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Written by Don Byrd, these updates bring together the latest news impacting the conversation around religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

Trump, Pompeo, Barr intensify religious liberty rhetoric in speeches across the country

Trump, Pompeo, Barr intensify religious liberty rhetoric in speeches across the country

The president and top cabinet officials gave speeches focused on the state of religious liberty at home or abroad. All three portrayed religion as under siege and the Trump administration as its most important ally.
Troubling Q&A on tax exemption for churches during presidential candidate town hall

Troubling Q&A on tax exemption for churches during presidential candidate town hall

An exchange between CNN’s Don Lemon and former congressman Beto O’Rourke demonstrates the way the media and politicians oversimply conflicts between religious freedom and nondiscrimination. The First Amendment without question protects rights of individuals and religious institutions, to support or oppose conceptions of marriage according to the dictates of their faith, and to peacefully express those views. That is not a controversial position.
Tennessee governor issues proclamation asking residents to pray, fast, and seek God’s forgiveness

Tennessee governor issues proclamation asking residents to pray, fast, and seek God’s forgiveness

Gov. Bill Lee declared October 10, 2019, to be a voluntary “Day of Prayer, Humility, and Fasting” in the state. Such proclamations are generally not surprising or unusual, and they have held up under constitutional scrutiny. But, that doesn’t mean they are a good idea.
SCOTUS hears employment discrimination cases

SCOTUS hears employment discrimination cases

Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC involves a transgender woman’s claim that her firing violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex. In requesting review by the Supreme Court, the funeral home did not raise RFRA arguments.
Federal court halts Michigan foster care policy as likely religious freedom violation

Federal court halts Michigan foster care policy as likely religious freedom violation

Can states require that religious organizations providing foster care services through government contracts must refrain from discriminating?
House committee holds oversight hearing on travel ban, No Ban Act

House committee holds oversight hearing on travel ban, No Ban Act

Last week, House subcommittees held the first-ever oversight hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Trump administration’s travel ban, which restricts travel to and from several majority-Muslim countries.
Speaking at United Nations, President Trump presses for global religious freedom, repeats false Johnson Amendment claim

Speaking at United Nations, President Trump presses for global religious freedom, repeats false Johnson Amendment claim

Speaking at a United Nations event on religious freedom, President Donald Trump called on world leaders to bring an end to all forms of religious persecution, announced his administration would add $25 million to U.N. efforts to protect religious sites and relics, and repeated a false claim about the Johnson Amendment.
BJC issues public comment opposing proposed hiring discrimination rule

BJC issues public comment opposing proposed hiring discrimination rule

A proposed Labor Department rule that would allow federal contractors to discriminate in hiring for government-funded positions “is a harmful and unnecessary expansion of the existing religious exemption,” according to BJC in a public comment submitted in opposition earlier this week.
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