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Concerns about discrimination doom Arizona legislation

How did Arizona legislation that looked pretty similar to many other religious freedom statutes grab the national spotlight and get characterized by some as a license to discriminate?

Several factors led to the highly publicized veto of legislation known as SB1062, many of which will continue to challenge the popularity and public understanding of religious freedom claims.

A little background is needed to put the story in proper context. The federal government and 18 states have laws known as Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). Another dozen states interpret their state constitutions to provide similar protections. The driving principle behind these laws is that religious practice based upon sincere religious belief should be protected, even from governmental acts that are not aimed at religion but have an incidental impact.

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A new primer on a 'touchy subject'

Okay — time for some shameless self-promotion.

My friend Johnny Pierce and the good folks at Nurturing Faith ( in Macon, Ga., have published the 8th Annual Shurden Lectures that I delivered last year at my law school alma mater, Stetson University in DeLand, Fla.

Baptist Joint Committee supporters and the readers of this column know that the annual lectureship funded by the generous endowment established by Buddy and Kay Shurden is one of the BJC’s mainstay efforts to educate college students and others in university communities about religious liberty and the separation of church and state. With this new publication, titled What a Touchy Subject! Religious Liberty and Church-State Separation, I hope to reach students in many schools, colleges and seminaries, as well as Baptists and others in churches everywhere.

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Religious Groups File Brief in Clergy Housing Exemption Appeal
Last year, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled unconstitutional the tax exemption for clergy's housing costs. The parsonage allowance, Judge Barbara Crabb held, favors religion over non-religion in violation of the First Amendment.  Her surprising decision is being appealed to the 7t...
President Obama: Religious Hatred Has No Place in Society
At the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast today, President Obama discussed the recent tragic shootings at a Jewish Synagogue and Community Center in Kansas City. Here is an excerpt from his remarks: That this occurred now -- as Jews were preparing to celebrate Passover, as Christian...