Religious Freedom

The Texas Freedom Network supports the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state, which protects the right of all Americans to practice the faith of their choice, or none at all, free of government interference.

Unfortunately, efforts to knock down that wall are a constant in Texas. Politicians and activists continually work to impose their views on others, especially around issues like abortion and access to contraception. And in a distortion of the principle of religious freedom, far-right groups have supported legislative efforts to allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to ignore laws they might not like and even as a weapon to discriminate against others.

Resources

Prayer in Public Schools: A Primer (2001 report)

The Texas Faith-Based Initiative (2002 report)NDOP_Report_2005_Revised

A Report on The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (2005 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools (2006 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion II (2013 report)

Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum (2014 report)

Today the Texas Freedom Network and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas are announcing a joint initiative — Texans Equal Under the Law — to oppose laws that allow people and organizations to use religion to discriminate. This announcement comes as the Texas House Committee on State Affairs considers yet another proposed bill that turns the principle of religious freedom on its head by allowing faith to be used a weapon to harm people. We just sent out the following press release about that bill and Texans Equal Under the Law:

A bill under consideration in the Texas House State Affairs Committee today would give religiously affiliated entities like hospitals and child welfare organizations authority to discriminate against almost any Texas family, two of the state’s leading religious liberties organizations warn.

“This is yet another example of an ill-conceived bill that pretends to protect religious freedom but in truth opens the doors to real harm,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “And it invites to Texas the same uproar and condemnation we’ve seen with similar bills in Indiana and other states.”

Supporters portray House Bill 3567 by state… Read More

Click below for contact information of committee members.

Wednesday, April 15 House Juvenile Justice & Family Issues

On Wednesday, a state House committee will take up HB 3864, by state Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney. Like the recent Indiana law that caused such backlash, this bill would authorize state-sanctioned discrimination purportedly to protect religious freedom.

The primary consideration for a child welfare agency or organization should always be the best interests of the child — not advancing a sectarian belief or political agenda. This bill gets that backward.

Call the members of the Texas House Committee on Juvenile Justice & Family Issues and tell them to oppose HB 3864 because:… Read More

Click below for contact information of committee members.

Tuesday, April 14 Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee

For the second time this year, the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee will hear bills targeting Muslim Americans with thinly veiled discriminatory legislation:

HB 899 by state Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco, would bar application of foreign laws and foreign forum selection in family law cases in state courts. This appears to be another attempt to promote fear-mongering over the mythical threat of Islamic law (Sharia) in Texas.

HB 3698 by state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, is a poorly veiled anti-Sharia bill that imposes regulations on nonbinding dispute resolution proceedings conducted by religious organizations.

Call the members of this committee and tell them you oppose these discriminatory bills because:… Read More

Texas politicians are again targeting Muslim Americans with thinly veiled discriminatory legislation. On Tuesday the Texas House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hear testimony on three bills that threaten religious freedom for everyone, but especially religious minorities. We need your help to stop these bills.

HB 562 by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, HB 670 by state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, and HB 3698 by state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, are worded differently but are all based on the unfounded claim that American Muslims are trying to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, in Texas. In fact, Rep. Leach has already said the purpose of his bill is to stop the mythical threat of Sharia here.

TAKE ACTION Contact members of the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee to express your opposition to these bills. Their contact information can be found below. Tell committee members:… Read More

On Monday state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said he would no longer support his HJR 55, a controversial state constitutional amendment that supporters claim protects religious freedom in Texas but in reality opens the door to using religion to discriminate and harm others. On Wednesday, state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, refiled the measure as HJR 125.

HJR 55, HJR 125 and SJR 10 by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, would allow businesses, government officials and employees, and other individuals to ignore laws they claim offend their religious beliefs, including laws that bar discrimination against LGBT Texans and others.

The conservative Texas Association of Business has warned that the amendments would make Texas appear unwelcoming, hurt the state’s ability to recruit new businesses and thereby create “an environment that is hostile to business and economic development.” Rep. Villalba says he has been persuaded that this is a problem and that he will not ask for a committee hearing or vote on HJR 55:

“I cannot and I will not support legislation, however well-intentioned, that would result in harming the job creators who are so very valuable to the Texas economy.”

But Rep. Krause doesn’t care about that, apparently. Protecting the ability… Read More

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