10 Critical Religious Liberty Cases Coming in 2019

Continual vigilance is necessary.

Although the new year is still a few days away, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is already preparing to defend a number of important legal challenges to freedom of religion. Here are ten cases coming in 2019 you should know about.

 

Despite the continual threats to the religious freedom of Christians in America, there were a number of advances over the past twelve months (see: The 7 Most Significant Religious Freedom Victories of 2018). But continual vigilance is necessary, and we are fortunate to have groups like Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith, working to protect our liberties.

Although the new year is still a few days away, ADF is already preparing to defend a number of important legal challenges to freedom of religion. Here are ten cases coming in 2019 you should know about:

State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers

Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, is headed back to court in 2019, with ADF arguing her case before the Washington State Supreme Court. Although Barronelle serves all customers, the state of Washington and its attorney general are suing her in her business and personal capacity because she politely declined to create custom floral art for long-time customer’s same-sex wedding in 2013. While targeting Barronelle for her biblical beliefs about marriage, the state chose not to take action against a coffee shop owner who profanely berated and expelled customers because of their Christian beliefs—even though the incident was caught on video. If the government succeeds in punishing Barronelle for her beliefs, she and her husband could lose everything—their business, their home, and every penny they’ve saved.

Tree of Life Christian Schools v. City of Upper Arlington

In a case that could make a major difference for churches, religious schools, and other religious groups across the United States, Tree of Life Christian Schools is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in early 2019. Represented by ADF, Tree of Life has been kept from using its own building for the past seven years simply because the City of Upper Arlington—near Columbus, Ohio—refuses to allow it to do so. The city’s ongoing discrimination against Tree of Life is a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)—a federal law passed unanimously by the House and Senate before being signed into law by President Bill Clinton. A win for Tree of Life would allow the school to double its current enrollment of 660 students—which represents 18 countries of origin and a high percentage of income-based voucher and scholarship recipients—and would set legal precedent that would help other Christian schools, as well as churches, synagogues, and mosques facing discriminatory government regulations. Learn more here.

Downtown Hope Center v. Anchorage

Driven by its faith to help women victimized by rape, sex trafficking, and domestic violence, Downtown Hope Center provides a safe place for sexually exploited women to sleep at night. But Anchorage officials are demanding that Hope Center allow men who believe they are women to disrobe and sleep three to five feet from women in its overnight sleeping facilities. As one woman who stays at the shelter put it, “I would rather sleep in the woods than sleep in the same area as a biological man.” If Hope Center follows its convictions and chooses to protect the privacy and dignity of the vulnerable women in its care, it could be forced to shut down its women’s shelter, depriving battered women of a much-needed safe place. ADF filed suit in federal court to protect Hope Center’s freedom to serve consistent with its faith. Learn more here.

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