To Native Americans, land can have a religiously sacred meaning. But despite their many years of using land for religious ceremonies, Native Americans’ access to it has often been tossed aside when the government has other goals in mind.
An Indiana man is attempting to use the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to defend himself in a tax evasion case against him – so far without success.
The Indianapolis Star reported that Rodney Tyms-Bey is arguing that RFRA protects him from paying state taxes and burdens him from exercising his religion freely. He owes Indiana $1,042.82.
An Indiana court has rejected a woman’s claim that she has a “religious freedom” right to abuse her son.
Kin Park Thaing, 30, was sentenced in October to one year of probation for hitting her 7-year-old son repeatedly with a coat hanger. Thaing was prosecuted thanks to a teacher who spotted dozens of bruises on the child’s body.
A prosecutor in Marion County said Thaing’s case tested the bounds of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which became law in 2015 and states that government cannot place any undue burden on religious practice without good reason.
In all of the reaction over the election, it’s easy to overlook other stories of interest, some of which are actually good news.
Consider this one: A federal judge has ruled that there’s likely no “religious freedom” right to defraud a federal program designed to help low-income families avoid hunger.
A federal court that deals with military issues has rejected a former U.S. Marine’s claims that she was persecuted because of her religious beliefs.
Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling received a bad-conduct discharge from the Marine Corps in 2014 after a court-martial found she had repeatedly violated orders. According to her superiors, she neglected to report for duty and failed to wear the required uniform. She also posted three signs reading “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” at her official workstation, and she twice refused to take them down.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 was intended to protect the fundamental American value of religious freedom.
In the more than two decades since RFRA’s passage, however, the law has too frequently been misused and misinterpreted as a sword to harm others, rather than as a shield to protect religious liberty. In particular, some ne’er-do-wells have tried to manipulate RFRA into a tool that allows them ignore non-discrimination laws.
U.S. Reps. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) on May 18 introduced legislation that would counteract some of the harmful effects of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and restore it to its original intent.
The “Do No Harm Act,” (H.R. 5272) would preserve RFRA’s power to protect religious liberty but also clarify that it may not be used to harm others.
In the ongoing dispute over access to birth control, one thing has often been missing: the voices of women who stand to lose the most if contraceptives become harder to get.
Americans United is working to change that.