religious freedom

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A bill seeking to protect the freedom of religious expression in public schools cleared Florida Senate on Thursday in a vote that largely cleaved along party lines.

The bill, aiming to create the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” passed by 23-13 vote on the floor. It intends to unify existing religious rights in a single legislation that would be simple to implement and heed.

 


Anna Vignet for Reveal

When most people think of the First Amendment, they think of the freedom of speech – but that’s actually the second part of the clause. The first part states that all Americans have the freedom of religion.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

  Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri announced Saturday that he will suspend his push to adopt local discrimination protections for the LGBT community.

Hazouri is withdrawing his bill that would amend the city’s human rights ordinance to protect those citizens from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations. The move means this divisive local issue will be put on the back burner, at least for now, leaving Jacksonville one of the largest major cities that still lacks legal discrimination protection for the LGBT community.

The HRO has been controversial in large part because opponents have raised religious objections to the legislation.

We’ve also seen the debate over rights vs. religious liberty at the national level.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. recognized a for-profit corporation's claim of religious belief. Following this ruling many states, including Florida, have since proposed expanding state religious freedom laws to include for-profit corporations.

We speak with Toni Van Pelt is co-founder, president and Congressional lobbyist for the Institute for Science and Human Values. She’ll be speaking about the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act” and what she calls its its dangers to secular society and government at an event presented by the First Coast Freethought Society.


Florida House of Representatives

For hours today, the Florida House of Representatives discussed a measure recognizing adoption agencies’ right to refuse prospective parents based on the agencies' religious beliefs.

Opponents of the controversial measure fear it gives agencies that use state money the license to discriminate against a host of people, including those who are gay, transgender or unmarried.

But bill sponsor, Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford), says religious freedom trumps those concerns.