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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.

Florida pastor arrested for holding services, other congregations meeting in defiance of COVID-19-related orders

Florida pastor arrested for holding services, other congregations meeting in defiance of COVID-19-related orders

The arrest of a pastor intensifies the debate over whether religious gatherings should, or even must, be exempt from public health orders. While some states and local governments have made a point of explicitly allowing religious gatherings to occur, others have not.
U.S. Navy revises religious accommodation request policy regarding beards, attire

U.S. Navy revises religious accommodation request policy regarding beards, attire

The U.S. Navy joined the trend among American military branches in expanding the ability of service members to wear religiously motivated head covering and beards.
New Hampshire judge upholds ban on gatherings, dismisses religious liberty complaint

New Hampshire judge upholds ban on gatherings, dismisses religious liberty complaint

Because of the special protections in place under federal and state law for religious free exercise, some states are choosing to exempt religious services from orders forbidding gatherings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Supreme Court postpones oral arguments through April 1

U.S. Supreme Court postpones oral arguments through April 1

The U.S. Supreme Court postponed oral arguments out of public health concerns, impacting two upcoming cases with possible religious liberty implications: Tanzin v. Tanvir and Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru.
Maine voters overwhelmingly support law barring religious exemption from student vaccination requirement

Maine voters overwhelmingly support law barring religious exemption from student vaccination requirement

Maine is the latest state to wrestle with religious exemptions for vaccinations, joining Connecticut, Massachusetts and Texas.
Federal court in Washington state again rejects football coach’s prayer argument

Federal court in Washington state again rejects football coach’s prayer argument

A court has dismissed a football coach's lawsuit to continue his practice of praying at the 50-yard line directly after games. Courts have consistently ruled that schoolchildren are particularly vulnerable to the threat of religious coercion.
West Virginia Senate sends Bible class bill to governor for signature

West Virginia Senate sends Bible class bill to governor for signature

A bill authorizing school districts to offer elective courses on the Bible passed the West Virginia State Senate, despite the desire of many senators to remove references to the Bible in favor of more inclusive language that permitted the study of a variety of world religions.
BJC urges Supreme Court to affirm that RFRA permits monetary damage awards

BJC urges Supreme Court to affirm that RFRA permits monetary damage awards

Tanzin v. Tanvir invites the Supreme Court to determine whether or not “appropriate relief” under a RFRA lawsuit can include monetary damages, and BJC joined a brief arguing that it does.
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