Understanding Trinity Lutheran v. Missouri

On June 26, 2017 the Supreme Court decided the important case of Trinity Lutheran v. Missouri, and did so in a fascinating array of opinions that give intriguing hints of how it will decide cases involving religious freedom in the future.

The case is one in a long line in which the Court has struggled to make sense of the First Amendment. The cases form a tangled web that has left many legal observers unable to discern the course the Court intends to chart. It is possible that the majority intends its opinion to make that course significantly clearer with this decision. Lamentably, it failed to achieve its result.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/understanding-trinity-lutheran-v-missouri

Why Bahrain Makes Us Optimistic for Peace in the Middle East

In the Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain resides a centuries-old tradition of religious coexistence that might help fast-track a new paradigm of respect for the “other” in a deeply troubled region.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/10/14/why-bahrain-makes-us-optimistic-for-peace-in-the-middle-east

Trinity Lutheran and Free Exercise as a Non-Discrimination Norm

By in large, the decision was hailed as a victory for religious liberty by proponents of accomodationist views of the religion clauses, and criticized as a further crumbling of the wall between church and state by those of the separationist school.

Thus, the elephant in the room remains – whether these state law provisions are a legitimate basis for denying religious schools the right to participate in state educational voucher programs.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/10/2/trinity-lutheran-and-free-exercise-as-a-non-discrimination-norm

A Firm Foundation for the Trinity Lutheran Decision

Chief Justice Roberts was on pretty solid ground when he observed, in his opinion for the Court in the recent Trinity Lutheran case, that “[y]oungsters . . . often fall on the playground or tumble from the equipment. And when they do, the gravel can be unforgiving.” And, the foundation is no less firm for the Court’s conclusion that the First Amendment does not permit governments to discriminate against religious believers and organizations when distributing public benefits.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/10/2/a-firm-foundation-for-the-trinity-lutheran-decision

With Democratization Comes More Religious Freedom and Less Terrorism

How would religious freedom decrease transnational terrorism, thereby decreasing the need for counterterrorism coordination? The answer, I believe, lies in a nation’s level of authoritarianism. Put another way, with more democracy will come more open theological debates on sensitive public policy issues and less resort to violence to address grievances. In turn, terrorist groups will find it more difficult to manipulate religious doctrine to persuade recruits their cause is just and sanctioned by God.

A free marketplace of religious ideology will provide the political space needed for religious scholars to openly challenge on the merits Al Qaeda, ISIS, or their progeny’s twisted interpretations of Islam.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/7/9/with-democratization-comes-more-religious-freedom-and-less-terrorism