated in red in many countries across four continents to draw attention to the persecution of Christians. Read more here.
Criminalizing ‘Hate Speech’ in Homes Proposed by UK Law Commission. Private conversations in the home about controversial issues such as same-sex marriage or transgender ideology could result in police intervention under new hate crime proposals for England and Wales. Read more here.
MPs Pile Pressure on UK Government Over Church Closures. Dozens of MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, have challenged the UK government over its decision to ban public worship in churches during the second lockdown in England. Read more here.
SCOTUS Hears Key Religious Liberty Case. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a key religious liberty case that focuses on the right of faith-based social service agencies to provide services while maintaining their religious beliefs. Read more here.
England Bans In-Person Church Services Country-Wide for a Month. England has prohibited churches from meeting in-person for just under a month as part of a new string of lockdowns to fight COVID-19. Read more here.
Student Sues Mississippi School District for Banning ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Face Mask. A school district in Mississippi has been sued for banning a third-grade student from wearing a facemask in class that has “Jesus Loves Me” written on it. Read more here.
Maine’s Ban on Tuition Reimbursement to Religious Schools Upheld. Maine can provide tuition reimbursement to parents who send their children to private schools but not to parents who send their children to religious schools, the First Circuit held. Read more here.
Germany Says Repression of Religion on the Rise Worldwide. The German federal government unveiled a report that looks into religious freedom across the world which shows a trend towards stronger repression and restrictions. Read more here.
Algeria’s Proposed Constitutional Changes Are a Threat to Religious Liberty, Group Claims. Ahead of a referendum on changing Algeria’s constitution, a leading Christian rights organization is voicing concerns over the possible effects on religious freedom. Read more here.
Pastors in China Forced to Add Communist Ideology to Bible Stories. Pastors in China report that they’ve been forced to integrate President Xi Jinping’s words into the biblical account of Jesus feeding the five thousand as the Chinese Communist Party increasingly pressures church leaders to infuse their sermons with political ideology. Read more here.
Report: North Korea Jails, Executes Anyone Who Owns a Bible. A new report by a human rights watchdog details horrific violations of religious freedom within North Korea, including citizens brutally tortured for converting to Christianity and individuals publicly executed for owning a Bible. Read more here.
Georgia School District Urged to Protect Students’ Prayers at Football Games. A Georgia school district is being urged to protect its students’ rights to religious expression after an atheist group filed a complaint over student-led prayers at its high school football games. Read more here.
L.A. Fines Church $1,000 After 11 People Pray in 500-Seat Sanctuary. Los Angeles County fined a Catholic church $1,000 after the congregation allowed 11 individuals — including five women in prayer veils — to pray and worship inside the sanctuary in violation of COVID-19 health restrictions. Read more here.
Ontario Govt to Amend Bill That Would Force Christian Wedding Officiants to Adhere to ‘Code of Practice.’ The government of Ontario has said it will amend a proposed bill that would force wedding officiants to adhere to a “Code of Practice” after politicians and family groups raised concern that the bill could undermine religious freedom. Read more here.
Ohio County Agrees Not to Force Minister to Officiate, Write for Same-Sex Weddings. Faced with a federal lawsuit, Cuyahoga County, Ohio has agreed to a proposed court judgment that allows a Cleveland-area minister and wedding business owner to operate consistent with her belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Read more here.
Taiwan Urges Vatican to Focus on Religious Freedom in China. Taiwan reminded the Vatican of the importance of religious freedom after it extended a provisional agreement on bishop appointments with China for another two years. Read more here.
Welsh Gov’t Challenged for Closing Churches in Lockdown. The Welsh Government has been challenged over its decision to close churches until November 9 as part of its measures to combat the coronavirus. Read more here.
UN Criticized for Electing Countries Previously Engaged in Religious Freedom Violations. The United Nations General Assembly is facing criticism for electing countries to the Human Rights Council who were previously engaged in religious freedom violations. Read more here.
UK Govt Pledges New Special Envoy for Religious Freedom. Minister for Asia Nigel Adams has reaffirmed the UK government’s “unwavering commitment” to freedom of religion or belief and said a new special envoy will be appointed shortly. Read more here.
Colorado Churches Win Against COVID Orders. A federal district judge issued a decision granting an injunction in favor of two churches against Governor Jared Polis’ COVID orders that place numerical restrictions on houses of worship. Read more here.
Photocopying Hymns Now Illegal in China. China has escalated its ban on the printing of religious materials in recent months, inspecting printing houses for possible violations and even prohibiting the copying of hymns, according to a new report. Read more here.
Oregon Sued for Closing Religious Schools While Allowing Public Schools to Reopen In-Person. A small Christian school in Oregon has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Gov. Kate Brown and several other high-ranking officials for restricting in-person instruction in private, religious schools during the coronavirus pandemic while allowing public schools to reopen. Read more here.
Jewish School Allowed to Reopen; Cuomo Drops Restriction Following Lawsuit. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo amended the COVID-19 restrictions that he placed on Jewish communities after a federal judge ordered an explanation for the recent shutdown of Jewish schools. Read more here.
Thousands Back Religious Freedom Bill in NSW. Members of the public overwhelmingly support extending anti-discrimination laws in New South Wales to protect religious believers and organizations, a parliamentary report has revealed. Read more here.
Canada’s Bishops Say Conversion Therapy Ban Threatens Religious Freedom. Canada’s Catholic bishops have criticized the “potential overreach” of a proposed government ban on conversion therapy, arguing that the legislation’s “very disconcerting ambiguity” poses a threat to freedom of religion. Read more here.
Romanian Churches Petition SCOTUS. Liberty Counsel filed a petition for cert asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries in their federal lawsuit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his unconstitutional executive orders discriminating against churches. Read more here.
Kentucky Restrictions on Church Services Debated at Sixth Circuit. A Kentucky church argued before the Sixth Circuit that despite modifications to allow in-person religious services, it is nevertheless entitled to injunctive relief to invalidate executive orders banning mass gatherings issued by the governor in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more here.
California Churches Request Full Appeals Court Review. Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry filed an en banc petition to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that the entire panel of judges review the case regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders restricting religious gatherings. Read more here.
D.C. Restrictions on Outdoor Church Services Violate RFRA. A federal judge ruled in favor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church against the Washington, D.C. mayor’s restrictions on outdoor worship services, concluding that the restrictions violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Read more here.
Nicaraguan Bishops Speak Out Against Govt Attacks on Free Speech. Several members of the Catholic hierarchy in Nicaragua have spoken out against the government of President Daniel Ortega for trying to enact laws that would limit free speech and treat missionary priests and foreign correspondents as “foreign agents.” Read more here.
Court Rules Religious Objections on LGBTQ Issues Cannot Disqualify Foster Parents. A Washington federal district court has held that the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families cannot use its policy to protect LGBTQ+ foster children as the sole determining factor in rejecting a foster family that expresses sincere religious beliefs that would preclude them from supporting gender transition in a hypothetical future situation. Read more here.
Court Dismisses LGBT Anti-Discrimination Lawsuit Against Seminary. A U.S. district court has sided with Fuller Theological Seminary against two students who claimed the school violated anti-discrimination laws when it expelled them for being in same-sex marriages. Read more here.
Texas City Threatens to Take Property From Church. A church in Texas is putting up a legal fight to stop a city from taking control of a church-owned property via eminent domain to build a new fire station, arguing that it interferes with their free exercise of religion. Read more here.
KY School Stops Prayer at Graduation Following Complaint. A school district in Kentucky has agreed to stop presenting prayers at its graduation ceremonies following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a prominent atheist group. Read more here.
Secularists Want Christian Groups to Be Forced to Ditch Ethos. The UK’s National Secular Society has called for Christian organizations to be forced to open key roles to those who do not share their beliefs. Read more here.
Justices Slam Obergefell Decision. U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said that Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that mandated all states recognize same-sex marriages, is “found nowhere in the text” of the Constitution and threatens “the religious liberty of the many Americans who believe that marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman.” Read more here.
Alabama Officials Sued Over Voter Registration Form Requiring ‘So Help Me God’ Vow. A secular advocacy group has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a voter registration form in Alabama, arguing the state violates the constitutional rights of applications by requiring them to declare “so help me God” when signing up to vote. Read more here.
Russia’s Catholic Church Warns Against Proposed Curbs on Clergy. Catholic Church officials in Russia criticized planned religious law changes that will require all clergy who studied abroad to retrain in a Russian college. Read more here.
Court Stops New York From Shutting Down Christian Adoption Agency. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York ruled that the state of New York may not revoke a faith-based adoption provider’s authorization to place children for adoption while the adoption provider’s lawsuit against the state proceeds. Read more here.
Judge Upholds Colorado’s Limits on Religious Gatherings. A federal judge denied an injunction sought by a Protestant ministry against Colorado’s coronavirus health orders, which limit religious gatherings to 175 persons. Read more here.
Court Rules No Fault Divorce Does Not Infringe on Free Exercise Rights. In Melki v. Melki, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals rejected a husband’s claim that granting his wife a no-fault divorce violates his free exercise rights. Read more here.
Pompeo Speaks at Vatican Conference on Defending Religious Freedom. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican at the “Holy See Symposium on Advancing and Defending Religious Freedom Through Diplomacy.” Read more here.
Appeals Court Denies Churches’ Request for Protection From Orders Limiting In-Person Gatherings. An appeals court has refused to grant a request from multiple churches seeking protection from California’s COVID-19 shutdown orders limiting in-person gatherings. Read more here.
Virginia’s Non-Discrimination Law Faces Court Challenge. Alliance Defending Freedom has filed lawsuits in state and federal court challenging a new Virginia law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more here.
Christian Pastors Urge UK Govt to Not Suspend Worship Again. A group of 700 Christian ministers from across the United Kingdom has written an open letter demanding that their governments do not ask them to “suspend Christian worship again.” Read more here.
Hotel Settles Claim After Canceling Pastor’s Pro-Marriage Event. A Belfast hotel has apologized unreservedly to a church minister after it forced him to abandon a public meeting supporting traditional marriage. Read more here.
UN Ambassador Issues Religious Freedom Warning. In remarks during the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. religious freedom ambassador warned against governments using the pandemic to crack down on religious minorities. Read more here.
U of Iowa Accused of Targeting Christian Student Groups. A Christian student group, Business Leaders in Christ, was reportedly deregistered and essentially kicked off the University of Iowa campus and put on a religious watchlist for requiring its leaders to sign a statement of faith that did not affirm the LGBTQ community. Read more here.
Kent Mayor Bans Prayer at Council Meetings. A Kent borough in the United Kingdom has terminated the role of its civic chaplain, ending nearly fifty years of council prayers. Read more here.
U.S. AG Speaks on Religious Liberty Attacks. U.S. Attorney General William Barr said that “no concept is more misunderstood than the notion of separation of church and state” and explained that “militant secularists” have long seized on that slogan “as they drive religion from the public square.” Read more here.
U.S. Supreme Court Has Full Docket of Religious Liberty Cases During Nomination Fight. As the Trump Administration looks to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, the coming judicial session features a slate packed with religious freedom cases. Read more here.
Ohio Gov Signs Bill to Prevent Officials From Stopping Religious Services. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 272 into law which will prohibit any public official from closing places of worship in the state. Read more here.
Charges Dropped Against Pastor Who Held Peaceful Worship Services. The City of Niles, Illinois, has dropped all four “disorderly conduct” citations against Pastor Daniel Chiu who received an $800 fine for holding peaceful morning and evening worship services for two consecutive Sundays. Read more here.
Judge Orders School District to Halt Prayers, Bible Reading After ACLU Suit. A federal judge ordered a Tennessee school district and its employees not to participate in or promote religion at school activities after the district acknowledged it had allowed certain religious expressions. Read more here.
Kroger Workers Wrongly Fired for Refusing to Wear Aprons With LGBT Logo, Lawsuit Says. Grocery store giant Kroger is accused in federal court filings of violating the Civil Rights Act when it reportedly fired two employees who did not want to wear a store apron supporting the LGBTQ community. Read more here.
U.S. DoD Supports Stronger Religious Liberty Protections for Military Members. The U.S. Department of Defense has announced that it’s implementing stronger guidelines to safeguard religious liberty for military service members. Read more here.
Judge Grants Injunction Barring Church From Constitutional Right to Worship. Since Grace Community Church first began meeting in-person in July, Los Angeles County officials have threatened fines, arrest, and even terminated their parking lot lease. Now a judge has issued a ruling prohibiting them from holding indoor worship services. Read more here.
EU Commission ‘Committed to Defend Freedom of Religion or Belief.’ In response to a question regarding the proposed ban of circumcision in Denmark, the European Commission said they are “committed to defend the freedom of religion or belief” and that they also fight for the protection of the rights of the child. Read more here.
GA Tech Settles Religious Discrimination Suit. A lawsuit filed by Students For Life against Georgia Tech University for religious discrimination has been settled out-of-court, with Georgia Tech agreeing to revise its policies and treat all student organizations fairly regardless of viewpoint and to pay $50,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees. Read more here.
U.S. Supreme Court Set to Hear Contentious Religious Freedom Case. The hearing for Fulton v. City of Philadelphia has been set for early November and will determine whether or not a Catholic adoption agency must comply with Philadelphia’s allowances for placing foster children with homosexual or transgender parents. Read more here.
LGBT Activists Threaten to Burn Church, UK Police Try to Silence Pastor. A Christian pastor in the United Kingdom was told by the local police that if he offends the LGBT community with a social media comment he could be breaking the law, even though a pro-LGBT mob threatened to burn down his church. Read more here.
DeVos Delivers on Promise to Protect Campus Religious Liberty. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has published a final rule which ensures the equal treatment and constitutional rights of religious student organizations at public institutions and provides clarity for faith-based institutions with respect to Title IX. Read more here.
LGBT Activists Urge Ramaphosa to Sign Bill Eliminating Freedom of Conscience for Marriage Officers. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is being urged to sign off on a Civil Union Amendment Bill that eliminates the right of a marriage officer or magistrate to decline performing same-sex marriages if they have a religious objection. Read more here.
CA Church Takes Worship Ban to Court of Appeals. Harvest Rock Church has appealed its case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s order prohibiting all worship, including home Bible studies and fellowship with anyone who does not live in the home. Read more here.
Free Speech Case Concerning Former Finnish Minister Continues. Former Minister of the Interior and serving Member of the Finnish Parliament Päivi Räsänen has been under investigation for a year since directing a tweet at the leadership of her church which questioned its official sponsorship of the LGBT event “Pride 2019,” accompanied by an image of a bible text. Read more here.
In Upcoming Term, U.S. Supreme Court Once Again Takes Up Religious Liberty. The U.S. Supreme Court will once again take up a religious liberty case in its new term with oral arguments November 4 in a case about a Catholic social service agency excluded from Philadelphia’s foster care program for not accepting same-sex couples as foster parents. Read more here.
Judge: Louisville Can’t Force Christian Photographer to Work Same-Sex Wedding. U.S. District Judge Justin R. Walker sided with photographer and blogger Chelsey Nelson and issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the city from forcing her to work at same-sex weddings. Read more here.
U.S. Dept of Ed Reaffirms Commitment to Protecting Students’ Religious Liberty. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced guidance to protect the religious liberty of individuals and institutions participating in Department of Education programs. Read more here.
Filipino Catholic College Defends Stance Against Homosexuality. A group of 80 Filipino LGBT organizations have released a statement alleging that Assumption College’s policies against immorality go against the Philippines’ anti-discrimination laws. Read more here.
Judge Allows Lawsuit to Proceed Over Evangelical Adoption Agency’s Exemption to HHS Rule. A Catholic mother’s lawsuit against the state of South Carolina and federal officials for exempting an evangelical Christian adoption agency from a federal non-discrimination mandate is allowed to proceed, according to a federal judge. Read more here.
Swedish Govt Party Wants to Force Imams, Rabbis to Perform Same-Sex Marriages. Despite Sweden’s Marriage Code becoming gender neutral in 2009, only a handful of religious congregations marry same-sex couples. The Green Party wants to make it illegal to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. Read more here.
LGBTQ Alumni Accuse Canadian Christian University of Discrimination. According to the school’s Student Conduct and Accountability Policy, Redeemer University disciplines students for what it refers to as “sexual misconduct,” which includes sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage. Read more here.
University Hijab Ban Sparks Protest in Belgium. The Constitutional Court of Belgium ruled that prohibiting the wearing of religious signs in higher education institutions did not violate freedom of religion or the right to education. Read more here.
USAID Official Quits Over Alleged ‘Anti-Christian Sentiment.’ The White House’s deputy liaison to the U.S. Agency for International Development is leaving her post after just two months in the job, calling lawmakers who she said had criticized her views on sexuality and gender identity “radical anti-Christian leftists.” Read more here.
Religious Freedom a Concern for Evangelicals in Sri Lanka. A report of the Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka warns that law enforcement and judicial systems have not always “provided relief” in cases of discrimination. Read more here.
Louisiana Legislator Asks Governor to Allow Clergy to Enter Healthcare Facilities. Senator Robert Mills’ newly authored bill would require inpatient healthcare facilities to provide patient or resident access to members of the clergy for any customary religious service that is normally offered to patients when not under a declared state of public health emergency. Read more here.
U.S. Senator Accuses Pentagon of Discrimination Against Believers. Senator Ted Cruz accused the Defense Department of “religious discrimination” in a strongly worded letter that pressed Defense Secretary Mark Esper on how his department planned to address “its culture of hostility towards religion.” Read more here.
Amicus Brief Defending Religious Liberty Filed by 21 States. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson led 21 states in an amicus brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit defending the religious liberty of public employees. Read more here.
After Challenge With California Officials, Catholic Home for Trafficked Girls Set to Open. A Catholic charity that has prepared to open a home for underage victims of human trafficking has reached a resolution with California authorities after it was allegedly pressured to affirm LGBT sexuality, to inject sex hormones into any beneficiaries who identify as transgender, and to agree to drive minors to abortion clinics. Read more here.
Report Finds Hate Crimes Rising Against Indian Christians. Hate crimes against Christians in India increased by 40% in the first half of 2020 despite a three-month nationwide lockdown, according to a new report. Read more here.
China Seizes Children From Christian Parents. A member of China’s Early Rain Covenant Church says the Chinese Communist Party continues to persecute members of the church by forcibly removing adopted children from their parents or threatening to send children to government re-education camps. Read more here.
Scottish Bishops Fear Hate Crime Law Could Criminalize Bible. Catholic bishops have said that proposed hate crime legislation in Scotland could criminalize the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Read more here.
Bishop of Truro to Lead Global Religious Freedom Group. The Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen will chair the new initiative following his influential report last year into global Christian persecution. Read more here.
U.S. Supreme Court Denies Nevada Church’s Appeal of Attendance Restriction. Nevada has placed a 50-person cap on all places of worship, no matter the capacity of the building, but casinos and other businesses may permit up to 50 percent capacity, allowing access to potentially hundreds of patrons at a time. Read more here.
More ‘LGBT-Friendly’ Haitian Penal Code Prompts Outcry From Pulpit. An overhaul of Haiti’s penal code that punishes marriage officiants who refuse to perform same-sex weddings is provoking outcry among religious leaders in the socially conservative Caribbean nation. Read more here.
Vatican Foreign Minister: Religious Freedom Must be Protected. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, told an online forum that efforts to counter persecution are now required because the entire fabric of human rights is at stake if religious freedom continues to be attacked. Read more here.
Christian Wedding Planner Challenges Anti-Discrimination Law. An Evangelical Christian minister who runs a wedding business in Cleveland, Ohio, has filed a lawsuit challenging a county ordinance she says would require her to officiate same-sex weddings. Read more here.
Scot Hate Crime Bill Could Criminalize People for ‘Misspeaking.’ The Scottish Government’s Hate Crime and Public Order Bill intends to criminalize “stirring up hatred” against people on the basis of certain “protected characteristics,” including religion, sexuality and transgender identity. Read more here.
Concerns Rise for Christian Businesses in NI That Refuse Services to Same-Sex Weddings. A leader of Northern Ireland’s largest Christian denomination has raised concerns that a new marriage law, which doesn’t allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples on grounds of conscience, is a violation of religious freedom. Read more here.
Anti-Christian Attacks on the Rise in France. The number of officially recorded anti-Christian incidents in France has risen by 285 percent between 2008 and 2019. Read more here.
At Least 400 Churches Closed or Destroyed in China. Christians across China continue to be persecuted by Communist officials as at least 400 Three-Self and house churches were either demolished, shut down or repurposed in Shangrao City of Jiangxi Province. Read more here.
HHS Acts to Preserve Religious Freedom at Hospitals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took two important steps to protect religious freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
Christian Adoption Agency Can Sue NY for Threatening Closure Over Not Placing Kids With Same-Sex Couples. An appeals court has revived New Hope Family Services’ lawsuit against officials in New York state who are seeking to force the charity to place children with unmarried and same-sex couples instead of referring them to other providers. Read more here.
CA’s Ban on ‘In-Home Bible Studies’ Sparks Lawsuit by Church. A California church filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s restrictions on houses of worship, including what the suit says is a ban on “in-home Bible studies.” Read more here.
U.S. Congressman Demands Federal Investigation Into Anti-Christian Hate Crimes. Indiana Rep. Jim Banks is demanding federal authorities at the Department of Justice investigate mob attacks on Christian statues and churches in their continued purge of human history in the name of “social justice.” Read more here.
German State Bans Burqas in Schools. Baden-Württemberg will now ban full-face coverings for all school children. State Premier Winfried Kretschmann said burqas and niqabs did not belong in a free society. Read more here.
China Orders Christians to Remove Images of Jesus, Replace With Communist Leaders. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, poor Christian villagers in China have been ordered to renounce their faith and replace displays of Jesus with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping or risk losing their welfare benefits. Read more here.
Pompeo Says Human Rights Policy Must Prioritize Religious Liberty. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for the United States to ground its human rights policy more prominently in religious liberty and property rights. Read more here.
Legal Advocacy Group Petitions for Review of Same-Sex Marriage Bill Which Restricts Religious Liberty. Freedom of Religion South Africa has petitioned President Cyril Ramaphosa to send a bill which prevents state-employed marriage officers and magistrates from objecting to solemnizing same-sex marriages on the grounds of conscience, religion and belief back to the National Assembly for reconsideration. Read more here.
Supreme Court Rules Religious Schools Shielded From Teachers’ Employment Discrimination Claims. The Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision that civil courts cannot get involved in employment discrimination claims brought against religious organizations where the employee served a religious function. Read more here.
Supreme Court Upholds Religious Liberty in Contraception-Mandate Case. The Supreme Court voted 7–2 to allow employers with sincerely held moral or religious objections an exemption from an Obama-era mandate to provide contraception in their health care plans. Read more here.
UK High Court Rules Christian Fostering Service Can Maintain Religious Standards Without Punishment. The judgment confirms the freedom of Christian organizations to provide activities in line with their statement of faith. Read more here.
South African Marriage Officers Won’t Be Allowed to Turn Down Same-Sex Couples. A newly-passed bill repeals section six of the Civil Union Act, which allowed a marriage officer to inform the minister that “he or she objects on the ground of conscience, religion, and belief to solemnizing a civil union between persons of the same sex.” Read more here.
Photographer Sues Over Virginia Law That May Force Him to Service Same-Sex Weddings. A professional photographer has filed a lawsuit against a new Virginia law that he says would force him to violate his sincerely held Christian beliefs by requiring him to provide his services to same-sex weddings. Read more here.
European Commission Still Undecided on Special Envoy. The European Commission continues to send mixed messages about the mandate of the Special Envoy on the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. Read more here.
Catholic Priest Defends Criticism of ‘Pride’ Celebrations. A Catholic parish in the Diocese of Lafayette has stood by its criticism of the New Orleans Saints for celebrating the “gay rights movement,” despite being attacked for it on social media. Read more here.
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Religious Schools May Not Be Blocked From Scholarship Program. The Supreme Court ruled that Montana may not bar religious schools from participating in the state’s tax-credit scholarship program, a win for school choice advocates and parents who wish to use their scholarship funds to send their children to religious schools. Read more here.
U.S. Bishop Pulls Priest From Parish for ‘Divisive’ Remarks Upholding Church’s Stance on Homosexuality. A bishop has yanked a priest known for his pro-life work from ministry thanks to threats by LGBT activists. Read more here.
Armenian Police Officer Wins Landmark Employment Case After Being Fired for His Faith. The Administrative Court in Armenia found the police officer’s dismissal to be invalid and ruled that he must be reinstated to his job and compensated for the entire period of his forced leave starting in 2018. Read more here.
Roman Catholic Schools Urge Welsh Govt to Axe Religious Education Changes. In 2022, Religious Education is to be renamed ‘Religion, Values and Ethics,’ and the current parental right of withdrawal will be removed. Read more here.
Ohio Governor Signs Bill Expanding Religious Freedom in School. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law the Student Religious Liberties Act, which clarifies that students can pray, wear religious clothing, meet on school grounds and express their faith in school. Read more here.
Religious Medical Professionals Can be Punished for Following Their Consciences. Despite federal and state laws designed to protect conscience rights, Catholic medical professionals and their advocates report that healthcare institutions routinely pressure their employees to provide or refer for services to which they morally object. Read more here.
U.S. Bishops Call on Americans to Defend Religious Freedom. The U.S. bishops have highlighted a specific area of religious liberty for each day of Religious Freedom Week, beginning with the theme of religious freedom in health care, which includes the right to act in conscience and not be forced into cooperating with immoral actions. Read more here.
Latter-Day Saint Apostle Says Pandemic is a ‘Wake-Up Call’ About the Fragility of Religious Freedom. When governments around the world swiftly banned religious gatherings as COVID-19 advanced, they dangerously breached boundaries protecting the free exercise of religious freedom and proved just how fragile it is, an apostle with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said. Read more here.
Alito: Court’s ‘Preposterous’ Ruling Threatens Religion, Speech, Privacy and Safety. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito strongly condemned the Court’s ruling that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more here.
Italy’s Homophobia Law Threatens Pulpit. Italian bishops are challenging new legislation against “homotransphobia” that could criminalize the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality and even censor preaching against sexual pathologies like pedophilia, sadism or masochism. Read more here.
Ohio Senate Unanimously Passes Student Religious Expression Bill. The Ohio Senate unanimously passed a bill that would allow public school students to pray, attend religious clubs and “See You at the Pole” gatherings, distribute religious material, wear religious clothing and turn in work expressing their faith beliefs. Read more here.
U.S. Supreme Court Decision Ignites Religious Liberty Battle. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in his majority opinion that he foresees a path for religious institutions to fight their way to the Supreme Court as they seek exceptions from new laws granting protections for homosexual and transgender workers. Read more here.
Italy’s Catholic Bishops Say Proposed ‘Homophobia Law’ Creates ‘Crime of Opinion.’ Italian bishops have raised concerns over proposed legislation against “homophobia” in Italy, claiming changes to the law are unnecessary and have the potential to infringe on the civil liberties of those who oppose same-sex unions. Read more here.
Court Mostly Affirms NY Law Forcing Pro-Life Orgs to Accept Pro-Abortion Employees. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York has upheld most of a law allowing the Empire State to force pro-life organizations to employ workers who oppose their religious values and pro-life mission. Read more here.
Court Rejects Claim of Retaliation Because of Foster Parents’ Religious Beliefs. The plaintiffs claim that they were retaliated against because of their religious belief that homosexuality is a sin, or because they shared their religious belief with their child. Read more here.
Trump Administration Argues Adoption Agency Should Be Able to Reject Same-Sex Couples. The Justice Department filed a Supreme Court brief in support of a taxpayer-funded Catholic group that declines to work with same-sex prospective parents. Read more here.
Texas AG Files Multistate Amicus Brief Defending Religious Liberty for Foster Care Providers. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led 13 states in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the United States Supreme Court in support of several foster parents who are suing the city of Philadelphia over its policy blocking foster care providers who hold traditional beliefs about marriage. Read more here.
U.S. Bishops Ask Supreme Court to Protect Catholic Foster Agency in Philadelphia. In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, the U.S. bishops argued that a Catholic agency should not be banned from participation in the Philadelphia foster care system due to its beliefs on marriage. Read more here.
Trump Signs International Religious Freedom Executive Order. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that appropriates $50 million for programs that advance international religious freedom around the world. Read more here.
Catholic Parish Faces Human Rights Tribunal for Refusing to Allow LGBT Event at Parish Hall. White Rock Pride Society filed a complaint against the British Columbia church last June, alleging discrimination by the Star of the Sea Parish on the basis of sexual orientation. Read more here.
Costa Rican Bishop Disappointed in Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage. A Costa Rican bishop has warned that although same-sex marriage has been legalized in the country, the Catholic Church will continue to proclaim the truth of God’s plan for sexuality and marriage. Read more here.
Two Cases Show Religious Freedom Dwindling in Europe. Conscientious objection and freedom of expression are under threat in Europe, as shown by two legal cases that made news this spring. Read more here.
Major UK Conscience Case Reaches Top European Court. The European Court of Human Rights will hear the case of Ashers Baking Company in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which has faced a lengthy legal process after refusing to produce a cake promoting a message contrary to their deeply held Christian beliefs about marriage. Read more here.
Religious Freedom in Jeopardy as China Passes New Hong Kong ‘Security Laws.’ The legislature of China approved a resolution to impose new “security laws” on its formerly autonomous region, Hong Kong— a move pro-democracy protestors and Catholics in the country fear will undermine Hong Kongers’ freedom of religion. Read more here.
PCI Calls for Guarantee That Quoting Bible Won’t Be Treated as Hate Crime. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has said that freedom of speech must be protected in any new legislation. Read more here.
Canadian Bill Targets Catholic Teaching as ‘Conversion Therapy’ That Must Be Banned. Canada’s largest pro-life group is warning the country’s Catholic bishops and school trustees that the Trudeau government’s ban on so-called “conversion therapy” for minors will criminalize counseling based on Catholic teaching. Read more here.
Labor Department Issues New Religious Freedom Guidelines. The U.S. Department of Labor issued new protections for federal employees and faith-based grant recipients, with religious freedom groups praising the move. Read more here.
International Experts Appeal to European Commission to Do More for Religious Freedom. International religious freedom experts sent an open letter to the EU asking for more engagement in protecting the fundamental right to religious freedom across the globe. Read more here.
Major UK Conscience Case Reaches Top European Court. Mr. Lee, who ordered a cake with the message “Support Gay Marriage,” has now taken the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Read more here.
Armenian Constitutional Court Rules That Police Officer Cannot be Fired for Faith. Edgar Karapetyan was told that he was being fired because of his membership in a religious organization and that he would be allowed to keep his job if he renounced his faith. Read more here.
Court Allows LGBT Couple’s Lawsuit Over Foster Care Practice to Move Forward. A U.S. District Court ruled a lawsuit can proceed challenging a government exemption to religious anti-discrimination rules for foster care agencies. Read more here.
Nativity Scene on Indiana County Building Property Held Unconstitutional. An Indiana federal district court held that the Establishment Clause is violated by a nativity scene displayed on the lawn of an historical courthouse that now houses county offices. Read more here.
UK Evangelical Christian Adoption Agency to Fight Discrimination Claim in Court. A Christian fostering agency in the United Kingdom is taking a government regulator to court for deeming its policy of only placing children with committed evangelical Christians unlawfully discriminatory against same-sex couples. Read more here.
Vimeo Brands Christian Organization a ‘Terror or Hate Group’ Over Pro-Marriage Stance. The American Family Association (AFA) says it was told by Vimeo that its account was being shut down because it will not host an account if the owner is a member of a “terror or hate group”. Read more here.
USCIRF Warns About Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in 29 Countries and Beyond. The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom aims to monitor the implementation of the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world, following international law standards. Read more here.
Secular Organization Gets Military Chaplains’ Prayer Videos Removed From Facebook Page. The four videos removed from the brigade’s main Facebook page show chaplains offering comfort and perspective to those struggling with the threat and response to COVID-19. Read more here.
Court Rules Against Israeli Print Shop That Refused to Serve LGBT Group. The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court ruled that a local print shop must compensate an LGBT rights group after it refused to print its posters. Read more here.
Update on Religious Liberty Cases Before the U.S. Supreme Court. Five cases are now before the Supreme Court that could impact religious liberty and church-state law. Read more here.
Court to Hear Little Sisters, Catholic School Cases by Teleconference. For the first time in its history, the Supreme Court announced it will conduct 10 oral arguments by teleconference in May. Among the arguments it will hear is the case involving the Little Sisters of the Poor concerning religious employers opting out of the Affordable Health Care’s contraceptive mandate. Read more here.
The Reality of Religious Freedom in Cuba. The situation for religious groups in Cuba remains dire. Recorded violations include harassment of religious leaders, arbitrary detention, confiscation of religious property, the forced closure of churches, and restrictions on travel, movement and the distribution of religious materials. Read more here.
NYC Mayor Threatens Permanent Closure of Churches Holding Public Masses. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said that churches could be closed down permanently if people are gathering for services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
Virginia Governor Makes Attending Church a Criminal Offense. Virginia governor Ralph Northam has made it a criminal offense to attend church services of more than 10 people. An executive order went into effect in the commonwealth, making any non-essential gatherings a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of $2,500. Read more here.
UN Expert Says World Religions Should Defer to the Authority of UN Experts. According to the UN’s special expert on freedom of religion, the fringe views of UN human rights bodies must take precedence over the mainstream beliefs of many leading world religions when it comes to law and policy. Read more here.
Sri Lanka Rejects Statement of UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief as Inaccurate. The Sri Lankan delegation delivered the statement at the UN Human Rights Council and said it was regrettable that the report portrayed instances where criminal investigations that were conducted to prevent acts of terrorism in accordance with the law, as an endeavor to violate the freedom of religion or belief. Read more here.
Photographer Doesn’t Have to Shoot Same-Sex Weddings, U.S. Department of Justice Says. The U.S. Department of Justice has sided with the Kentucky-based wedding photographer’s First Amendment right to refuse service for same-sex couples, according to an official statement issued by the government agency. Read more here.
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Religious Liberty Dispute Over Same-Sex Foster Parents. The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a First Amendment dispute between the city of Philadelphia and a Catholic foster care agency excluded from the city’s foster care system because it does not allow same-sex couples to serve as foster parents. Read more here.
Oregon Bakers Forced Out of Business Make Their Case Before Oregon Court of Appeals. The court again heard oral arguments in the case of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, the bakery that declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Read more here.
Australian Prime Minister Morrison Delays Religious Freedom Bill Until 2020. Religious leaders threatened to withdraw support for the contentious religious discrimination bill unless greater freedoms were granted to Australians of faith. Read more here.
Survey Finds 63 Percent of Americans Support Religious Freedom at Work. The Religious Freedom Index reports that 63 percent of those surveyed said they support someone else’s freedom to practice religion at work or elsewhere in life “even if it creates an imposition or inconvenience for others.” Read more here.
Researcher Defends Tweets on Trans Rights at UK Employment Tribunal. Maya Forstater lost her job earlier this year after criticizing government proposals to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex. She launched legal proceedings against her former employer on the basis that firing her amounted to discrimination against her religious beliefs. Read more here.
Colorado Commission that Hounded Baker Targets Christian Web Designer. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is now going after a web designer who creates wedding websites. Because of her religious beliefs, she decided to create custom websites and graphics only for weddings between one man and one woman. If she does not create websites celebrating same-sex weddings, the state commission will punish her. Read more here.
Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Catholic Adoption Agency in Religious Liberty Case Against Michigan. U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker ruled that religious agencies that contract with the state of Michigan are allowed to refuse to place children in same-sex households. Read more here.
UN LGBT Czar Takes Aim Against Religions. A UN expert charged with promoting LGBT rights around the world called on governments to take action against religions that don’t embrace LGBT rights. Read more here.
Phoenix Artists Don’t Have to Make LGBTQ Wedding Invitations, Arizona Supreme Court Rules. The court overturned multiple lower court decisions that protected the Phoenix city nondiscrimination ordinance, which the Arizona Supreme Court ruled cannot be used to force artists to create custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples. Read more here.
Christian T-Shirt Printer’s LGBT Case Heads to Kentucky Supreme Court. The owner of the company declined to print “gay pride” t-shirts because it was a violation of his religious beliefs. Read more here.
Trump Administration Proposes Rule that Will Protect the Hiring Rights of Religious Organizations with Federal Contracts. The U.S. Department of Labor proposed a rule that ensures that “religious organizations may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government.” Read more here.
Irish Bakers’ Legal Case Referred to Highest European Court. The owners of Ashers bakery in Belfast won an appeal at the UK Supreme Court, which ruled it was not discriminatory to decline to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Now the case has been referred to the European Court of Human Rights. Read more here.
Christian Baker Asks for Dismissal of Lawsuit Over Cake Signifying Gender Transition. Cake artist jack Phillips filed a motion to dismiss a third lawsuit seeking to force him to create a cake that expresses a message contrary to his religious beliefs. Read more here.
Moms Take Fight Against City’s Foster Care Ban on Faith-Based Agencies to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case against the City of Philadelphia is over its ban of religious agencies from providing foster care unless the agencies agree to compromise their beliefs about marriage. Read more here.
Faith Groups Mobilize in Canada in Support of Traditional Marriage and Religious Freedom. The “One Accord” movement is pushing back against bans on therapy for individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction and on expanded abortion rights. Read more here.
Texas Governor Signs ‘Save Chick-Fil-A’ Bill. Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1978 that prohibits government entities from taking “adverse actions” against businesses or individuals because of their religious beliefs or moral convictions. Read more here.
UK Doctor Fired Over Religious Beliefs on Transgenderism. Dr. David Mackereth is a disability assessor and works for the Department for Work and Pensions. His religious convictions prevented him from addressing transgender claimants by their preferred pronouns. Read more here.
UK Student Kicked Off University Course Over Same-Sex Marriage Views Wins Court of Appeal Fight. The postgraduate student posted a traditional religious view on marriage on social media and was thrown off the Sheffield University course. Read more here.
California Lawmakers Pass Measure Forcing Pastors to Embrace LGBT Ideology. The California State Assembly has passed a resolution telling pastors to affirm homosexuality in violation of their biblical beliefs. Read more here.
Poland Rules in Favor of Printer Convicted Over Refusing LGBT Posters. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled that a Polish printer who refused to make posters for an LGBT foundation because of his religious beliefs should not have been convicted because workers have a right to act according to their conscience. Read more here.
As Brazil Debates Criminalization of “Homophobia,” Bishops Worry About Religious Liberty. The head of Brazil’s bishops’ conference, Bishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, expressed concern regarding the “freedom of religion in judiciary decisions concerning the criminalization of homophobia.” Read more here.
U.S. Supreme Court Tosses Ruling Against Oregon Bakers Who Declined Cake for Same-Sex Couple. Melissa and Aaron Klein cited religious beliefs as their reason for not providing services for the wedding. The court sent the case back down to a lower court “for further consideration in light of” their Colorado decision. Read more here.
Texas Governor Signs Controversial “Save Chick-Fil-A” Bill Into Law. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill that will protect religious liberty and will stop the government from taking unfavorable action against a business or person for contributing to religious organizations. The bill was introduced after the San Antonio City Council blocked Chick-fil-A from opening a location in the city’s airport because of reported donations to organizations that support traditional marriage. Read more here.
Washington Supreme Court Rules Against Florist Who Refused Service for Same-Sex Wedding. The court ruled that Barronelle Stutzman, who was acting in accordance with her religious beliefs, violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) for refusing to make floral arrangements for a same-sex couple in 2013. Read more here.
Third Discrimination Suit Filed Against Colorado Baker. Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, is being sued for the third time for declining to bake a cake celebrating an individual’s gender transition. The first two lawsuits filed by the transgender individual failed. Read more here.
Texas “Chick-fil-A” Bill Advances. The city of San Antonio blocked a proposed Chick-Fil-A restaurant in an airport location because of the owner’s religious belief in traditional marriage. The measure passed by the Texas House would ban local governments from taking “adverse action” against an individual or business based on affiliations or contributions to a religious organization. Read more here.
California University Votes to Remove Chick-Fil-A from Campus Because of Religious Beliefs of CEO. Faculty members of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s academic senate voted to remove the restaurant from the campus where it has operated for 25 years. Dan Cathy, the CEO of family-owned Chick-Fil-A supports marriage between a man and a woman. Read more here.
New Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Masterpiece Cakeshop. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips after he was sued for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Now he may stand in violation of Colorado law for refusing to decorate a cake to celebrate a biological male transitioning to a female. Read more here.