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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.

State Department issues 2019 International Religious Freedom Report, notes progress in Uzbekistan, deterioration in China

State Department issues 2019 International Religious Freedom Report, notes progress in Uzbekistan, deterioration in China

The State Department this week issued its annual report detailing the status of religious freedom in every country in the world.
President Trump issues Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom amid tear gas controversy

President Trump issues Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom amid tear gas controversy

President Donald Trump issued an executive order to promote religious freedom around the world, calling on the State Department and USAID to make international religious freedom a priority in implementing foreign policy and foreign assistance programs.
Pennsylvania lawmakers introduce bill to exempt religious exercise from public health emergency orders

Pennsylvania lawmakers introduce bill to exempt religious exercise from public health emergency orders

In Pennsylvania, two state lawmakers are proposing legislation that would bar the state from issuing restrictions on worship services in public health emergencies, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
UPDATE: Supreme Court denies California church appeal as governor announces new guidelines for opening houses of worship

UPDATE: Supreme Court denies California church appeal as governor announces new guidelines for opening houses of worship

The appeal marks the first request for intervention by the Supreme Court in this fast-moving legal dispute over the constitutionality of including houses of worship in stay-at-home orders to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Dozens of cases have been filed across the country in the past two months.
6th Circuit sides with Kentucky church in first COVID-19 religious liberty case to reach federal appeals court

6th Circuit sides with Kentucky church in first COVID-19 religious liberty case to reach federal appeals court

The decisions mark the first entrance by a federal appeals court into the growing debate surrounding whether and to what extent a governor’s emergency restrictions on public gatherings apply to worship services.
U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in ‘ministerial exception’ cases

U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in ‘ministerial exception’ cases

These new cases raise the question of how courts should go about answering the question of whether an employee is covered by the ministerial exception and, as a result, cannot litigate an employment discrimination claim.
U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments (again) over religious objections to contraceptive mandate

U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments (again) over religious objections to contraceptive mandate

In this new case, more than one justice – including Chief Justice John Roberts – sounded frustrated that their previous ruling in Zubik (encouraging the parties to find a compromise on the contraceptive mandate) had not worked.
BJC, others press Congress to prohibit discrimination in future COVID-19 response legislation

BJC, others press Congress to prohibit discrimination in future COVID-19 response legislation

In a letter to congressional leaders, 183 organizations – including BJC – urged that any future legislation providing resources to those impacted by COVID-19 should include explicit language barring discrimination, including religious discrimination.
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