In its last decision of 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius that closely held corporations cannot be compelled to provide health coverage that conflicts with the religious beliefs of their owners. The 5-4 decision was controversial, even within the court, with two separate dissenting opinions.
Religious freedom has become the broad catchphrase at the heart of today’s biggest culture war issues, ranging from same-sex marriage and gay rights generally to the question of how to accommodate diverse faiths as well as nonbelievers in an increasingly pluralistic American society.
And there is more to come: The high court is likely to hear arguments in the fall from nonprofit faith-based employers who believe that the exemptions and accommodations offered by the administration are not broad enough.
This long-running saga is paralleled by a host of other ongoing, hot-button debates — over the rights of a baker to refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding, for example, or whether a community can deny a building permit to a mosque, or what a military chaplain can say about faith without infringing on the rights of nonbelievers.
This edition of ReligionLink is a source guide on religious freedom in the United States that provides background and resources for reporters covering all of these controversial topics.
Transcript of oral arguments in contraception mandate case
Read a transcript of the oral arguments in the case, heard by the Supreme Court on March 25, 2014.
“Health Care Law’s ‘Contraception Mandate’ Reaches the Supreme Court”
A March 2014 backgrounder by the Pew Research Center explains the issues at stake in the contraception cases and the likely implications of whatever the justices ultimately decide.
“CDC: Sexual Health”
Resources dealing with sexual health, including contraception, are posted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Insurance Coverage for Contraception Laws”
The National Conference of State Legislatures posts information about which states have laws requiring insurers to cover birth control and/or exempting employers from coverage requirements.
State policies on emergency contraception
The Guttmacher Institute offers this Feb. 1, 2014, summary of state policies on emergency contraception, including a chart that shows which states allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense it. See also the institute’s February 2014 explanation of state policies on insurance coverage of contraceptives.
“Combating Religious Discrimination and Protecting Religious Freedom”
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division maintains a site on religious discrimination issues, which includes information on religious liberty.
Denominational statements on contraception
The Religious Institute, a multifaith organization focused on sexual health, education and justice, posts denominational statements about contraception.
“Finding Common Ground: A Guide to Religious Liberty in Public Schools”
Read Finding Common Ground: A Guide to Religious Liberty in Public Schools, a publication of the Freedom Forum, posted on its website.
Articles, blog posts
“Awaiting Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, public favors contraception mandate”
Read a June 23, 2014, Religion News Service story rounding up various polls that show differing levels of support for each side in the case.
“Survey: Majorities support requiring companies to abide by controversial contraception mandate”
Read a June 2, 2014, Religion News Service story about a Public Religion Research Institute poll that shows most Americans favor the contraception mandate.
“Even if Hobby Lobby Wins, We Lose”
Read a March 25, 2014, essay from The American Conservative‘s Patrick J. Deneen, who decries what he calls “the absurdity of a chain store representing the voice of religion in the defense of life amid an economy and polity that values turning people and nature into things.”
“Contraceptive court * Obama’s Vatican visit * God’s Alive?: Monday’s roundup”
This March 24, 2013, Religion News Service roundup includes links to a number of articles about the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases.
“Affordable Care Act and birth control: Can corporations assert religious rights?”
Read a March 23, 2014, Christian Science Monitor story about the contraception case and some of the legal precedents being cited by the parties involved.
“Religion case threat to worker rights”
Read a March 23, 2014, column by two union leaders about what they see as the potential consequences if the Supreme Court throws out the contraceptive coverage mandate. The column appeared in USA Today.
“Inside the First Amendment — Gay marriage, religious freedom and the need for civil dialogue”
Read a March 22, 2014, column by religious freedom scholar Charles C. Haynes. It appeared in The (Pittsburg, Kan.) Morning Sun.
“Contraception v. Religious Freedom: Hobby Lobby Heads to the Supreme Court”
Read a March 19, 2014, essay by Tracy Fessenden, associate director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University, exploring some of the legal points that could sway the court in the Hobby Lobby case.
“These 6 Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Also Support Religious Freedom”
This March 15, 2014, article in The Christian Post highlights people who endorse same-sex marriage but say the rights of those who oppose it should be respected too.
“Gay marriage and religious freedom: A modest proposal”
Read a March 11, 2014, column by Richard Land, published by The Christian Post, in which he proposes finding “a path of civil toleration” with regards to the rights of gays and those who oppose same-sex marriage.
“Religious freedom vs. gay rights: The picture-book edition”
Read a March 6, 2014, JTA story about a conflict in the Jewish community over distribution of a children’s book that depicts a family with two dads.
“Religious Liberty or Anti-Gay Discrimination? Debate Heats Up”
This Feb. 27, 2014, NBC News story explores how the battleground is growing over religious liberty and gay rights.
“Who’s behind ‘religious freedom’ push? The answer is hard to find”
Read a Feb. 27, 2014, CNN article about the difficulties of tracking the financial support behind religious liberty measures being proposed in a number of states.
“LifeWay Survey Reveals Majority of Americans Believe Religious Liberty Is Declining in the US”
Read a Feb. 24, 2014, story from The Christian Post about a poll in which pastors and laity said religious freedom in America is waning.
“Why Protecting the Contraception Mandate Protects Religious Freedom”
Read a Dec. 24, 2013, column in Tablet Magazine, a Jewish publication, that says aligning with efforts to overturn the contraception mandate would be “a short-sighted strategic mistake,” even for conservative Jews who might agree with those challenging the mandate.
“Commentary: The truth about religious freedom in the military”
Read a July 15, 2013, column written for Religion News Service by C. Welton Gaddy and Barry Lynn, in which they say that America’s “freedoms are being undercut by forces seeking to infuse the military with a very specific version of Christian culture.”
“Conservatives say religious freedom is ‘under attack’ in military”
Read a July 9, 2013, Religion News Service story about activists who say religious expression in the U.S. military is being stifled.
“What an abortifacient is — and what it isn’t”
Read a Feb. 20, 2012, column on the National Catholic Reporter website about emergency contraception and abortifacients, and why many scientists say that the IUD, Plan B and ella are not abortifacients.
“Religious Groups Equate Some Contraceptives With Abortions”
Read a Feb. 16, 2012, New York Times article about how religious groups equate some contraceptives and abortion.
“51% Oppose Health Law’s Contraceptive Mandate”
A Rasmussen Reports national survey released in December 2013 found that half of voters do not think employers should be required to provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their workers. But respondents were more divided when asked whether a company should be eligible for exemption from such a rule for religious reasons.
“In Gay Marriage Debate, Both Supporters and Opponents See Legal Recognition as ‘Inevitable'”
According to a survey released in June 2013 by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, and nearly three out of four people think legal recognition of it is inevitable.
“What You Need to Know: Gay and Lesbian Issues”
This Nov. 1, 2013, fact sheet by the Public Religion Research Institute provides data from its research on Americans’ views on gay and lesbian issues, including whether such matters should be decided at the state or federal level.
“Majority of Americans Support Mandatory ObamaCare Contraception Coverage”
According to LifeWay Research findings released in November 2012, 43 percent of Americans “strongly agreed” and 20 percent “somewhat agreed” that businesses should be required to provide employees with health care coverage that includes contraception at no cost even if it violates the business owners’ religious convictions.
“Catholics and New Battle Lines Over Religious Liberty”
According to a June 13, 2012, fact sheet by the Public Religion Research Institute, Americans are split pretty evenly on the question of whether religious liberty is under attack in America. Interesting dichotomies were reported for Catholics, though, with just 44 percent telling PRRI that religious freedoms are being threatened — but 53 percent of white Catholics saying so.
“Public Divided Over Birth Control Insurance Mandate”
A survey in early February 2012 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found the public sharply divided on the contraception coverage mandate, depending upon religious and political affiliation. The findings include a section on Catholic respondents’ views about contraception generally.
“Survey: Majority of Catholics Think Employers Should Be Required to Provide Health Care Plans that Cover Birth Control at No Cost”
The Public Religion Research Institute released findings in February 2012 of a survey it conducted about the mandate. The findings include breakdowns for different religious backgrounds and age groups.
“Americans To Health Plans: Pay For The Pill”
More than three-quarters of Americans say birth control pills ought to be covered by insurance, according to an NPR/Thompson Reuters poll in 2011.
“Use of Emergency Contraception Among Women Aged 15-44”
Eleven percent of sexually experienced American women ages 15-44 have used emergency contraception at least once, according to the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. That’s a jump from 1 percent of such women in 1995, the study says.
“Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982-2008”
A report published in August 2010 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a wealth of data about contraception use in the U.S. from 1982-2008. The CDC also posts links to resources and statistics on unintended pregnancy and women’s reproductive health.
“Different states’ contraceptive rules leave employers room to maneuver”
According to a Feb. 19, 2012, Washington Post article, 28 states already have contraception coverage requirements similar to the one the Obama administration is imposing. Typically, though, organizations objecting to the state requirements have been able to find legal ways around the rules; a federal mandate will make that nearly impossible, critics say.
“Most Catholic women use birth control banned by church”
A Guttmacher Institute study found that 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women in the U.S. have used a birth control method not sanctioned by the church. The full report, titled “Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use,” provides numerous other religion-related statistics, as well.
With a focus on religious freedom
American Religious Freedom Program
The Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program works to counter what it says are misunderstandings by many Americans about the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment clauses on religion. The clauses were meant to ensure a robust role for religion in the public sphere, not to relegate faith merely to a matter of private worship, program organizers say. Contact through Chandler Epp, Jennifer Sheran or Adrienne Young at DeMoss.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Americans United for Separation of Church and State describes itself as a “nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving church-state separation to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.”
Cheryl B. Anderson
The Rev. Cheryl B. Anderson is a professor of Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.
She has written an opinion piece on why she thinks the theology used to oppose the contraception mandate is flawed.
Center for Inquiry
The Center for Inquiry works to foster a secular society devoted to humanist values and freedom of inquiry. Its public education programs focus on paranormal and fringe science claims; religion, ethics and society; and medicine and health. The center is based in Amherst, N.Y., and has branches throughout the U.S. and the world. Ronald A. Lindsay is president and CEO.
The center offers a page of resources on the Hobby Lobby case.
Paul D. Clement
Paul D. Clement is an attorney with the Washington, D.C., law firm Bancroft PLLC.
He argued for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties before the Supreme Court in March 2014.
Coalition to Stop the HHS Mandate
The Coalition to Stop the HHS Mandate, also known as the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally Coalition, includes more than 100 groups nationwide that say the contraception coverage mandate infringes on religious liberty. The coalition’s website includes a hotlinked list of member organizations.
Coalition leaders plan to take part in a prayer vigil outside the Supreme Court during the Hobby Lobby oral arguments.
Robert A. Destro
Robert A. Destro is a law professor and founding director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law and Religion at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. He is an expert in freedom of religion, constitutional law (separation of powers), international human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, bioethics, marriage law and civil rights. Destro served as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1983 to 1989.
In April 2014, he co-chaired a national call-in forum on the Hobby Lobby case.
Charles C. Haynes is the founding director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Freedom Forum Institute. He writes and speaks extensively on religious freedom and faith in public life, specializing in church-state conflict related to public schools.
Haynes wrote a column about same-sex marriage and religious freedom that appeared March 22, 2014, in The (Pittsburg, Kan.) Morning Sun.
Daniel Mach is director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s program on freedom of religion and belief.
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, which works to foster “a culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives.” He also leads the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which tracks religious persecution around the world.
Perkins is one of 2,500 religious leaders who released a letter in 2012 opposing Obama’s contraception coverage mandate.
Alan Sears is president, CEO and general counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance based in Scottsdale, Ariz., whose focus is defending religious liberty. The ADF sponsors the Day of Dialogue in schools around the country to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective.” It also supported the legislation that would have allowed Arizona business owners to deny services to same-sex couples for religious reasons.
Jay Sekulow is chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice in Washington, D.C., a leading pro-life religious legal advocacy group that frequently litigates on behalf of religious groups.
He and his organization have been active in the fight against the contraceptive coverage mandate.
Kelly Shackelford is president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, a Texas law firm that works to preserve religious freedom and argued in support of the Bladensburg cross before the Supreme Court.
The Liberty Institute issued a report in 2013 titled Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America. It cites nearly 1,200 reported incidents of religious bigotry in the United States, most of which occurred in the last decade.
Hannah Smith is senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing employers in several legal challenges to the birth control mandate.
Donald B. Verrilli Jr.
Donald B. Verrilli Jr. is an attorney and the solicitor general of the United States. He argued the government’s case in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga before the Supreme Court. Contact via the solicitor general’s office.
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein is founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a New Mexico-based organization that says the wall separating church and state has been seriously breached in the U.S. military. Weinstein, a former military attorney who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, is co-author of With God on Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military. Contact through Bekki Miller.
With a focus on health or reproductive rights
Jessica Arons is president and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project in Washington, D.C., which favors full reproductive freedom and access to the related technologies for all women, regardless of age.
John Brehany is executive director of the Catholic Medical Association. He says there has been some confusion about whether and when sterilization is ever acceptable at Catholic hospitals. His organization opposes the contraception coverage rule and says the revised mandate falls far short of addressing opponents’ concerns.
Sister Carol Keehan is president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association, which has worked to improve children’s health care coverage through a partnership with the Campaign for Children’s Health Care. Contact Fred Caesar.
The association initially reacted positively when the White House revised the coverage mandate but later said it planned to scrutinize the matter further.
Hal C. Lawrence III
Dr. Hal C. Lawrence III is executive vice president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG has applauded the Obama administration’s stance on contraception coverage.
Jodi Magee is founding president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health.
Louise Melling is a deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and the director of its Center for Liberty. She is the former director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.
Jon O’Brien is president of Catholics for Choice, which believes that the individual conscience should be the keystone for moral decision-making on reproductive rights matters and that affordable contraception should be available to all.
Dr. Richard H. Reindollar is the chief executive officer of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Cecile Richards is president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Contact through the media department.
Wayne C. Shields
Wayne C. Shields is president and CEO of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, which posts “stories from the front lines” (including some that address faith issues) advocating for full contraceptive coverage.
Dr. David Stevens is chief executive officer of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the nation’s largest faith-based organization for doctors. It is based in Bristol, Tenn.
CMDA’s website includes a page of resources about health care workers’ right of conscience.
With a focus on LGBT rights
Rose Saxe is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia Law School in New York and a staff attorney at the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender and AIDS Projects. She has worked on issues involving the intersection of civil rights for LGBT people and religious freedom and expression.
Andrew Abela is dean of the School of Business and Economics and associate professor of marketing at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. Abela focuses his research on the integrity of the marketing process, including marketing ethics, Catholic social doctrine and internal communication. He is co-editor of A Catechism for Business: Tough Ethical Questions & Insights From Catholic Teaching, and in 2009 he received the Novak Award from the Acton Institute for “significant contributions to the study of the relationship between religion and economic liberty.” Abela has been quoted in the National Catholic Register, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
Caitlin E. Borgmann
Caitlin E. Borgmann is an associate professor at City University of New York School of Law and editor of the Reproductive Rights Prof Blog, which posts news about abortion and other reproductive rights issues. Borgmann has testified before several state legislatures about reproductive rights.
Alan E. Brownstein
Alan E. Brownstein is a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Davis. He is a nationally known expert on religious freedom issues and has written widely about religious land use issues and states’ rights.
James D. Cox
James D. Cox is a professor of law at Duke University Law School in Durham, N.C. He is an expert on corporate law and filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court supporting the government’s position in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga challenge to the contraception mandate. The brief argues, in part, that the religious values of shareholders do not pass through to the corporation itself and that such a finding would be contrary to established corporation law.
Cole Durham is Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and director of the university’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Durham is internationally known for his work protecting religious freedoms, and he is one of nearly 100 scholars nationwide who signed a letter denouncing Obama’s contraception coverage mandate.
Ryan E. Lawrence
Dr. Ryan E. Lawrence is a psychiatrist at New York Presbyterian and is an instructor in psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. He co-authored a 2007 article in the New England Journal of Medicine about health professionals’ views on providing treatments to which they have moral objections, such as certain contraceptives. He also has written other scholarly articles on related topics. Lawrence’s academic credentials include an M.Div. degree.
Melissa Moschella is an assistant professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. Her areas of expertise include religious freedom, marriage and sexual ethics, church-state issues and bioethics. Moschella is a frequent commentator to the media. See contributions she made in 2014 to The Washington Post and National Review, as well as appearances she made on EWTN News Nightly and Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.
Dr. Sandra Reznick is an associate professor in the department of pharmaceutical sciences at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. She teaches a graduate-level course in reproductive pharmacology and can explain differences between the various “morning-after” pills, such as Plan B and Ella.
Neil Siegel is a professor of law and political science and co-director of the Program in Public Law at Duke University in Durham, N.C. He is an expert on constitutional law and theory, and the Supreme Court. Much of his recent work has been on the Affordable Care Act. He clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In the Northeast
Helen M. Alvaré
Helen M. Alvaré is a professor of law at George Mason University in Virginia. Alvaré chaired the commission investigating clerical abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and was an adviser to Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontifical Council for the Laity, as well as an ABC News consultant. Her scholarship regularly addresses current controversies about marriage, parenting and the new reproductive technologies.
She previously worked with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, and her areas of expertise include new reproductive technologies. She can discuss Catholic positions on contraception within the context of American civil law.
Joyce S. Dubensky
Joyce S. Dubensky is CEO of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, a New York City-based secular nonprofit that promotes interfaith work and religious respect.
She has spoken out against the Hobby Lobby ruling, saying it institutionalizes religious beliefs.
Garrett Epps is a law professor at the University of Baltimore who specializes in constitutional law. He covers the Supreme Court for The Atlantic as a contributing writer and is the author of several books on the topic, including American Justice 2014: Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court.
C. Welton Gaddy
The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy is president of the Interfaith Alliance and author of numerous books, including First Freedom First: A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State. Gaddy serves as pastor for preaching and worship at Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe, La. The alliance is based in Washington, D.C.
Mary Ann Glendon
Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor at Harvard Law School and was a vocal advocate of Pope John Paul II’s views on women, abortion, sexuality and related issues. In 2004 the pope appointed her as head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, at that time the highest Vatican post ever held by a woman. From 2008 to 2009 she was the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.
She is one of nearly 100 scholars nationwide who signed a letter denouncing Obama’s contraception coverage mandate.
Jennifer A. Marshall
Jennifer A. Marshall is director of domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., and former director of family studies at the Family Research Council. She has written widely about Republican support of moral issues such as abstinence education, defense of marriage and welfare.
She co-hosted a Feb. 27, 2012, panel discussion of religious liberty issues raised by the contraception mandate.
Alan Mittleman is a professor of Jewish thought at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan as well as the director of JTS’ Tikvah Institute for Jewish Thought.
He is one of nearly 100 scholars nationwide who signed a letter denouncing Obama’s contraception coverage mandate.
Stephen F. Schneck
Stephen F. Schneck is chairman of the department of politics and director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., which studies current public policies regarding Catholic social attitudes.
He has written that it is a mistake to assume that Catholic voters are monolithic or that they will all follow bishops’ lead on issues such as contraception.
Elizabeth Sepper is a law professor at the University of Texas, Austin. She is an expert
on religious liberty. Previously, Sepper was a Center for Reproductive Rights Fellow at Columbia University law school and co-authored a Feb. 9, 2012, U.S. News & World Report post about the Obama administration’s contraception coverage mandate.
In the South
Kim Colby is senior counsel at the Christian Legal Society in Springfield, Virginia, and has worked at the society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom since 1981.
Derek H. Davis
Derek H. Davis is dean of the College of Humanities and the Graduate School at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. He is the author of publications on church and state issues and on religious freedom.
Christine E. Gudorf
Christine E. Gudorf, professor of religious studies at Florida International University in Miami, has written about the issues of integrating ethics into hospital care. She teaches a course on reproductive ethics and wrote a chapter on contraception and abortion among Catholics for the book Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions.
Francis Manion is senior counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice in Washington, D.C., who specializes in First Amendment law and pro-life legal matters. He has represented pharmacists and other health care professionals who have refused on moral principle to provide certain services to patients.
Gerald R. McDermott
Gerald R. McDermott is the Anglican chair of divinity history and doctrine at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala. He is one of nearly 100 scholars nationwide who signed a letter denouncing Obama’s contraception coverage mandate.
Kathy Miller is president of the Texas Freedom Network, a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders based in Austin that advocates for “a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the religious right,” according to its website. Contact through communications director Dan Quinn.
Russell Moore is director of the Public Theology Project at Christianity Today.
He is one of nearly 100 scholars nationwide who signed a letter denouncing Obama’s contraception coverage mandate.
Dan Quinn is spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network in Austin, a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan alliance that includes more than 7,500 religious and community leaders concerned about the “growing social and political influence of religious political extremists.” The group has been at the forefront of trying to prevent religious conservatives from controlling the content in school textbooks in Texas.
Mathew D. Staver
Mathew D. Staver is founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, a civil liberties education and legal defense organization in Orlando, Fla., that focuses on freedom of speech and religious freedom.
John W. Whitehead
John W. Whitehead is president and founder of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit organization in Charlottesville, Va., that works to advance religious freedom through litigation, education and advocacy. Although the institute has a Christian doctrinal statement, its services are not limited to Christians.
In the Midwest
Scott C. Idleman
Scott C. Idleman is a law professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He specializes in church-state issues, including religious freedom and land use questions.
Lady Liberty League
The Lady Liberty League is a nonprofit group that advocates for religious freedom and freedom from religious discrimination for pagans. Its founder and co-executive director is Selena Fox, and it is located in Barneveld, Wisconsin.
Stephen V. Monsma
Stephen V. Monsma is a research fellow at the Paul Henry Institute at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., whose books include (as author) When Sacred & Secular Mix: Religious Nonprofit Organizations & Public Money and (as co-author) Faith, Hope and Jobs: Welfare to Work in Los Angeles.
Monsma says the fight over the contraceptive coverage mandate is about religious freedom, not birth control.
Thomas More Law Center
The Thomas More Law Center is a law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians. Contact president and chief counsel Richard Thompson in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Vincent Phillip Muñoz
Vincent Phillip Muñoz teaches religion and and public life at the University of Notre Dame. He focuses on the founders and religious freedom.
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan chairs the department of religious studies and is an affiliate professor of law at Indiana University in Bloomington. She is interested in the legal regulation of religion in modern pluralistic societies. She wrote The Impossibility of Religious Freedom. Ask her to discuss the history of religious groups that are pressing for rights of religion over secularity, a movement she dates to the 1988 case Employment Division v. Smith.
In the West
Thomas A. Cavanaugh
Thomas A. Cavanaugh is a philosophy professor at the University of San Francisco and one of nearly 100 scholars nationwide who signed a letter denouncing Obama’s contraception coverage mandate.
Frederick Gedicks is an expert on law and religion who teaches at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. He regularly writes amicus briefs, law review articles and columns on religious freedom cases before the Supreme Court.
Kirtly Parker Jones
Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah Medical School in Salt Lake City. She teaches the ethics of reproductive medicine.
Barbara A. McGraw
Barbara A. McGraw is a professor of business administration at St. Mary’s College of California, in Moraga. She is the author of Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America and the co-editor of Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously: Spiritual Politics on America’s Sacred Ground, in which she argues that the freedom of conscience honored by the nation’s founders can be the “sacred ground” needed in a religiously pluralistic country.
North American Religious Liberty Association
The North American Religious Liberty Association advocates a “broad interpretation” of the Free Exercise Clause and supports religious freedom. It is based in Simi Valley, Calif. Alvin Kibble is its president.
Malcolm Potts is an obstetrician and reproductive scientist and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He has studied oral contraceptives since the 1960s and says the Catholic Church needs to recognize the health benefits – aside from contraception – of the birth control pill.
Related source guides
Contraception controversy: Church and state and birth control
Do-or-die for health care: Religious groups weigh in
This edition was updated June 30, 2014, with the Supreme Court’s ruling.