The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has announced the creation of a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in their Office for Civil Rights. The division aims to address concerns over sensitive subjects such as birth control, abortions, and treatment of the LGBTQ community. In addition to providing a center for complaints regarding religious discrimination, the division is pushing for the approval of a motion that seeks to protect medical personnel who refuse to perform treatments that violate their personal beliefs. The move has caused concern from human rights groups, who believe this office could be used to discriminate.
The Washington Supreme Court ruled last week that a Spokane fire captain met his burden of proving that his free speech rights were restricted in violation of the First Amendment. The court ruled that the burden now shifts to the employer to show that it would have taken the same action even if he had not engaged in the protected religious conduct.
An eight-year conflict has left a Pennsylvania family struggling to practice their faith against a sewage ordinance in Sugar Grove Township, Pennsylvania. Joseph and Barbara Yoder, an Old Order Amish family, have been ordered by local courts to install an electric pump in their outhouse, an action that directly contradicts their religious beliefs.