The Supreme Court Thinks It Can Decide Which Religious Beliefs are Important [Hub Debate]

With the Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday, finding  that for-profit employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare, our debate topic is set: did the Supreme Court get it right? Or wrong?  The Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is problematic, but given the court’s current composition, and its track record on corporate issues, it was not unexpected. As in most cases, the justices aren’t idiots (even the ones I usually disagree with), so the majority decision isn’t a gross miscarriage…

Failed USBOE Candidate’s Viewpoint Discrimination Claim Fails the Ron Swanson Test

Breck England is complaining about viewpoint discrimination, and he is completely right…and totally wrong.   In the latest strange development in Utah’s political litigation industry, Breck England, an unsuccessful candidate for the Utah State Board of Education (USBOE), has sued the members of the USBOE nominating committee, Governor Herbert, and Lt. Governor Cox for allegedly engaging in discrimination in violation of his constitutional rights (a copy of the complaint is embedded below). The basis for England’s claim is that, during vetting process of state school board candidates, some candidates are favored…

A Tradition of Prayer [Utah Senate Site]

By Wayne Niederhauser President of the Utah Senate The senate begins each legislative day with prayer. Our prayers represent and respect the diversity of religious faith in Utah communities, including Buddhist, Mormon, Jewish, Islamic, Catholic, Protestant and others. Individuals who offer senate prayers are welcome to say what is in their heart, using the language they feel is appropriate. We do not proselytize, exclude, degrade, or prescribe. We agree with today’s United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway that prayer is in harmony with the traditions of…

To Gag or Not to Gag? (Religion That Is)

A couple weeks ago, Hobby Lobby made it to the Supreme Court of the United States. The issue was Obamacare’s abortifacient/contraceptive/sterilization mandate. Hobby Lobby (a closely held corporation run by a believing evangelical Christian family) insists the mandate violates its religious beliefs and its free exercise of religion under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Obama administration insists it doesn’t care. While Hobby Lobby has received all the news lately, another case regarding the Obamacare mandate may prove to be even more interesting/disturbing. This one involves the Roman Catholic…

Religion and Governmental Incompetence

In a recent column, I addressed the origin and importance of the American concept of religious freedom. Our American concept of religious freedom is different, in part, because our concept of government is different. We believe in a limited government — i.e., one that is not able to govern every aspect of our lives. The entire point of a constitution is to limit government, and we limit government in any number of ways, both menial and fundamental: (1) we limit the government’s ability to be led by a president younger…

Two Kingdoms, Faith, and Freedom for All

For religious believers (as the vast majority of Utahns are), this world is made up of two kingdoms: the kingdom of God (or Gods), and the kingdom of men. These kingdoms are very different. They have different languages. They have different customs. They have different laws. They have different leaders. Believers owe allegiance to both kingdoms: the spiritual and the temporal. As Isaac Backus, a Baptist leader and influential advocate of religious freedom during the Founding generation, explained, the kingdoms “are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be…

The Salt City Throwdown Podcast: An Interview with Trestin Meacham

This article was written by Adam “The Fish Guy” Andrews. Co-host and Producer of the Salt City Throwdown podcast.   On a recent episode of The Salt City Throwdown Podcast, we had the chance to have a conversation with Trestin Mecham. Many of you may remember him as the man from Monroe, UT who went on a hunger strike in response to Judge Shelby’s ruling on Utah’s Amendment 3. Never having met Trestin, I did what most people do nowadays: I looked him up online. On the top 12 results:…

The Right to Be Wrong: Ending the Culture War Over Religion in America

America is exceptional. It’s exceptional because of our love for and commitment to individual freedom. And the first individual freedom delineated in the Bill of Rights is the freedom of religion. This first freedom is the subject of Kevin Hasson’s wonderful little read: “The Right to Be Wrong.” (Hasson is the founder of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty). Hasson, ever the storyteller, begins with an illustrative tale of the Pilgrims. Pilgrims, you see, are an archetype. They represent both early and modern Americans wishing to use the power of…

Liberty in Legoland: a Movie Review

The Lego Movie

Movies are funny things. They can mean different things to different people and different things to the same person depending on the moment. At this moment, to me, “The Lego Movie” stands as an allegory regarding religious liberty. Its necessity. Its repression. Its enemies. Its ultimate triumph. It doesn’t hurt that the movie is also exceedingly funny and visually engaging (every scene could actually be built in Legos, if you had bundles of Legos), but that’s ephemeral stuff compared to its underlying message. The movie begins and ends with Emmet…

What do attacks on the religious say about America and free speech? [Publius Online]

The following is an op-ed I wrote that was published by KSL.  SALT LAKE CITY — With the Human Rights Campaign’s tactic of attacking supporters of Amendment 3 for their religious convictions, we have seen an ugly shift toward divisive politics over civil discourse. Last week, Fred Sainz of HRC attacked Gene Schaerr, Utah’s lead counsel in the Amendment 3 appeal, for Schaerr’s privately expressed religious convictions.