Do you not think religious liberty is in a tenuous position?  Think again.  Here are 38 examples from the North Dakota Catholic Conference (modified) of why religious liberty needs to be protected at the state and local level:

At school:

  • A school policy that prohibits “make-up” or “cosmetics” that would prevent Christian students from wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday.
  • A school anti-gang policy interpreted to prohibit wearing crucifixes, crosses or other religious items.
  • The student who, out of a religiously based sense of modesty, seeks excusal from a gym clothes requirement, or from a co-ed gym class.
  • A high school athletic association policy requiring students to play on their sabbath in order to compete in championship.
  • A school gym policy of prohibiting any head gear for safety reasons (would unnecessarily prohibit yarmulkes that could be pinned on.)
  • State laws that unduly interfere with the religious functions of religious schools.
  • A school anti-gang policy that prohibits all hats (would encompass yarmulkes, Muslim head coverings.)

Life Issues:

  • A law requiring all medical students to receive training in abortion.
  • A law that would require all medical schools and training hospitals to provide abortion training.
  • A public accommodation statute applied to require a pro-life printer to print abortion rights pamphlets.
  • An court order directing an attorney to represent a minor seeking an abortion.
  • A law or ordinance requiring pregnancy counseling centers to refer for abortions.
  • A law or ordinance requiring pregnancy centers to display or provide information that violates their religious beliefs.


  • A policy of eavesdropping on the conversations of incarcerated persons, including religious confessions.
  • A state’s attorney’s practice of excluding from a jury any person who wears religious objects or jewelry.

Marriage and Family:

  • A policy requiring all licensed counselors to provide “relationship” therapy to same-sex couples. (we are already seeing this with graduate counseling programs).
  • A law requiring all adoption agencies to provide services that violate their religious beliefs.

Places of worship:

  • Laws regulating methods of stewardship appeals.
  • A law allowing anyone with a carrying permit to bring a weapon onto any public place, including churches.
  • A law requiring the posting of certain signs, even if they interfere with a worship environment. (Example: Minnesota had a law requiring churches to post a large sign stating that the church “BANS GUNS IN THESE PREMISES.”)
  • An ordinance that applied commercial hours of operation to all facilities in the municipality, thereby restricting evening or sunrise services.
  • A policy placing numerical limits on the number of students that may be enrolled in religious schools and, indeed, on the size of congregations of various churches as a way of limiting their growth.
  • An ordinance limiting the number of persons who can be served at camps and retreats, when enacted without a legitimate safety reason.
  • A city ordinance that re-classifies land-use to something more restrictive if the entity feeds or temporarily houses the poor.
  • Ordinances restricting parking on certain days of the week, such as Friday and Saturday.
  • A land-use law that, in effect, prohibits prayer services in a residential zone. In one case, a member of the clergy was prevented from hosting morning prayers in a garage.
  • An ordinance restricting the use of candles.


  • Laws that interfere with the religious aspects of maintaining church cemeteries.


  • A requirement that all employers provide health insurance that covers “all” services, including procedures to which the employer objects for religious reasons.
  • A policy requiring government workers to be beardless.
  • A law requiring all prison personnel to participate in an execution. (In states that have the death penalty.)

Public Facilities:

  • A law prohibiting employees from wearing religious garb, such as a nun’s habit, in public buildings or schools.
  • An “English-only” policy prohibiting non-English religious services in government institutions (prisons, state hospital, jails, developmental center, etc.)
  • An absolute “no wine” policy for ministers providing services at government institutions or on government property (prisons, state hospital, jails, developmental center, state colleges and universities.)
  • A policy denying prisoner visitations unless the visitor exposes her midriff – something prohibited under Islamic tradition – when a pat-down by a female officer would have sufficed.
  • Policies that impact the religious liberties of prisoners, patients at the state hospital, residents at the developmental center, jail inmates, etc. These are generally covered by federal law, but no state law protection exists.


  • A state law that farm vehicles be marked with orange reflective tape (Some Amish had a belief against use of bold colors, but not reflective white tape.)
  • A coroner’s insistence on performing an autopsy when a CAT scan or MRI would have worked. (Hmong and some Jews have objections to autopsies.)

Originally posted at American Principles in Action

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