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8 quotes on religious freedom you may have missed

2014 was a busy year for The Becket Fund, a public-interest law firm that advocates for religious freedom rights.

According to Deseret News National’s Mark Kellner, the law firm won its biggest case of 2014, the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby case, which extended religious freedom rights to for-profit corporations.

But this wasn’t the only case The Becket Fund tackled this year. As I wrote back in October, the law firm continues to battle for religious rights for businesses, people and companies, and it will do so come 2015, too.

"I think Becket has been quite successful in teeing up issues that press the boundaries of the religious liberty claim," said Linda Greenhouse, a professor at Yale University's Law School, Kellner wrote in a profile of The Becket Fund. "The notion that a corporation could claim a faith-based right not to obey a federal law would not have been taken seriously even a few years ago."

To sum up the year, here are seven top quotes from Becket Fund lawyers.

“The government can put a man on the moon, and they can put mail in my mailbox every day. They can certainly get contraceptives to people they want to get them to, without the intercession of Catholic nuns.” — Mark Rienzi, on the government's arguments about the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“The American Humanist Association may be allergic to the word ‘God’ but that doesn’t mean everyone else has to sneeze.” — Eric Rassbach, who defended the use of “Under God” in a Pledge of Allegiance case.

“When the government threatens to ruin a family’s business unless they renounce their faith, the pressure placed on them is unmistakable. In other words, ‘Your business or your religion’ is just as effective a threat as ‘Your money or your life.’ ” — Brief for Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which looked at how businesses should have religious liberty rights.

“Sikh Americans shouldn’t have to choose between their faith and their jobs. The government doesn't get to say that sharp knives are okay if they are brought in to cut birthday cakes, but dull kirpans aren’t okay because they are religious items.” — Daniel Blomberg, who spoke of a Sikh woman’s religious rights when working for the federal government.

“Justice may be blind, but that doesn’t mean employers can cover their eyes. A job applicant does not have to bring a ‘Look at me — I am religious’ sign to an interview just to keep her civil rights.” — Eric Baxter about the Abercrombie Supreme Court case that looked at discrimination against a Muslim teenager.

“Under federal law, prison officials cannot impose unnecessary restrictions on religious liberty. While prisoners do surrender many rights at the jailhouse door, they do not surrender the fundamental right of conscience.” Hannah Smith, defending a prisoner’s right to religious expression in our Supreme Court case, Holt v. Hobbs.

“Religious freedom is protected, not threatened, when individuals of faith can participate in state programs on equal footing with everyone else.” — Eric Baxter, who explained that there are problems with laws that deny state education benefits to private school students.

“As a people we will always have disagreements about religion. But that reality cannot be used as an excuse to banish religious activity entirely from public life.” — Eric Rassbach about the Town of Greece v. Galloway case, which focused on legislative prayer.


Twitter: @herbscribner